Black bream are deep bodied with a relatively short, small head. The body is covered in large armoured scales and the dorsal fin bears sharp spines. The jaws carry fine, sharp and slightly curved teeth.
For identification it’s hard to confuse black bream with any of the other bream species frequenting UK waters. Only the gilthead bream is likely, but the gilthead has the rear of the mouth extending just inside the vertical line of the eye, whereas on the black bream the mouth only extends as far back as a vertical line drawn down from the front edge of the eye. Also the gilthead has a broader more heavily shaped head.
The colouration of black bream is greyish blue fading to greyish white on the lower flanks. Male bream often carry shades of blue and yellow around the head, whereas the females are a more uniform colour.
Top baits for average sized bream up to 2lbs are short one-inch by half-inch strips of mackerel or squid. Double the size of the strip for bigger bream!
Bream also take cockle, mussel, lug, rag, peeler crab, they love the abdomens of hermit crab, also chunks of razorfish and strips of sandeel and bluey. Being a shoal fish they cannot afford to be too choosy!
They like to live around hard structures such as offshore wrecks in the English Channel, but also frequent inshore wrecks and especially reef ground elsewhere. They also favour weed beds, especially eel grass beds in shallow water.
When resident on wrecks they tend to shoal in amongst the wreckage and especially like wrecks that have broken up and split in two leaving scattered wreckage over a wide area. This means you need to get baits right in to the wreck to get the best catches. They tend to feed hard on the bottom when the tide is running hard, but will lift up in the water column some way when the tide slackens requiring the angler to adjust the depth of his bait.
Even over wrecks there is no need for heavy tackle. The maximum an experienced angler would use would be a 12lb class rod with a light reel holding 300-yards of 15 to 20lb braid and a 20lb clear mono shock leader.
However, on many wrecks, over slack water on neap tides, an 8lb class rod with a small modern multiplier such as the ABU Revo Toro 50 loaded with 15lb braid and a 15lb shock leader and light leads proves more than adequate and maximises sport.
On shallower wrecks and over reef ground, the latter outfit, or even a light 8ft spinning rod matched to a 040 sized fixed spool reel such as the ABU Soron, Penn Sargus or Similar Shimano, and loaded with 10 to 15lb braid and a 15lb shock leader is perfect.