Pepper’s Ghost

This fish was caught in Lough Derg in September 1861. It weighed 30.5 LBS. (13.83 KG) and its length was c.42 inches (106.7 cm). It was caught on a copper spoon and took 50 minutes to play before being lifted from the water! For many year’s it was thought to be a record-sized trout, but doubts were also expressed as to its authenticity. In 1964, Dr. A.E.J. Went of the Department of Fisheries examined its scales and pronounced it a salmon.

“Pepper’s Ghost” – (Natural History Museum, Dublin)

The record Irish salmon weighted 57 lbs. and was taken in the River Suir in 1874. With the deletion of Pepper’s Ghost from the record book the Irish record trout is that taken in Lough Ennell, Co. Westmeath in July, 1894, which weighed 26 lbs. 2 ozs. (11.8 kg).

This fish (and the current record trout) are on display in the Natural History Museum. Well worth a visit – and it’s free!

For further information on Pepper’s Ghost see ‘Irish Fisheries Investigations Series A (Freshwater) No.3 (1968)‘. The fish was captured by District Inspector J. W. Pepper. It is noted that “Pepper’s ghost” is an illusion technique used in theatre, tv etc.

Sadly, it is no longer much of a problem telling the difference between a trout and a salmon in Lough Derg, as very few salmon now pass through the downstream hydroelectric scheme.

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