Regular readers will no doubt be fed up of my recent whinging about missing my trout and salmon angling this year due to work commitments. There is a positive to this though, I am getting to know the canals around me in the middle of Ireland a whole lot better. Even on those evenings when I am tired after a long day I make the effort to get on the towpath for a session and this perseverance is beginning to pay off.
The Royal canal runs east to west, passing within 20 to 30 minutes drive from my work. I have been trying different stretches with predictably varying results since the end of March and am now feeling much more confident on this much abused stretch of water. Mullingar is as far to the east as I am venturing and to date Ballymahon is at the extreme of my westerly travels. In between I am fishing different venues once twice or even three times per week, meaning I can build a picture of where is fishing and where to leave alone for now. While there have been some poor evenings with little action I have to say that in general the canal is being good to me. This evening was an example.
The day had been one of unremarkable meetings bracketed by a hectic early start and a manic ending as I battled with an IT issues which was holding up a major investment I am spearheading. Somehow (and I am still not exactly sure how) I managed to sneak off around 5pm to emerge into a cloudy but warm evening, just about perfect for a spot of coarse fishing. I actually drove off not really knowing where I was heading for, the road through Horseleap taking me north but I could veer off left or right and end up at the canal. I finally settled on Ballinea, basing my decision on a belief there were tench hanging around there. The last time I had fished this lovely stretch I had seen those tell-tale tiny bubbles but failed to hook any tench. Maybe this time……
One of the attractions of Ballinea is the car park right next to where I fish. It’s the work of a few minutes to unpack the gear and get set up. The left over red maggots from the other day had partially escaped but were contained in a bucket which the bait box had been placed in. They all seemed lively enough so I set up the swimfeeder with a size 10 hook loaded with maggots and lobbed it out. I won’t mention the feeder again – it did nothing the whole session. On the float rod I had a small crystal waggler which I’d used on my last outing. The line and hooklink were in good condition so I began with the size 16 and baited up with a pair of maggots. Loosefeeding the maggots felt like a better option to me than ground bait and the whole session I kept up a steady stream via my somewhat dilapidated catapult. And so I settled down, sat on my stool and was finally able to relax for the first time that day.
Dog walkers said hello, panting cyclists nodded before speeding off and kids played in the playground behind me. Swallows were busy swooping over the water and a Chaffinch stole a few maggots out of the baitbox. It really was terribly nice just sitting there but soon the float bobbed and I lifted into a nice rudd. A good start but it went a bit quiet after that. I fiddled about with the depth, never being entirely happy that I had it right. Fishing over depth on the canal just allows the hook to find purchase in the rampant weeds but coming up too far off the bottom just leads to a plague of tiny rudd. At last I felt I had it right and sure enough, some action ensued.
First a small roach snaffled the maggots, followed the very next cast by a stonking good rudd that was way over a pound in weight. A short gap then another solid bite pulled the crystal under but this time there was weight when I lifted the rod. Tench. This fish fought hard and ran fast into a weed bed. Steady pressure moved him back out into open water but just as I thought I was getting on top the hook hold gave way and he was off. Obviously this was disappointing but deep inside I was sure I was going to have another chance. Time to check the tackle (everything was fine). Was the hook OK or should I go bigger? Yes, time for a size 14 barbless so I made that small but potentially vital change then resumed operations. Two kids walked past and said hi. It was only when they were past me I noticed one was carrying a fishing rod. Over the bridge they went and I saw them flinging a lure into the water up there but I returned to my own efforts and left them to it.
Three more rudd, two small lads and one monster that was easily a pound-and-a-half. The dodgy catapult was in regular action as I kept feeding the swim, sure and certain I was doing the right thing. Sure enough, along came another tench which led me a merry dance, weeding me three times but each time I managed to get it out. Into the net and the sense of relief was intoxicating. This was a fine fish, heavy and in prime condition. Each tench I land makes me feels like I am honoured. Lip hooked, I popped it back after the customary snaps. I really, really enjoyed that!
The two lads came back over the bridge and I stopped them to see how they were getting on. The small plastic plug on the end of the line might tempt a pike but I suggested that they try the maggot. Since there was only limited gear in the clear plastic tackle box they had with them I gave them some small hooks, floats, shot and, importantly, some red maggots. Explaining how to set up and fish this lot a pointed out a spot where I had done well in the past so off they went to try their luck.
More maggots flying through the still, heavy air. More tiny changes to depth as I felt the float had moved during the fight. More chatting to the dog walkers. Honestly, it could not have been a lovelier evening. One cast seemed to go wrong and when I wound in I found the waggler had snapped in two. A quick change to a nice old balsa and I was back in business. Moments later and that familiar bite and heavy weight on the end signalled another olive green tench had come to play. This one, while still lively, was a good bit smaller than the first one and could only have been a couple of pounds. One more rudd followed, bristling orangy-red fins splayed out as I swung it to hand.
A blonde haired lady appeared and it was soon evident she was the mother of the two young fellas I had been talking too. I didn’t pay much heed until a shout from the taller of the two lads was followed by much joy and photographs being taken by mum. From a distance I could make out a good rudd or roach was being held proudly aloft.
Number three tench came along, another fish of two pounds or so. Landing three tench in one session is an unusual occurrence for me but one I could most definitely get used to. Reflecting on my good fortune this evening as I sat there on the edge of the water it seemed to me I was beginning to get the hang of this coarse fishing malarkey. My reasoning and decision making are based on experience more than just what I have read about. Moreover, I now have a level of confidence which was not there even a year ago. This is a big step forward for me and it feels like I have earned my spurs. Long sessions, often bite-less never mind fishless, in all conditions have honed my techniques. I will still blank or catch miserably small numbers of tiny silvers on occasions, but I feel I can catch bigger bags now. Just goes to show what happens when you persevere at something.
4 thoughts on “Perseverance”
Really enjoying your regular reports and pleased to see you getting deserved results for your efforts and perseverance
Hi Richard, glad you are enjoying my scribblings. It would be nice if all my posts detailed great catches or rod bending feats but I think I am like many other anglers, only moderately successful but loving my sport.
Sounds like a nice evening. Clearly a combination of persistence and confidence is beginning to show results.
Feels that way. Still so much to learn but I’ve got a grasp of the basics.