Bitsa fish that spawn confusion

The weather could have been a little kinder last weekend - Sunday’s delightful early sunshine starting the day off, then turning to black clouds and torrential freezing rain; thunder and lightning then back to late evening sunshine. It’s a wonder the fish know what the season is, but we are now into April and the longer daylight hours are starting to take an effect, despite low water temperatures.

I was out on the bank quite happily catching roach, rudd and perch, when a young angler shouted to me from across the lake: ‘This fish’s got spots – is it sick?’

It turned out to be a bream with a few hard greyish white ‘spots’ on its head. Didn’t look very pretty, but quite normal for bream this time of the year. From April to June, depending on water temperature, male bream develop spots on their head and shoulders. It’s thought by rubbing against the females it helps trigger the females into releasing their eggs, all part of the natural spawning cycle.

Other species also start to spawn at this time of the year, particularly roach, which utilises similar breeding areas as bream.

Their DNA make-up is very similar to bream and cross-fertilisation can take place.

A male roach will fertilise bream eggs and vice versa. The inevitable outcome are the hard to identify hybrids – or ‘bitsa’ fish, ie: bits of roach, bits of bream, fish not quite having a normal body or fin shape.

Perhaps we should call them Broach or Ream?

Bream can soon make up a match winning bag, and when they get older, piling on weight from high protein carp baits, they can grow to around 20lbs, truly magnificent, impressive creatures.

I’ve managed to land a few in my time but perhaps the strangest of all are the two-tone bream. One half of the fish might be bronze, the other a dark almost black colour, with a straight dividing line down the middle.

No-one has come up with the definative answer to this strange colouration, but two-toners are always worth photographing to add to your trophy shots.