Kilashandra, in search of big Irish bream
I have known for some time, of the large Irish bream in Kilashandra, Lough Oughter. The trouble is, it is a large expanse of water and the really big fish move about quite a bit. It’s a bit like looking for a needle in a haystack! There are plenty of smaller fish ranging from 3-6 lbs to build large bags if you are into the numbers game, but the small shoals of double figure bream that we are seeking, naturally aren’t as prolific.
Without local knowledge, the only way to investigate such an area is to get out on the water. My coarse angling buddy, Colin Martin and I decided to take a look about aboard my 19ft lough boat, and the Garmin finder soon found huge shoals of fish scattered around and about in shallower water.
Garmin sounder showing fish shoals
Anchoring ahead of one of these shoals, we quiver-tipped with open-end feeders to see what they were, and confirmed our suspicions, small bream of 2-3lbs, but in large numbers. Great fun for a bagging-up session, however, today we were after specimens!
Terry with a small bream
For this trip we had planned an over-night bivvy session, so decided to look for any interesting features over deep-water within casting distance from the shore, and found what looked like the ideal spot. Quickly dropping away into a depth of 30ft only three rod-lengths from shore, with fish markings on the sounder, this was as good a mark as any. A few silent runs over the area with the Shakespeare Sigma battery engine showed us the extent of the shoal, and we dropped an H-block marker float at either end for visual reference.
First task is to mix a batch of ground-bait, bursting with gulp pellets, sweet-corn, casters and chopped worm. Rather than catapulting the lot out, it was much simpler to take the boat out over the mark and drop the balls of feed between the two H-block markers. These bright orange marker floats would give us excellent sight lines to drop baited method feeders over the feed and hopefully, amongst some larger specimens through the night.
Colin mixing the feed for pre-baiting
Our bait choice would range from “popped-up” sweet-corn, bread flake, large worm baits and gulp boilies trimmed down to large pellet size. By using a meat-punch, penny-sized discs of bread flake can be added to a worm bait as an effective “pop-up”. This method has worked well for me in the past for large bream, tench and hybrids. These baits were fished in conjunction with method feeders to add extra particles and scent alongside the hook baits.
Settled in, with rods on pods against the back-drop of a setting sun and a dissipating breeze, you realise that Ireland and it’s thousands of acres of relatively un-spoilt, rarely explored waters are truly a fantastic part of the world for an angler to be in. The old cliché at times such as this, “a fish is simply a bonus” was never more apt.
The night-time venture and indeed, the following morning produced larger bream alright, but at only six pounds maximum, they fell short of the magical double-figure lunkers we were after. We certainly sorted out the bigger fish but those elusive ten-pounders evaded our perfectly presented, hair-rigged baits on this occasion. Both Colin and I are too long in the tooth to get upset when a plan fails to see fruition, and put it down as always, to experience. We didn’t get what we were after, but a pleasant evening with a nice bag of six-pound bream was success in my eyes!
The double-figure bream we were searching for may have been a hundred yards away, or perhaps five miles away, but they are certainly somewhere there for sure. It may take a life-time to discover them, but in those beautiful surroundings, what better way to spend your life-time!
still a nice fish at 6lbs….
eyes bigger than it’s belly…..