Bream (Carp Bream / Common Bream) - Abramis brama

About the Bream.
The common bream belongs to the Cyprinidae carp family and is found in many European freshwater rivers and lakes. It can grow to a fairly large size and tends to move around in large shoals with hundreds of other bream of a similar size and age. Anglers love to hook a bream, as there are often many more to be caught after the first one is snared.

Bream Identification

The bream (carp bream) is very easy to distinguish from other UK course fish due to its extremely deep, thin and flat body and its high back.

An adult bream has a dark coloured back with a greenish - brown hue, bronze flanks and a cream coloured belly.

Young bream also have deep bodies yet are much more slender. They are silver in colour, sometimes verging on white. They are nicknamed "skimmers", as once hooked and pulled in, they literally skim over the water and fly straight into the net.

The bream has a small, scaleless head with tiny eyes but a large, underslung mouth that protrudes out and almost forms a thin tube with which they are able to suck up food.

It has long dorsal, anal and tail fins that are dark grey in colour and tinged with red. The anal fin is slightly concave.

Another distinguishing feature of the common bream is that it produces a thick and pungent-smelling slime all over its body that is better being washed off as quickly as possible when netted.

Bream Habitat

Bream is a very prolific species and is found in practically all waters in the UK and Europe. However, they are more common to England, South Wales and Northern and Central Ireland and are only found in small areas of southern Scotland.

Bream prefer deep still waters such as canals, lowland lakes and reservoirs but may also be found in the lower reaches of slow-flowing rivers or in the slower areas of weirpools.

Due to the shape of their bodies, bream can often be found feeding in shallow waters with an abundance of reeds and weeds, through which they are easily able to navigate.

Bream may also be found resting in the slower regions of fast-flowing rivers, hiding out under tree roots and plants, near undercut banks or in deep pools.

Natural Bream Food

The bream is principally a bottom-feeding fish that eats large quantities of almost any kind of small aquatic food found on the bottom of the water bed.

Its favoured fare consists of worms, aquatic insects and larvae, fish eggs, leaches and small molluscs and crustaceans.

Young bream feed on plankton and algae and then move on to tiny insects as they grow bigger.

These fish take their food in through their protruding mouths which point downwards whilst their bodies float almost vertically upwards, as they hoover up their chosen meal content.

Bream feed slowly and will often stay in one place until all food sources are exhausted before moving on to their next food-rich feeding location.

Bream Reproduction

Bream carry out their reproduction procedure between the months of May and July and predominantly at night.

They gather in large groups and move to shallow waters with plenty of weeds and dense plant growth.

Just prior to the spawning process, the male bream acquire white tubercles on their head and shoulder area and their body turns hard. They rub up against the female bream with their tubercles in a bid to stimulate them to release their pale yellow eggs, which are released over dense water vegetation and plants.

The eggs are fertilised and then take around a week to hatch.

Bream Hybrids

With this species, as with many others including chub, spawning takes place at the same time and in the same location. For this reason, the males often confuse the eggs when it comes to fertilisation and fertilise other fish's eggs, resulting in a cross breed of the two species. With bream, this is common with the roach and rudd.

Silver Bream

Young bream are sometimes confused with the silver bream, which is a totally different species. The silver bream has bigger eyes and does not have a protruding mouth.

The Bream's Vital Statistics

  • Average weight: 3lb - 4lb (1.4kg - 1.8kg)
  • Average length: between 30cm and 50cm
  • Specimen weight: anything over 6lb
  • Life-span: 15 - 20 years
  • Current UK record: 22lbs - 11 ounces (Fen Drayton Lakes, Cambridgeshire)

Rivers with big bream include:


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