Bream (Abramis brama)

Common bream are one of the larger members of the carp family found in British freshwaters. They have deep, narrow bodies (hence the anglers’ names for bream - dustbin lids and slabs) and can swim with ease through weedy or reedy shallow water. Their long, dark dorsal fins are set well back near their blackish, deeply forked tails. Bream have small, underslung mouths which can project forwards while they root on muddy lake or river bottoms in search of food. Another distinctive feature is their covering of thick slime. Young bream, called skimmers, are silver and are often confused with silver bream, a different species altogether. As skimmers mature, they turn a dark, golden-olive colour. Fully mature bream have dark backs and greenish-bronze flanks with white undersides.


Bream are thought of as stillwater fish. They are attracted to shallow, reedy bays where they feed and bask in the sun. They are, however, more adaptable than many anglers think - they can thrive in moderate- to fast-flowing rivers, sheltering just outside the main current under tree roots, in deep pools or near undercut banks. The key to large bream populations is the diversity and quantity of food available.

Feeding habits

Skimmers begin feeding on algae and plankton and then graduate to water fleas. Adult fish eat whatever food is available - including a wide range of plant material, insect larvae and bottom-dwelling invertebrates. Larger, older bream sometimes feed at night on fry and minnows. Members of the shoal often roll on the surface of the water as a prelude to feeding. A variety of baits will tempt bream, provided you fish them directly on the bottom and usually over a carpet of groundbait.

Fish facts

Weight: Up to 7.2kg (16lb)
Average Length: 35-40cm (14-16in)
Life-span: 15-20 years
Favourite waters: Slow rivers and still waters. Bream are particularly attracted to weedy or reedy shallow Water.
Favourite baits: Sweetcorn, worms, Bread, red maggots, Trout pellets, mini boilies etc. Bream are also very fond of vast amounts of groundbait and cocktails of baits.
UK Record: 18lbs 8oz (K Walker 2001)