March 21, 2019

British Record Gilthead Bream

In early summer 2011 my extensive diving on Portland Ledges with Cameron and Rory Parker started to pay dividends. Most dives we would see a spectrum of fish including black bream, bass, cod, Pollack and, very occasionally, gilthead bream.

Gilthead Bream Spearfishing

The first dive I encountered GHB was about 17m dropping just behind some cover I was planning to hit. I was surprised by a swirling shoal of big fish in midwater, but, despite registering them as GHB did not get a shot as they were so fast.

Now aware of their presence we had fleeting sightings of these fish over the next few dives until a fateful day. After diving hard all morning and landing some decent black bream I ventured deeper. There is a dropoff from 19-23m in a certain place off Portland Bill and here I found myself on the bottom at 23m watching a whirling shoal of black bream at the edge of the 4m vis.

Given the presence of GHB which tend to keep far out of range, and the chances of a 20lb plus bass following several sightings, I was using a long ranged Rob Allen 140cm speargun with double 16mm bands and a 7.5mm spear.

Waiting until my breath would allow, I finally saw a massive gillplate moving left to right at the back of the shoal of black bream. Assuming this to be one of the mighty 20lb bass that we sometimes see here, I took aim with the long range gun. At the last minute I saw it was a much stumpier and shorter fish than a big bass, and at the same time took my shot.

At the edge of vis the fish did a cartwheel and I headed for the surface with no time for subtle tactics! The fish fought hard on the way up, and it was a great relief to surface with the fish still coming up the line.

Rory jumped in to take some photos. This was the first GHB I had shot, so had no idea what size they usually were. Fortunately the boys assured me it was something special so we kept the fish intact for weighing.

All in all the GHB have fallen to long range spearguns off Portland Bill and have remained out of reach of our smaller guns. We have taken a good few of these fish now, but they tend to prefer water deeper than 20m in this area.

Offshore diving at Portland Bill is not to be recommended without an experienced local guide as the currents can be extremely strong. Several newcomers have had very close escapes over the last 12 months so please ask advice from locals before considering diving this dangerous spot. If you see us out there, do come and say hi and we will be happy to give some advice 🙂

Dive Safe,

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