Laying the ground rules for bream

Beccles has been up and down again, perhaps suffering a bit from over-bagging and keep-net retention.

Nevertheless, double-figure bags of bream to 40lbs were taken and there have been plenty of smaller roach around 3-4ozs on the feed near to the road bridge. It seems more ground-baiting at the start, say four or five solid balls, then left at least an hour before replenishment, has been the order of the day for the float presentation to shoals harassed by pike.

The feeder, too, appears to benefit from this approach because once settled the bream shoal of fish to 8lbs showing up on fish finders moves around half a mile, but is huge, and well capable of three 100lb bags besides each other. If it is only going to be held in one place to feed, then it requires an old-style heads down approach, although 14lbs of white crumb these days may seem unbelievable. Gone are the days it used to be carried half a mile up the bank to Boaters' Hill, plus a big wicker basket, in slimed and tattered looking Barbour jackets – real men's fishing the older readers of this column will surely recall.

The former Pig Meadow at Needham near to the roundabout is little fished these days, but the steady stream had fish rising after the flood in good numbers. Avoiding the bigger bend Harry Street from Diss settled down with his pole to give it a try and came up with a good bag of roach up to 10ozs. Although most of the fish were under half a pound, 15-16lbs of them on maggot was an enjoyable catch.

On the Harleston, Wortwell & District AC stretch below Needham Mill the roach that were hanging just short of the pool moved down on to the first marsh and stayed, well over to the far bank. The roach here are a long-time established quality strain of typical Upper Waveney roach, deep in the belly and with a larger, stronger tail structure than the tidal water redfins. The slightly bronzed head in the normally gin-clear water gives a fine portrait, and the six caught this week just over the pound go to show all is not lost on these stretches, once famed for a proliferation of 2lb giants.

Around Bungay, apart from the Falcon Meadow and Fleece Marsh, it has been a bit of a struggle, with chub the saviours. Indeed, walks on the Common have been very worthwhile for the roamer prepared to sample three swims or so on their outing. More fish to 5lbs have been taken this year, with a few six-pounders, than ever.