My new found love of coarse fishing has made a right old mess of my normally straight forward season. It is usually a case of no fishing in January or February then a gradual build up during the spring months as I fish for trout and salmon. Some sea trouting in the summer then another burst of activity with the fly rods through the months of August and September before a bit of piking and sea fishing during the autumn months. Now I have to shoe-horn in my sessions with float and feeder so the past two days were spent practicing these methods before the trout fishing explodes on me again. Here is how two similar days on two different waters panned out.
The weather forecast was gloomy, expect heavy rain and possible thunder and lightening. Regardless, I set off for a small lake in Leitrim with tench on my mind. Light rain accompanied me along the road there but nothing too serious. I set up a swimfeeder on one rod and a waggler on the other and waited to see what would transpire. The rain got heavier and the world descended into shades of silver and grey as the downpour gathered strength. I sat it out, my oilskin coat keeping the worst of the water off me. Balls of groundbait sailed in perfect arcs through the rain to plop into the swims in more or less the right places. The float never budged and the feeder rod failed to register even a nibble. The rain was fairly hammering down by now. The maggots on both rigs were not doing the business today so I wound in the waggler and changed hooks. On went a size 10 and I broke a worm in half, adding both sections to the hook and tipping it off with a couple of maggots. This would hopefully prevent the worm pieces from wriggling free. The rain seemed to be easing off a little for now as I re-cast close to the lilypads.
The worm sections had been in the water for a while and I decided to reel in and check they were still wriggling. Lifting the rod to wind in I immediately felt a strong fish on the end. I swear there was no bite, no dip of the float prior to me lifting the rod. A nice tench fought well but was soon netted, about 2.5 pounds in weight so quite small for this lough. It swam off strongly once free from the barbless hook.
Busying myself re-baiting and casting both rods I hardly noticed the rain had returned. Big, fat drops were falling now and grew in intensity over the next few minutes. I hunkered down once again. Luckily the wind was blowing from behind me so I stayed relatively dry as the monsoon lashed down. Although I continued fishing it was impossible to see the float in these conditions. The minutes passed and at last the rain eased off a little. All my gear was thoroughly soaked by now though.
Gradually the downpour eased off completely and the lough was still and calm in front of me. The air was cooler and fresher after the rain and I could actually see what I was doing again. I fished on, concentrating hard on the details of casting and baiting. The second bite when it came was typical for this venue, the float ever-so-slowly dipped and finally slid below the surface and I struck into another solid fish. This one fought really hard, powerful, surging runs towards the reeds and then a dash to try and get under the stand. I got him in the end, a fine tench of about five pounds or so. I wish I had taken more time photographing this one as the snaps I have do not do this magnificent fish justice.
Back came the rain again! I suppose I had about 20 minutes of dry weather then the deluge commenced once more. The sky turned a menacing dark blue/grey colour and the pale clouds scurried across the countryside. It cleared to the north and the same pattern of bites when the rain stopped was repeated, this time by another fine tench but he shot straight into the lilypads and no amount of pulling on my part could free him. The line eventually snapped and the fish was gone. I got a very brief look at him as he rolled in the lilies and I thought he was another five pounder. Oh well, you can’t win them all.
A twitchy little bite brought me a good sized skimmer and the very next cast I hooked but lost a second one. Then the small bream were gone as quickly as they had arrived. The sky seemed to be so low it was touching the ground and there was a heat and ‘tension’ in the air which I did not like. It felt to me like there could be lightening so I hastily packed everything up and slogged back through the sodden fields to the car. I had no sooner reached the motor when there was an ominous rumble of thunder close by. I didn’t see any flashes of lightening but I felt vindicated in my decision to call it a day. The drive home to Mayo was punctuated with heavy showers and minor floods on the roads.
So Thursday gave me two nice tench and a skimmer which I felt was not too bad in the conditions. What I find interesting is that the feeder did not get a single bite, all the action was on the float set up. More research is needed by me on swimfeeders as I suspect I should be catching more fish on the feeder.
Consulting the forecast it seemed that Friday was going to be a very similar type of day weather-wise. I dried out my gear as best I could and hatched a plan for the ‘morrow.
I could hear the rain hammering on the window as soon as I woke. I will admit I wavered a little, another day out in the rain seemed to be madness when tucked up in a warm bed but the lure of fishing is too strong for mere mortal anglers like me. Anyway, where as yesterday had been a fishery well known to me this time I was going to try a completely new water.
Unusually, this was a coarse trip in Mayo. According to the IFI website ‘Eatons Lake also holds good stocks of coarse fish’. A bit short on detail, I took this to mean rudd, roach and bream were likely candidates with possibly the outside chance of a tench. I had heard of this small lough a while ago but could not find it. Looking on various maps proved to be fruitless as Eaton’s was not shown on any of them. That it was situated between Ballyhaunis and Knock was beyond dispute but there are a few small loughs in that area and it was only when I used Google maps that I eventually found it. Peering intently at the screen I could make out a couple of fishing stands and even a small space on the road where I could park so today I’d pay this reed-fringed lough a visit.
This would be a short session, I had to be back home for mid-afternoon meaning I could only spend about 4 hours fishing. I had some left over maggots and even a couple of worms from Thursday so there would be enough bait for the half day. Only 30 minutes from home I pulled over on to a wide grass verge opposite the small lake. This was the place all right. It was the work of a few minutes to get gowned up and ready to go. The lake is just across a small field and through a stand of trees but the reeds and grass were above head height. It looked like the scene from a Vietnam war movie, I could imagine Charley was going to open up on me at any time! Along the wet track through the trees I went until I could make out the metal rail on a fishing stand. I was here!
I was soon fishing and took time to take in my surroundings. There were three stands, I was on the middle one simply because it was the first one I saw. The lake was a nice size and the water clear. Reeds and lily pads fringed the edges all the way around the lake, making a pretty sight. Plumbing the depth I found ten feet of water close in and three rod lengths out was too deep for normal float fishing. A feeder seemed to be the best option for the deep water and I rigged a light float from the margins.
The first hour passed with no signs of action but I kept feeding the swims with balls of groundbait and some loose fed maggots. Finally, the float gave a wee dip and I wound in a small roach, saving the blank for me. Next, a perch showed up, soon followed by a very small brother of the first one. The next hour was pretty steady with bites and fish landed but none of them were any size. All the fish fell to the float, there only being one half-hearted bite on the feeder which came to nothing. Then the rain started. It absolutely poured down for about 30 minutes, drenching me and all my gear. It eased off to a heavy mist eventually and the fish started to bite again. Some small roach, small perch and a nice small hybrid came to hand before it was time to call it a day. Counting up, 4 roach, 4 perch and two hybrids was the tally.
So what to make of Eaton’s Lake? I failed to catch anything of any size today but I suppose just catching 10 fish on a new water can’t be sniffed at. The lack of fish on the feeder is worrying me and I need to find out where I am going wrong. There was deep water three rod lengths out, too deep for the float (unless I rigged up a slider). It shouted ‘Bream’ to me and I had confidence that a worm on a feeder rig would work but it didn’t. On the plus side the lake is close to home by my standards, only half-an-hour’s drive is less than half my normal travel time to Carrick-on-Shannon for example. That alone makes it worth further exploration in my book. There is another lake close by which could also be worth a try but I need to find out how to access that one as it would entail crossing someone’s land.
So there you have it, two consecutive days on two different lakes with two different outcomes. As I write this post the heavens have opened and the street outside is under water. The local rivers will rise this weekend and the salmon will be running. The coarse rods will be tucked away for the next while…………………..