There are two main varieties of bream in the UK – white/silver bream and the common bream. The Common Bream is a much more desired fish, as it can grow far larger and is often found in vast shoals. If you do find such a shoal which is feeding, it can be fished to great effect and can offer a fantastic day’s sport. When discussing how to catch bream, we will only be talking in relation to the common bream.


Silver Bream (Blicca bjoerkna)

Common Bream (Abramis brama)

Average Weight

The Silver Bream is the smaller of the two, under normal conditions it has a maximum size of just 450 g (1 lb) and not even 350 g (12 ounces) when found in small ponds.

For common bream, weights of around 5 lb (2.3 kg) are pretty common. Anything over this and up to 7 kg (15 lb) would be classed as a real specimen.

IUCN Status

Silver Bream – LC – Least Concern

Common Bream – LC – Least Concern


Silver Bream:

As its name suggests, the silver bream is bright silver in colour, its body is particularly slim and deep. A distinctive characteristic of the silver bream is the V-shaped pattern on its underbelly, formed as the scales from each side of its body meet.

Not only is the silver bream a different species to the common bream, but it is also far less common and does not grow as large as the common bream. Mature silver bream retain their silver colour, which (other than size) acts as the main way to distinguish between the two.

Common Bream:

The Common Bream is a much more desired fish compared to the silver bream, as it can grow far larger and is often found in vast shoals. The common bream is a deep bodied fish that is relatively thin across the body, it has a green-brown back with golden bronze flanks and a white underbelly. Young members of this species have silver flanks, which change to bronze as they age.

The common bream has a small mouth, but this doesn’t hold them back as at times they are prolific feeders.

Wait, what?

So silver bream retain their silver colour as they mature, whilst young common bream are silver, but become bronze as they mature? So, how do you tell the difference between a young common bream and a mature silver bream?

Yes, this can be an issue, but there are a few ways to tell the difference. Firstly, as mentioned earlier, silver bream have a unique, V-shaped pattern on their underbelly formed as the scales from each side of its body meet, common bream do not have this. Secondly, the eye of the silver bream is very large when compared to its head, this is not true for the common bream. Lastly, common bream, particularly young common bream, are covered in slime whereas silver bream are not.


Common Bream

Silver Bream

So how do we catch one?

The Common Bream is a much more desired fish, as such all the information provided below relates to common bream only.

Best Baits

The bream’s natural diet is made up of snails, worms, small crustaceans, as well as water plants and plankton. The best baits to use include pellets, boilies, sweetcorn and maggots.

Best Locations

The common bream is mainly found in still water lakes and ponds but can be found in slow flowing rivers. They are often found in shoals and primarily feed on the bottom. The best areas to find big common bream are over silt beds in deeper areas of still waters and the slower deeper reaches of rivers, mainly in Southern England and throughout Ireland.


Bream are generally dormant throughout the winter months and are only likely to be feeding if there is an especially warm spell. Therefore, the summer months make for the best bream fishing, with early mornings and dusk being the best times.

Favourite Feeding Places

Weed beds provide shade from the sun and sanctuary from predators whilst also providing a food source in the shape of insects and snails.


The most effective way to catch large bream is to ledger with a groundbait feeder and a sensitive quivertip. You can also catch small still water common bream using waggler float tackle.

Whilst bream can grow to large sizes, the concept of using heavy tackle to catch them is quickly being replaced by light lines and small hooks, with the latter leading to more bites. The bream is a fussy eater and is known for inspecting a baited hook for a while before biting; should their suspicions become aroused, they will not take the bait. The angler should begin, just as in Roach fishing, by sprinkling ground bait around the area that is going to be fished. Make sure that this feeding is not too heavy and don’t forget to include samples of the hook bait.

Aim to keep the baited hook positioned on the bottom and be patient! These fish are very used to taking their time before biting. If you are struggling for bites, a size 16 hook paired with a very small bait is a good way to get the bream biting, particularly in hot spot areas such as weed beds.

Once hooked, bream do not tend to put up particularly amazing fights, but their steady pulling can be daunting to a beginner. Play these fish gently, after a few minutes or so it’ll be in the landing net.

If you take a look at a bream, you’ll see it’s a deep-bodied fish, so in order for it to take a bait off the bottom, it has to practically stand on its head. Upon returning to an even keel, it lifts up the whole of the tackle, leading to what’s known as the ‘bream bite’. Here the float judders over backwards, resulting from the bream lifting the whole tackle clear of the bottom. Look out for this unusual bite.

Top Tip

Once feeding at the bottom, a shoal of bream will disrupt mud, silt and natural gases on the bed of the water. Look out for signs of this, visible discolouration of the water or bubbles are great indicators that an area is good to fish. Not only this but prior to feeding, bream are known to roll about on the surface, providing an even more obvious visual pointer of where you should be fishing.