Inniscarra Lake for bream

Bream guaranteed! No, this isn’t just an Irish whimsy, but the nearest you will ever get to being certain that when you tip pulls around or the float goes under, there will be a bream on the hook.

Inniscarra Lake is the magic venue; it is a massive reservoir with enticing nooks and crannies with more than 26 miles of beautiful shoreline. The Dam was built in the 1950s and the local fisheries board released 200 bream inn 1974. Those fish obviously loved their new home because now they are everywhere, along with rudd, roach, hybrids, carp, perch, gudgeon, eels and pike.

A “bream explosion” took place around 1990 and suddenly stories began to emerge of massive hauls of fish, then five years later I was among a handful of UK anglers who made the trek across to Cork to sample this unbelievable sport.

Kevin Gray, from Godalming in Surrey, was among our party and became smitten with Cork as a whole, so much so that ever since he has spent a fortnight in May and four weeks in autumn fishing a series of angling festivals based in Coachford. The village is Kevin’s base, he stays in a local pub and every day sets off – whether there is a match or not - and tries hard to fill his keepnet across a variety of sections.

There was an almighty dip in catch returns around 2000 but the good news is that Inniscarra has bounced back and the lake is now stuffed full of fish. Not only that, but the overnight Swansea- to-Cork ferry service restarted this year and anglers in the north of England will be chuffed to discover that a motorway now connects Dublin and Cork reducing the drive time to less than three hours. And that is why Kevin and I were on the banks of the lake for a day’s fishing in September!

“We’re off to the bay on the Pump House tomorrow”, was his greeting when I met in the yard of O’Callaghan’s Pub, smack bang in the centre of Coachford Village, with a massive walk-in bait room where Kev was running off a few casters while mixing his groundbait. “It’s my favourite place on the whole lake and there are six excellent swims in the centre of the bay where a good catch is guaranteed. Mind you, it is around 40 feet deep, which puts some anglers off going there and you will need a 40 to 44 gramme open-ended swimfeeder to make everything work.

“It might be possible to catch on the pole close in, but I’ve never tried because it is usually a bite-a-cast on the feeder and a cast of about 35 metres is adequate. While on about the feeder, my choice is a stiff mix of crumb-based groundbait with worm and caster. I always use worm on the hook. There is nothing startling about the tackle. My rod is an old 12ft Carbo Tech feeder, a Shimano Stradic 5000 reel filled with 8lb braid and a mono shock leader that is twice the length of the rod. A size 12 hook is a good starter, though if the fish are feeding well I will end up on a 10s.

“This will be my first time on the bank of the Pump House this season and the only thing I expect is plenty of bites, though it could be a slow start because there haven’t been many anglers on the bank during summer. When match fishing my target weight here is 25 kilos (55lb) and 35 kilos is very good, though pleasure anglers can do even better”

We enjoyed a leisurely breakfast and arrived on the bank mid-morning. Our late start was unlikely to make much difference because the light and water temperature in 40 feet of water is hardly going to have any significant effective. Three things surprised me on the first cast; the tip stayed hard round when the feeder first hit the water (just as if it was only inches deep), it took 28 seconds for a 40 gramme feeder full of groundbait to hit the bottom and I hooked a skimmer bream within two minutes.

Kevin was spot on with his advice, though his own fishing got off to a slower start and it was 15 minutes before he got into a rhythm that produced a very creditable 30lb or so. And to prove the point, later that week Kevin won the Ockwell Trophy over three days fishing on the Pump House, Rooves Bay and the farmyard. Altogether he caught 225lbs and his best catch was 85lb.

Our hero followed that up a few days later with first place in the Lennox Cup when he had 222lbs and a best single session when he weighed-in with 89lbs. This is incredible fishing on a superb venue that is available to everyone. Please note that generally angling in Ireland is free of charge but the South Western Regional Fisheries Board issue permits costing €15 a week for Inniscarra Lake.

Published in Angling Times 2010

By Dave Houghton

For somewhere to stay and fish call Dave on 0151 324 4744