coarse fishing, Fishing in Ireland

Making plans

The cabal of fools who run Ireland in a poor approximation of a government have decided that travel outside of your own county will be permitted between 18th December 2020 and 6th January 2021. A lot will depend on the weather but if there is a dry spell I am plotting a couple of short fishing sessions. Initial thoughts are that I might try the Ballinamore canal in Leitrim which could throw up a few roach. The Rinn river, also in Leitrim, might also be worth a try as the roach move up into it seeking warmer water around this time of the year. Failing that, I will try a shore mark in Galway in case some whiting are in. It is all a bit sketchy right now but I need to give myself some hope of getting out with rod and line soon.

I have exhausted all the small tasks of cleaning, lubricating and repairs and badly require some time on the bank now. I will have to figure out where I can get some bait before next Friday though. Nobody around here stocks maggots or worms at this time of the year so I think it will mean me digging around in the garden to see if I can locate a few worms. I have not done that since I was a kid! I have read that bread can be an effective bait for roach but have never tried it. Maybe next weekend will see me slinging bits of loaf into a swim.

If, and this is a very big ‘if’, the weather is very good I might risk the long trip down to Athy in county Kildare to fish the marina there. During periods of high water the marina apparently fills with fish seeking shelter from the fast flowing river Barrow. It would certainly tick off another county from me in my rudely interrupted task of completing all 32 counties, if I could tempt a roach or a perch down there.

Talking about the 32 project, I have spent a fair chunk of the lockdown researching possible venues across the country and I now have a list of places I want to fish in every county. In most cases I have two or more options. During this process I also unearthed a lot of fisheries in counties I have already visited, giving me a useful database to work from even once I have completed all 32. Tapping the keyboard is little compensation for not actually fishing but it has provided me with some comfort knowing all this angling lies ahead of me over the coming years.

Let’s wait and see what the weather does but I am hopeful of managing a few casts soon.

Update- Out of all those ideas I only managed one outing, to Westmeath for some canal fishing. The lockdown was re-introduced early of course and level 5 restrictions are in place at least until the end of January.

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Fishing in Ireland, salmon fishing

How I make devon mounts

I have been asked to go into the detail of how I make mounts for devon minnows so here is a short post on the subject. Devons used to be hugely popular. 2 – 4 inch ones for salmon and tiny 1 – 1.5 inch ones for the trout. They came in metal, wood or plastic, some were weighted and others were floaters. These days you can pick minnows up very cheaply secondhand and they still catch their fair share of fish. The usual problem is finding mounts to fit the devons and it is often the case you need to either buy mounts (expensive) or make your own. Let’s run through the process I use to fashion devon minnow mounts.

Tools and materials

You will need only a couple of basic tools.

  • A small pair of fine nose pliers
  • Small side cutters or similar tool to cut the wire
I keep all the little bits and pieces for making up mounts and traces in one box.

For materials you require:

  • Wire. Use as strong, stiff wire. Anything too flexible will be very hard to work with. I use a thin stainless steel wire for my mounts. Avoid the supple multi-strand stuff used for making pike traces. Finding good wire is probably the hardest part of this job!
  • Small barrel swivels. These need to be small enough to pass through the hole in the middle of the bait. Check the swivels are small enough before making the mount!
  • Treble hooks. I use a size 4 treble for 3 inch devons and drop down in size for the small baits
  • Either beads or tulips. You can buy tulips online very cheaply and they hold the hook in position well so I recommend using them. They come in different colours so you can play around with them a bit.

1. Gather all the tools and materials together as well as the minnows you are going to making the mounts for.

2. Start by cutting a length of wire this needs to be 4 to 5 times the length of the minnow.

3. Thread a swivel on to the wire then fold the wire in half with the swivel at the bend in the wire. Now twist the wire a few times to keep the swivel in position.

4. Take a tulip and slip it up the twisted wires. The thin end of the tulip goes towards the swivel. Push it up to the swivel for now to keep it out of the way.

5. Select a treble hook of the right size. Feed one end of the wire through the eye from one side then the second wire from the other side.

6. Now for the tricky part. Lay the minnow in front of you and measure the wires so the hook is in the right position. Remember to allow for the tulip. With practice you get really good at judging this but to start with you will find this hard. You want the finished mount to have the body of the swivel at the end of the minnow.

7. Bend both ‘legs’ of wire around the hook and wind them up the shank. Use the pliers for this job. Try to be as neat as you can.

8. With the shank covered in the wound wire snip off the excess ends of the wire and dispose of safely.

9. Slide the tulip into position over the eye of the treble. Now twist the mount by holding the hook in one hand and the swivel in the other.

10. Finished! If the mount is very slightly too long give it a few more twists to shorten it by a few millimetres.

That is how I make my minnow mounts but there are plenty of other ways of doing it so look around if you don’t fancy my method. Key points are: choice of wire is critical, too soft or springy will make this method next to impossible and you will need to use whipping thread to keep everything in place. Use only good quality hooks, there are some very poor quality cheap trebles out there, avoid them like the plague. Treble hooks are fine for fishing but don’t mix with pets and smallies. Make mounts somewhere secure where little paws/hands can’t get at them.

I hope that helps a bit. Now is the time of year for doing these sorts of jobs. There is great satisfaction to be had mending/repairing/fixing bits of tackle in the winter so you are ready for the new season. Stay safe out there!

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