Black sea bream are the sheepshead of northern Europe, being part from the same family – Sparidae, actually, just as the sheepshead. Even though their maximum size is 60 cm, and their average size is between 35 – 40 cm, fishing for black sea bream is a lot of fun. Therefore, if you haven’t tried caught black sea bream so far, and you would like to give it a try, here are a few pointers regarding bait, tackle and their habitat.
Black Sea Bream – Habitat and Habits
Black sea bream can be found in northern Europe and in the Mediterranean Sea, preferring the inshore shelf at depths varying from 5 to 300 m. They populate the coastline of Britain and Ireland, up to the Scottish. But the highest concentrations of black seabream can be found around the southern shores of England, Wales and Ireland.
They are usually found in schools feeding on seaweeds, invertebrates and crustaceans. Their breeding season is between February to May, and they lay their eggs in the demersal zone. Beginning with April, after their breeding, they seek the shore waters once more. They can be caught quite far away from the shores in the vicinity of reefs, wrecks and other structures, but regularly the best black sea bream fishing is done in shallow or moderately deep waters, near shores, in estuaries, harbor areas, from piers and beaches.
They prefer hard bottoms, and as the tide is slack or slow, they tend to move up in the water column, but as the waters begin to move, they return to the bottom. It’s best to catch them during calm spells, and no wind. Rough seas keep the bream offshore. Although they can be caught day-long, best moments are at dawn and dusk, especially if there is a newly flooding tide.
Fishing Techniques for Black Sea Bream
Basically, there’s only one major fishing method for black sea bream, involving light tackle, various rigs, and regularly live bait. Best fishing is done from a boat. However, you can always catch a prize black sea bream from a pier, within a harbor area or from the beach.
It’s important to know that black sea bream have a soft bite, like most other fish from the Sparidae family, that’s why light, sensitive tackle is important. Also, depending on what bait you’re using, the way they bite may differ. For example, if using crabs, they tend to nibble on their legs first, which makes hooking tricky.
Bait for Black Sea Bream
The main diet of black sea bream consists of invertebrates, crustaceans and sea weeds. Therefore, the most used bait are ragworms, peeler crabs or squid strips. Scallop frills and mussels are also great baits for these fish, however, fish strips work too.
They’re not typically interested in moving baits, therefore lures aren’t very productive for black sea bream. You can still catch them though, with small lures, imitating squid or shrimp. There are also special scented lures for bream, you can try Ecogearaqua for example.
Tackle for Black Sea Bream
Rods. Light, fast action spin rods are a must for black bream. And if you don’t want to spend a fortune on a Hearty Rise rod, a 5’6″ – 7′ Shakespeare Ugly Stik, or Daiwa Sealine Surf Light should do just fine. If you’re going to fish from a beach, or pier, you might want to opt for a longer rod though, 12′ – 15′.
Reels. Choose a spinning reel to balance your rod and have enough spool to hold a few hundred yards of braided 14lb. – 20lb. line. A Daiwa ECP4500 or Daiwa Emcast 4500 should do.
Line. As I just mentioned, best choice when it comes to line for black bream, is 14-20 lb. pound test braided line. However, you can use monofilament as well.
Rigs. Best rigs to use for black sea bream are paternoster, the Wessex rig, or the Running Ledger rig.
Hooks. Depending on the baits you’re using, different hooks may be necessary. For example, if you’re going with worms, J rigs are the best choice, but for crabs or mussels semi-circle rigs are more appropriate. Your hooks should be between 2 and 1/0 in size.