These handful of sessions took place earlier in the summer but i have only just got around to writing up about them....
I have caught several Gilthead Bream from the shore and have found that early morning tends to fish best, so early morning is when i would be putting in the effort....and by early i meant early!
Gary would be joining me in a quest for a Gilthead. I knew an estuary mark that produces a few fish so we hatched a plan and began researching the venue and the target species. We would only be able to dedicate a session together every 2 weeks so we really wanted to put ourselves with having the best chance of catching.
I won't be giving away any marks in this blog post - as you will read, i have spent time and effort at unearthly hours of the day to find a spot which produces these fish so its down to you to do the same and find your own Gilthead mark - trust me it is rewarding when you do! I also don't want to advertise any marks to illegal netters who i am sure scan the internet to find the areas that are holding these fish. Illegal netting is a continual problem in many South West estuaries. Often nets are removed full of bream, bass and mullet, including juveniles. If you ever come across an illegal net, or some form of illegal fishing, you can report this via the Environment Agency's free 24-hour hotline on 0800 80 70 60.
A Quiet Start...
We managed a couple of sessions in May involving getting on the water before sunrise. Getting up at 2:30am to go fishing is a struggle! The first session was very much an exploratory trip to suss out exactly where we would fish. We found a likely looking spot alongside a channel and set our anchors. Baits would include Peeler Crab, Lugworm and Razorfish presented on single hook running ledgers. We had a few tentative bites that session and a couple of runs but no hooks ups. Were they Bream or greedy school Bass? It was enough to ignite a fire and a want to return! Still, the sunrise was stunning and worth the early start. It is quite a magical time of day to be on the water, just as the river wildlife wakes up.
The second sunrise session brought more success despite it still being another Bream blank. We both had a couple of steaming runs that were certainly Bream. In fact Gary hooked one and played it all the way to the kayak. A Gilthead was brought alongside the kayak for it to throw the hook at the last second! Despite the lost fish being frustrating, it was enough to really get us excited as we now knew that the Bream were at the mark! I couldn't get a hook up so a few tweaks to my rig and set up were made in preparation for session 3 to put me with a better chance of hooking into the searing runs as these fish grabbed the bait and swam off. We fished until late morning on the flooding tide which gave us chance to explore the upper reaches of the stunning tree-lined creeks once we got bored of the fishing. We found a few more interesting looking marks to try on another day.
Gary couldn't join me for the next session but Karl who was down on holiday was more than happy to tag along. Another early start saw us fishing at sunrise. The atmosphere in the air was different today. The estuary waters were particularly calm....in fact it was like fishing in a lake. The previous sessions had been during blustery windy conditions. I was feeling positive. The sun was shining too and it was pleasantly warm. An hour or so into the session i had a powerful bite that slammed the rod tip over....a fish was on!!
It shot off downtide stripping braid from the reel...a bit of pressure persuaded it to turn. it was going bezerk and swimming all over the place. I was using reasonably light rod (Ugly Stik Elite Spin 20-50g) and it was giving it a good work out. Soon enough a bright silver flash broke the surface....it was a Gilthead! A few more dives under the kayak before i could slip it into the landing net....result!!
It had a fine set of nashers too - powerful crushing teeth for munching up shellfish and crustaceans. Not a place you want to be if your a crab!
Karl did the honours with the camera. Not a monster but a respectable fish of 3lb 7oz which gave an electric fight....
That was me well happy. It was third session lucky. The fish was dispatched and kept for eating. Karl had a stonking run soon after but lost the fish after a short fight which was a shame. Things then went quiet so we went off for a paddle, his Kaskazi Dorado blending in well with the scenery...
I pulled up on the waters edge to take some better photos of the bream. They really are quite stunning with a big black gill spot, orange gill colouring and their characteristic solid gold band between the eyes, from which they are named.
I was really looking forward to the next session as i felt that i had finally cracked the mark.
Confidence was high for the next session. Gary had also been doing some more research. He had managed to locate section of the estuary that looked like it may hold fish. It was worth a try so another early start saw us launching at first light. The weather was again favourable so things were looking good. Anchored on the mark, the action started straight away. The baits were getting lots of attention and soon enough i was hooked into a fish. A good scrap saw a Gilthead of around 2lb in the kayak. These fish really do fight well for their size! Released to fight another day....
New baits and more bites. There was a good sized shoal of smaller fish about because the baits were getting stripped but hooking the fish was difficult. A couple of the culprits tripped up and took the hook. The next two fish were small but still very welcome...
The next fish was quite unexpected. I assumed i had another small Gilthead on the line but a Gilthead it was not.... it was a small Black Bream! Despite its small size it was a nice surprise and my first kayak caught Black bream from Cornwall.
Despite plenty of bites coming my way, Gary was struggling to get bites and a hook up. The only thing Gary was doing differently was that he was using multiplier reels instead of fixed spools. This meant that i was casting just that bit further than him and getting me amongst the fish. Everything else was practically identical and we were casting onto similar ground. It is strange how a small change in the style of fishing can make all the difference.
My next fish felt a little bit bigger. Another good scrap and another Gilthead Bream was pulled into the landing net.
Things then went quiet for a while. With the flooding tide i suggested a move up river to a mark we had previous scoped out. It turned out top be a good decision. First cast i hooked something decent that powered off fast. It was heading for weed on the far bank so i put on the brakes to prevent it from find refuge. With the rod bucked over the fish turned and began swimming towards me....and then nothing. All went slack and the fish had come off...damn! It was either a decent bream or a bass. Ah well. The next fish cheered me up. My favourite species of bream, and perhaps my favourite species all together.... a Couchs bream! Small but stunning....
Its not everyday you catch 3 species of bream from the kayak! The Couchs Bream is a fairly rare catch but several estuaries in Cornwall and Devon hold juvenile populations which seem to be growing in number over recent years which is a promising sign. A small shoal must have been in front of the kayak because the next cast another Couchs found the bait....
And then i thought i had hooked a bigger Gilthead but it turned out to be a Bass....
...and that was it. The bites tailed off and the fish seemed to have moved onto somewhere else again. That was a really enjoyable session with plenty of action. 4 Giltheads, 2 Couch's and 1 Black Bream along with a Bass. Gary didn't find his Gilthead but had a few Bass for his efforts.
We haven't managed to find time to have another crack at the Bream since that session. Summer got into full swing and other species took our attention. It was incredibly rewarding sussing out a Bream mark and catching some fish. Sunrise sessions are particularly enjoyable - the atmosphere as the silent estuary wakes with the rising sun is worth the early start. It took time, effort and patience but the rewards came in the end and as a result we will be better prepared for next season!
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