The last couple of days has seen a change in the weather with hard frosts at night but lovely bright days with light winds. I had initially planned to go trout fishing on the river Robe but the cold meant it would be unlikely the early stoneflies would hatch in any numbers so I headed off to try for a few silvers instead. My coarse fishing will wind down now we are in the best period for game fishing in these parts. So with a bright, calm and most importantly, dry day forecast I packed the car and headed off to Cloondroon and my first time fishing there.

Listening to the news on the radio as I drove down just compounded the deep despair at the state of the world. I felt a bit guilty, here I was off to enjoy some free time doing what I enjoy while people are being killed over in Ukraine. How have we got to this? To think that a few weeks ago we in the thrall of Covid and thought that was terrible. A European war has re-framed our idea of what is awful.

There is a fine gravel car park at the lough but a locked gate barred entry so I parked up outside the gate and unloaded all my gear. Birds sang in the bushes and the air was warm for the first time this year. It felt like spring at last. Making my way along the track down to the lake I could see a small hut for shelter from the elements, some seating and a picnic table and even some ‘bug houses’ for the insects. 6 fine stands made from recycled plastic came into view and I selected one at random. They all looked to be pretty much the same and I could not see any features to suggest one may be more productive than the others.

As I was setting up a chap approached me and we talked for a while. John is a former Chairman of the club and is obviously still heavily involved. We discussed the recent development of the lake, the IFI, fish stocks and other stuff that anglers love to chat about. John had some jobs to do so he went off and left me to it. I returned to my job in hand and set up a feeder rod and a float rod then settled into the usual tactics. I groundbaited with some crumb, hemp and Sensas ‘Lake’ mixed with a few castors and maggots. Plumbing showed about 5 feet of water in front of my chosen stand and with only a cat’s paw of a wind I was able to fish in comfort. I waited for the first bite…………

A couple of hours had passed and still no signs of a fish. I fed a line about 30 yards out with the feeder and tried both maggot and worm out there without eliciting a single bite. On the float I made mirco adjustments to depth, dropped hook size to an 18, altered the shot from bulk to shirt button for a slower fall and swapped my 4 pound tippet for a cobweb-like 2 pound one. The fish cared not a jot for all this mumbo-jumbo though and despite all my tinkering I was still staring a blank in the face. In the end I decided to make a move to another stand, so gathering up all my goods and chattels I plodded off to one nearer to the track to the car park. Setting up again was the work of only a few minutes and for the second time today I started to feed new swims.

The sun beat down and it grew warmer but nobody told the fish it was a nice day and the rods remained unmolested. As I had covered most of the water up to about 30 yards out with the feeder and the margins using the float I decided it was time to try further out. My feeder rod is not really designed for long casts but I managed to hurl the small feeder about 50 yards out where it landed with a splosh. Minutes passed then, finally, a tentative bite twitched the thin orange tip. I missed it.

Re-baited and the small cage feeder restocked with ground bait, the whole lot was chucked out to the same distant spot. Like something out of ‘groundhog day’ the rod gave the same twitch and I missed that one too! Self-recrimination is a very unsatisfactory business, don’t you think! Off out again sailed the wee feeder and I took stock of what was happening. The feeder rod was now getting bites at distance so there were fish out there. I could not reach them with the float so I took the strategic decision to break down the float rod and set up a second feeder. Just as I cast out the second rod the first one gave a positive jerk and I thankfully lifted into a small fish. A tiny roach was soon wound in, saving the dreaded blank for me.

Fishing on through the afternoon was a pleasant affair with the odd bite (mostly missed), some small roach landed and the sights of an Irish spring to keep me amused. The edges of the lake were alive with frogs, plovers fluttered over the fields and insects, in small numbers, hatched out in the water in front of me. By the time I packed up I had landed 5 wee roach and missed three times that number. All too soon it was time to make tracks for home.

What to make of all that then? While on the face of it 5 tiny roach is a poor day’s fishing I beg to differ. The water was very, very cold, bright sunshine, while welcomed by me is not the best overhead conditions. It was my first visit to the lake and I knew nothing about it. My maggots had been in the ‘fridge at home for a week and were turning to castors before my eyes. So there were a few mitigating circumstances in my defense. I really like the look of this lake and will be back to get to know it a bit better once the weather warms up. If today was indicative of where the fish commonly patrol I may need my new 14 foot feeder rod which will handle the distance better. I am suspicious Cloondroon may be home to some good sized roach and bream, it just has that ‘feel’ to it. For now, I am just happy to have been lucky to spend a day there in the sunshine. None of us know what lies ahead in these uncertain times.


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