Ireland 2005

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Simon R

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May 19, 2002
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 neednt of worried[:D]

Four of us made the trip this year
Dave whod 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 CJs 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[:0]. 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 wed 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, theyd 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 its National Trust property I guess) but its 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 isnt a huge amount. Youve got to book pegs in advance (its 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

We arrived at Crom about 4pm and set about mixing up a bit of pre-bait, after a couple of hours hard work wed put over 500 balls of groundbait into the four swims.

We then had our customary draw for pegs (wed 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, Id 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[xx(] (he should have stayed off the Jack Daniels) and I was complaining that my pairs partner had been nobbled.[:p]

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 Id 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 theres 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 Daves 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. Theres 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 theres dense undergrowth behind the pegs and since its 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 itd 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), Id 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 Id put in his peg the day before[;)]. They were fish for fish early on then Bezs peg died but Dave continued catching hed had 25 bream by lunchtime and said hed want his arse kicking if he didnt get a hundred pound I got my steel toe-capped wellies ready just in case.[:D]

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 Ill guarantee you a bream. John did so and sure enough he got one unfortunately that was the only one.

Id had four bream at intervals up until 2pm, Daves 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 theyre river fish but Erne bream dont 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 [:p]

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 caf (Seans Diner) was about to close. Weve 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 Seans (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 couldnt remember the punch lines for any of em. He had two catchphrases that he used about once a minute Im the MAN and Youve 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 dont suppose hell ever read this but . Thanks Liam for the best entertainment of the week.[:D][:D]

Next day was our third and final day at Crom Castle it didnt 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 theyd 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 wed fished Ramor weve always been on the south bank at Coranagh, what weve 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 werent sure if prebaiting was really necessary but bunged a couple of hundred balls in anyway we couldnt get them out very far cos of the wind but in the past weve 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 couldnt really be arsed fishing for the bits.
There was an ex-pat English lad fishing the point along to our left, hed caught four bream and two big hybrids about an hour before wed 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 theres a good wind blowing and if there isnt carry on and fish somewhere else well remember that next year!

Wed 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; its 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 theres 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 wed prebaited theyd seen our signs and despite it being the peg theyd caught well from the previous weekend, theyd moved along a bit. Thanks Lads![:D]

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 youre not going to bag up but youre getting bites and theres 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.[:p]

Wed 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 wed 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 Id 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 wed 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. Theyd 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.[:p]

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 anyones ever passing Id recommend it

We were still debating where to fish the following day wed 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 couldnt believe how low the water was at least a foot down on last time wed 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, hed 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 wasnt until the last couple of hours that I started catching, getting a bite a chuck.
Dave borrowed Johns 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 theyd 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 Id 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 theyre just more spread out around the lake now cos anglers bait isnt 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 aint there is obviously fishing in the wrong places we were beaten by the weather the last three days but theres still plenty of bits and bream about if you chose your lakes carefully.

Get a good wind in your face and theres bream to be caught its just a question of asking about and finding them we never saw any holidaying English anglers but theres 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 theyre too scared you might go and nick their fish.
Ill 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 [:D]

What's that perched on John's platform[?][?]

Tight Lines

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Diary of a Thames Fisherman
Feb 25, 2005
very good report mate, glad you caught some fish!!

On a mission for a 20lb River Thames Pike this season, watch this space...............[8D][8D]

Pike anglers club of great britain
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