I like the Ballinamore canal. It is stuffed with fish for one thing and due to the wrecked tourist season it is pretty quiet meaning I can fish with relatively little disturbance from passing boats. Today I tried a new spot for me at lock 13 about half way between Leitrim Village and Keshcarrigan. Thursdays are a good day for me to head off to the canal as I can drop Helen at her work and mosey on up to the canal via Carrick-on-Shannon where I can buy some bait.
I routinely refer to this canal as the ‘Ballinamore’ but it has various names. Probably the right one is ‘the Ballinamore, Ballyconnel canal. Part of it could rightly be referred to as the Woodford river as this river was straightened and canalised to form part of the waterway. In common with most Irish canals, this one was an economic disaster, fell into ruin and has been repaired and is now used for pleasure craft. It links the Erne catchment in the north to the Shannon. What interests us anglers is the good stocks of roach, bream, hybrids, perch and pike. Some rudd and tench are also present
So why Lock 13? It is reasonably close for me and it looks like a spot where the roach will shoal up. As I explore the different parts of the canal I am slowly building up a picture of where to fish and where to avoid so this was going to be another one of those sessions where I was planning on doing more learning than fishing. My usual canal set up of the light leger rod for fishing in the margins and a float rod for the main channel were in the back of the car.
A car park beside the locks was a huge benefit for me and I parked up and unloaded all the gear. It’s mid-summer now and the air is warm. We have had some rain recently so the salmon and sea trout are running but I want to avoid the crowds and just do some gentle canal fishing instead. I find the lock and park up. Only a few people around and a boat is passing through the lock as I tackle up. Immediately below the lock there is a flat concrete structure where I can fish from with ease. The canal is very dirty due to recent rain.
A few balls of groundbait plop into the swim and I start to fish. Another boat uses the lock and operations are suspended while the brown water rushes past, churning up twigs and rubbish from the bottom. My ground bait has been washed away so I feed the swim again and re-start. This would be the nature of the session as there is an unexpectedly high volume of boat traffic today.
The leger rod gives a nod and I wind in a tiny perch. Next the float disappears slowly and another small perch wriggles on the end. I have to wrestle a small branch out on the float rod after my hook catches on it in the murky water. I loose feed a few maggots and am soon rewarded with the first of a string of roach. None of them are any great size but I do love catching these pretty fish.
The hours pass and a pattern can be observed. Every time the lock gates are opened and the swim is disturbed it takes about 20 minutes for the fish to come back on the feed. I move further downstream to see if this is any better but apart from one good roach which falls off at the net I hook nothing there. I pack up and head home in time for a nice dinner.
I guess this is a fairly typical angling day on the canal, a few smallish fish on light tackle amid calming surroundings. On a day like today with no wind to speak of the loughs would be dreadfully hard work where as a short session on the canal is very relaxing. What is interesting is my growing confidence as I ever-so-slowly amass snippets of knowledge with every trip here. It is easy to dismiss a few tiddlers as a waste of time but I see it very differently. Angling means different things to different people. The pressure of the competitions attracts some, trying to catch their PB is the goal for others. I happen to fall into the category of those anglers who use angling as an escape from everyday life and just enjoy being out by the water messing about and hopefully catching a few fish but not becoming overly stressed if I blank. Lock 13 provided me with a lovely few hours of solitary relaxation.
Leitrim is fast becoming my ‘go to’ place for coarse fishing. The range of venues is breath-taking and the opportunities seem to be almost endless. In these difficult times I don’t like to plan too far in advance so instead I watch the weather and decide if each day is a game fishing day or one for coarse fishing. I am well aware of how blessed I am to live here and have so much angling on my doorstep.
Next week is forecast to be one of light winds and overcast skies – looks like I will be heading for Leitrim again!