What Does a Bream Fish Look Like?

Angling exposes you to many types of fish, but one of the most common fish found in the waters are bream. What does a bream fish look like? Bream often refers to the common bream with scientific name Cyprinidae. It is a freshwater fish which is originally from Europe. Close cousins of the bream are the goldfish, minnow and carp. In the US all members of the Sunfish family are collectively called bream. When teaching children how to fish these panfish are often used as an example. Bream aren’t just for child’s play though since bigger bream can put up a fight in a tackle.

What Does a Bream Fish Look Like

What does a bream fish look like–Identifying Bream?

What does a bream fish look like?

You need to know the basics. The well-known bream that comes from Europe is deep-bodied and comes in medium size. The color is primarily bronze. The common bream has fins that are dark brown in color with a deeply forked tail. A silvery color makes younger fish distinct, and this hue darkens as they age.

To answer–what does a bream fish look like. The common bream is related to the carp. If you know what a carp looks like a bream will look similar to it. Breas are primarily bottom feeders, and they prey on creatures from worm to pea mussels. They are often found in ponds, lakes and rivers. 

Size and length

What does a bream fish look like? To make sure the fish is bream, it must be twelve to 24 inches in length. The bream will grow to a length of one to two feet long before spawning and maturity. On occasion, bream can grow larger. The species of bream are common, so they are a low priority conservation risk. However, to be caught legally, bream must be large enough. 

The location and the season determine European guidelines so it is crucial to find out local rules in your area to know the minimum size of fish you can catch. Generally, if it is about 12 inches long, you will be fine.

Silver, white and common bream

There is a difference between silver, white, and common bream.  What does a bream fish look like? Bream species will often breed with other types of fish, so occasionally identification will be somewhat difficult. If you are looking for a specific type of fish, common bream is quickly identifiable from other species of bream such as the American and Sunfish varieties.

What does a bream fish look like? The silver and white variety of bream are smaller than the common bream. It also has a colorful effect in its scales that is nonexistent in the common bream. If you notice a colorful iridescence below the water, you likely have a silver or white bream variety.

What Does a Bream Fish Look Like

It’s really not crucial to know all the different types of bream to catch a good panfish. Bream will have general characteristics that will identify it as part of the bream family. Overall, you should check the scales from the dorsal to the lateral part to quickly see if it is bream. If you count eleven scales up to the lateral line, then it is bream. If it is fewer than eleven, it may be another variety of bream, or it may not be bream at all.

American species

What does a bream fish look like? It is crucial to know what American bream looks like. However, for clarification, what is called American bream isn’t technically bream, but, rather, a species of sunfish which is only colloquially termed as bream. The word identifies distinct species of fish.

The sunfish family which get the bream moniker include:


This fish got its name from coloring of their gill plate and not their gill. This species of fish can be found in most parts of the US, excluding Alaska. The world record for bluegill was 4 pounds and 12 ounces caught in the 1950s.

Redear sunfish

This fish is similar to the appearance of the bluegill. The fins are a black and blue shade similar to the bluegill; however, the eyes have a red edge, and there are distinct red eyes. These fish are primarily found in the southeast but have been introduced in the West. The heftiest Redear sunfish has a world record of nearly six pounds.

Local varieties

There are also local varieties of bream which include Longear, Coppernose, ad green sunfish. Each state will have its own local bream, and you can discover bream species endemic to your location by checking out your state’s natural resources commission.

What does a bream fish look like—Method of catching bream

Head inland

In both region of Europe and the US where bream is found catching freshwater bream will employ similar methods. The best place to search is inland and look for bodies of water that are shallow and still like lakes, rivers and ponds. In the United States bream can be found in the south up to the Midwest all the way to Canada. In Europe, breams are mostly found in Wales and Scotland. 

When looking for bream, look for waters that have coves or switchbacks that offer good feeding area. Waters with an abundance of weed and reed are also common hiding places of bream of all types. Waters that are shallow receive a good amount of sunlight and plenty of covers is likely habitat for bream.

sunrise and sunset

Bream and a lot of freshwater fish can be described as crepuscular. This means that they have higher activity during morning hours and evening hours. Head to the waters before sunrise and set up your fishing equipment, you will just be in time for their feeding hours. Search around beds of weed, as well as drop-offs.

Look for areas around ledges

European type breams are bottom feeders and are less likely to be found above. However, they still favor the same kinds of habitats American breams favor. Search for placid waters with enough cover from above.

Stay away from the current

It is crucial to avoid the current. Bream likes it when wind and water forces lead their food to them; however, most of the time, they like to situate themselves outside the main current when feeding. Coves that are shallow also protect their spawn from winds and waves. Look for placid waters and small coves where freshwater fish are likely to feed.

appropriate cover

Like many other varieties of fish, bream like to have some nearby cover. They need cover to hide from prey or to keep themselves under the shade from the sun’s rays. The type of cover you should look for will depend on the type of water you are fishing from.

What Does a Bream Fish Look Like

If you are on a lake or pond, look for bream near lily pads, brush, timber as well as rocks. If there is a boat dock on the lake, try around that area as well.

When you are fishing in a stream, look for the same covers as lakes or ponds. Search in areas near undercut banks, especially those that have deep pools just outside the current’s flow.

Fish between April and June

Bream spawn during the season of spring, so the consecutive months of April May and June are crucial for filling your buckets with bream. Bream go for gravel or sandy bottoms when spawning. However, they can also spawn on muddy bottoms or silt-covered areas when there are no sands or gravel. Sand tends to pile up in the direction of the water current or in areas where the current slows and stops.

Breams that spawn give off a distinct odor which can be described as a mixture of watermelon and fresh fish. This odor can guide you to locate precisely where to find your bream once you have also established the right water temperature, water flow, and cover.

Learn the behavior of the species

Some species of bream will prefer one kind of cover over another. As an example, redbreast varieties prefer to settle at the bottom, although redbreast will often be found on the surface or somewhere halfway between the surface and the bottom.

If you want to increase your knowledge, you can talk to experts in a tackle shop. Whether you are fishing in your own town or somewhere far it pays to have a talk with the people who are familiar with fishing in the region. Fish change their behavior in each area and season, and locals will know their habits. Good anglers might want to keep their fishing spots secret, but you can still extract some info from them regarding things like good baits for the season and for the region.

What does a bream fish look like–Choosing tackle

Light spinning

For tackle, you can use a light spinning or spin-cast rod with matching reel. Bream can easily weigh six pounds, but most bream are less than one pound. Because of this, you can fish with a lighter set-up. You can best enjoy catching bream with a tackle that is light or ultra-light. Five to six feet should be the length of the spinning or spin-cast rod. Use a reel that has two to eight-pound capacity.

You will also get good results with a six to twelve-inch cane pole with a line tied to its tip.

Use small bait

Large baits are often used for bigger fish from bass to walleyes. However, it is better to use smaller bait with panfish such as bream. Using maggots and corn as bait for bream is also common.

Live baits that breams like are crickets and grasshoppers. However, if these are not available, go for red worms or nightcrawlers when the weather is warm and grubs during winter. Use a size 8 or size 10 long-shanked hook and put the bait on the sinker. Fasten a small bobber to your line.

If you want to go for an artificial bait and fish with a spinning rod, try to use small jigs. If you are fly fishing for bream, try small poppers, rubber nymphs, and foam spiders.

Bobber or a spinner

A rod and reel such as the well-known spin cast reel are commonly used in lure-fishing. Try to use several colors to find which one works best on a given day and, in the environment, where you are fishing for bream.

What does a bream fish look like—Warnings

Although the spawning season is the excellent time to catch bream, some fishermen prefer not to catch them at this time so as not to cause an ecological imbalance. It should also be noted that some jurisdictions have rules about fish being caught during the spawning season. However, these rulings will generally apply to predator fish such as bass and walleye rather than bream, checking the rules of your state before fishing is a good idea. 



When bream is out to take the bait, it will take them a minute to engulf the bait fully when you cast it. Thus, if you don’t get a strike, you may want to retrieve your bait and lure and go to another area to cast it out.

Rods used for ice fishing are great for panfish. They are perfect for use when in twenty to thirty feet on ice and use short and compact rods and reels.

How to Cook Bream Species

Breams of all sizes are delicious to eat. They are especially good fried, and even their crisp fins are mouthwatering to devour.

The best way to prepare a bream is to remove its head and take out its guts. After cleaning the fish thoroughly, you can pan fry it whole. People who have eaten and prepared bream will know that the best technique in deboning this fish is to pull the top fin after that the attached bones will follow. The white meat will sperate from the backbone.

Bigger bream, however, is much more preferable if you are lucky enough to catch one. A big deboned fish will be easier to cook, as well. If there are any leftovers, they can be turned into a sandwich filling. Greasy fish with French fries plus beer makes for a great feast after a day of fishing. However, if you are cooking on a campsite, you will need to bring a big fryer.

Final thoughts

Bream is one of the most delicious fish out there. People are in luck because it is a common fish and not a conservation risk. If you look on the internet, there are countless recipes for bream. It is crucial to know what does a bream fish look like—so when you see one, you know you are in for a treat. Get to know this delectably tasting fish that is even more satisfying when you are the one that caught it in the wild.