LRF – Jigging For Couches Bream

There are moments, most often in the summer months, when I realise how lucky I am to live and fish in Plymouth. It may not be the richest city, but the riches below the surface of the Plymouth Sound are vast. I spent an August evening fishing with Maurice Mitchinton, which went from typical to special very quickly.

Maurice surveying his territory.

Rumours of black bream drew us to Elphinstone Car Park in Plymouth, one of the city’s most popular marks. You can fish out of your car boot there so it makes for easy fishing for younger and older anglers. One older angler who doesn’t need to fish easy access marks is Maurice, at 76 he’s quite easily the oldest Lerfer in the UK, and bloody good at what he does! We set off on a bream mission that was going to end up pinker in colour than expected…

The view from Elphi to Mount Batten.

With the sun sinking behind us and the hulking granite Citadel protecting us from the Westerly wind, it was a pleasant evening. Despite a little colour in the water from recent wind and rain, there was still ample visibility for lure fishing. To our right a melee of feathers, heavy leads and thick set rods made their repeated casts in hope of mackerel. The mackerel being oddly absent it must be said. Me and Maurice were fishing much lighter, with our Majorcraft Aji-Do and N-One, rated to 3g and 10g respectively.

The wind was blowing over the top of the Citadel.

With our target being bream, we had rigged up dropshot rigs, mine being snooded so I could thread the scented worm further up the line. Our first casts were met with instant attention as soon as the weight touched the muddy sea floor. Rattle rattle rattle! The rod tip bounced and vibrated satisfyingly. We were both soon attached to the culprits, not the bream we were after, but baby whiting.

These little whiting were like piranhas!

Whiting are genuine sporting targets once over 20-30cm, these little scamps still had some growing to do! Unfortunately there were thousands of them and every drop came back with one, or a similarly sized pollock. Not the most exciting of starts, although at least we were both catching.

There were pout too.

The feather flingers to our right certainly weren’t landing any mackerel, that species strangely absent for early August. So our modest captures kept us content enough to continue for a bit longer. But to cut this part of the story short, there wasn’t much more variety to be had at Elphinstone Car Park, so we made a move.

Goldsinny were there of course too, but no bream.

The Barbican foreshore of Plymouth is literally built on history. The Mayflower set off for America over 400 years ago from there, Sir Francis Drake defeated the Spanish Armada only a short distance away. With Covid forcing everyone to holiday in the UK, the history (and sunshine) had attracted tourists, in what felt like record numbers! Me and Maurice did our best to dodge the crowds and found a quiet corner. We were in darkness now and were thankful for the many streetlights emanating their urban yellow glow. As City Lerfers, we were in our natural element.

The sun was setting and we moved further into the Barbican.

I cast out my Dropshotted Ecogear Aqua Shirasu onto what I knew was clean ground. At low tide it’s revealed as a tiny golden beach, at high tide it attracts flounder, dragonets and other unusual species. I was hoping for those as I twitched the silver Ecogear Shirasu back. These versatile scented lures have a small ball tail that I could imagine wiggling above the sand, tantalisingly. I didn’t need to imagine much longer as the rod tip ripped over, bouncing with an aggressive take! I barely needed to strike as the fish took off. I knew this wasn’t a big fish but it was powerful for it’s size, whirling around in front of me. I knew I had hooked a bream, but which species?

I switched on my head torch and I could make out the blunt head and pink flanks of a couches bream! I soon had it beat and lifted it up into my grasp. Maurice was fishing just up from me and I called out to him that I had a couches. These bream are always a special catch and it seriously boosted our mood for the night. Maurice was soon joining the action and almost immediately had one of his own. My next cast produced another solid bite but I missed it. I realised we had found an aggressively feeding shoal and I knew I had to take advantage.

A baby couches bream in all its glory.

Enter the micro jig… I replaced the dropshot with a 1.5g Majorcraft Jigpara Regular in Zebra Glow. I figured I had to take a chance that the bream would attack a metal, these opportunities don’t come along often. Flicking the tiny lure out, I let it flutter to the bottom and gave it small lifts, letting it fall back down again and repeating. There was no interest on the first couple of casts but the next would be different…

The micro metal.

I nearly got to the step below me when I got the hit I wanted! The bream once again ripping more line than a fish that size should. I was so excited I bullied it in, not wanting to lose this special catch. It was soon mine and I could have punched the sky! Micro metal LRF at it’s finest, a catch beyond my expectations.

It worked!

I took the time to admire the fish, the blunt head with huge eyes, the toothy grin and pink, silver and blue flanks. This species, still relatively rare in UK catches, is one to treasure. As I released it and Maurice followed mine up with a second, we both appreciated how the night had turned around. The rest of the evening petered out with a few of the usual harbour species but we both ended it happy.

This little fish will stay with me for a while.

Thank you as always for reading, you can find more of my recent posts below.

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