Targeting black bream with side-scan sonar.
As springtime progresses and the weather warms up I like to look for a calm spell of weather to fish for black bream, a delicious fish for the table and a very sporting fighter on appropriate tackle.
In late spring and early summer black bream will nest inshore over rocky ground, typically with a thin covering of gravel or light shingle. The males will sweep away the gravel to form a circular nesting site, which they carefully maintain to attract a mate. The female lays her eggs in the nest and the male guards them until they hatch.
When fishing for black bream it's often possible for recreational anglers to use side-scan sonar to find nesting sites on the sea floor. They tend to appear like a patch of circular, honeycomb-esque craters, as can be seen on the right hand side of this sonar pass. The usual side-scan sonar rules apply for best image quality; 3-5kts, flat calm, straight passes.
As soon as I spotted the nests above I circled back around and sent a line down. First drop and what a result! This fine specimen graced the net.
A lovely male.
I was using a two-hook flapper rig with pennelled snoods and a single floating bead above the pennels, baited with squid strip. I find that 90% of the catches come to the lower snood, on the trailing pennel hook. I like to use floating beads as I believe it gives the squid strip a better profile when presented to a territorial bream.
That said, bream will also take lures quite readily. The fish below fell to a silver 30 gram slow jig drifted over the nesting site.
An important point about fishing over bream nesting sites – if a bream is taken from its nest, other fish will move in to eat the eggs within seconds, so if you’re catching & releasing it’s important to do so swiftly to give the bream every chance to return to his nest. If you’re catching for the table, then be selective and only take one or two fish in each nesting area to avoid fishing it out – after all this year’s bream eggs will be the future stock we want to catch in years to come.