Winter Bream Fishing 1

18 Dec

A lot of anglers associate Bream with the summer months only and I think this is, to some extent, due to the press, but mostly just a belief that they only feed during the warmer months. In my opinion, nothing could further from the truth, and this opinion is backed by the fact that all of my biggest Bream have come in the colder months, particularly during January to April.


So, where do you start: I will look at three diverse venues, Hatfield Forest, Ardliegh Reservoir and Nazeing Meads. On each of these venues the Bream have slightly different habits, but the rules are surprisingly similar. There are a number of contributing factors such as, depth of water, size of venue and how the wind will affect it, the average size of the fish and how many in the shoals. Another factor, especially from February onwards, and on venues that are over 50 acres will be the migratory routes to their spawning grounds.  In addition, on the bigger venues wind plays a significant factor in fish location. For example, a cold wind from North, North-East, North-West, East, and South-East will hit the bank and push colder water in the opposite direction of the wind. This will move the fish further out into deeper water. The reverse will happen with a warm wind from the West, South-West, and South, bringing the fish closer and into shallower water. This said, it is unlikely the very big Bream will come within 50 yards of the bank other than to spawn. As a rule of thumb, on a big venue during the colder months, you are better off fishing in16 plus feet of water where the thermal levels will maintain a reasonable temperature and with the cold winds off your back.  There are other contributing factors unique to every venue and I will go into more detail for the three I have chosen.

Hatfield Forest. Season Ticket allowing night fishing £96 + Key Deposit. Day Ticket £6


X Marks best winter Bream areas on all maps

National Trust

10 acres

Average Depth 5-7 feet

Landscape, mostly woodland with some open areas

Winds, normally light and from the NE or SW

Large shoals, 50-60 fish, with an average of 7-9lb. Best fish, 15lb+


Even though this venue is relatively small by ‘Big-Bream’ standards, it holds a large head of good size Bream, with the upper limit being over 15lb. One of the main contributing factors with this venue is the old river bed which runs the entire length of the lake, although in the shallow end it has silted up completely. Towards the damn wall and running half the length of the lake it is generally 6-8 inches deeper and mostly a soft silt bottom.  This is a good place to aim for, especially if you want the bigger fish. My tactics for a 24 hour session here will be; 6 (cold wind)-14 (warm wind) big spods of ground-bait at about 18 rod lengths out. This will consist of crushed boilies, provimi fishmeal, brown crumb, small bloodworm and trout pellets, flaked maize and crushed hemp. Hook-bait will be a big lob-worm hair rigged on a size 10/12 wire hook or 2 10mm boilies hair rigged on a size 10 short shank hook. To keep the lob worm on the hair use a Drennan quick stop. The hook-length I prefer for big Bream is Nash Fluro Carbon 8lb, normally about 6 inches. Above this, I use either a free-running inline or cage feeder (60gsm-2ounces), with a stop bead about 6 inches above the feeder. This will give the bigger fish enough time to pick up the bait without resistance and get side on before the hit the weight. If I have had a few fish during the daylight hours, which is often the case here, I will top up with more bait via the spod. For some reason on this venue baiting over their heads does not spook them. This may be due to the amount of disturbance during the day from rowing boats etc. I am fishing this venue on Monday 22nd for an over nighter and will report back on my next article. My target on this venue at this time of year will be 10-12 fish from 8lb and upwards. Oh yeah, and don’t be surprised to catch a Tench or two. All my biggest fish from here have come during the coldest of nights.


Nazeing Meads. Season Ticket only: Around £150


Lea Valley Parks

124 acres

Average Depth: North Lagoon 14-16 feet, Centre Lagoon 8-14 feet, and South Lagoon 8-16 feet.

Landscape varied with lots of woodland areas and some very open areas.

Winds from all directions and colder winds will move the fish to deeper areas.

Small shoals, 6-12 fish, an average of 10-12lb, biggest in excess of 17lb.


This is a classic Big Bream venue and each lagoon fishes differently. I will keep this as simple as possible. on the North lagoon the hardest big is locating the fish in winter, but generally they can be found in the deep water near the sluice at about 16 rods out, or in the bay in the North West corner, again at 16+ rods. It is worth, as with all venues, walking at first light as the bream will show themselves. The average size on the North is smaller, 8-9lb being the average, however the shoals can be bigger 10-20 fish, although it does hold some very big fish.  Here. I would start with around 8-10 spods especially in the deeper swims, but do not top it up, other than with swim feeder as this will spook the fish. Ground-bait as above, but with a good amount of maize and corn. Hook baits, 2-3 grains of maize, 2-3 10mm bloies, a maggot clip with 5-8 maggots on, providing there are no small fish about. The Centre can be hard in the winter as most of the fish move into the deep water (20 feet+) in the South Lagoon. I would give this a miss at this time of the year. The South is the best venue for the Big Gal’s in winter. The shoals are generally 4-6 fish and the fish can be very big. In one session I had 4 fish over 15lb on a freezing February night. The hard bit here is fish location and the only way you will find them is by watching at first light or picking a deep area (20feet+) and hoping. I know this is vague, however, the more you fish this venue, the better understanding you will have and the effort is worth it as it is capable of throwing up some very big fish indeed.


Ardliegh Reservoir. Season Ticket allowing night fishing is around £165, day ticket £7.

Ardleigh (1)

Three Valleys Water

124 acres

Average depth 14-18 feet.

Landscape varied with lots of woodland areas and some very open areas.

Winds from all directions and colder winds will move the fish to deeper areas.

Vast shoals of fish 100+ with the average size 7-9lb, Best fish 13lb.


Of the 3 venues, this one is affected most by cold winds. With so many fish in here, location in the winter is simple, fish with the cold winds off your back and into 16+ feet of water. Bait up heavily (2-3 Kilo+ of ground-bait) and unlike the other two veues, the fish will move to you. There are so many Bream in here that they are never far away and always hungry. Hook baits are varied and most baits work well, however, they do like anything with chocolate in it. It is hard to pick out the big fish in here but you can reckon on 10+ fish even during the coldest nights. Check the winds here and make sure it won’t turn towards you as you will get blown away.



I hope this helps and inspires you to go and have a go for the Bream. If you are going to get a PB Bream, it will be during the winter months. Go-Catch SteveD…


Posted by on December 18, 2014 in Winter Bream 1


2 responses to “Winter Bream Fishing 1

  1. James Connolly

    February 13, 2017 at 8:24 pm

    Hi Stephen, really enjoying reading your blog, some really useful and interesting info. Just wondering what rods you are using for your bream fishing? Many thanks, James.


    • stephenmdavis571

      February 14, 2017 at 11:15 am

      Hi James,

      Thanks for your comments, very much appreciated. The rods is a difficult one haha. It really depends where I am and how big the fish go. The reason I say this is because invariably, my approach also attracts carp. Currently, I am on Alton Water in Suffolk, and there are some very big Bream, Tench and Carp. I have some fox 1.75lb duo-lights which serve me well on most small waters however on Alton and also on Hemingford, I use Shimano 2.75 supressa’s, which are very ‘tipy’, and ideal for the size of the fish. However, just got my hands on some Codex rods, which are to die for. they are 2.25 test curve at the butt, progressing down to 1.75lb a the tip. 11 foot 6 inches, which is a great length, and at £60 a piece and real bargain. Codex are a new company, and not many shops have them at the moment, but if you get a chance, have a look as there is nothing else on the market like them… Cheers Steve… By the way, you can ask me anything like this via my forum, which is stansted.angling on facebook. It works well on there as I have some quality anglers, and unlike other sites, there’s no swearing, trolling, or being silly. Just sensible angling conversation…



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