Gilthead bream (Sparus aurata), or dorada (orada) as they’re called in Spain and Mediterranean area, are considered to be the tastiest fish of the sea bream (Sparidae) family.
They’re also very elusive fish, not that easy to catch, as their fishing requires a little bit of finesse. However, once you know what tackle and bait to use, and where to look for them, it’s not that of a big deal. That’s exactly what this post is dedicated to.
Gilthead Bream Habitat And Habits
Dorada or gilthead bream can be found in the northeastern coastal Atlantic waters, and in the Mediterranean Sea. They prefer waters between 15-30 feet deep, but sometimes can be caught in shallow waters of 2-3 feet, or as deep as 150 feet. You should be able to find them in estuaries and sandy beaches, close to oyster beds or weed beds, as they feed on weeds as well, not only on small crustaceans. They prefer warmer waters, that’s why in the UK area are more difficult to catch during winter. Also, looking for them in estuaries especially during spring, can lead to better fishing results.
It’s important to know that gilthead bream are soft-biters, just like most other fish in the Sparidae family. Therefore, fishing for them is best done with sensitive tackle, which allows an excellent feeling of the bait. Also, if fishing with crabs and shrimp, know that gilt-bream typically never take the bait directly. They start nibbling on their legs, sometimes leaving only the carcass on the hook.
Dorada live in schools, so where you catch one, it’s a good chance that a couple of others will follow. Tides have an influence on their feeding habits, however that depends on the area. For example, in certain places you will only find them at high tide, being completely absent when the tide is low. In other areas, they’re present only when the tide is low. The idea is to fish in a different spots where you know that gilthead can be caught, and learn when’s the best time to catch them and with what, at those particular spots.
Fishing Methods For Gilthead Bream
Gilthead bream fishing is similar to sheepshead fishing or black bream fishing. Still fishing, down-dropping, surf fishing or even float fishing are the most used methods to catch gilthead bream. They can also be caught at lures, but jigging or fly fishing for gildhead bream in shallow waters is less productive.
In case you’re going to use a floats, it’s best to avoid the chunky ones. Longer and slimmer floats are better, as they oppose less on a bite. A heavy float typically leads to bait rejection.
Bait And Lures For Gilthead Bream
Gilthead bream’s diet consists of small crustaceans, mollusks, annelids and sometimes small fish. Therefore, the most used and most productive baits for these fish are clams and mussels, peeler crabs, shrimp, razor fish, squid, ragworms, lugworms or even earthworms.
If you want to try out lures, it’s best to choose the ones imitating shrimp, squid or crabs. Also, scented lures may be more useful, since dorada like to “mouth” the bait before taking it.
Tackle For Gilthead Bream
Rods. Depending on the area you’re fishing at or the bait used, various rods may be indicated. For example, if still fishing on estuaries, it’s best to go with 8-10ft., medium action rods, or carp rods such as Daiwa Mission X or Daiwa Black Widow. If you want to catch them in the surf, evidently use surf rods, such as Okuma Tundra Glass.
For float fishing, best to use telescopic 13-16ft. rods. And finally, if you’d like to go with lures, 7-9 ft. casting rods, medium-light, or light action should be the most appropriate choice.
Reels. Your reel for catching gilthead bream should fall somewhere between 2500-4000 size, and it’s best to use spinning reels. Reels such as Shimano Sedona 4000 FD, or Penn Battle 3-4000 should do just fine. Or, if you’re going with Daiwa rods, you may want to opt for a Daiwa reel as well. So, a Daiwa Crossfire 3000 or Daiwa Freams 3000 should fit with a Black Widow rod like a glove.
Line. Best choice for fishing line when it comes to dorada fishing is braided line, within 15-30lb. pound test range. Braided line allows you to feel the bait better, and it’s less subsceptible to abrasion, which you may be useful especially when fishing in a rocky area.
Rigs. Your terminal tackle for gilthead bream should involve 1-1.5ft. fluorocarbon line, 15-20lb. test, as it’s more difficult to see by the fish. Use running ledger rigs, and 3-4oz. weights, the lighter, the better. However, just make sure you use a sinker heavy enough to keep the bait in place.
Hooks. Depending on the size of the fish targeted, your hooks should be between 4 and 4/0. You’ll be needing strong, circle hooks or carp hooks, to make sure you won’t end up with a bent or broken hook, in case a bigger one bites. Two excellent choices would be Gamakatsu Carp Hooks or Mustad Ultra Point Carp.