Change of scene

For the past few weeks I have been out chasing trout on the big lakes, either fishing myself or boating other anglers. Today I decided it was time for a change of scene. After sorting out a couple of tasks at home I headed off for lovely Leitrim to try my luck on a small lake which has given me some good tench in the past.

Carrick-on-Shannon was busy when I stopped off to buy some maggots there. The roads were full of cars and buses and the river itself was alive with all manner of small craft. From there it was off down some quieter narrow roads to a parking spot hidden from sight. I crossed one field and there was my goal, a smallish lake fringed with reeds. I tackled up as normal but the most striking thing was the wind which blew directly in my face, not a cold wind you understand but a persistent one which ruffled the surface. I fired the maggot feeder out 40 yards and set up a float rod. The water in this lake is normally quite murky but today it was crystal clear so I dropped to four pound line on the float. A biggish waggler with a fine tip (to combat the wind) seemed to to a good choice and a size 12 barbless hook felt about right. Casting into the wind proved to be a pain in the posterior and I was only able to get about two rod lengths out, somewhat closer in that I would have liked.

Although the swimfeeder was out for the whole of the session it failed to register even a single bite, so I will tell you about the float instead. My first cast had only been out a few minutes. I was busy sorting out all the bits of gear which were around me after tackling up, putting away the various boxes, pressing the lid tightly on the bait box so the maggots would not escape – that sort of thing. When I looked up the float was nowhere to be seen. I lifted the rod and sure enough there was a fish on. A bright little perch came to hand and (as usual) had swallowed the hook. Being barbless it was easy to get the hook out with the purple disgorger which always lives in my top pocket and off the little chap swam.

The re-baited hook was quickly back in the water and I had no sooner settled down when the float dipped and I was into a sweet little hybrid. Cast number three saw me pull out another perch and the following cast brought in a skimmer. OK, this was supposed to be a tench session and instead I was catching just about everything else!

The frenzy of activity could not last and things went decidedly quiet for a while. Another two perch of diminutive proportions were landed but that wind just got stronger and stronger as the afternoon wore on. In the end I figured it was time for a move so I bid farewell to the tench lake for now. It was strange really, this is a lake where I have only ever caught one perch before yet I had 4 today.

Down the road apiece there is another lake, much larger and according to the IFI website it is full of fish. Off I drove, winding through the greenest of green countryside and sure enough there were brown signs to point me down a track lined with mature trees and dog roses. Once parked up I could see the glint of water off to my left so I hopped a five bar gate and followed a path across a field of yellow flowers and ginger cows.

This lake was something of an enigma. Stiles and bridges showed the IFI had been busy doing some development work but the only angling stand I could find had been dismantled and was lying in the corner of a field. Access to the water was only possible at a couple of points on the bank where a jumble of stones made a rudimentary stand of sorts. I ventured to the end of one of these points and set about fishing the float in water only a couple of feet deep. The troublesome wind was blowing from right to left now so casting was a bit easier but of fish there was no sign. I stuck it out for maybe and hour but I lack confidence in very shallow water and so I packed up and retraced my steps past the slumbering cattle to the waiting car.

This lot used to be an angling stand once upon a time

While far from a scintillating day out there were still a few lessons to learn. The first lake is very rich, the bottom is covered in vegetation of all kinds, including what we refer to as ‘cabbages’ over here. I have no idea what the correct name for these large aquatic plants is but they are very common, especially in rich loughs like this one. I have a theory that the dense weeds and cabbages hide my feeder whereas the float drops the baited hook lightly on top of the weeds where the fish can find it. I might just bring one float rod with me the next time I go there.

Speaking of floats, I am going to go through all the floats I carry in my box and weed out some of them. I could have used a very big float today but did not have any of real gravitas in the box. I need a wider range with me and not left sitting at home.

I’m not sure if the apparent increase in other species is a sign of a decline in the tench population. Tough conditions today meant it was always going to be hard to tempt the shy tench regardless of the intervention of small stuff like perch and skimmers. I only saw one tench rolling and that was about 50 yards away on the other side of a bank of lily pads. Admittedly, it was a very large fish though. I will return to this lake again on a more promising day and try my luck again with the tincas.

The new lake was not really my cup of tea. I am glad I made the effort to find it as I wanted to get a look at the place. It is unlikely I will go back there again though, I like deep water when coarse fishing and confidence ebbs out of me when I can see the bottom. Maybe if I hear there are new stands at some point in the future I might go along to give it one more try with the feeder I suppose.

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