Fishing in Ireland, Pike, trolling

October Piking

I snuck off for an afternoon’s piking today. The weather was so mild it seemed a pity to spend it indoors so I gathered up some gear and borrowed a boat for a few hours. It always amazes me how much gear I require for even just a short outing. Engine, fuel tank, tackle boxes and all the rest of it adds up to a mountain of stuff to be packed into the car, unpacked at the river and then loaded into the boat only for the whole damn process to be reversed once the fishing is over.

  The boat was moored across a field from where I parked the car and the normally empty field had a couple of inhabitants today in the shape of fairly sturdy cattle who couldn’t resist a close inspection of my portable mountain of gear.

I tackled up and headed upstream trailing two baits 20 yards behind the boat. A jointed plug adorned one rod and a big copper spoon was on the other. It was the spoon which did most of the damage today and the plug was replaced with a green and gold Toby at some point. Three pike were boated pretty quickly before it all went quiet and I was left to motor through the deep channel in perfect peace.

The unseasonably warm weather was tempered by an awkward wind which made handling the boat in the narrow river a bit tricky. One tiny jack took the spoon up near  the top part of the river but apart from that it was quiet, time to turn around and head back to where I had started. First I pulled into the side to stretch my legs and have a bite to eat.

Back on the water again the fish seemed to have woken up as I meandered downstream. Hits came fast and furious as Pike up to 7 pounds smash into the big copper spoon. Most of them are smaller lads of only a couple of pounds but it is great sport.

I called it a day after boating the tenth fish of the afternoon and moored up just before 4pm. Driving home I reflected on the day and in particular on the distribution of the pike. All bar one tiny Jack had been taken on the lower part of the river. was this an indication the Pike were dropping down towards the lake?

This calm spell of weather can’t last much longer so today may have been my last fishing trip for a while. If it is, at least I can say the rod was well bent!

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Fishing in Ireland, Pike, trolling

The Blair Spoon Project

So I have a few old Blair Spoons knocking around in my tackle box. Not those poor copies which you buy online these days; no – these are the real thing, hand made on Royal Deeside. I bought them when I was in my teens and they gave me a few salmon fished slow and deep in cold spring water. They cast well and flutter beautifully in the current but my examples have not seen action for decades. Maybe that is about to change…………………..

The lower Dee, home of the Blair Spoon

The lower Dee, home of the Blair Spoon

For those of you unfamiliar with the Blair Spoon it is a salmon lure, about 3 inches long, copper on one side and silver on the other. I have this mad idea that by changing the colour scheme it could work for Pike around here. Some ferreting around in my endless boxes of disused rubbish unearthed some ancient tins of Humbrol enamel paint. A nice dark green, a pale, watery yellow and a rather fetching fl. orange were prised open to reveal some still usable liquid. God alone knows what Humbrol made this paint out of – these tins a forty years old if they are a day!

I wanted to retain the copper so I spent some time burnishing that side of one of the spoons until it shone.

Then I gave the previously silver side a couple of coats of dark green and set it aside to dry. Once dry it looked a bit plain, so I dabbed on some yellow spots and livened the whole job up by further spots, this time using that racy hot orange.

Hmm, it looked OK but I felt it required a bit more ‘bling’. I like a touch of red on my pike lures so I went foraging for another appropriate bauble. I thought I would have one of those little red plastic tails you get on some lures in my gear but came up empty-handed. I could have robbed one of of another pike lure but that seemed to be defeating the purpose so, in the best traditions of ‘Blue Peter’ I decided to make a tail. Some old plastic tops from food jars would do the job nicely.

A few minutes work with a sharp knife and the drill gave me a perfectly serviceable tail which was then attached to the split ring on the end of the spoon.

All finished. To my eye this is a nice lure that should work for the green beasties. The trouble is that the fish usually see things completely differently. I will give it a swim the next time I am out anyway and report back to you all.

Update!

I have also tried painting the silver side of one of my Blair Spoons with fire orange paint. Three coats applied and it has come up a very interesting deep orange colour. what do you think?


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Fishing in Ireland, Pike, trolling

Endings and beginnings

30th September signals the end of trout and salmon fishing in these parts, OK, so there are little bits of game angling to be found until the middle of October but basically it is all over for another season. 2015 will go down as an exceptionally poor year for most local anglers in Mayo, with poor salmon runs despite some excellent conditions. Trout fishing on the loughs was middling but the rivers were almost lifeless. The bright spot was sea fishing with good bags of rays caught from the shore and large shoals of mackerel close in. Pollock were scarce however.

Today I began to tidy up my fly gear and do some running repairs in preparation for the autumn sea angling and Pike fishing which will need to suffice until Christmas. The first task was to go through a couple of boxes of spoons to whittle the contents down a bit. Pike are not overly fussy so I can lighten the load by leaving the smaller lures at home.

I have a great liking for Solvkroken spoons for Pike and the Salamander range are exceptional fish catchers when the green lads are hammering small bait fish. The gold and copper coloured ones are my favourites.

If limited to only one spoon for Pike it would definitely be the Storauren. This fearsome looking spoon weighs in at a heafty 45grm, so it is excellent for searching deeper water. The flying trebles on each side are possibly a bit of overkill but this lure outfishes most others in my box. It comes in either silver of copper finishes.

I get these (and many other lures) from Freeney’s shop in Galway city. Any tackle shop which is also a pub is OK in my book! Do drop in if you happen to be in Galway, it is a great wee shop.

Next task was to repair a damaged sandeel which had been cut by a Ballan Wrasse on Clare Island during the summer. All that is required is a drop of supper glue in the cut and then hold it together until the glue sets.

Now I turned my attention to the Pike flybox. Catching Pike on the fly can be good fun so I usually take a fly rod with me when deliberately targeting the toothy yard of green. Some rather dodgy looking experimental patterns from many years ago were weeded out and the hooks stripped for re-use. Then I tied up a couple of lightweight tubes for use in shallow water as most of my Pike flies are weighted.

The last job was to resurrect some very old Blair Spoons which I intend trying for Pike this Autumn. As spinning for salmon has declined on the big east coast rivers of Scotland so has this veritable old lure fallen into disregard. I unearthed some in the shed and decided they may have a use as a Pike lure if I could shine them up again. A little elbow grease later and they look serviceble once more.

Before............

Before…………

After cleaning

After cleaning

Once I was happy with the shine on the Blair’s I went on the hunt for suitable hooks and this was where the afternoon descended into farce. Hooks of every conceivable size, pattern and make were located hiding in jacket pockets, tackle bags and boxes but none were the right size for this lure. I eventually managed to find a couple of trebles which will do for now but I must invest in some large trebles before I hit the water.

I hear there are still some Mackerel around so I may venture out for a few casts for them this weekend is conditions stay calm. After that it will be a case of piking as and when work allows. The ever entertaining ‘Saudi John’ (misnomer as he works in UAE) is home this week so we may succeed in dragging him out for a few casts.

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Fishing in Ireland, salmon fishing

Green instead of silver

It has been quiet all week. Work has taken me up to Belfast and then hours in front of the computer screen, severely curtailing my fishing. Late August and that nagging sense that another season is slipping away from me pervades my thoughts. Ben had some success on Lough Innagh but I couldn’t make that trip so I was itching to get out and do some salmon fishing. Conditions were not great though on Saturday and we settled for a morning on the Cashel River.

This is unusual fishing as we troll a slow section of a river. I baled the 17 footer and we loaded up before driving under the bridge and up river. Baits we left streaming out behind us and we settled into the day, ignoring the mist which left everything damp to the touch. Rapalas were the first lures we tried, a rather natty silver lad with a red tail on the end hook on one rod while I tried my favourite orange and gold floater.

We were soon in action, one rod giving a good solid thump as something fishy grabbed the Rapala as we rounded a bend. It was soon obvious this was no salmon as a small Pike thrashed on top of the water.

The river is full of these pests. Some days it can be a case of a Pike every few minutes and we can only guess at the huge toll of salmon smolts this infestation takes every season. We boated a few more on Saturday but none of any great size.

We kept this one and then resumed fishing. The weeds were very thick and the lures became snagged occasionally. Even the engine fouled sometimes in the weedbeds, necessitating  a stop to clear the propeller.

You can see from the photographs why we troll this river. The banks are heavily overgrown and access is virtually nil. Fly fishing is not an option with the slow, deep water and no room for a back cast due to the trees and bushes.

We fished as far upstream as was possible before the weed became too heavy and we retreated back downstream. Under the bridge again we fished all the way down to Lough Cullen.

I used the quiet time to fix a damaged plug. This old lure had received some damage from pike earlier this year and the hooks were in poor shape.

The loop for attaching the line was out of alignment, causing the plug to swim on its side. Some delicate work with a pliers sorted that problem and the lure was returned to the box for another day.

Around 2 pm we called it a day. Half-a-dozen pike was all we could manage between us and not even a sight of a salmon. Maybe next week……………

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