The long dry summer has seen Stephen Brennan of spend less and less time on the river and more and more time chasing gilthead bream along the south coast of Ireland.

Spurred on by the apparent increase in the average size of the bream caught year on year and the possibility of catching a really good one Stephen has spent many sessions searching for them. And he tells us the novelty of catching them has definitely not worn off!

gilthead bream
Dave Roe with a 3lb 8oz fish

While the average size of the fish caught is getting bigger, its not to say small fish and juveniles are not also encountered. From some of the photos he has of recent catches there it is clear that there are a range of year classes on the Irish coast at the moment.

juvenile gilthead bream
Dean Quigley with one of the juvenile fish caught recently

After all the hours spent looking for Stephen admits he has learnt a lot. The most well known venues are heaily fished, but gilthead bream are caught all along the south coast at certain times. Stephen reckons you could pull one out of any estuary or beach with the right features on the right day. The Irish record was caught last year on the Dingle Peninsula which is further north than they are generally caught, and there was some talk of a good fish taken on a north Wexford beach earlier this summer.

Stephen's specimen gilthead bream; 5lb 3oz (52cm)
Stephen’s specimen gilthead bream; 5lb 3oz (52cm)

Proving that hard work is its own reward Stephen’s successes include a few “good fish”, the best going 5lb 3oz (52cm). This biggest bream did not come easy, even after being hooked. “I was lucky to land this one as after giving me a good bite it was snagged solid. I was expecting the line to part any second but lucky for me it came free after some constant pressure (and swearing!). I’ve heard of fish over 6lb caught recently, and I think there is a good chance the record will go again soon enough.”

Stephen Brennan

Irish Sport Fishing