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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32, Fishing in Ireland, trout fishing

32 – Episode 1, County Sligo

Lough Talt

From my notes of 6th August 2020

Those of you who followed my blog will know that I have a madcap plan to catch a fish in every county on the island of Ireland. Covid-19 blew a huge great hole in that venture but I made a start to this odyssey today by visiting Lough Talt in the neighbouring county Sligo.

Lough Talt sits in a glen amid the Ox Mountains just inside the Sligo border. Those of you unfamiliar with the west of Ireland will be amused to know the Ox Mountains are a range of low hills a few hundred feet high. There are no towering crags, steep slopes of loose scree or hanging corries, only mist shrouded rounded hills clad in heather and sheep nibbled grass. It may lack alpine grandeur but it is a very scenic area much loved by walkers and hikers. Indeed, today the path was busy with family groups and dog walkers out enjoying the fresh air. I had trout on my mind though!

Weather today was just about ideal for fishing this lake, a good strong south wind was whipping up the length of the lake and cloud cover was not too low, at least when I was fishing. I reached the lough after a quiet drive via Ballina and the little village of Buniconlon. The road twists and turns as it gains height then drops again as the lake comes into view. There is good parking at the south end of the lake with room for a dozen cars. Tackling up with a three fly cast of a Bibio on the bob, a Jungle Wickhams in the middle and a small claret Bumble on the tail I set off on the track around the lough. The stretch of shoreline near the car park was uninspiring so I plodded on in my thigh waders. I was not sure what the shore would be like so I had donned the waders to cope with any stream crossings or to get out past any weed beds. The waders proved to be a bit of overkill and my hiking boots would have been a better option as the banks were firm and the path along the shore was well maintained (I will know for the next time).

Eventually I reached a spot which looked fishy so I set about my business in the strong cross wind. Casting up to about 15 yards was fairly comfortable, after that the wind gave me some issues so I stuck to the medium length of line all day. No offers for the first while but then I lightly hooked a small trout which promptly fell off. Bugger! Only a few casts later I rose another trout but felt no contact. Was I going to have one of those days? I eyed the flies on the leader with some doubt, especially that Claret Bumble on the tail. Tied on a size 14, it might be a bit too small for today I pondered. What the hell, I will leave it there for now. I marched up the path a bit further and found another likely looking spot.

Out shot the line, steady retrieve back to about 5 yards out then lift off and cast again. I was getting into the rhythm now and concentrating hard so I was diligently covering the water. A splash followed by a tug and I was into a trout at last. Not the biggest fish I have ever hooked but he was very welcome indeed. Of course he had taken the wee Claret Bumble I had so little faith in! A quick pic then he was popped back into the water. Two cast later and the exercise was repeated with a slightly larger specimen. Then it went quiet again.

I moved once more and picked up another trout and lost one too. That pattern was repeated often with only one or two offers at any one place. The trout seemed to be spread out with nothing of any note to keep them in one spot. I did find a large sunken rock about ten yards out from the shore and by carefully placing my flies just in front of it I lured the best trout of the session. I had removed the Bibio which had unusually failed to register a single offer. In its place a tied on a Welsh Partridge, a fly that I have not used in many a long year. The Wickham also failed to attract any interest so I substituted it with a small Soldier Palmer. In the end, the Welsh Partridge, Claret Bumble and Soldier Palmer shared the honours with each of them catching about the same number of trout.

The water looked ‘fishier’ further towards the north end the lough. Occasional large rocks jutted out of the water and fish were to be found near to them. I ended up with about a dozen brownies ranging in size from tiddlers to respectable three-quarter pounders. I guess I fished for about three hours before turning and retracing my steps. I got to the car and stowed the gear way just minutes before the heavens opened and a heavy mist descended. Perfect timing for once!

I can heartily recommend Lough Talt to you for a few hours gentle fishing in lovely scenery. The trout may not be large but that to me is insignificant. Flies tied in small sizes seemed to do best and claret or red were the colours which got a reaction today. Anything small and dark should do the job though. There was a wind there today and that was a bonus both for the ripple on the water which is always a help and, probably more importantly, it kept the midges at bay. It looks like a place where you would be eaten alive on a calm day. Don’t expect solitude on this water, there were many walkers on the path all the time I was there. I can tick Sligo off my list of counties now. One down, thirty one to go!

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