Keep on Breaming

“Wham, Bang and thank you Mam” …. Just about sums up the most exciting bream fishing on Ireland’s Lough Derg with more than 500lb of bream in a session lasting less than four hours!


Wham 01

It was breath-taking for us but it must have been ferocious underwater as bream to almost 8lb hit a falling bait and all four of us had fish hooked “on the drop”.   There were four of us fishing. Our guide was veteran Mike Daly – originally from London – but has been living in County Clare for about 35 years and runs a BB cottage. There was Bill Delves the St Helens AA match secretary; Frank Lythgoe, the chairman of Warrington AA, plus myself as the photographer and organiser.

It is an annual event for Billy, Frank and me, choosing a different location each year and doing our best to empty a different lake each day, yet rarely achieving our target whether it is morning afternoon or late into evening. Having said that, we always manage to get plenty of fish and enjoy a bellyful of laughs.

Wham 2We were very lucky that Stena Line Ferries gave us a complimentary sail from Holyhead to Dublin on the latest sleek ship launched just several months ago and we are eternally grateful to Geraldine Moloney for offering us to stay and choose one of her three cottages on the banks of the River Graney. By the way, it’s worth noting that the river produces enormous catches of roach in late May when vast shoals gather before spawning.

Blistering sunshine hampered our efforts on a day three so we opted for a morning session on the river and where caught fish to eight ounces and filled a few hours after preparing our groundbait for a pre-bait on Lough Derg. We launched our two boats from the slipway at Mountshannon during the afternoon and headed off for Bushy Island.

This section of the vast lough is closed to large cruisers and that is important because the shoreline is rocky and anglers preferring to stand and fish can do so without having waves crashing into the shoreline.

I’d guess that Mike Daly – now in his early 70’s – knows the place inside out and as we approached the island he pulled out four brightly painted plastic pop bottles with 15 feet of line carrying a large weight. It’s a depth that many big-fish anglers prefer and Mike reckons it is most comfortable and very reachable when he dropped them markers about 50 turns from the shoreline. He had dropped them in a straight line parallel with the island and allowed a good space between each of us.
Wham 03
“It was an extraordinary day”, Mike. “Normally I like to get on the lake for 3pm so that I can get settled in and lob balls of groundbait to the marker before putting my gear together – but this time the fish were there and very hungry.

“I use a 13ft feeder rod threaded with Spider braid plus a six metre leader of 8lb Maxima, a 1.5 ounce feeder and a size 12 Kamasan hook that has a micro barb; which is perfect when offering a decent size worm.

“Lough Derg has produced loads of bream, massive hybrids and real quality roach –as it did this time – but my best ever session was a few years ago with Killaloe tackle shop owner, TJ. It was certainly arm-aching stuff and we shared an estimated 1,000lb of big bream”.

And to show how merciless the bream are – Mike Daly had two guests staying with him at this time and they have done so for more than 20 years without ever getting a netful, so he took the boat back along the pre-baited markers and dropped another bucketful of groundbait to keep them feeding until early the next morning.

Wham 04The lads were up and out early before the cockerel got going. Once the boat was loaded the lads were quickly on the mark and cast out to the exact same spot and guess what? They never had a single bite!

After that we gave a few of the lakes a bashing but with bright sunshine the mature fish simply didn’t show and much of the time we had to be content with lively roach, skimmers and hybrids to about 12 ounces. But even then it was a bite-a-chuck whether we worked with a groundbait feeder, the waggler or pole and certainly they worked well on Lough O’Grady or Cloondoorney.

East Clare is an angling paradise and the local Tulla & DAA tend 40 very fishable lakes in the area and visiting coarse anglers do not require fishing licences anywhere in the Republic of Ireland – it is all free! May Tubridy is the secretary of Tulla & DAA and can be contacted on 00353 87 6305799.


Contacts you might find helpful when planning a trip to Clare:

Active Irish Angling for ferry travel and accommodation at very competitive prices - 0151 528 9200

Mike Daly, an angling guide and B&B owner of Brook Cottage in Feakle, Co Clare - 00353 61924304

Moloney's Self-Catering Cottages, Geraldine Moloney, Scarriff, Co Clare - 00353 61921354

Tooman's Bait Delivery Service to anywhere in Ireland overnight -  00353 87 2184460


Dave Houghton

Active Irish Angling  Tel: 0151 528 9200


This story was also published in Angling Times On July 15