Red Bream (Pagellus bogaraveo)

Average Weight

Big rod-caught red bream can weigh 2.72 Kg (6 lbs) or more. The average red bream weighs around 0.90 Kg (2 lbs).

Also known as

Blackspot seabream

IUCN Status

NT – Near Threatened


The red bream is identifiable by its thin, oval-shaped body and a high lateral line; it has a crimson back, orange/gold sides and a silvery-orange underbelly and also particularly large eyes. It has a single, long dorsal fin with twelve sharp, short spines and also a small anal fin and forked tail. Like the black bream, the red bream’s jaws are equipped with 4-6 rows of thin teeth which are larger at the front. Mature red bream have a distinctive black patch at the beginning of the lateral line which varies in size.

Warning: Avoid the dorsal spines when unhooking black bream as they are particularly sharp.


So how do we catch one?

Best Baits

Shellfish, sandeels, whole small fish, or fish strips are optimal baits. Ragworms and lugworm can also be used. Pretty much anything that looks and/or smells attractive and nourishing can be used to catch red bream!


The red bream is a summer visitor, with the best catches being throughout May, June, July, August and September.

Favourite Feeding Places

Deep water, about 12 fathoms (21.94 m), especially around weed covered rocks where seaweed and invertebrates live and act as a food source, it can also be caught in shallow water, particularly after dark.

Best Locations

Red Bream is prevalent in the south and south west coasts of Britain, particularly the West Country

Best rigs for red bream fishing

Shore fishing

A basic leger rig or a running paternoster rig are good options when fishing from the beach for red bream.

Basic Leger Rig

This rig is used to lay hookbait on the seabed. The distance between the hook and swivel can vary, but should be at least 300 mm (1 ft). This rig works so well because your line is able to pass through the weight’s “eye”, meaning that shy or suspicious fish can tug the bait without instantly sensing the resistance.

Running Paternoster Rig

This rig allows you to anchor your hookbait above the seabed and also lets fish take the bait without instantly sensing resistance from the weight. The distance between the hook and swivel can vary, but should be at least 150 mm (6 inches). The space between the weight and swivel on connecting line is also variable, but should generally be about 610 mm (2 ft).

Boat fishing

Either a sliding float rig, a boat leger rig or a two hook paternoster rig are the best options when boat fishing for red bream.

Sliding Float Rig

For this rig you want to use a narrow float. Tie a stop knot onto the main line at the position where you want the float to stop. Modify when necessary to account for the rise and fall of the tide, etc. A ball or barrel shaped weight is perfect for this rig, attach the smallest weight needed in order to cast the distance you are aiming for and hold your bait against any strong current(s) at the depth you expect fish to be feeding. The distance between the hook and swivel can vary, but should be at least 300 mm (1 ft).

Boat Leger Rig

This is one of the simplest and most effective rigs for boat anglers. The space between the hook and swivel can vary, but should generally be about 1 m (3 ft). The bait is presented on the seabed and the line is able to move through the boom without hitting the weight which would otherwise scare off a bait-biting fish.

Two Hook Paternoster Rig

This is a flexible rig which allows you to present two baited hooks above the seabed, with two different hookbaits being able to be used should you desire. Beach casting anglers reduce seabed wear and tear on the knot by clipping a small split ring onto the weight’s “eye” and tying line to the split ring. Alternatively, the line can be tied straight to the weight. 3 way swivels can be used instead of the blood loops. The distances between the weight, 1st blood loop, 2nd blood loop and top swivel/or split ring, can vary but each should generally be 460 mm (1½ ft). Similarly, the distance between hook and blood loop can vary but should be about 200 mm (8 inches).

Top tips

  1. A stationary bait presented on or very close to the seabed produces the best results during the daytime.
  2. Red bream are nocturnal and regularly rise to the surface in search of food during the nighttime. Driftlining near the surface can prove an effective form of night fishing.