Fishing for Gilthead Bream:the basics

I’m getting more and more questions about fishing for gilts so here’s a quick blog about how to go about fishing for them. As with all of my posts all I can do is tell you how I do it-it will be different to how many others do it but what follows works for me.

Gilts arnt hard to catch. You don’t need to cast too far, you can use relatively light kit, the rigs are simple and you don’t as get as hammered by the elements as you do on the open coast.


The estuaries are the best place to start. We are lucky enough to have 3 in Cornwall-the Fal, the Helford, and the Camel. All of these hold bream. The trick in deciding where to fish is knowing where to be and when to be there. Unfortunately the only way your going to find that is by hauling your arse out of bed and fishing. I’ve put far too many hours in tell the whole world what I’ve learned, and even then I’m often proved wrong. The fish move up through the estuaries to feed on crabs and shellfish. They will pass through different marks at different times of the tide.

The best place to start would be google maps. Below is a screen shot of the Helford but basically all you need to do is zoom in and out of the river, find where a road passes fairly close to the river and have a scan around. You can see places to park and places to fish, then all you have to do is try.


You can catch bream at any time of day but there is no substitute for first light. I’m frequently up at 3am, fishing for first light and at work before 9am. Then you need to fish your spot hard. Cast to different areas, closer in, further out, towards any features or in the channel. The first morning is easy, the 2nd gets a bit harder but it’s the 3rd and 4th morning of getting up at 3am that kills me.


You can start with pretty much any sea fishing kit. You don’t have the swell and wind to content with so you can get away with much lighter kit. I started out with a 4000 sized fixed spool and a cheap 3lb test curve carp rod. This was fine but as time has gone on and I have spent more time fishing for them I have upgraded to what I think is the best kit on the market. My current set up is a pair of Anyfish Anywhere 11’estuary rods matched up with a pair of Daiwa Cast’izm 25’s. It’s not a cheap set up but it’s quality. Light enough for a 2lb’er to bend the rod but heavy enough to stop a proper fish if needs be.

But you don’t need to spend silly money. A pair of 1-5oz Bass rods and a pair of 4-6000 sized fixed spools would be perfect. Load them with 12-15lb mono and a 30lb leader and your away. You can even get away with fishing heavier spinning gear if you have to but you’ll struggle to land a big fish on that sort of set up. Plus if there’s any weed moving up the river then you would struggle to haul in the 20 or 30lb of weed that accumulates on your line very quickly.


Keep it simple is the key here. I fish a running ledger using a Gemini zip slider and swivel, 18″ of 30lb amnesia trace and a mustad 2/0 hoodlum. Your not casting a million miles so no need for fancy clip down rigs. I also take a variety of 3oz leads with me and decide which ones to use based on the conditions on the day but I do like the flat sided aquapedo’s and Gemini watch leads.


Crab. Fresh crab. There is no subsitute. Sure, people catch them on all sorts-razors, worm, mussels and limpits but personally I wouldn’t bother going if i didn’t have fresh crab. It’s not the cheapest bait in the world but it’s easy to look after, lasts for days (if not weeks) and can be frozen down for winter of its on its last legs. All you need is a small coolbox and a few freezer blocks. I take 40 or 50 if I know I’m fishing a few days and just rotate the freezer blocks to keep them cool and save my mrs moaning about there being bait in the fridge. I’ll do a more detailed blog on using and keeping peeler crab in the next couple of days.

And that’s about it. If you put the time in you will catch the fish. You can make it as complicated as you want but if you follow these simple guidelines and put a bit of time and effort into it then you’ll catch yourself a few fish.

As always, feel free to pop into the shop if you have any further questions.

Tight lines.

Ps. Excuse any spelling/grammatical mistakes as I’m going to try use/keep things updated using my phone.


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