19 May 2002
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Posted - 14 August 2005 : 6:41:13 PM
My Ireland Trip 2005 (2nd – 10th August)
After hearing all the tales of doom & gloom emanating from Ireland this year I was beginning to wonder if we would actually get a bite at any of the venues we normally fish. I needn’t of worried
Four of us made the trip this year
Dave – who’d already been down to Lough Derg earlier this year but came home a day early ‘cos the fishing was dreadful.
John – not been to Ireland for five years – mainly due to getting married
Bez – not been for four years – mainly due to buying a new house.
Myself – missed last years trip – mainly due to being skint
Picked the hire van up Monday night and loaded all the gear – Fiat Ducato – highly recommended – loads of room, good on diesel and quick too.
Tuesday morning I was up at 3.30am, picked John and Bez up, then onto his parents to collect the van, followed by getting Dave and we were off!
A fairly uneventful journey followed and we arrived at ‘The Manse’ in Cootehill just after 2pm, after a quick cup of tea with Michael the owner we went up to CJ’s to pick up our bait and find out where was fishing.
The price of bait has shot up since our last trip 26euros for casters, 23 for maggots and the same for a sack of crumb. After lightening off our wallets considerably we set off on the 45-minute trip to Crom Castle, just over the border in Northern Ireland. Just before we left the local Trabucco rep arrived, we asked him if he had any information on Crom – basically he reckoned that if it had been fished regularly (i.e. bait going into the water) then we’d catch, otherwise it could be a struggle.
Crom Castle is situated on the River Erne and is a spot Dave ‘discovered’ last year on a trip over with lads from work, they’d had no huge weights of bream but consistently caught 60-80lbs of fish between 1.5 and 3lbs. The only downside is you gotta pay to fish it (probably ‘cos it’s National Trust property I guess) but it’s only a fiver a day (plus £8 for your rod-licence) and as a percentage of the overall cost of a trip to Ireland that isn’t a huge amount. You’ve got to book pegs in advance (it’s permanently pegged) and we had pegs 3,4,5 & 6 booked for three days. The stretch we were fishing is actually on an island, its beautifully peaceful and only spoilt by the constant boat-traffic. This is the National Trust website for the place http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/mai...-cromestate/
We arrived at Crom about 4pm and set about mixing up a bit of pre-bait, after a couple of hours hard work we’d put over 500 balls of groundbait into the four swims.
We then had our customary draw for pegs (we’d already decided to move ‘up one’ after each day) I was pleased to get peg 6 as it meant that, since there were no other anglers booked in, I’d get two end-pegs. We always have a couple of euro side-bet just to make things interesting plus a pairs contest. John and me were paired together as usual. We got back to Cootehill about 6.30pm and popped into Bannons for a swift pint, then we popped into the West End Bar for another swift one, followed by a Chinese. We got back to the digs about 11pm, John was not a well man (he should have stayed off the Jack Daniels) and I was complaining that my pairs partner had been nobbled.
Following morning we were up at 7am ready for the drive to Crom, John was still looking a little green round the gills but perked up a bit after breakfast.
Took us a while to get the van unloaded and the gear round to the pegs (its about a 400 yard walk I’d guess) but we were all fishing by 10am. The Erne at Crom is wide and very deep (25-30 feet I think) and the fish generally get caught about two-thirds of the way across. It was a windy day with the occasional heavy shower and bite detection was tricky, fortunately there’s very little flow on the river.
I caught the first bream after only half-an-hour but Dave (on peg 3) and Bez (on 5) were the first to start catching consistently. John and me only got odd fish and Dave’s bites dried up after lunch but Bez kept catching.
Best bait seemed to be a big bunch of maggots, four or five on a size 14 hook. There’s plenty of bits to catch so you were never sitting looking at a motionless quiver tip.
We packed up about 7.30pm – Bez had by far the best weight – his 25 bream + bits going 85lbs exactly
Dave finished with 8 bream for almost 32lb
John had four for 19lbs and I had three for 17lbs. We put another 200 balls of groundbait in before we left.
One of the good points about fishing at Crom is that there’s dense undergrowth behind the pegs and since it’s a private estate you can leave your gear behind the pegs – its probably not so safe to leave it actually on the bankside, the wash from the boat traffic could cause problems, plus it’d be easy enough for someone on a boat to help themselves.
The following morning we were fishing before nine, John now being on yesterdays ‘hot peg’ (five), I’d moved to peg three and Dave and Bez were on four and six respectively.
It was Dave and Bez who started catching first again though – I reckoned the reason Bez was catching was the quality of the bait I’d put in his peg the day before. They were fish for fish early on then Bez’s peg died but Dave continued catching – he’d had 25 bream by lunchtime and said he’d want his arse kicking if he didn’t get a hundred pound – I got my steel toe-capped wellies ready just in case.
Poor John was sat between the pair of ‘em and catching nowt, Dave started calling him the black crow – wherever he went the fish would disappear. For some reason the bream seemed to prefer a good sized chunk of worm today, Dave was painting his with Pol Vitamo, he chucked the bottle over to John and said bung that on your worm and I’ll guarantee you a bream. John did so and sure enough he got one – unfortunately that was the only one.
I’d had four bream at intervals up until 2pm, Dave’s bites died but I started getting fish – I had fourteen bream in about an hour – I spent more time playing fish than I did with my bait in the water. Presumably its because they’re river fish but Erne bream don’t half pull! I got another fish on the bomb and then the black crow came to stand me behind me – that was it I never got another bite.
Whilst we were fishing we heard a disturbance away to our right in the rushes, four deer suddenly appeared and began to swim across the river – bloody good swimmers they were too – one lagged behind and John reckoned that was just a learner and probably had arm-bands on.
Apologies for the quality of the photo but I was playing a bream at the time
Dave finished about 3 fish short of the ton – his 29 bream going 93lb 5oz
I finished with 19 bream for nearly 59lb
Bez had 10 for 41lb and John had erm not-a-lot. We jacked in at 6pm – the fish had obviously gone – and bunged another 200 balls of groundbait in.
We got back to Cootehill just before 8pm and the local café (Sean’s Diner) was about to close. We’ve got to know most of the staff there over the years and they rustled us up some burgers and chips. There was a local sat at the counter drinking a coffee and another, obviously exceedingly drunk, local staggered in, said something to him, mumbled something to us and then staggered off again. The guy sat at the counter came over and apologised for his behaviour – he was a neighbour and the drunk was trying to scrounge a lift home.
We finished our meal and nipped next door into Bannons for a drink, the owners son is an Aston Villa fan and we always enjoy taking the mick outta him. There was only ourselves, two of Sean’s (of diner fame) daughters in the bar and sat on his own at the bottom of the room our friendly local drunk. He already knew the two lasses so decided to come down and ‘entertain’ us. He started telling us his best jokes but couldn’t remember the punch lines for any of ‘em. He had two catchphrases that he used about once a minute “I’m the MAN” and “You’ve got three choices – me, me or me” – the second one was aimed at the lasses I think. He was entertaining for about the first 20 minutes but soon got irritating, so we waited till he nipped out the back for a fag and all six of us legged it to the West End Bar round the corner.
I don’t suppose he’ll ever read this but ……. Thanks Liam for the best entertainment of the week.
Next day was our third and final day at Crom Castle – it didn’t fish at all, Bez was top weight again with 3 fish for 13lb, I had a brace for 7lb, Dave had one and John just had a few bits. The only real highlight of the day was watching the deer come swimming back again – John reckoned they’d been for a night out in Lisneaskea. We jacked in early to go and check out a spot at Lough Ramor that had been recommended to us.
Previously when we’d fished Ramor we’ve always been on the south bank at Coranagh, what we’ve found though is because Ramor is so shallow (averages about 6 feet all over the lake) you must have the wind in your face to do any good. In the summer the wind is rarely a northerly so we needed to find a spot on the north bank to fish. Dave met an ex-pat last year who told him about a spot at the back of the Lakeside Hotel which (with a good wind) regularly turned up catches of 100lb – mainly bream.
We arrived at Ramor to find a strong wind blowing straight onto our bank. We weren’t sure if prebaiting was really necessary but bunged a couple of hundred balls in anyway – we couldn’t get them out very far ‘cos of the wind but in the past we’ve caught at twenty yards anyway. Had a cracking meal in the hotel, a couple of pints and then (for once) a fairly early night.
Next morning we returned to find the strong wind had eased to a gentle breeze – although at least it was still in our face.
Everyone started on the tip but soon switched to the waggler.
It soon became obvious that we needed a much stronger wind – the big hybrids and bream were conspicuous by their absence.
Bez had a good day, getting almost 30lb including a few hybrids and roach around the pound mark.
Dave and John had around 15lb each but I struggled – I think it was ‘cos I know what it fishes like when its good I couldn’t really be arsed fishing for the bits.
There was an ex-pat English lad fishing the point along to our left, he’d caught four bream and two big hybrids about an hour before we’d arrived but once the wind dropped he struggled too. Virginia is on the main Dublin-Cavan road and generally the anglers based down there will drive into the car-park at the hotel, look to see if there’s a good wind blowing and if there isn’t carry on and fish somewhere else – we’ll remember that next year!
We’d heard a couple of reports that Lough Skeagh near Bailieborough was fishing well for skimmers (thanks Clyde) and the English guy we met confirmed this. Since the forecast for the rest of the week was for little or no wind and loads of sunshine – bloody great high-pressure area stuck over the country – the chances of getting any good bream sport were slim, so we decided to give Skeagh a go. We knew the peg that we wanted; it’s towards the top end of the lake and holds four anglers easily. For a big Lough with a road running most of one side the access is terrible – there’s probably no more than a dozen swims and half of them are like parrot cages. The English guy had recommended that we prebait it so we bunged the usual 200 balls in (our bait bill was now getting serious!)
The following morning we woke to blue skies, a blazing sun and little or no wind – good for a tan but not for fishing.
Arrived at Skeagh about 8.30, to find a couple of Irish lads (all the way from Dublin) already fishing the double peg just to the north of the one we’d prebaited – they’d seen our signs and despite it being the peg they’d caught well from the previous weekend, they’d moved along a bit. Thanks Lads!
We all started on the feeder and got bites more or less from the off, little roach and hybrids plus the odd skimmer (8-12oz). As the day wore on we got more skimmers and Bez actually got a couple of proper bream (2lb fish).
It was one of them ‘steady’ days where you know you’re not going to bag up but you’re getting bites and there’s always the chance of getting a better fish.
Bez ended up top weight, his two proper bream helping him to 36.5lbs
Dave was just behind with 35.5lbs
Me and John both topped 20lbs. Bez also had a perch-free day – the first and only time it happened to any of us all week. We were kept company all day by a couple of raucous crows in the trees above us – Dave reckoned John had invited his mates along.
We’d been in the shade of the trees behind us most of the day but about 2pm the sun moved round enough to shine straight on us – ‘cos we were fishing the feeder (sitting side on to the water) we all ended up getting sunburnt on one side of our faces only. It was way too hot to prebait again so we removed our signs and just hoped the peg would be free again the following morning.
Next morning was at least a little cloudier, although still warm – we found our pegs unoccupied and all moved round from the spots we’d had the previous day.
Me and Bez fished the long pole (12ft deep at 11m), John fished the waggler, up in the water and Dave alternated between the whip and the feeder. I soon wished I’d brought something other than no.14 elastic with me, even set slack I was bumping just about every other fish and losing loads whilst unshipping too. Bez was using a 6-8 and that was perfect for the fish we were catching.
John started bagging on the waggler and it was going to be a toss up between him and Dave who finished top. John finished with almost 32.5lbs
Dave nicked it by a pound.
Bez got 28lbs and I had nearly 23 – although I reckon I probably bumped another ten pounds.
Just as were packing up a couple of Irish anglers turned up intending to have an evening session. We told ‘em to drop into the spot we’d been fishing since we were still catching before we wrapped in. We were chatting to ‘em ‘bout the fishing when the subject of eastern European immigrants came up – they confirmed that on some waters gangs of blokes were turning up and removing hundreds of pounds of fish every night – using rod and line, night lines and nets. They’d also started having a go at the rest of the wildlife – including swans – as Dave pointed out we just got to hope they get a taste for cormorants.
Funnily enough we only saw four cormorants all week, one flying over Ramor, a couple in a tree at Skeagh and one on our last day.
Monday night in Cootehill is jazz night at Bannons.
Gene Bannon, the owner, used to play saxophone with Acker Bilk amongst others and every Monday in the summer he gets together with a few other musicians (keyboard, guitar, trombone and trumpet) to play a selection of music – everything from old big band classics to Van Morrison. The place gets packed out; we even managed to drag Michael our guesthouse owner out with us too. If anyone’s ever passing I’d recommend it
We were still debating where to fish the following day – we’d got permission from the farmer to drive into the field to fish Church (Coroneary) Lake from the side opposite the church but we also fancied fishing Drumlona – although from past experience we know it can be a little slow without prebait.
In the end we plumped for Drumlona, its been good to us in the past. We got there quite early and couldn’t believe how low the water was – at least a foot down on last time we’d fished it.
Drumlona is part of the Dromore system which, in turn, flows into the Annalee and eventually the Erne, so the river levels do tend to influence the water level.
There was a guy from Donegal fishing the peg on the rocks, he’d prebaited the night before and was catching steadily, no bream but plenty of nice hybrids and roach. We dropped into the pegs between the rocks and the start of the reeds, it was overcast with a gentle breeze rippling the water, we all started on the feeder, ‘cept Bez who fancied fishing the slider for a change.
Nothing was caught early on and there was a lot of “we should have gone to Church Lake” being said but constant casting finally got a few fish interested. I only had half-a-dozen roach but the others all had well over 15lb – I kept looking over my waggler line (fishing about 7’ feet in 15’ of water) but it wasn’t until the last couple of hours that I started catching, getting a bite a chuck.
Dave ‘borrowed’ John’s waggler rod and started catching shallow too, before John reclaimed it and Dave switched to the pole.
You had to loosefeed maggot, if you fed caster they’d sink too fast and take the fish to the bottom. I caught a couple of decent hybrids (around a pound and a bit) but every time I did I’d stop getting bites for ten minutes or so – no idea why.
We thought it was going to be close between Dave and John at the end but Dave finished with 35lb
John had just short of 30lb
Bez had 17lb
and I had almost 16lb.
We all had some real clonking roach that looked like ‘brand-new’ fish but the hordes of bits we used to catch from Drumlona were missing – possibly they’re just more spread out around the lake now ‘cos anglers bait isn’t constantly being introduced.
That was it for another year – we managed 770lbs between us – Bez was top weight with 250lb, Dave was only a pound behind him , I had nearly 150lb and John 120lb.
Anyone who says the fish ain’t there is obviously fishing in the wrong places – we were beaten by the weather the last three days but there’s still plenty of bits and bream about if you chose your lakes carefully.
Get a good wind in your face and there’s bream to be caught – its just a question of asking about and finding them – we never saw any holidaying English anglers but there’s lots of ex-pats over there along with an increasing number of Irish anglers. We got loads of good information from them – including lakes to try next year. Visiting anglers never give such good information out since they’re too scared you might go and nick their fish.
I’ll be back again next year – as will the other lads – counting the days already.
Here's a few more random photos from last week
Lough Lisnalong at nightfall - only ever fished it once, but drove past dozens of times over the years.
Watty in action at Lough Skeagh
Another view of Lough Skeagh
One of the many follies around Crom Castle
Another spot of mixing going on
Ireland disappearing into the background - until next year
What's that perched on John's platform
Edited by - Simon R on 18 August 2005 10:57:06 PM