Appearance: the bream is a deep-bodied fish with a high back and flattened sides. Typically it is dark brown or greyish on the back with younger fish being much more silvery. Small bream are often called skimmers.
Size: up to 10lb in reservoirs, up to 4lb in canals
British record: 22lb 11oz (British record committee 2015)
Lateral line scale count: 51-60
Lifespan: 15 to 20 years
We like bream because: they typically shoal in large groups, meaning that many can be caught in one session.
How to catch a bream
Bream are present in most canals but you will not find them in every location, there will perhaps be a shoal every few hundred yards or so. The optimal time to catch a feeding shoal of bream is in the early morning or late evening, when boat traffic levels have subsided.
Tackle can be a little more sturdy than for roach, and good hook baits include maggots, casters, worms and even sweetcorn. Wider and deeper sections of canal tend to be hotspots for bream and winding holes are good areas. However, if you do choose to fish in a winding hole you must be aware that boaters wishing to turn their craft have priority over anglers and they may disturb your swim. You may need to remove your keepnet in order to allow enough space for the boat to turn.
Where to catch a bream
Virtually all canals and rivers will contain bream to some degree. Areas that are slightly deeper than normal or wide areas (such as winding holes or junctions) are favourite places for fish to hole up. Bream feed much more confidently in coloured water and do well in heavily boated waters. The Shropshire Union, Kennet & Avon, Grand Union and Oxford canals are noted for large bream catches.