32, coarse fishing, Fishing in Ireland

32, Episode 19 – Kildare

To the south and east of Dublin stretches the wide flat plains of the Pale. I am no Irish history buff but the term ‘the pale’ seems to date from the middle ages and signified the area under English control. The borders of the pale fluctuated wildly over the years but Kildare was pretty much always under English rule. Rich farmlands made it attractive and the river Barrow provided a defensible line against the native Irish, those who lived ‘beyond the pale’.

Kildare is horse racing country, indeed the nickname for it is ‘the thoroughbred county’. Flat grass lands predominate, ideal for the gee-gees I understand. The English based their cavalry here and even today the county is dotted with studs and racecourses. I have no interest in racing but for a fisherman like me Kildare also boasts an awful lot of coarse angling with rivers and canals aplenty. It is very different to some of the more northerly counties such as Cavan or Leitrim with very few loughs. Monasterevin in particular has a great reputation on both the river and the canal. I have read that there can be good fishing on the Barrow between Monasterevin and Athy but access can be an issue. It’s a different story in and around the town of Athy itself where there is ample parking and easy access to the banks on both sides of the river. My problem was that you require a permit to fish at those towns and the tackle shops are closed on Sundays.

With Athy and Monasteravin out of the question I decided to try further east along the canal at Lowton. I have not read any reports of the fishing around there but I figured roach could be just about anywhere so the stretch at Lowton would be my target. My ‘plan B’ was to try another stretch of the canal at Prosperous if Lowton was a failure. That was not too far away along a mess of back roads so it seemed to be a viable option.

Waking at silly o’clock in the cold darkness, the usual fumbling around the house ensued as I gathered together tackle, food and clothing under the watchful gaze of the cat who seemed bemused by my antics. Nelson (so christened because he only has one eye) is a creature of habit so me being up at this hour required his full attention as there was the possibility of an early breakfast for him. He was of course right in his supposition and I fed him before leaving. I know the road to Kildare well having worked there a few years ago. Not a sinner was on the road as I left town then crossing from Mayo into Roscommon and the eastern sky lightened as I cruised through the townlands of Bellanagare. Longford was busier of course before a jaunt along the motorway to thence to Kinnegad. The little village on Allenwood is close to where I would be fishing and I turned off the main roads there on to the towpath.

I felt under less pressure than normal today, it was winter, the fishing would in all probability be hard and so a blank was entirely possible. I could return here in the summer if today was a washout. Okay so this was quite a long journey but I’d be trying for fish I had often caught using methods I am now very familiar with. I planned to simply relax and enjoy being outdoors.

I had brought along a vast quantity of gear (quell surprise), enough to cope with anything the canal could throw at me. Rods bristled out of the quiver, the seatbox groaned under the weight of all the reels and boxes inside. Many miles had been covered already just to get here so I wanted to make damn sure I gave it my best shot today. My primary target species would be roach as there are vast shoals of them in the canal. Perch should also be active at this time of the year and that is why I had brought along some worms. I felt the big challenge today was going to be finding the fish and then holding them in front of me.

Making my own breadcrumbs for groundbait is something I tried early on in my coarse fishing odyssey but results were pretty poor. The crumb I made was full of lumps and had a soggy texture that clumped together and was hard to mix. So I packed that up as a bad job and just used shop bought crumb. Last week though I took another stab at it and this time results appear to be much better. For a change I dried out some old white bread in the oven before putting it in the blender and this gave a much better consistency with very few lumps in the resulting crumb. When fishing I much prefer a dark crumb, I think the fish can spot something alien when white crumb is used in the natural waters around here. While I accept the finished product is far from perfect it will bulk up my groundbait and at the same time use up bits of old loaf which would otherwise go to waste. I have been looking at using ‘predator plus’ additive when targeting perch after reading about it in Sidesteam Bob’s blog but for now it would just be a dash of vanilla essence in the mix today.

Over the old humpback stone bridge I found a parking spot, shut off the motor and went for a reconnoiter along one of the canals. The Barrow line comes off the Grand Canal here so there are a lot of different spots to pick from. Finding a space between the moored house boats was not easy but there was a small gap on a jetty. Looking into the crystal clear water I could see a shoal of roach as they nonchalantly swam by. That was enough for me and I hastened back to the car to collect all the gear. Of course by the time I got back and had set up the rods the roach had long gone and I was left looking into a completely empty stretch of the canal. I figured if one shoal could swim by here then so could others so I mixed up some ground bait. For me at any rate that means some hemp in the groundbait and I mixed up a big bowl to start with. My crumb, hemp, ground pellets, oats, a few drops of vanilla and some dead maggots were all blended together and I fired 4 balls into the swim.

The light leger rod seemed to be a good choice given how fine I would be fishing today so I set the ten footer up with a simple link leger of two swan shot and a tippet of one pound breaking strain mono to a size 16 hook. A pair of maggots were sent out and I next set up the float rod. A reel of six pound mono was the lightest I had which I felt was far too heavy but with no other options it would have to do. A small waggler shotted at the float with some dust shot at the loop to a one pound tippet and a size 20 hook felt about right. I plumbed up as normal and found around 5 feet of water in front of me. For a few casts I fiddled about with the float trying to refine the depth to get the maggot riding an inch or so above the bottom. This was because the shoal of roach I had seen earlier were moving and not rooting around on the bottom. I wanted to drop a maggot to them at exactly the right level, hence all the fiddling.

The weeds on the bottom are six feet down so you can judge how clear the water was

Next on the agenda was a cuppa and a sandwich so I ate while fishing, watching the float like a hawk. The day was still cold at around 4 degrees but apart from that it was a lovely morning to be out in the fresh air. Another roach shoal slowly swam past me. The water was so clear I could make out every tiny spot on them as they contemptuously ignored the ground bait on the bottom or my cunningly displayed hook baits. I loose fed a trickle of maggots but the little silvery fish wanted nothing to do with them as the maggots drifted down through the shoal. In just a couple of minutes they mooched off to my left and the swim was deserted again.

A few houseboats were tied up close to me and a gent appeared with his dog so we got chatting. When I heard his east Lancashire accent I asked Keith where he was from. This is always a tricky question for a Burnley supporter like me to ask. A fellow claret will be delighted to make the acquaintance of any Burnley supporter but a Blackburn fan might be well offended by the idea of talking to me. Keith was indeed from Blackburn but was not into the inter-team rivalry. We talked about football and fishing and he asked how I was getting on. Blank so far was the answer and Keith went below deck to have some tea after pointing out some likely spots. A third shoal of roach showed up now, an even bigger shoal than the previous two. Once again I cast baited hooks to the ranks of the roach but once again the humble maggots were ignored and this shoal too swam off in the direction of Dublin. It was interesting to note how all three shoals were heading in the same direction, none ever came back the other way. They were actively travelling, not nosing about on the bottom looking for food, just swimming in a steady, positive way, like they had somewhere important to be that morning.

Many, many casts later I reeled in and inspected the maggot. He looked a bit tired and so I changed him, mounting a nice fresh red maggot by the tail. Flicking the float out I let the faint current which flowed from my right to left take the float tenderly off. I kept the bale arm open and allowed the float to slowly drift away a bit further. There was a tremble on the float, no vertical movement you understand just a faint tremble but I saw it and struck. A fish! Not a big fish but a wee roach and I simply swung him to hand in one swift movement. A quick snap and the hook released from his top lip then off he swam again. It was a lesson to me as I had not seen that fish despite the clarity of the water. He must have been in the thick weeds which blanketed some areas of the silty bottom. I fished on with renewed vigor under an ever brightening sky. One more shoal swam by but they refused everything I threw at them so I decided to move.

I know this sounds like a stupid thing to do, if I can see fish in the swim surely I should stick it out there. My reasoning was that although the fish were sometimes right in front of me they were not stopping and seemed instead to be intent on travelling somewhere. I packed the gear and set off, back across the bridge and off along the main canal which was by now busy with assorted cyclists, boaters, dog walkers and chatty strollers. Finding a new spot I set up again in a swim which was deeper than my previous one. Firstly I cast the light leger as close as I dare to a boat tied up next to me, hoping there might be a perch living under there. Then I cast out the float and it immediately stuck on something solid on the bottom, snapping the slender tippet when I tried to drag it free. A new tippet, still with a size 20 hook attached was soon installed.

A few casts in the float plunged down and I struck into what turned out to be an odd catch for this time of the year – a rudd. I always associate rudd with scorching hot summer days, not bone-chilling January sessions. I popped the little lad back and a few minutes later I repeated the exercise with a slightly bigger rudd. That was it for the day as it turns outs. The rudd must have drifted off and of roach or bream there was no sign. I fished on for a while but with no signs of fish, the bright sunshire and perfectly clear water it felt there was little hope of further action. I could have stayed on for a bit longer but a good general knows when to leave the field of battle and my race was run for the day (that’s enough mixed metaphors for the day too!). The long drive home was uneventful and Helen was surprised to see me home so soon.

The photo does not do this rudd justice, it was a glorious golden colour.

In total I spent three hours fishing and nearly seven hours behind the wheel today and Kildare is nowhere near to being the furthest of the 32 counties from home. The driving is proving to be more of a challenge than I had anticipated and of course the huge hike in fuel prices doesn’t help much. My reels and lines need to be sorted out because it was only when I arrived at the venue and decided I had to fish very fine that I remembered the two and four pound lines were on spools for the now dead Harrier reel. Over the course of last season three of my reels broke down and I have done nothing to repair or replace them. That laziness needs to be addressed by me or it will end up costing me fish.

To say the day had been a resounding success would be stretching it a bit but I am more than happy with those three small fish in difficult conditions at a venue I did not know. Three other anglers were also fishing and none of them had so much as a nibble while I was there. Cold, gin clear water and bright overhead conditions made for a challenging day alright. I feel I should have done better when those shoals of roach swam past me and on reflection I should have tried bread on a day like today. I’ll take this onboard and have at least a few slices of bread with me in future. That said, fishing very fine paid off and I landed three fish. The rudd were a complete surprise, I thought they went off and hid in deep water for the winter but it appears that is not always the case. County number nineteen is done and dusted.

Footnote: It is the next morning and I finally get around to emptying the gear from the back of the car. I open up my rucksack and am greeted with the unedifying edifice of numerous worms crawling around inside. Yes, the lid of the bait box had opened up and the worms had made good their escape in the dead of the night. A few minutes picked the little blighter out of every recess in the bag soon had them corralled and then transferred back to the compost heap. Job for today – wash out and clean the rucksack!

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coarse fishing, Fishing in Ireland

Fishing the Yellow river

Of course you all have heard about the Yellow River, one of the great rivers of the world. For over 5000 kilometers it flows from west to east across the ever changing face of China, providing transport, water, power and irrigation for millions of people. Also known as ‘China’s Sorrow’ for its propensity to flood with devastating results, this river is woven into the very fabric of Chinese society. So what is the angling like? To be honest I don’t have a clue, I was fishing a very different Yellow River right here in Mayo.

The town of Kiltimagh in east Mayo is actually quite famous as it is the birth place of yer man Louis Walsh off the telly. Not an awful lot happens in Kiltimagh, it’s one of those sleepy Irish towns where cattle prices at the mart or how the local GAA club faired out at the weekend are uppermost in peoples minds. It is almost surrounded by small rivers which meet up and flow into the Moy away to the north. I have fished for trout in both the Pollagh and Glore before with some success but I had never tried the Yellow River. It always looked so narrow and insignificant whenever I crossed over it (which I have done many, many times) and it didn’t register with me it could be a good fishery. Then I came in contact with a young fisherman from the town who told me about catching pike, perch, roach and trout out of the Yellow River so I figured I better give it a try. Neil specifically stressed there were some very deep stretches despite the rivers narrow width. It sounded like it might be worth a try but this really was a shot in the dark for me so expectations were set very low.

At this time of the year I’d expect there to be a few roach in deep flowing water. Neil had told me he caught roach almost by accident when worming for perch or trout during the summer months. While I have landed my fair share of roach on worm the old reliable maggot is a much superior bait for them in my opinion. I know the experts at winter roach fishing will prefer bread or hemp but I find them too fiddly so I stick to something that wriggles for my hook bait. I pulled out some gear, bought a few maggots and set off for a very short session. As always, access is the big issue here in the west and I had to find somewhere to park reasonably close to the river so I could get to the bankside. Neil came to the rescue again and pointed me to a spot where I could park and walk across the bog on a track almost to the waters edge. Without his detailed local knowledge I would never have found this spot so a big ‘thank you’ to Neil. This is good shooting country so I brought along a bright red hat to make me visible.

This part of the county is a mix of bog and poor land just fit for a few sheep, all intersected with drains and barbed wire fences. The bank was rough and uneven as expected but I still found it hard going what with my dodgy joints and rampant vertigo. The vertigo has been an issue for me since last June and I am sure it is linked to the Covid-19 jab I had a couple of weeks before then. It feels like I have indulged in one too many sweet sherry’s and the world is constantly moving. Where ever I look down the ground seems to tilt or buildings sway making the process of putting one foot in front of the other quite perilous. Helen is understandably worried about me going off fishing on my own, concerned that I will fall in and drown or meet some other equally horrible fate. From my perspective I see this is just part of life and that I need to just get on with it. I do suffer the the occasional fall on particularly bad days but have not seriously hurt myself yet. Strangely, I am much more stable when sitting down so my driving is not affected.

I hoped to find some roach by trotting through any pools I could find but I’d settle for a perch if there were no silvers to be had. I brought the 12 foot rod with me but was feeling I might be over-gunned as this tiny river is only about that width in some places. If fishing these small streams in the winter for roach becomes a ‘thing’ with me I can see me looking for a ten footer which would be much easier to handle amid the bushes and other obstacles. My current 10 foot light leger rod it way too light for this kind of work, just the flow of the river would bend it double! I would not feel to bad about buying a new rod, it has been 3 or 4 years since I bought a fishing rod and that was only a cheap back up spinning rod which cost me €20 from the Edinburgh Angling Centre. Given the huge increase in coarse fishing I do it makes sense to invest in just one more rod (or maybe two, I have yet to replace the feeder rod I broke a couple of years ago).

Back to the fishing…….

So here I was, rucksack/seat on my back and the rod set up with six pound mono running line, a stick float attached top and bottom and a tippet of 3 pound mono to a size 16 barbless hook. Plumbing the swim showed about five feet of water in front of me shallowing to just three feet twenty yards further down. Double maggot was my bait of choice to begin with and I adjusted the shot to give the hook a slow fall for a start. On only the second cast I stuck on the bottom and snapped the tippet when I tried to pull it free. A new tippet was quickly attached and I started again, the float tracking downstream smoothly until it came to the shallows and started to hang up on the bottom. On a river this small casts were a mere flick of the rod and it is a noce way to fish just watching the tip of the float as it drifts away down the river.

30 minutes sped by without so much as a tremble to the float so I walked down to the next bend where a lovely pool could be easily fished. I had to adjust the float as this was a much deeper swim with close to ten feet of water almost right up to the bank. I tried the worm but it failed to elicit any fishy interest so I went back to the maggot. All this time I had been loose feeding a trickle of maggots into the swim to try and get fish feeding. Despite fishing carefully and diligently there were no bites forthcoming. In the end I had to pack up and head home. Perhaps I should feel a bit downhearted at the blank but instead I enjoyed being out on the riverbank for the first time this year. It was a lovely peaceful day with no wind or rain.

the track across the bog. It was only a short distance to the river

This is a nice little bit of river and I will be back here again. It is relatively close to me and has fish in it so that alone is good enough. Add to that the joy of using very light tackle and it really does make it an attractive option for the winter months. Think I will start saving my pennies for a new shorter rod and who knows, maybe even a centrepin reel. I’ve never owned one but they look like great fun to use. Don’t worry, I won’t be looking for one of those wonderful (and wonderfully expensive) Hardy’s, Allcock’s or Garry Mills jobs. An occasional slow trot down a few yards on a rivulet of the stream simply does not a warrant top of the range reel.

So my 2022 season has started, all be it with a blank. On Sunday I am heading off to try another county on my ’32’ project, this time down in Kildare. The maggots are resting in the fridge overnight and the gear is all in the car so I am ready for an early start. It is great to be up and running again!

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coarse fishing, Fishing in Ireland

Another project

Late November, a damp, dreary morning. Loud and heavy, I knew that booming knock on the front door well and sure enough my mate was stood there clad in coat and boots against the weather when I opened the door. It’s early and he knows I am working so what has brought him across town at this time of the day? I surmise the pale wooden box he is clutching must have something to do with it. We chat for a bit then he thrusts said box across the threshold to me. ‘Here, you take this, I have no use for it’ he says, ‘I was given this by relations but it is full of coarse fishing gear so I thought you might find some of it useful’. I undid both latches and opened the lid a smidgen to reveal a bit of a mess. I could make out a collection of floats, hooks and some line. ‘Certainly some good stuff in here’ I said and with that he turned, waved and marched off down the path in the damp half light. So there I was, slightly bemused, left holding my unexpected gift. Leaving it in the sitting room I returned to the laptop and the first meeting of the day. Work dragged slowly by, a blur of spreadsheets and emails, but finally I was free from the shackles of employment and could investigate further my new acquisition. What would it be, treasure trove or junk!

The box itself, fashioned from plywood and furnished with a carrying handle and two sturdy latches, was in very good condition on the outside. The hinges and latches worked perfectly and apart from being a little dirty there seemed to be no damage. However it was a different story once I opened it up. The slotted foam float holder strips had disintegrated and the floats were lying around in a mess of black dust. I poked about and could see some useful bits and pieces alright. With ubiquitous cup of coffee in hand, I delved further into the nooks and crannies of the box, lifting out two removable compartments to examine the gear and count the floats. Out of the 70 odd in the box only one was instantly discarded, a nice black stick float which had snapped at some point and it was not worth the time and effort to repair it. Do I need another 70 floats? Obviously not but here they were and so I checked them all out. Apart from some which had foam stuck on them the floats were in remarkably good order. Indeed, most appeared to have never seen the water. The age of the contents was hard to gauge but I would hazard a guess at pre-2000 going by the design of the floats and the fact the foam strips had disintegrated.

I sat looking at the box for a while, trying to figure out how it could fit into my already extensive collection of tackle, bearing in mind that I am trying hard to downsize my fishing gear these days. The box was too big and heavy to be of use on the bank but it could usefully store some of the spare tackle I own. That was that, it would be turned into my spare box for coarse fishing bits and bobs. Currently any spare bits are in a clear plastic tub where anything and everything is jumbled together. Now I could be more organised. The anorak in me came to the fore and I proceeded to check and catalog every one of the 70 floats, sorting them into 3 bundles, one each for lake, canal or river fishing. Three pike floats were separated and will be deposited in my deabaiting box later (one, a lovely self cocking slider, has a pin hole that I need to fix first).

Floats, and plenty of ’em

A few hooks, swivels and spools of line were next to be examined. I don’t trust old fishing line so the spools will be disposed of for recycling. Hooks on the other hand are always welcome and there was a somewhat eclectic mix to check over. The weird 2/0 bent worm hooks, all the way from the great state of Alabama, might work for soft plastics while some tiny Partridge trebles might be used to make small minnow mounts. Very small Aberdeen’s, much smaller than any I have seen before, may have a use for flatties off a sandy beach or estuary. There is a packet of size 8 long shank fly hooks too. Half-a-dozen excellent steel pike traces will definitely be used in the future so these were immediately transferred to my blue tackle bag. Two bags of small plastic parts remain unidentified (see below) so if any of you lot know what these are for I would be most obliged (I am hazarding a guess they are stops of some kind and are something to do with pole fishing, see pix below). Fly line sinking agent, a torch/compass thingy, some big brass link swivels, starlights, packets of float adapters………… A mixed bag to be sure!

The thinner parts fit inside the cylinders from what I can make out.
These look the same but have a little hole on the outside

Only one lure was in the box, a nice Tasmanian Devil dressed in blue and silver. Confession time – I have never used a Tazzie before. I’ll chuck this one in my baits box for now where it can live with the pretty blue and gold one I have owned for years but never even tied on the end of my line. I have read these are the ‘go to’ bait for the shad fishermen down south on the Barrow at St. Mullins but they have never been popular over on this side of the country.

That sticky tape in there did not want to budge!

Work and Christmas got in the way of things, as they do. The box was safely stowed away until late in December until I had a bit more free time on my hands. Eventually I pulled it out, gathered together some tools and began to clean up of the interior of the box. Divided into little bays, some partly filled with black foam, it looked a right old state when I started but it slowly began to look a bit better. The big issue was the foam strips which had been used to secure the floats to the inside of the lid and one of the compartments. One other compartment had been filled with foam too and all of these strips had to go. Using a paint scraper I removed the old foam but the sticky backing tape took for ever to peel off. It was so old it just ripped when I tied to pull it. Trust me, this was a mind-numbingly boring job which took me ages. A residue of sticky adhesive from the tape still clung to the wood so I used some alcohol to remove that too. The sticky backed foam obviously was not tacky enough and whoever had previously owned the box stuck the foam strips down with a strong adhesive, so hardened globs of that had to be scraped off with a Stanley blade. Next it was out with the sandpaper and the inside was given a good rub down. I may varnish the box in the future but for now it s fine as it is. I have no intention of using outdoors.

After cleaning up. Looks OK to me.

It took me a while but in the end I was happy with the refurbished box. Floats, feeders and a whole panoply of rig bits now reside in the cosy confines of the old wooden box. I know it won’t catch me one more fish but it has been returned to use and I have a neat storage solution for the smaller bits of tackle.

What about all those floats I hear you ask? After sorting through them and giving them a clean up I had to decide what to do with them all. The river floats really are surplus to my requirements. I have a lot of stick floats already and I don’t fish the rivers much these days so I’ll store the river floats away safely for now in the hope I find a use for them at some vague point in the future. Luckily, the biggest percentage of the floats were wagglers which are obviously the mainstay of my coarse angling. All are eminently usable but I am not going to drag another 60 floats out with me each time I go fishing for roach and bream. About a dozen have made the cut and are now in my tackle box, the rest will stay in the newly refurbished wooden box as spares. I’ve mentioned before that I lose or break at least one float on most trips so these wagglers will come in handy over time. One thing is for sure, I will never need to buy another float ever again! And this is before I delve into a well filled box of damaged/broken/worn floats which keep meaning to fix up. There must be another fifty or so unloved old floats residing in that box so that is yet another project for later this winter.

Nice set of stick floats. I will keep them safe for now and hope to use them next year

Highlights include a lovely Middy Bomb Waggler, a beast of a float which I will try for tench on a lake I know. The fish tend to hang out near a reed bed about 30 yards out so the weight of the big float will be a big help in reaching them. I know what you are thinking – chuck a feeder at them! The thing is the tench seem to respond much better to the float for some reason there, I can’t explain why, they just do.

At the other end of the scale I now have a few smaller onion’s which will see action on the wee ponds I want to fish next summer. Two of these forgotten lakes in particular stand out as potentially good tench venues. Both are small and weedy and I think the wee onion floats could be just the ticket for places like this. Three lovely grey ‘Olympia’ wagglers (a brand I am unfamiliar with) look to be ideal for the canal fishing I do up in Leitrim. All in all I am delighted with the haul of excellent floats and I will derive huge pleasure using them over the coming years.

My coarse angling is, at best, unsophisticated and I strongly suspect if I just stuck to a medium sized crystal waggler I’d probably catch the same number of fish but I enjoy swapping floats as I see fit in an effort to overcome changing conditions. We can go from flat calm to a howling gale in the space a few minutes here (and everything in between) so I feel being flexible in float selection is part and parcel of the Irish coarse fishing game. My general modus operandi is small, light, inconspicuous floats for the canals here as the water tends to be both shallow and clear, and not spooking fish is my main concern. On the small loughs I use different wagglers depending on how far out I am fishing, the bait, target species and conditions. On the rare occasions I find myself on bigger loughs or when fishing a bigger bait for tench I go for large bodied wagglers which cast further and can support the weight of big gobs of worms. Of course there are all sorts of variations in between these broad groupings but you get the idea. Sliders for deep water, Sticks and Avons for rivers and a host of other oddballs can all make an appearance at times too.

The finished box starting to fill up with tackle now.

The inveterate tinkerer in me loves spending time on projects like this. While I suppose there is an element of saving money that is not the real driver here. Salvaging items which otherwise might be tossed out as rubbish feels like the right thing to do. The box is now back in use and the odds and ends of tackle sorted out. At the end of the day I am now marginally more organised than before. It doesn’t take much to keep me amused. Being the only coarse fisher in the village does have some advantages!

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32, coarse fishing, Fishing in Ireland

32 – Episode 18, County Carlow

Storm Barra had rattled the windows and felled trees across the south and west earlier in the week and the cold, windy weather lingered on long after the eye of the storm had passed. Being cooped up indoors for days on end was taking its toll so I decided to fish this Sunday and even more exciting, I would tackle another of the 32 counties. An uncomfortable day beckoned but what else can you expect in December? Being honest, winter fishing is something I find less and less enjoyable as each year slips past. I used to love it, the cold and wet didn’t knock a stir out of me at all when I was a young man but these days I hate the chilly weather. Just being cold is enough to ruin being outdoors for me so a selection of thermals, fleeces, waterproofs and hats are necessities when I do venture out. Met Eireann were promising rain with strong winds all day which is always a pretty safe bet here in Ireland.

Carlow does not immediately spring to mind when thinking about Irish angling. Gentle farmland and busy towns, just about commutable distance from Dublin; that is how it always struck me. Situated in the south east of Ireland, Carlow is one of the smaller counties, sandwiched between Laois, Kilkenny, Kildare, Wexford and Wicklow. Carlow Town is a thriving community with lots of shops, pubs and restaurants to be enjoyed.

By now you will have all gathered that I am no fan of the OPW (office of public works) but the information on their website on river heights is excellent and I was able to see the Barrow was running at half a metre on the gauge and slowly dropping near where I planned to fish. Water temperature had dropped quickly at the end of last month but had steadied recently at just over 5 degrees. If that was good or bad for roach and dace fishing I had no idea.

The river Barrow is one of the country’s great waterways despite many man-made diversions. It flows very roughly north to south and empties into the salt at Waterford along with her sisters the Suir and the Nore. Much of the river has been canalised and numerous weirs make it hard for salmon to penetrate far upstream. OK a few salar still force their way into the system but aside from the locals who haunt the bank it is not seriously fished for the salmon. Instead, over the years it has become a popular venue for coarse fishers. Angling clubs along its length cater for a large and active fishing community who use pole and rod to extract roach, dace and pike in good numbers. The river also holds a head of brown trout and there are perch in the river too.

Once upon a time I worked in south county Kildare, just a few miles from Carlow Town. Indeed, I often stayed in Carlow and got to know the town reasonably well at the time. Evenings would sometimes see me go for a walk after work and I used to stand on the bridges, watching the river flowing beneath, wide, deep and coloured. I never did see any anglers though. In my research I found out that the section of river in the town is actually a good spot for both roach and dace so it is strange that I never came across an angler trying their luck on the town water. The same stretch apparently also holds bream along with occasional pike and perch.

For the purposes of this trip I eschewed the Carlow Town water itself for a stretch further downstream at Clashganny. To quote directly from the Fishing Ireland website: ‘The stretch at Clashganny offers coarse anglers the opportunity to try different coarse fishing techniques in picturesque surroundings. Float, feeder and pole techniques all offer possibilities on this superb stretch of river’. That sounds good doesn’t it? Here I would target the roach and dace which allegedly stalked the weed beds on the bottom. From the images on the internet it looked like a nice place with the river, a stretch of canal and a lock all possible pegs. The humble maggot and worm would be my baits of choice and it would be a day when the float was going to be my preferred method of presentation. Having only ever caught roach in flowing water by accident on the fly this was going to be an interesting day out for me.

You will all know by now that on these long distance trips I plan for a back-up venue in case my first choice is unfishable or I simply fail to catch anything there. In this case I figured I would head upstream a bit to Bagnalstown or Leighlinbridge, also on the Barrow. Similar water and fishing for similar species but it would be a change of scene in the event I was still blank in the afternoon. As for tactics I would bring along a swimfeeder rod in case the float did not work so feeders in a range of weights were dug out and tossed into the box. I use smaller feeders regularly but the bigger lads rarely enjoy a dip in the water. On the swiftly flowing Barrow their gravitas might be required.

As always, a humongous quantity of gear came along for the ride. Not being used to fishing in flowing water for roach I was unsure which rod to bring with me, so I brought them all! As I mentioned, my heavy leger rod looked like my best option if I turned to the feeder in the main flow of the river but would my 12 or 13 foot float rods be best suited to trotting a float? I’m used to canals and fishing at close range, what if I had to fish at distance? The Barrow is a big river as it flows through Carlow and if the roach were holding further out I might struggle to present the bait properly. It is also pretty straight with not much in the way of pools or other features where I could easily identify holding areas. The canalisation of the river has removed most features but there are locks both upstream and downstream of Clashganny so these may just be the prime spots to hunt the roach. I needed more clarity of thought. Was I biting off more than I could chew?

Driving to Carlow entails a long and winding journey via Tulsk and Roscommon Town then down to Athlone. Drive east along a stretch of the M6 motorway as far as Tullamore then to Portlaoise. My plan was to stop off in Carlow and picked up some bait from the tackle shop in town. The final stretch is on the R448 down to Leighlinbridge, then the R702. A cool 290 km from home or a 580 km round trip in total. I set off early.

So I pulled up in Carlow Town, already stiff in the joints from 3 hours at the wheel. Barrow Fishing Tackle Shop is on Maryborough street, looking right on to the river. It was immediately obvious that I was in bother, the shop was closed. Twenty minutes past nine on my watch and the website said the shop would be open at nine. A heavy padlock on the door suggested that was not going to happen. A ‘self service’ bait dispenser next to the door had a sign proclaiming ‘bait 24/7’ but it was out of order. It would be good to say I was mildly put out by this turn of events but in point of fact I was livid. Why would a retail business advertise its opening hours on a website and Facebook page then completely disregard those hours? Now I was stuck with no alternative and would have to make do with the worms and dead maggots I had brought along with me. The dead maggots had been in the freezer for months and were in poor condition, I had planned on just using them up in the groundbait. There was nothing else for it, I drove off again heading for Clashganny, my plans in tatters.

It felt like a very long and tiresome road as I motored ever southwards, down the motorway as far as Leighlinbridge then winding through the khaki-coloured fields of rural Carlow. A very convenient car park close to the waters edge made life a bit easier for me and I was soon taking in my new surroundings. This is a very lovely corner of Ireland, mature trees bounding the brown waters of the river, clipped grass around the neat lock gates, small birds flitting among the undergrowth. I’m sure it is even prettier in the green of summer. Here the river flowed over a weir off to my right with another one a bit further downstream. To allow small craft to navigate past the obstacles there is a short stretch of canal with locks. The river is high all right, the aftermath of storm Barra earlier in the week but the canal is very shallow here. The strong southerly wind which was forecast for today is absent and the air is pleasantly warm for the time of year.

I had seen an ariel photograph of this stretch but found it hard to get a sense of scale and form so it was only now, when standing on the bank that I could sense what the river ‘felt’ like. I will try to explain that statement for you. Angling for me is not simply the mechanics of casting/baiting/catching. Sure, technical knowledge, masterly of techniques and so on are vital for success but I have a much deeper feeling for the places I fish. I guess you could say it is a spiritual connection of sorts. For me, the privilege of immersing myself in the natural world for a few short hours means I can be in a different head space. I am not a neurologist but I suspect I engage different parts of my brain when out in the natural world. So the ‘feeling’ of a waterway is a major part of how I fish on any given day. The Barrow noisily tumbled over the weirs above and below me, creating a wall of sound as a backdrop to the session.

The obvious starting point for me was the swim below the lock where an old boat was tied up. I set up with two rods, the feeder and the float rod. This looked very ‘perchy’ to me so I tried a worm held in place with a couple of dead maggots on the feeder rod. Since the sad demise of my old Daiwa Harrier reel I have been using a cheap black one which I bought in Sligo a while back. It even has a baitrunner facility, not that I need that when using it for float fishing but it fits well on the small feeder rod and the baitrunner facility means if anything big does take me it won’t pull the whole lot into the water. Balls of groundbait plopped into the water and a short cast sent a worm to the bottom. For the feeder the waiting began……………..

The feeder rod could look after itself while I set up the float rod. A couple of feet of mucky water flowed past me so I set up accordingly with an stick float and a size 14 hook. Shotting was simple, bulk shot above the tippet, and a couple of runners spaced up the line. Then I hurled in some some more balls of groundbait and loose fed a trickle of the dead maggots. Having never caught a dace before and lacking any real idea how to target them specifically meant limiting my choices to simply using a small hook below the bulk shot. In reality I was setting my stall out for roach today instead. I’ve yet to land one of better than a pound in weight and mostly they are only a few ounces but I still love fishing for the wee silvers.

The float trotted through the swim a few times without being troubled by the fish. The shallow water meant I could see the groundbait lying on the bottom and the float could be perfectly positioned to cover the exact spot. Soon however the feeder rod gave a small rattle. Dropping the float rod I lifted the feeder and there was a small silvery fish on the end. A dace no less, the first one I have ever landed. It had taken a worm which I found a bit surprising but I was damn glad to see it anyway. Some bubbles on the surface where I had chucked in the balls of groundbait looked like a good omen so I settled into concentrating hard on the float, trotting a worm or a pair of dead maggots through the swim time and time again. Nothing. Not so much as a nibble. I tried chopped worm, hoping the small pieces would be easy for the small dace to take but they failed to elicit any reaction. I tried a single dead maggot on a size 18 hook but that was no better. The problem with the maggots was not that they were dead, it was to do with their poor condition, they smelled horrible. A hour passed but no more bite were forthcoming so I decided to try above the lock.

A small Dace beside a very big feeder

The flow was minimal up there and try as I might no bites came my way. Eventually a group of guys with kayaks appeared and noisily launched right next to me. I took this as a hint and decided I needed a change, but where to go? In the end I packed the gear into the car and headed back the way I came and stopped at Muine Bheag where there are some stands on the channel of the Barrow. Three other guys were fishing the pole there and were catching a few roach and dace on (you have guessed it) maggot. I set up the rods and fished hard for the next couple of hours. Worm after worm trotted through the swim in front on me and never once did the float dip in anger. I knew in my heart I would be catching fish if only I had some maggots but it was not to be and when the rain came in the afternoon I called it a day and packed up.

Returning home I took a different road, driving up the M9 to Athy and reaching Tullamore via Portarlington. I had time to think about what had been a very poor day’s fishing. I accept it is possible I would have not caught anything even if I had some maggots but I doubt that. I have seen this before and for me maggots equals fish, it is as simple as that. If I had known the tackle shop in Carlow was going to be shut I would not have gone fishing there today. I like to be supportive of Irish tackle shops but I am left extremely frustrated and angry by the events of this morning. How hard would it have been to post a note on their FB page to say they were closed today?

So despite what was a terribly poor day I did actually catch one fish in co. Carlow, which under the T&C of the ’32’ project means I achieved my aims. It feels like a very hollow victory though; travelling the length of the country for one small dace was hardly the most exciting day on the bank. At least the promised high winds and rain kept away while I was fishing.

Christmas is but two weeks away and realistically I won’t have time to fish again before then. There are a few days off at the end of the month but it remains to be seen if I will venture out. Today was tiring and disappointing but they can’t all be golden days of bent rods and full nets. I know I have now caught one fish in county Carlow and that is all I wanted to do at the outset of this project. Just the one fish was supposed to be sufficient for me but in this case it simply is not. I am left with a hollow feeling after today, a need to right a wrong if you will. Looking back, I am sure that given decent bait I would have done much better so a possible additional visit to that fair county is under consideration for next year. I still have to fish the neighboring counties of Wexford, Kilkenny and Waterford and they are close enough for me to dart across to Carlow for a few hours angling. If I do you can bet I will bring a pint or two of maggots with me!

Update: The internet is a wonderful thing, isn’t it! I have found another tackle shop that is open on Sundays and sells maggots. https://www.vivado.ie are based in an industrial estate on O’Moore Street in the town of Tullamore and they open at 10am on Sundays. Wish I had known that earlier.

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coarse fishing, Fishing in Ireland

Pondering my feeder fishing

What I have learned and what I need to improve on

Two years of coarse fishing have flown by and I am sitting down today to think about one aspect of the sport where I still need to improve, using feeders. Let’s start off with the bigger picture here, I have no intention of trying to become some sort of expert, just a regular guy who would like to be more confident when using this rig. Here in Ireland the use of the feeder is a big part of the coarse scene with the top anglers catching enormous bags of fish on it, usually on the bigger loughs and rivers. My fishing is based around much smaller loughs and ponds so my horizons are much more limited.

Let’s go back in time a couple of years to when I started to fish for roach and bream. I bought a mix of new and second-hand gear and the feeders I started out with were a batch of pre-owned ones of various sizes and designs acquired from eBay. About twenty in total, they made a good starting point for a complete novice like myself and I read up on what these feeders were and how they might be used. Like a sponge, I soaked in the advice from YouTube videos and assorted websites. What jumped out to me was the complexity which this form of bottom fishing had assumed. My ignorant initial thoughts that this was just a fancy weight that allowed you to add bait to a swim were replaced by a realisation of how much I didn’t know. Reading up on a subject is all fine and dandy but I believe the only way to really learn is to get out and do it. So off I toddled to an assortment of venues and fished with the feeder on most occasions. On most occasion I failed to catch very much on said feeders.

Sometimes I get it right!

I am becoming a tad frustrated with myself over this. I have fished all my life, I can handle all types of gear with reasonable proficiency and have access to good stillwaters with a healthy head of fish. Bait is a bit of an issue for me but I can usually put my hand on worms, maggots and the range of baits from the supermarket. My target species are tench, roach and bream. So, no commercial fisheries and little in the way of running water, no carp, chub or crucians, no fancy dan processed boilies, wafters and what have you. On the face of it fishing the feeder should be easy and productive. Wild fisheries, natural baits presented on the bottom to lots of eager bream, roach and tench.

This is where it all started to get very confusing. In a nutshell, some days I haul fish out on the feeder but on others I fail miserably to catch anything, it is as black and white as that. I have to be open and frank here, I much prefer to fish the waggler, I love the visual aspect of that branch of the sport. Our rules here in Ireland allow the use of two rods at any one time so it makes perfect sense to lob out a leger or feeder while fishing the float on the other rod. I have come to the conclusion that this is the root cause for me being so slow to pick up the intricacies of the feeder, I don’t concentrate on it enough.

feeders in various shapes and sizes

A typical session will see me rig the feeder rod with either a cage feeder or a maggot feeder, usually a 20gm size. My normal rig is a twizzled boom to a hook length which can vary from 6 to 20 inches. Hook size is usually a 10 or 12 but I do go as small as a 16 if I am after smaller fish. When fishing for tench I often use a hair rig. Bait is either maggot or worm. On the waters I fish long casting is not necessary (at least I think so) and I rarely go much beyond 30 metres out. Often it is just a gentle lob as close as I dare to nearby weeds or rushes. And that will often be that for the whole session. I vary bait sometimes, swapping between maggot and worm but most days that is the extent of my changes. I used to be more adventurous but saw no big improvement in catches so these days I have drifted into the lethargy of just leaving it out there and hoping for the best. Not that such a lazy approach has not borne fruit, some of my best fish have come to the feeder which has been neglected for 20 or 30 minutes!

So what do I need to do to become more consistent with the feeder? I am open to anyone’s assistance here but these are the variables I think I should work on:

  1. Casting. I strongly suspect I have to be more accurate when casting the feeder and that I don’t get the benefit of dropping the feeder and bait into a tight area every cast. Up until now I have not clipped down my line so I am casting to the same distance, a trick I see most other anglers using. As Bart might write on the blackboard ‘I must clip my line so my distance is consistent’.
  2. Feeder size and design is maybe another variable to think about. Should for example cast out 4 or 6 large open end feeders full of groundbait to feed the swim first and then change to a cage or maggot feeder after that to keep a steady stream of feed going in? I suspect I have nothing to lose doing this.
  3. Choice of hooklength gives me enough worries to keep me awake at night. My current way of judging how long I need is based on whether I pop up the hook (shorter) or leave it lie on the bottom (longer). My shortest hooklengths are about 4 inches and they go right up to about 15 inches. On balance, I reckon the longer length possibly catches me more fish. The lakes I fish are all natural and have silty bottoms and I worry that my feeder and even the baited hook sometimes just disappear into the sludge. I think I will try longer hooklengths, up to a couple of feet or more, next year. My concern is that you lose bite sensitivity my going longer but that could just be my imagination. While I am on about hooklengths I generally use 4 pound mono most of the time, moving up to 6 or 8 pound if I know there are good sized tench in the lake I am fishing. I have suffered a few breakages using those lines so I am upping line strength next year with 6 pound my standard feeder hooklength and keeping 8 pound for the tench.
  4. Bait. Do I break my habits and try other baits? I bemoan the lack of bait suppliers close to me but I can order boilies, pellets etc on line. Other anglers swear by them so I am willing to give them a try. Just having a few in my tackle box gives me more options than I currently have so next season I’ll try them out. Which ones do I try? There are so many pellets and other goodies to tempt the angler let alone the fish. I will do a bit of research and try to find some that are not too garish in colour or flavour. That means investing in a banding tool but they are cheap to buy. Even this tight Aberdonian can lash out a fiver or so for one.
  5. I do have a notion to change from mono line to braid on my reels for feeder fishing. Braid keeps you in much better contact and it could be that I am missing lots of bites due to the elasticity of the monofilament. I’ll mull that over for now but I like the idea of ten pound braid on my reel.

That is about as much as I can think of for now. I don’t own a super-duper specialist feeder rod nor a three hundred quid reel to go with it but I really can’t imagine such an investment would result in a quantum leap in my feeder fortunes. More accurate casting, flexibility in bait choice and a willingness to ring the changes are where my thoughts are now but if any of you seasoned coarse anglers have some other ideas I’d love to hear them.

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32, coarse fishing, Fishing in Ireland

2022, looking forward

It is that time of the year for me, the time when I start to plan my angling for next year. I go through this exercise every close season and find it not only enjoyable but worthwhile as it gives me an excuse to research the fishing potential here and learn a bit more about what Ireland has to offer the angler. Most of my plans come to nought but that is simply because I find too many options to try them all. For many years my plans have been fairly similar but I want to try some new venues in the coming season, see a bit more of the country and try out some new methods for a change.

At the top of my ‘to do’ list is the completion of my ‘32’ project which started way back in 2020. Covid wrought havoc with my plans and while I caught up to some extent I still have a lot more counties to do. So much work has been done already that solid plans have been made and just need time to execute them. Here are the one I still have to visit:

  • Derry
  • Tyrone
  • Down
  • Louth
  • Wicklow
  • Wexford
  • Waterford
  • Cork
  • Tipperary
  • Carlow
  • Kerry
  • Limerick
  • Donegal
  • Kilkenny
  • Kildare

With 15 far flung counties on the list I feel that with a good start to the year I will complete my mission by the end of 2022. By that I mean I hope to tick off at least three counties by the end of March then blitz the rest during the spring and summer. Kildare, Carlow maybe Wexford seem to me to be the most likely candidates for the early trips when coarse fishing might be my best chance of success. High water in the Barrow pushes coarse fish into the quieter canal sections and I may try to ambush them there. And there is a commercial coarse fishery down in Wexford I want to try as I have never fished somewhere like that before. There are some holidays I need to use up before the end of March and taking the odd day off to go fishing should be feasible, it will depend on weather conditions I suppose.

I am itching to get back on the road and fish such counties as Waterford, Cork and Derry. Some amazing venues are on my list, ones which I hope you are all going to enjoy reading about. Talking about reading, I am using my travels to the 32 counties as the basis for a book which is coming along nicely (as if I don’t have enough going on). So, the 32 project is high on my list of priorities for next year, what else is there?

My boat will go back on lough Conn again. I have toyed with the idea of switching her to the Mask but in the end I think I’ll leave her in the normal berth on Conn. I only need to make a couple of phone calls and I can get the loan of a boat on Mask any time I want. Conn was patchy last season with a few good days but some poor fishing despite very good conditions later in the season. I can only hope it improves a bit next year. I will pay more attention to the upper basin of the lough I think, there does seem to be more trout up at that end of the lake.

I have skipped trout fishing on Lough Cullin for a few seasons because it simply wasn’t fishing well but I miss my spring days on that lovely water so I will give it a lash next April before the weeds get out of hand. My good friend John and I have hatched a plan to do some coarse fishing on Cullin too. I have seen specimen sized rudd caught there and who knows what else is swimming under those rafts of weeds?

Cullin

Last year a much anticipated trip to fish the Corrib was thoroughly enjoyed but the actual fishing was poor due to dreadful weather (brilliant sunshine and flat calm). I am hoping to make a similar trip this coming year at mayfly time and pray the weather gods will be kinder this time around.

It has been many, many years since I fished lough Carra due to low fish stocks and pollution. 2022 might just see me sneak over there for a day though. Angling pressure has been negligible for many seasons now so I am toying with the notion of giving the lake a try during the mayfly. Given the eutrophication of the lough the chances are there are a low number of very large trout now in there so a hectic days sport is unlikely but there may be the chance of an exceptionally large fish.

I’ll fish the river Robe of course, my normal early season forays are an important part of my angling calendar. Weather play a big part in deciding if the fish are responsive in March but I hope for a mild spell and some fly life to bring the trout on the feed.

high water on the Robe near Hollymount

Moving on to coarse fishing, tench will again be one of my target species in 2022 and I have some known loughs to fish again as well as a few venues which are new to me that I am planning on trying out. I want to experiment with new tactics and baits too next summer and I’m excitedly looking forward to chasing Tinca Tinca amongst the reed fringed loughs once again. I am not someone who is prone to regrets but why oh why did it take me so long to discover tench fishing!!!!!

For the first time I will purchase a Midland fisheries group permit. This is required if you are fishing the Shannon tributaries and loughs in the catchment, game or coarse. Here is the full list:

RIVER SUCK and tributaries.
Lough O’Flynn, (stocked trout lake) Lough Acalla, (also a stocked trout lake), Hollygrove Lake, Stonehams Lake, Lough Loung, Blacks Lake – all coarse loughs

RIVER INNY and tributaries.
Lough Sheelin, Lough Owel, Lough Ennel, Lough Derravaragh, (all trout), Lough Glore, Louh Kinale, Bracklough Lough Patrick, Lough Iron

RIVER BROSNA and tributaries.
Ballinafid Lake, Doolin Pond, McEvoys Lake, Sheever Lake, Slevins Lake, Mount Dalton Lake, Pallas Lake

LITTLE BROSNA RIVER and tributaries.
Camcor River.

CAMLIN RIVER and tributaries.

The ones I am interested in are Black’s lake, Stoneham’s Lake and possibly the Camlin river. All of these are coarse fisheries and I just fancy trying them for a change of scene. Lord only knows how often I have crossed over the Camlin River when driving to Dublin but I’ve never wet a line in it. Deep and slow moving, it looks like it should be a good spot for roach and bream. Last year the charge for the Midland permit was €39 so it feels like a lot of money to spend on places which are 90 minutes drive from home but I enjoy seeing new parts of the country and that whole area to the south of Ballymoe/Roscommon town is a mystery to me so far. There is a brochure which give some info on the area and it looks nice to me. https://www.fisheriesireland.ie/sites/default/files/migrated/docman/Suck%20Valley%20%26%20L.%20O%27Flynn%20Web.pdf  

The chatter on the internet suggests these lakes are only lightly fished as the local lads prefer to fish for trout on Acalla.

The list of other places I want to try is extensive and most will just not be realistic given time constraints on me. The Royal Canal at Mullinger has a good reputation, the same goes for the Grand Canal at various locations along it’s length. Patrick’s Lough in the midlands is a good tench pond I also want to investigate. I have never fished lough Melvin or lough Erne for trout and would dearly love to try those hallowed waters. I could go on and on but 2022 is unlikely to be the year I mange to visit all the spots on my angling wish list.

As I still have three Northern counties to fish as part of the 32 project I will buy licences and permits for up there too. That will have to include Loughs agency licences but they are very cheap. What with all the other licences I am looking at well over €350 just for the bits of paper I need to go fishing across the republic and the north. I know this is not a lot to most game anglers but it is still a lot of cash for me to save up (and more importantly justify at home).

I don’t know what to do about salmon fishing next year. With the species hanging on by a thread I am torn between my love of fishing for them and the need to give the fish every chance of making it to the spawning beds. I usually retain one fish each season and let the others go but is that sufficient in these terrible times? Should I simply cease fishing for salmon altogether? For now at any rate I am not planning on any salmon fishing. I may have a day or two on Carrowmore, who knows?

All of the above is dependant on the house move which is dragging on and on and on……… It is now so close to Christmas that I am planning on having the house on the market next spring and that is bound to impact my fishing time. It also means I will dig out my fly tying gear which was all packed away weeks ago. The few days off at Christmas time will be the perfect opportunity to top up the fly boxes. Most winters I make a few flies but not that many. This winter I need to up my game significantly as there are a lot of spaces to fill in my trout fly boxes. The salmon flies are no so bad due to the scant salmon fishing of the last few seasons but even those boxes have thinned as I gave away flies to other anglers.

a sorry looking box of trout flies

Then of course we have covid and how it will limit us all over the coming year. With infection numbers across the country off the chart now I fully expect another lockdown here this side of Christmas and another one starting in January. The same sort of thing as last year.

If we are allowed to travel next year I will pop over to Scotland and bring a rod with me this time. A day on one of my old haunts appeals to me, Loch Leven for example. A day out with my mate Chris on one of the loughs around Edinburgh is also an option, he knows those fisheries better than I do and he could show me where to try. Looking much further into the future I am seriously thinking about a pretty major road trip, fishing around Scotland for a couple of weeks once I retire. Yes, I am making plans for my retirement at last! It is a while away yet but this year has made me think hard about the future and what we want to do and so retiring is obviously the big issue for me. In the past I dreaded the thought of retirement but now I can honestly say I am looking forward to it. Certainly taking off for a fishing trip, toddling along half-forgotten byways and chucking a line in peaty waters in the auld country is very appealing and is firmly on my to do list when my working days are done.

Car update: The Renault is running very well so far. I have a couple of small jobs to do on it over the coming weeks but it is looking good for my fishing travels next year. I have to buy and fit a tow bar to it so I can pull the boat around if required and I am thinking about getting a roof rack for it too as I miss the huge storage space the old Golf estate had. The boot is too small for me really but in compensation there is a ton of space in the back seat area so the less smelly/damp gear can go there for now. I can fit the outboard and fuel tank in the boot so that will do I guess.

2022 already has the feel of a messy sort of year with even more unknowns than normal. Just getting through the next couple of months may be the biggest challenge what with covid and inclement weather! At least I have a vague plan now, one I can look forward to executing, even in part, next year. It is something I do every winter but it has taken on greater significance this time around due to the upheaval of 2021. I feel much happier now I have my ideas in some sort of order. It goes to show how important having something positive ahead of us is for our mental health.

Update: I snuck off to county Carlow in December 2021 and caught one dace on the Barrow.

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coarse fishing, Fishing in Ireland

Little adoo at Gulladoo

I could tell she was unimpressed. There are a million jobs to be done around the house but I badly needed some time off to do a bit of fishing so I broached the subject of a day on the bank to my better half. The look said it all, there was no need for words but she took pity on me and I had my pass for the day.

Saturday morning saw me driving off down the road to Leitrim one more time, the first road trip in the ‘new’ car. I am still getting used to the Renault despite owning it for a couple of weeks now. The old Golf was like a second skin to me and this was the first long journey I was making since the old green car went off to the scrapyard. Our Scenic feels very roomy and the driving position is high. The smaller engine means a lot less power (and cheaper insurance) than I have been used to but as I tend to trundle slowly along the highways this is not a big issue. The boot, while large enough I suppose, is less voluminous than the Golf so gear has to be stowed on the back seats as well. Us humans are an adaptable bunch and I’ll soon grow accustomed to the car.

The drive gave me a chance to review the past few weeks. With only light traffic and good roads I could use the time to mull over what has been a continuingly challenging period. I started the new job since the last time I was fishing, our beloved cat, Theo, has gone missing, my old car was unceremoniously carted off to the breakers yard and of course Covid restrictions have tightened once again. For me, a day on the bank is something akin to pressing a reset button, giving me headspace to look at problems in a more positive light. By the time I pulled up in Carrick-on-Shannon the Renault was purring like a kitten and smelling ever so slightly of manure, courtesy of the freshly dug worms in the boot. Helen is going to have that non-plussed look on her face again I fear.

Maggots purchased, I returned to the car and set off for my destination along the winding R201 to Carrigallen and then south to my chosen venue for the day, Gulladoo Lough. We are half way through November so I was not anticipating hectic sport but just to be fishing would suffice today. Some fresh air and the peace that comes with being beside the water and hopefully a few small roach were the height of my ambitions.

I’ve passed Gulladoo a few times and kept telling myself I had to give it a try one day. A chilly November Saturday was possibly not the ideal time to try a new water but I had read it was a pretty consistent fishery and anyway I could scope it out for next summer. An unusually shaped water, there are two lakes joined by a narrow cut. Bream were the dominant species before but is sounded like roach were more likely to be caught these days. Some perch, pike, rudd and a smattering of tench also lived in the shallow waters. I had looked at ariel maps before planning this trip and could see some areas which looked to be pretty open and accessible for bank fishing. These lakes are very popular on the competition circuit so there must be plenty of space for all those anglers. I must admit though that I much prefer fishing off a stand or something similar. I like the solidity of concrete or strong timber under my feet when coarse fishing. There is only one double stand on Gulladoo and it is a disabled access one so if someone else with challenges was there or came along during my session I would have to move on to the bank but that’s OK.

I had grown accustomed to warm weather over the summer but today would be much cooler and I had dug out some winter clothes for today. Layers of shirt/fleeces and thick trousers were the order of the day. As a young fella I was almost immune to the level of cold we get here in Ireland. These days my old bones feel the slightest drop in temperature so wrapping up well is a necessity for me if I am to enjoy being outdoors at this time of the year. It is my hands that suffer the most as I hate wearing gloves which seem to remove all the touch and feeling from proceedings.

Will the drop in temperature increase the spread of Covid even further? Here in Ireland the numbers are already high and even more restrictions have been put in place including a return to working from home. I am vaccinated but resolutely refuse to download the vaccine pass which I consider to be a dangerous step towards a totalitarian state. I therefore don’t socialise at all and things like eating in a restaurant or going to the pub for a pint ceased for me two years ago. So be it, at least I have my angling for now.

My choice of gear today consists of my normal starting set up of two rods, one rigged with a feeder and the other with a waggler. I start with worm on the feeder, targeting bream while maggot on the float was more likely to tempt any roach or rudd. I don’t normally go into the detail of my rigs because I am new to coarse fishing and no expert but just for the record here is how I set up initially.

Swimfeeder: The 12 foot general purpose rod with a cheap 2500 size baitrunner reel loaded with 6 pound mono. To this I tied a 20 gram maggot feeder mounted on a twizzled boom made from 8 pound nylon. An 8 inch nylon tippet of 4 pound mono and a size 12 hook completed the set up. I fret over the hook length, always unsure if it would be better to go longer. I start off with a worm held on the hook with a couple of maggots.

Float: The old 13 foot ABU float rod with the ABU Garcia Orra reel, again filled with 6 pound mono. A heavy waggler rated for 5BB attached via a float adaptor so I can change it easily and trapped in place with two shot. The rest of the shot are bulk immediately above the loop to loop connection and the tippets is made of 3 pound mono to a size 14 hook. Hooks are barbless in both cases. The reason for the shotting pattern is the presence of rudd in the lake and I want to get down fast to reduce the number of rudd I might otherwise hook. I would be interested to hear from any experienced anglers what rig they would use for similar waters here in Ireland.

For groundbait I make up a batch of brown and black crumb, porridge oats, some hemp, a few drops of vanilla, a tin of sweetcorn and a few maggots tossed in for good measure. Once again the blandishments of the groundbait advertisers has fallen on my deaf ears. The price of the bags of sweet or fishy smelling powders make me shudder and I can’t bring myself to part with big money for the latest sensational bag of goo. Maybe I am letting the side down here and I could triple my catches by investing in some prepared groundbait but for now I’ll stick to my own cheap and cheerful mix. I like the idea of particles in my groundbait, hence the tin of sweetcorn, but to brutally frank I have not a whit of evidence it makes any difference. I suppose I could adopt a more scientific approach and run trials with/without groundbait or using different mixes and compare results. That all sounds a bit too much like work to me so I’ll stick to my homespun methods and ingredients for now. Maybe next summer I will venture into the brave new world of commercially produced groundbaits.

Of course I was not able to pre-bait and this could potentially be a problem for me. Gulladoo is not huge by Irish standards but it is still a fairly big water and the perceived wisdom is that pre-baiting is pretty much essential for good fishing on the bigger waters. With the guts of a two hour drive to this venue there was no way I could just pop up the day before and heave in a pile of bait so I just have to take my chances today. This is partly the reason I tend to fish smaller, more intimate loughs rather than the big headline venues like Muckoo, Gara or even the Shannon. I’ll leave those to the locals or holiday anglers who are in the immediate area and can pre-bait as required. The best I can do is lob in a few balls of groundbait as soon as I arrive and hope for the best after that.

this little lot needs a thorough clean over Christmas

The box coarse tackle is looking a bit tatty right now after a lot of use over the past summer. It needs a good clean out and some items will have to be replaced. I bought a few hooks and a couple of small swimfeeders the other day as I was running low on both of them. How I manage to break/lose so many feeders is a mystery to me! The same goes for floats but there are lots of spares lurking in a box at home that I can always dip into for replacements.

Hook design is something I have not investigated fully for my coarse angling which is strange as I am very fussy about my game fishing hooks. I have been caught off guard a couple of times by big fish when using fine wire hooks, resulting in lost fish. I am guessing there has to be a balance between using fine wire hooks so they don’t burst the maggots but the same hooks being strong enough to land a 4 or 5 pound bream or tench. I now tend to use medium wire hooks on my swimfeeder rigs and fine wire ones on the float. The exceptions are one or two loughs which I know are home to big fish and there I step up hook strength accordingly on both feeder and float.

fine stand

Four loud ‘plop’s as I throw in balls of groundbait. The wind is blowing almost directly in my face and there is a heavy mist which mean I am soon very wet. I am on the right hand wing of the stand and lobbing the feeder towards the far bank. The float is the very devil to cast into the strong wind but I persevere as best I can. No bites are forthcoming so I change the feeder on to maggots but this fails to elicit any response either. I am loose feeding now, a few maggots each time I cast the float. Still nothing and the rain really gets going now with a heavy downpour which lasts about 30 minutes. Once the rain has passed I move to the left side of the stand and try there for a while but again, there is no signs of fish. I dry off a little and sit there, contemplating life in general. Sandwiches are consumed, washed down with some hot, reviving tea and I decide that since the wind has dropped a bit I will change to a lighter float. Of course this make not a whit of difference and I am still biteless.

The sky darkens ominously and the rain starts to fall again driven by a rising wind. The temperature is dropping too, turning the day in a bit of a challenge. I see that shower out and a thin strip of blue sky emerges in the west. Checking the time I decide the options for me here are very limited so I pack up and head back the way I came. In an effort to rescue something from the day I plot a course for the canal at Leitrim Village.

would the canal save the blank

Pulling up in the gravel car park beside the locks I set up just the float rod. Leaving the feeder gear, ground bait and even the landing net in the car I cross the canal and find a spot to try. Depth adjusted, I loose feed some maggots and concentrate hard on the float which is difficult to see in the rapidly fading light. I miss one half-hearted bite but the next time the float dips I hook a small roach. Success at last! The very next cast yields another similar sized roach then it all goes quiet once more. My final cast of the day produces a small perch but by then I am getting cold and so I retrace my steps back to the car. I have been fishing the canal for about an hour or so. Roadworks push me miles out of my way as I head for Mayo, making for a long and tedious journey so I fiddle with all the buttons and switches in the car trying to figure out what they all do.

obliging roach

All that time, effort and planning only resulted in three small fish. I knew at the outset I was chancing my arm going prospecting on a large new water on the verge of winter. I suspect the roach are forming up into big shoals and moving into the rivers now, Gulladoo certainly felt devoid of life today. For me the day was not a total washout, time spent by the water is never wasted and I was able to take time to contemplate what is going on in my tiny corner of the universe.

The chatter on the airwaves here is all about another lockdown before Christmas so there is every possibility today was my last outing of 2021. If it was I went out with a whimper instead of a bang!

sun dips below the horizon and another days fishing comes to an end

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coarse fishing, Fishing in Ireland

Silvers

I had a few hours of free time so headed off to county Leitrim once more, this time to fish on the canal near Keshcarrigan. This wee village is almost surrounded by lakes and is a coarse fisher’s heaven. Just for a change though the canal appealed to me so the long road east by north was travelled one more time. The village lies about half way between Carrick-on-Shannon and Ballinamore meaning it would take me about 90 minutes to get there from Mayo.

So why the canal? You see I have been doing some tench fishing lately and that involved using pretty heavy gear. Today I wanted to go back to angling with light tackle and the canal would demand a much more delicate approach. There are bream in the canal but the chances are it would be roach and perch that would be interested in my bait. I was secretly hoping to catch a good sized roach as although I have landed lots of them so far this year none have been any great size. Where I would be fishing is close to Lough Scur and my thinking was the big roach in Scur might drift down into the canal sometimes.

I brought along a feeder rod as a backup but I planned to use my little margin rod and the old ABU float rod. Some fresh maggots and a few worms would be my bait, keeping it old school you see. Having made up some simple leger weights by fixing a couple of swan shot on a short length of line to give me a sliding leger I was keen to see if they worked. I also brought along a couple of bags of frozen ground bait which had been lurking in the freezer at home. These had been leftovers from previous trips and rather than chuck it away I took it home and froze it. Just another little skirmish in my battle against waste.

A grey, cloudy day greeted me when I pulled into the car park beside the canal. A bit of wind was going to give me a few issues but otherwise it was a great day to be out in the fresh air again. Over the past couple of weeks the air temperature has been steadily dropping and today it barely made it into double figures. I love the autumn, it is my favourite season. The changing colours, more pleasant feel to the air and escape from the hustle and bustle of summers crowds make this a time for reflection.

The car park was right beside the pegs and a row of stands were off to my left but right in front of me was a big disabled stand. With nobody else around I decided to use this one but be ready to move should someone else arrive to fish. Access here is excellent with good walkways to the various stands.

Excellent access makes this venue a joy to fish

I set up the float rod with four pound line, a small waggler held in position with a couple of stops, shirt button shotting pattern and a 2.5 pound tippet to a size 16 barbless hook. Balls of ground bait, four to start with, went in and I loose fed on top of this with 6 – 8 maggots every cast. A small worm on a size 12 hook was my rig for the leger rod in the margin. There I sat, perched on my old black seat box, immersed in the quiet in the lee of a bush by the canal. Pondering life’s vagaries with a fishing rod in hand is one of my favourite pastimes and with so much going on at present it was a blessing to have time to myself in deepest Leitrim.

Waiting for it all to start

It was all quiet for the first 20 minutes or so. I fed the swim and got a feel for the venue. Three boats passed by in quick succession and I thought it was going to be a busy day for traffic but no, after that initial rush only a couple of other boats passed by during the rest of the session. Greetings and pleasantries were exchanged with the sailors who were making the best of the good weather. With 6 feet of water in front of me and clear ground behind, casting was a treat. At last the leger rod gave a tweak and out came a small skimmer. A couple more followed then a very small roach. I changed on to a tiny feeder and tried a bunch of maggots in an effort to tempt more roach. Although I tried the worm on both rods again later the fish much preferred the maggots. With the water looking very coloured I used a mix of red and white ones. This combination has become my ‘go to’ bait but it is a bit self fulfilling. Using it all the time means it catches fish!

Typical of the skimmers I caught today

Finally the float began to come good and a string of small fish fell to my double maggot on under the light waggler. The skimmers varied from a few ounces to about a pound but the roach were all tiny. It was noticeable that each time the canal started to flow (presumably when a lock gate was opened somewhere) the bites increased. I damaged the small hook while extracting it from a fish so changed it for a slightly bigger 14. The fish didn’t seem to care and I kept on catching at a steady pace, mainly on the float but the better fish seemed to fall for the feeder.

Chunky little hybrid on the feeder

Some bream appeared, one of them nearly giving me a heart attack when the bait runner went off like a train. Not big fish, the best might have weighed a couple of pounds, they were still very much appreciated. Of course everything got covered in snot but that is just bream fishing for you. The shoal must have drifted off again and sport slowed markedly after 3pm. I struggled on for another hour, mainly because I saw a good tench roll in front of me. I tried hard but could not interest him with maggot or worm so I called it a day at 4pm and packed up.

The cheap Shakespeare reel I bought earlier this year started to grind horribly during the afternoon. I fished on with it but I fear it is on its last legs already. I only purchased it because it is a 2500 size baitrunner and all my other baitrunners are much bigger. Up until now it has been a good wee reel and I will open it up to see what has gone wrong. The past couple of outings I’ve used an ABU Garcia Orra and this is a nice smooth reel. I had bought it for salmon fishing but one tussle with a ten pounder convinced me the drag wasn’t up to the job. It languished at the bottom of a drawer for a while until I hit on the idea of spooling it with light line for coarse fishing.

I had wanted a day of sport on light tackle and that was exactly what I got in the end. No monsters but a steady trickle of silvers and a few bream and hybrids to boot. The only disappointment was the size of the roach, they were very, very small. I really enjoyed fishing there and will definitely return to those pegs again. Two of the fish I landed were badly scarred by pike so there must be a few of the green lads hanging about in the vicinity of the stands. I might bring a spinning rod with me the next time I come to Keshcarrigan.

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coarse fishing, Fishing in Ireland

Athlone

I was not fishing today but instead was in the town of Athlone. We had a night away booked here and while herself was off partaking of some retail therapy I went for a walk along the Shannon. I had noticed one of those brown signs as I drove into town and decided to investigate.

The river here is wide and strong flowing. Downstream of the town are the famous pegs such as the meadows where huge catches of bream have been taken by dedicated anglers who pre-bait heavily and use 4 ounce feeders to cast 70 yards or more into the deep water where the big bream shoals are to be found. I walked upstream instead, along a stretch called the golden mile.

Anyone contemplating some angling here in the height of summer will find it next to impossible with all the boat traffic. Athlone is a centre for pleasure craft and is very busy from the spring through to early autumn. With the boating season now all but over the volume of river traffic dwindles and there is room now for anglers to ply their trade.

Once off the main road I walked along a path through mature trees, the river to my right. A few hundred yards brought me to a pontoon style double fishing stand. Further on there were more identical stands, making four in total and each one suitable for wheelchair access.

I was very impressed with these stands, they are well constructed and easy to get to. Maybe next year I will get back here with rod and line and try them out. Lough Ree is but a mile upstream and I fully expect bream and roach to be likely targets off these stands.

Apart from the stands there are a couple of bank pegs which look very promising.

You can park in the industrial estate off the R446. The path behind the football pitches takes you on to the riverside very close to the lowest of the fishing stands.

If you do visit Athlone then drop in to ‘Fishing tackle and shoe repairs’ shop. Lots of baits for pike in there! I popped in but just got a few small items this time, a change from my usual excessive spending on sweet looking Rapalas! If you should develop a thirst when in town then Gertie Browne’s is a great pub with an excellent pint of Guinness.

Hard to see but the bottom left is a packet of sliding float adaptors.

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coarse fishing, Fishing in Ireland

Surf n’ Turf

Surf n’ Turf – That is a meal where your plate is filled with both beef and fish isn’t it? Read on dear readers, read on…..

I unexpectedly had a day to myself so I took off for a few hours on a tench lake in Roscommon. Lowfield lies close to the Shannon and reputedly holds good sized tench along with a few roach and bream. Rising early, I had a few small chores to do before heading off down the familiar trail east with the back of the car full of gear.

According to the IFI website there is only one stand on Lowfield with space on it for a couple of anglers, the rest of the shoreline consisting of thick reeds. This is a shallow, weedy lough and I was unsure what to expect. I have grown to associate deep water with big tench but that could just be coincidence.

I had never been on this part of Roscommon before and once I crossed the river at the pretty little village of Drumsna it was a matter of guesswork finding the lough. Wrong turns made the last few miles a torture but at last I found the tiny parking space. As soon as I got out of the car I could see this was going to be a challenging day. The ‘path’ to the lough was completely overgrown and indeed was not visible at all. Shouldering all my gear, I headed off into the undergrowth like Livingstone in search of the Nile. Stumbling through the dense green undergrowth was hard work and I was soon lathered in sweat. Ahead of me was just more of the same, tall grass, reeds and stunted bushes. A cut to my right and the woods to my left meant I was heading in the right direction but the vegetation became even more dense as I progressed further on. A machete would have been pretty useful in this lot. At last, I saw a glimpse of water in front of me through the thick reeds and the ground underfoot became soft and uneven. Of the fabled fishing stand there was no sign though. The cut was far too deep to cross and the trees on the other side barred me from turning over in that direction. A small stand of old trees was slightly to my left but further out but even getting that far felt impossible. In my prime I would have battled on but by now I was tired and despondent. I turned and with difficulty retraced my steps through the wilderness. Regaining the car I found lots of spiders had infiltrated my gear as I was pushing through the undergrowth, big brown ones, smaller brightly colour ones with spindly legs and those fast little lads that scurry about in the grass. I cleared as many as I could out and loaded up the car before departing.

I will go back to Lowfield next spring when the path should be more clear and the plants have died back. This is a lough which needs a bit of development. A few signs on the roads to it are badly required, there are a lot of small roads in the area and none of them have a signpost. The car park is a simple grass area and in wet conditions would be hard to exit. A firm path through the undergrowth is obviously required. The word is that the lough is full of what we call ‘cabbage’ here, thick bright green underwater plants which make the fishing very difficult. Perhaps there could be some weed cutting undertaken?

Retracing my journey I crossed the Shannon and turned back on to the N4. There is a lough you can see from the road called Annaghduff and I have never fished it. Turning off, I found a parking spot and loaded up with all my gear again. Through a gate into a field of rough pasture, I plodded off through the rushes in the general direction of the lough. First impressions were this field has been left fallow but I came across the occasional fresh cow pat, making me very wary indeed. Lots of cow pats obviously means lots of cows, occasional cow pats means only one cow and we all know what sex of cow is left in a field on his own. The field rose slightly in front of me, blocking the view of the lake. I made for the far edge where a line of trees grew. Breasting the rise, I scanned the country in front of me – BULL! Sure enough, sitting in the long grass a hundred yards straight in front of me sat a huge black animal. I will confess at that range it was not possible to medically confirm the sex of the vast creature but I’d be fairly sure it was a he and not a she. Spinning through 180 degrees I made an undignified exit, looking over my shoulder to see if he was coming after me. A seatbox (full), buckets, bag of ground bait (also full) and quiver of rods tends to slow ones progress somewhat, especially when plunging through knee high rushes in wellies and waterproofs. I was sweating again. A glance behind showed a pair of black ears and, horror of horrors, a pair of horns, poking over the rise in the ground, he was following alright. By now I was closing in on the gate and with one final mighty effort I made the six bar and was through it to safety. Looking over it I could not see the bull, he must have turned back after all. Bent over, I caught my breath and took a picture of the gate which saved me then plodded off back to the car. That had been a bit too close for comfort.

On the right side of the gate my heart was still thumping when I took this!

Plan B had not been a success so I now decided to head off for Lough Rinn. Once back on the N4 and heading south it became clear that even that new plan was not going to be straight forward either. The road to Mohill which I wanted to take was closed for repairs meaning a long detour for me. About 20 minutes elapsed as I circumnavigated the detour before finally pulling into the amenity area on the west side of the lough. I knew there is a fine double stand behind the camping area so I set off for it only to find the stand fully occupied by a couple of other anglers. Toying with the idea of yet another move I instead decided to fish off of one of the large water sport piers. Being honest, I am not sure I was actually allowed to fish off them but as nobody else was around I took the chance and set up on the easterly floating pontoon. Spacious and stable, it proved to be a comfortable billet for the remainder of the day.

How’s that for a fishing stand! I strongly suspect I was not supposed to be here.

Reaching into my top pocket I pulled out my reading glasses, only to find them broken. The left lens was missing, no doubt I had done this when lugging the tackle around. A search in the bottom of my box revealed a long forgotten spare pair so all was not lost.

I fired a feeder 60 yards out towards the lanes and busied myself with the float rod. A solid bite halted that process and I wound in a descent bream of a couple of pounds. Plumbing up, I found only about three feet of water in front of me so I fished slightly over depth three rod lengths out. The feeder began to nod again and this time a roach came in, soon followed by some skimmers. The float rod was doing nothing so I broke it down and set up my little margin rod with a small open end feeder and cast it off to my right where it too began to take fish. Most of the fish were skimmers with the odd roach and hybrid to boot. A few pretty wee rudd were a welcome addition too.

Skimmers of various sizes came to hand and I had another good bream too, this one must have weighed about three pounds and I took some snaps of him before slipping him back. I then checked my phone and guess what? The photos of the bream had not come out! Bugger, I thought I had some good shots in the can but no, all I had was a slime covered phone but no pictures. The next skimmer I landed was held up for a photo but he struggled a bit in my hand as I posed the shot. I felt something on my arm but paid it no heed as I extracted the hook took the photo and released the fish. Casting out again I felt my left forearm was wet and investigation showed the fish had somehow managed to poop down the inside of my sleeve. Yes, I was covered in skimmer excrement and boy did it stink! I cleaned my self up as much as possible but the stench hung around all day until I could shower when I got home.

It is difficult to say how many fish I caught, a guess of about thirty sounds about right but it could have been more or less than that. This was my first time fishing Lough Rinn and to be honest it is a bit shallow for my liking. I prefer deeper water but on days like today beggars can’t be choosers. Being a larger lough it is open and while I had a nice peaceful day there it would be a different story in a wind. Maybe the fishing off the stand would have been into deeper water, it certainly looked ‘fishier’ than the pontoons.

I managed to snap off another swimfeeder when the line jammed around my reel as I was casting. I am very profligate with my end tackle when coarse fishing, losing or breaking feeders and floats almost every time I go out. My stock of feeders is now perilously low and I’ll need to buy some more soon. Floats are less of a problem as I own an inordinate quantity of them in all shapes and sizes. I like to keep a reserve of ground bait ingredients but this too has become sadly depleted owing to my frequent fishing trips lately. This summer has seen me catch an awful lot of fish but the price has been paid in lost or worn out tackle. This autumn I’ll make good the deficit though and restock as required.

Today had been a difficult one with a lot of setbacks. Access to the waters edge is often an issue here in Ireland and I just accept that sometimes it is not going to be possible to fish exactly where I want on any given day. When I got home I looked at a map and think there is another route into Lough Annaduff. I really wish the IFI would erect some more signs for us anglers. It would make life a whole lot easier for us and for very little expense.

You can feel the change in the seasons now, the air is different and the colours of the land are dimming. A few swallows were still hawking flies over Lough Rinn this afternoon but they will be gone shortly. The slight chill was not unpleasant today but in a few weeks time the cold will be here in force as we head towards winter. I have a summer of coarse fishing to look back on and those memories will keep me going through to the next season if I am spared that long. I hope to do some game fishing over the next few days. We will see what the weather brings.

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