Winding River - In Search of the Bleak (float fishing)
This guide was written with the intent to show players how to catch Bleak on Winding River. The decision was made to focus on float fishing with telescopics only. While not everything was fully explored, it became apparent early on that fishing with the right hook and line made a lot of difference. And that fishing in top water resulted in more Bleak than fishing in the mid or bottom section of the water. A total of 14 hours were spent on fishing, another five hours were spent on collecting data, sorting through it and gathering the results that are displayed in this guide. This guide covers basic information about the species, a review of the data collection techniques and results, discussion of techniques and rigs, a talk of the locations, some comments on hook and bait selection, and finally some points that I haven't covered, but could prove to be starting points for those anglers that want to dive further into the world of the Bleak. Please note that in the game fish might change spots and lures/baits over time. The spots that I will show you might not work in the future and the same goes for the baits/lures I used. I will however give you hints and tips as to what to look for in spots and give suggestions towards other baits/lures that currently might not work but can work in the future.
The Bleak is a fish of the cyprinid family. It occurs in Europe, from the White Sea in the north to Caucasus in the south. Bleak is common in rivers, lakes, ponds with flowing water and reservoirs. It can also be found in brackish water in bays and estuaries. It prefers open water and avoids overgrown areas, but it enjoys staying near bridges and posts. This fish is spry, it lives in schools. It feeds on plankton, insect larvae, aquatic plants, pollen, fish roe.
The body of bleak is elongated and flat. On its belly, there is a keel without scaling. Its back is grayish blue with green shimmer, its sides and belly are light with metallic luster. The fins are gray. The anal fin is rather long. Its mouth is turned upwards. The bleak has big thin fragile scales. In the old times, the so-called “pearl essence” (used in making artificial pearls) was extracted from bleak scales. The bleak reaches a maximum length of 20 cm and a maximum weight from 60 to 70 g. Lake- and pond-dwelling bleak are usually bigger than river bleak.
From the information gathered above plus what I could find on Wikipedia and other fishing websites, I learned that Bleak are shoal fish and prefer to swim in top water. They feed upon small mollucs and insects. As a final hint I learned that bleak like open water where there is an inflow from food, such as behind weirs, pumping stations and that they can be found alongside bridges that provide them some shelter. Bleak prefer to stay closer to the shores, where there is more food than deeper into the open, clear water. Due to these tips, I decided to go with float fishing using telescopic rods.
Data Collection and Results
The first three fishing sessions where held at 107:122. This is a spot I visit on a regular basis if I want to target bleak. I set the leader depth to 25cm, casted out upstream and let the current take my bobber until the line was tight. Then I'd pick the rod up and cast out once more.
The second three fishing sessions where held at 90:112. This was based on a tip of other players as well as my own past experience fishing this small stretch of water where there is no current. It became my most favorite spot, for I could relax a bit more instead of constantly fighting both fish and current.
The final three fishing sessions were held at 117:110. Here the current was a bit less, than at the first spot. Still, it gave me plenty of action and using three rods sometimes proved to be a real hassle.
Rig Setup and Techniques Used
After trial and errors, I used the following setup for fishing Bleak:
My prefered setup for fishing Bleak.
My biggest problem at first was that I was losing a lot of fish, despite having full points in fishing with a telescopic rod and the various rigs. The bobber would go under, I would strike, but the hook came up either empty or the fish would fall off in the process of landing it. By switching from fluoro line to mono line with more elasticity and through trial and error finally settling for the Simmons Silk Series CL-14 size #16 hooks, I managed to narrow down my misses to a bare minimum. Other hooks that I tried were not as succesful in keeping the fish on, which I believe is due to their shape. Hooks bigger than 16 immediately resulted in a decrease of bleak caught. Monofilament line proved best due to its elasticty, whereas fluoro line would become tight too soon and rip the hook out of the fishes' mouth and through it's lips. Eventually I choose the Kontakt Telescopic 5, because this rod has a much faster action than most of the other telescopic rods. It's length (5 meters) was more than enough to reach the shoals of bleak. I used both the fixed float rig as well as the slider float rig. For me, the slider float rig worked best, as more fish were kept on the hook. It however did not affect catching trophies, for I caught four trophies on the slider float rig and another four on the fixed float rig.
During the 14 hours of fishing I used one bait (fly) that I knew would work. The other baits I switched around. Flies worked pretty good from the start. It also eliminated catching species such as gibel and crucian carp, that prefered baits like casters and maggots. Horse Fly caught me the most trophies. With bloodworms I caught plenty of bleak, but also more side catches such as Perch and Chinese Sleepers. Warble Fly, Mayfly and Grasshopper didn't produce a whole lot of bleak, though with all three of these, the few that I caught were in general bigger than those on the other baits. Also, these three would work if regular fly wouldn't produce as good.
To my surprise I caught not a single bleak on maggots. The same went for worms, redworms, diving beetle and algae. These baits have produced me bleak in the past, though.
Baits used and the percentage of Bleak caught on them. Worm, Redworm, Diving Beetle, Algae did not yield a single Bleak during these sessions, though I have caught them on those baits in the past.
Average weight of Bleak per bait used. Please note that while fly didn't give me the biggest bleak, it did give me the most trophies. Due to also a lot of small bleaks caught though, the average weight went down.
I picked my top three spots based on earlier gathered knowledge of bleak prefering top water with an influx of food. While going through these three spots and others, I learned a key factor for finding bleak: they prefer open water with not a lot of weed/reeds/lilie pads in the immedaite area, but there has to be either a tree or a big bush within the vacinaty. This corresponds with the bleak's preference of insects that fall into the water. While the bridge during the creation of this guide didn't yield much bleak, it most certainly has in the past.
107:122 - for me a well known bleak spot. With the depth set to 25-30cm it produced a lot of bleak. However, for float fishing with a telescopic rod, this might not be the best place, given that you are constantly picking up your rod and casting out again, wether it's due to catching a fish or because the bobber is at the end of the line. Fishing with only 2 telescopic rods is more than enough for a lot of action. I caught 1 trophy bleak here.
90:112 - this spot is my new favorite of Winding River, because you don't have to deal with the current. Therefore it's easier to fish with all rods equiped. This spot too will not get your weaker setup in trouble by chub or asp who prefer the open waters with the fast current. Mind the carp though if fishing with maggots, casters and certain doughs. I caught 9 trophy bleak here.
117:110 - for me a new spot, but it definitely yielded plenty of bleak. There is a little bit of a current here, but not as much as 107:122, so fishing with 3 rods out is doable. I caught 2 trophy bleak here.
Below is the map of the spots I've fished all. In green are the three spots that I finaly settled with. Orange indicates some bleak, but not as much as the green spots. Red means hardly any to no bleak, though these spots in the past did yield bleak.
Bleak spots on Winding River
Weather and Time of Day
Weather and Time of Day (TOD) proved to have somewhat of an impact on the bleak, but not as much as certain other species. Windspeed up to 5 m/s had no visible effect on the fish. The majority of the bleak were caught under sunny conditions, though they were also active during overcasted days and clear nights. Only with rain there seemed to be less bleak, which I link to there being too much turmoil in their feeding area (topwater), therefore the bleak dive further down and decide to become inactive. During my full session of 14 ingame days of testing, I had but 1 afternoon where it was cloudy, whereas there were 3 full ingame days of rain. Therefore the results shown in the pie chart below are not completely accurate. During the cloudy afternoon I caught more bleak than during one rainy afternoon.
I couldn't fully see a link between temperature and bleak. They would bite wether it was 12 degrees or 24 degrees. A factor that proved more of a thing was the time of day.
Bleak caught by weather type. Clear stands for clear nights.
Time of day played a major factor into the activity of the bleak. Early mornings the bleak would be inactive, than around 4am they would start to become active. If the sun would be there, they would be active sooner than if the day was cloudy or overcasted. During the rest of the day the amount of bleak would become somewhat less until late evening, before it would cease in the early morning hours.
Bleak caught by TOD.
During my final 1,5h fishing session I used all knowledge I had gathered during the previous sessions. I started fishing at 90:112 early morning. Unfortunately the weather was a bit against me, for it rained. I switched my depth from 30cm to 40cm and used fly, horsefly and bloodworm. In the late afternoon the weather picked up again and the bleak ran hot. I caught my first trophy a little bit after noon, the second one close to an ingame hour later and the third minutes after that. Two were on horsefly, one was on fly. While I didn't yield as much bleak as previous sessions (I'd catch 65 bleak out of a 100 fish), I was happy with the total.
The diversity of Bleak
At first glance the bleak may be one of those 'runts of the litter's. It is small, you can find them on a lot of water bodies, and they're very easy to catch. However, high level players may want to target this fish, for it is an outstanding baitfish that will help you catch a lot of the big monster predator fish that the game has to offer. For the lower level players, this fish has something for you too. Please have a look at the images below.
These four fish were all caught during my fishing sessions for bleak. All were caught on bloodworms and all of them are somewhat bigger for their species. I want you to focus on XP, the very first one on the bottom left of each picture. The 87 gram bleak yields at least 1,5 times, sometimes even more than double the amount of regular XP than the other fish species. Therefore, should you be looking to level up, this is definitely a fish you want to go after!
The bleak is a relatively easy fish to target. It doesn't matter the weather too much, and can be found nearly all day long. It likes to shoal in clear water areas with big vegetation such as trees or tall bushes closeby. For depth betwen 25 and 40cm will suffice to target this species. It prefers a diet that consists of several types of flies, casters and bloodworms. Other baits include mainly different type of insects. A telescopic rod with a fast action is required, for these fish swim fast and will let go of the hook if not handled in a short time frame. The right hook is important, or it will result in many fish lost. Bleak live in shoals. If you've found one, there are bound to be another sixty at the same spot, enough to fill your net with within an ingame day, side catches such as perch, frogs and common roaches included. Not to mention that with the XP that it gives and it's usage as a bait fish for the higher levels, this is most certainly a fish you want to target!
The data that I've collected has yielded much useful information. Nevertheless, there are still things to explore. I couldn't cover all the baits, and I've left all the boilies. Groundbait is another venue to look at, since I didn't use it, but there are certainly spots like 90:112 with no current that could increase the amount of bleak. Given how the fish reacted to the different fly species, I would suggest the enthusiastic bleak angler to start pursuing from there, and to not forget casters as well. Winding River has a variety of spots that I didn't touch, but look very promising. And last but not least: I've only covered fishing with a telescopic rod with only the 2 first unlocked rigs. Other venues that can be pursued are therefore the usage of the other rigs, the usage of the bolognese rod and the usage of bottom fishing. While the latter might not seem an initial choice, given that the bleak prefer the topwater, I did catch a few bleak on Pearl Barley while trying to bottom fish for fish for Ruffe. This might hint that even though I caught the majority in top water, the bottom water perhaps has a secret or two that isn't revealed yet. I encourage the motivated anglers to pick up where I've left of. Show me how you caught your trophy bleak and share me rigs and (ground-)baits that you've used that I didn't. I encourage and challenge you to go out there and to come back with your findings. And if you learn something new, please share it with the rest of us!
Until next time - Tight Lines!