Sunday, 7 July 2013

Cornish Gilthead Bream Fishing 06-07-13

In the spring and summer months, one fish that I love to target is Gilthead Bream.  To me, they are a great fighting, great looking, and great eating fish.  Although I really enjoy catching and eating Sea Bass, Gilthead Bream have the edge in both fighting and eating qualities.

The Cornish Gilthead Bream season usually runs from April through to early October and in the UK, they are most abundant in the South and South West.

I am fortunate to live close to one of the areas they like to feed which are the creeks of the Fal Estuary.


Selecting locations similar to the locations for Flounder fishing are good locations to try for Gilthead Bream.  In addition, like Bass, they will swim right into the shallows hunting for food therefore; the tactics for catching them are very similar to Flounder fishing or scaled down Bass fishing.

From the kayak, I like to use a light 7' 10g to 35g spinning rod and a 4000 size fixed spool reel loaded with 15lb braid and a 15lb nylon leader.  At the business end, a running ledger with a 2ft to 3ft 15lb fluorocarbon trace and hook sizes 1 to 4.  Weights range from 1oz to 2oz and baits can be lugworm, ragworm, peeler crab, mussel, or razorfish. 

The size and the sharpness of the hook are very important.  Gilthead Bream have a small mouth with the first inch lined with rock hard teeth.  This area of the mouth is extremely difficult to penetrate with a hook.  Unless the hook gets beyond those teeth into softer parts of the mouth, there is every chance of losing a fish during the fight simply because the hook has not been able to secure a firm hold. 

Two ways I have found that increase the chance of a secure hook on the fish are to allow the fish to take line after the initial bite giving it more time to get the bait well into the mouth. To achieve this either use a bait runner reel or set the clutch of the reel very light to enable to fish to move away with the bait before the strike. The other is to use strong carp hooks between sizes 1 to 4 depending on what bait is used.  For shellfish, I use size 1 and for worm bait size 2 or 4.  That said due to the structure of the fishes mouth, a percentage of fish would still be lost during the fight.

Today it was low water at 11:20 and it was important that I was ready to start fishing two hours before low water.  Similar to Bass, I have found the most productive time is a few hours either side of low water.  The best time of day is dawn however, it is not always possible to match low water with dawn and fish can still be caught at any time of the day.

My choice of bait today was razorfish otherwise known as razor clam.  Compared to lugworm or peeler crab, razorfish is an underrated bait yet it has a fantastic scent so much so, that it is difficult to get rid of the scent on your fingers long after using it!  It has caught me a great number of Sea Bass in the past and is a very good bait to use for Gilthead Bream. 

Razorfish is soft bait therefore; it can be difficult to keep on the hook.  One way to make this easier is first bind the bait with bait elastic making a sausage.  Once done, it is very easy to thread onto the hook in exactly the same way as you would thread on a lugworm or ragworm.

The first bite came well before low water but unfortunately, the fish was lost close to the kayak.  Gilthead Bream are very strong and fight very hard with repeated runs.  As mentioned above, fish can easily be lost in the fight.

Fortunately, I had another bite around low water and I gave the fish plenty of slack line before the strike and managed to land the fish.  The initial pull and the fight of a Gilthead Bream is something to experience!

I fished on but that was the only Bream of the day however, when Bream fishing you often catch small Bass.

Apart from the fact that this Bass was under the legal size limit, I was fishing in a Bass Nursery Area, which means from April 30th to January 1st, all Bass are protected.  It was good to see this Bass returned safely for future stocks.

It is always pleasing to catch a Gilthead Bream, They are a challenge to catch, the fight is tremendous, they are great looking and even better tasting so it was off home to prepare the catch for the barbeque.

Update June 2014:

Although you can fish for Gilthead Bream from April to mid October in Cornwall, I like to target them in June, July, and August.  With a warm settled forecast, I decided to head out for my first Bream trip of 2014. The trip contributed to the making of the video below.


  1. i found your video and advice very helpful thank you from fellow fisherman

    1. Thank you for your comment and pleased you found the video useful.

  2. Hello i am Ryan from gibraltar and im 15 i intend on catching my first gilthead bream this august as that is the time when we really start to catch in gibraltar. I have witnessed people catching big giltheads as my brother has caught a 5kg one and i was wondering if u may reply on the following questions. Is braid necessary, the hooks a use are magnums and their quiet large as we dont get little ones is that ok or should i use smaller ones. The rod i use is a diawa crossfire surf is it good enough and finally what type of areas should i target, you see their are many places that ive seen people catching big ones and more than one should i find my own spot or should i try where the older better anglers go.
    Yours sincerly


  3. Hi Ryan. Thank you for your comment and I pleased to try to help you with your questions. Braid is not really necessary it is just that some people prefer braid and others nylon. What I would recommend is using a Fluorocarbon trace line to your hook 0.20mm to 0.31mm (depending on the likely fish size) because of its invisibility in water. The hook size can vary and depends on the bait size usually size 4 to 3/0 depending on the bait. The hook must be strong and very sharp and although I did not use circle hooks in this video, circle hooks are very good for Gilt Head Bream. You rod would be fine fishing from the shore. I have to use short rods because I am fishing from the kayak If i was fishing from the shore, I would use a beach rod such as a 12ft Bass rod. You should have your reel in free spool, to enable the bream to run with the bait offering the least resistance whilst they take the bait into their mouth and the circle hook should hook them. As far as areas to fish, I would advise you to learn from the experienced Bream fisherman in your area as I do not know you locations. Go to the places where you have seen people catching them and try to learn the times they go. I have a Greek friend who is very experienced at catching Gilt Head Bream in Greece and he has sent me information on baits they use in the Mediterranean and the tackle set up they use. If you want that information I would need you email address. If you send me a email to I will send you the information I have. Hope this helps. Rob

  4. Hi Rob, this is a great video! I'm a doing some research into gilthead bream at the University of Exeter's Penryn Campus that you might be interested in. Would you mind if I gave you a ring to have a chat at some point? My email address is hope to hear from you soon!

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