Ireland 2006

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Simon R

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Ireland 2006

It seemed like an age since my last visit to Co. Cavan, although it was only 15 months in reality, so as our departure date grew closer I was getting like a kid at Christmas.
We were certainly going mob-handed this year nine of us making the trip across, me and Dave as usual plus a gang of his work-mates and friends who only go every second year.
They usually stay up at Cloverhills but a couple of years ago Dave had introduced them to the delights of Cootehill and they were keen to try a few new venues plus we werent that far from their usual haunts on the Erne system around the border.
A quick rundown of our motley crew, other than myself and Dave, Macca (aka Grumpy), Neil (Chuckles), Dougy (Luggy), Stuey (Casper), Ronnie (Rondo), Mally (Forest) and Norm. There were seven of us travelling in my car and the hire van, Mally and Norm going in their own transport with the intention of doing their own thing some days. All the lads were Ireland veterans, although some hadnt been for a few years.

For a change we travelled up to Stranraer the day before the ferry was due, we always get the 10am sailing so that usually entails getting up at 4am and driving 200 miles before breakfast. Dave had found a nice little B&B just round the corner from the port
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We arrived about 8pm, had a quick wash and brush-up and then wandered out to see the highlights of Stranraer on a Friday night. Two pubs, six pints drink.gif and a curry later we were back at the digs for a good nights sleep, followed by a decent breakfast and a two minute drive to the ferry terminal. We had an uneventful ride down to Cootehill (except that Mally discovered his sat nav system didnt work after Belfast and hence got lost in the back streets of Armagh[:p]), arrived at The Manse about 2pm and over tea and biscuits, scrutinised the results from the Cootehill Festival which had finished the day before.

Weights were decidedly average but the big problem was the water level thered been around four inches of rain the week before the festival, another two inches during it and it had been hammering down ever since wed got off the boat at Belfast. We nipped over to see CJ and collect some bait (8 gallons of caster and 4 sacks of crumb just for starters) and he reckoned wed probably struggle. The influx of extra water had put the bream off and all the festival weights were predominantly roach and hybrids although a few bream had shown at Barnagrow and odd ones at Drumlona. Generally the most consistent weights had come from Barnagrow and Church lakes about 30lb being needed to win each day although both came from sections that involved a long walk down a steep hill.

We decided to have a bit of a ride around and check out some of the local waters (ones that had been used in the festival and others), see how bad the water levels actually were and hopefully see if anyone was fishing.
We started at Sillan and up at the car-park it didnt seem too bad, but walking round to the match length it was obvious there was a foot or two of extra water in a lot of the pegs were unfishable (the water being up in the trees) and on the four or five that were fishable we found a few lads having a pleasure session after the festival. They were catching a few roach but there was no way all seven of us would squeeze into the fishable area. It was the same story at Barnagrow - there were only three or four of the bomb-hole pegs down Heart Attack Hill fishable in any case after puffing and panting their way back up the hill, without any gear, I dont think anyone really fancied fishing down there anyway.
Bream Island was next on our little tour no chance half the car-park was awash and the spots you usually fish from were under three feet of water. Normally youd fish amongst the reeds, theres a shelf just past them, but trying to fish the pegs in their current state would result in one lost fish after another.
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This is the normal water level (photo taken about three years ago)
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Bairds Shore was even worse even the access road was under water[:0]!
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Wed already more or less decided that wed be fishing Drumlona the following day anyway and when we got down there found there was about three or four feet of dry land, before the trees/fence. The rocks at the bottom of the hill werent visible in fact we couldnt even see where they should be! The water level was at least four feet higher than the last time wed fished Drumlona in August last year. It started persisting down again whilst we were knocking up some prebait so after a fairly perfunctory twenty balls per peg we retired to Cootehill for some food.

After a wash and brush up we popped along to the West End Bar and then Bannons for our traditional first night pint (or should that be p1ss up) and bumped into an old friend called Selwyn from the deepest depths of West Bromwich. He was part of a group of eleven anglers, some of whom had just arrived and some, like Selwyn, whod just fished the festival. They were intending to fish their own three day mini-festival but were struggling to find eleven decent pegs on any of the venues.

Next morning was damp but at least not too windy as we set off for the short drive to Drumlona. Noticed on the way that yet another house was being built half way along the access track and the road had been resurfaced. Although as soon as we passed the house the nice new surface was replaced by the original rutted track. Dave had shot off ahead in the van, with me following and Mally just behind. We rounded a corner and noticed the van had stopped and was leaning at an odd angle against the dense hedge that lines the road.
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Yep![:p] Dave had found practically the only bloody ditch along the full length of the road and put two wheels right in it. The underside of the van was resting on the edge of the ditch and one of the front wheels was almost hanging in mid air. It wouldnt drive out, we couldnt push it out and we tried towing it with Mallys van but that just resulted in a nice smell of burning clutch plates. After much scratching of heads we went off on the great Irish tractor hunt.
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Fortunately one of the owners of the new houses on the lane owned a tractor, even more fortunately he was at home plus he was quite happy to help unfortunately the tractor was somewhat on the weedy side (Ive seen bigger Tonka toys) and also couldnt shift the van. When wed driven up the lane Id noticed a big orange Hi-Mac tracked excavator parked at the side of the road, the tractor driver gave the owner of the digger a ring and (despite it being 9.30am on a Sunday morning) he said hed be right over.
Sure enough 20 odd minutes later the Hi-Mac came clanking down the road, the driver with a big smile on his face, declaring hed just seen us on Sky News. He hooked a chain from his bucket onto the towing eye of the van, and with a combination of lifting and pulling had the van back on the road within a couple of minutes.[;)][:D]

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The van was luckily undamaged other than a couple of scr*pes down the passenger side and what seemed like half a ton of undergrowth dangling from underneath it.

After all that excitement the fishing was bound to be an anti-climax and by the time wed unloaded the van and got down to our pegs it was 11am before we started fishing. Wed drawn for pegs the day before and Id landed up on peg six, just before the first clump of reeds to the right of the access track. Id also pulled out the golden peg (worth 8/day) but apparently, amongst Mac, Neil and the rest of the lads, theres a well known phenomenon called The Curse of the Golden Peg and whoever draws it never wins.
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Everyone started on the feeder and most caught bits and bobs quite early on, I was fishing a little further out than everybody else and certainly I was leading up until maybe 4pm. For some reason I then started getting long biteless spells and missing bites which enabled Dave on the next peg to catch and then pass me.
We were due to finish at 6.30pm and with the light starting to fade I mentioned to Dave that if anyone was going to get a bream, it would happen in the next ten minutes sure enough he got one about 4lb that was the only one caught though.
Daves bream helped him to just over 23lb and 1st spot on the day
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I had almost 17lb for 2nd
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With Dougy finishing 3rd with 12lb odd
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Mac and Ronnie both had nightmare starts neither of them topping 5lb. [:(]
We bumped into Selwyn again in Bannons that night, some of his lads had been down Sillan and caught well on the pole (mainly roach), and others had been down Skeagh and struggled a little. We knew we couldnt all get in down at Sillan and after having a couple of good days there last year we were planning on visiting Skeagh next anyway, theres normally plenty of bits even if the big skimmers and bream dont come out to play.

Following morning we decided to check out Skeagh if we couldnt all get in wed carry on down to Ramor and check that out instead. For a big lake with a road along most of one bank the access at Skeagh is awful, there are only really two proper pegs one that will fit four anglers and one thatll fit three. Theres also a boat slipway at the picnic area at one end of the lake and another get-in at the beginning of the lake.
The lake was up about a foot Id guess, that wasnt a problem to most of us but Mally and Norm hadnt brought waders and couldnt find anywhere under knee-deep to get in with Mally muttering fecking ridiculous under his breath they disappeared heading towards Ramor.
Selwyns mates had fished the smaller of the two pegs the day before and opinion was that theyd be the preferred pegs since at least theyd seen some bait. Dave, Neil and Ronnie drew those three leaving the rest of us in the big peg. I actually drew the same peg Id fished last year.

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Id got a bit micked off the day before missing so many bites so I decided to fish braid, theres not a lot of big fish in Skeagh so theres little chance of getting cracked off. I had a little (6oz) skimmer second chuck and thought wed be in for a good day but action was painfully slow. Weve never had a problem with pike before at Skeagh but there seemed to be loads about this year youd be winding a small roach in and all of a sudden everything would go solid and youd suddenly find yourself backwinding furiously. Sometimes theyd let go but more often than not youd get bit off. Ronnie caught one that took double maggot
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Just before the end I found myself attached to a very big fish it took me through Dougys peg (next to me) and then turned and swirled in front of Stuey he reckoned it was well into double-figures. I managed to turn it and get it back in front of me and then it just chugged slowly down the lake before the inevitable bite off occurred I actually thought for a while that I might land that one!
Skeagh was not one of our better days in Ireland and Stuey won the day with 9lb 4oz of roach, hybrids and perch
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Dave and Mac were both within 8oz of his final weight too, although we knew Dave wouldnt win cos hed drawn the golden peg.
There was a decent wind blowing along Skeagh and if it stayed the same tomorrow would be blowing straight into our faces if we fished the pegs behind the hotel at Ramor ideal conditions.

Following morning it was breezy to say the least and we headed straight for Ramor these were the conditions that wed been praying for last year! Ramor was up at least 18 but still easily fishable and the breeze was whipping up two foot tall waves that were coming straight at us.
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Wed been told last year that conditions such as this push the bream towards the shore but I think we were probably a little too late in the year to catch them plus the extra rainwater in the lake may also have affected the bream more than the roach/hybrids.
Most people started on the feeder, although Mac and Dave also tackled up a waggler rod, funnily enough after they plumbed up they found it was 18 or so deeper at Daves end than Macs. It may get even deeper if you cross the fence and fish into the woods, the water level stopped us doing that this year but we might try next year.
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Dougy on the end (and Golden) peg was into fish from the word go and at one stage led Dave on the next peg something like 16-5. Stuey and Neil were also getting a few but it was a lot slower down the shallow end where me, Mac and Ronnie were pegged. After a couple of hours I was sick of getting ragged maggots without any apparent indication on the tip so switched to braid, that certainly improved bite detection but hitting roach bites on the feeder, when theyre not really having a go can be a nightmare. Once again there were no sign of the big hybrids wed caught from Ramor three or four years ago.

Dougys peg died late on and although Dave wasnt catching as quickly as him he was steady away and by the time we came to weigh in it was anyones guess whod got top weight (although we knew it wasnt Mac, Ronnie or me).
Dougy finished with 14-5-8
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Dave nicked it by half-a-pound with 14-13-8
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Stuey finished third with 12-10-0 and Neil fourth with 11-12-0. I at least managed to beat both sides of me but it was pretty cr*p down at our end.

We had a bit of a problem now, our original intention was to fish one of our first three venues for two days on the trot, knocking off early on the last day to go and prebait Crom Castle ready for Thursday. Due to all the extra water though we were running out of places that we could fish with seven of us and nobody fancied another day on the venues wed already tried. Dave gave Sharon at Crom a ring and fortunately there was nobody booked on for the Wednesday, the river was fishable (although wed need to wade out to cast) and, before all the rain, it had been fishing well. So we decided to give it a go, without prebaiting and then fill it in big style on the night.

Following morning it was, yet again, wet and windy (with gales forecast for Thursday and Friday) but we were all keen to get back on Crom and catch a few bream. Theres eight permanent pegs at Crom, wed booked one to seven for three days and worked out a rotation system to give everyone the chance of a decent peg (basically move up two pegs after each day) since pegs 3,4,5 & 6 are generally the most productive. Now there was a possibility of stopping for four days though it rather knackered Macs carefully worked plan, so I suggested just having a random draw for today.

I was quite pleased to get peg six (its generally better than 1, 2 & 7 anyway) and once I started getting set up realised how much higher the water level was compared to when wed fished the same spot last year, I actually drew peg six on our first day during our last trip. I reckon there was about a foot extra in and we certainly couldnt sit beyond the marginal bushes as we had previously. Id also drawn the Golden peg for the second time so there was no way Id be coming out with the top weight.

I think Dave on peg 5 got the first bream, then I got a couple, followed by Mac, Dougy and Ronnie getting one apiece. Odd fish were coming out here and there before the shoal seemed to settle in front of pegs 3 & 5 (Mac and Dave). Every time the wind blew a little stronger a strangely pungent whiff would emanate from Daves direction I recognised it immediately hed got the Pol Vitamo out again.
We wrapped in a bit earlier (5pm) in order to get some serious prebaiting done, Mac finished with a dozen bream for 37-13-0
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Dave had 10 for 27-8-0
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Dougy had three (plus bits) for 11lb
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and I had four for 10-12-0.
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Only Stuey, tucked away round the corner on peg 7 had failed to snare a bream and we managed 31 between us, which was quite pleasing considering we hadnt prebaited.

Wed arranged to borrow the rowing boat belonging to the estate to carry out our prebaiting, wed brought with us about a dozen sacks of pasture mix (its a horse feed, very similar to Vitalin but also contains molasses and is considerably cheaper) and the usual 400+ tins of sweetcorn. Wed had the pasture mix soaking all day in a variety of bins and buckets and the basic plan was to tip a Sensas bucket of pasture mix, followed by half a bucket of corn into each of the seven pegs.
First job was to bail out the boat, second job was to find the oars oops only one oar thatll do said Mac we aint going very far and theres not a lot of flow on the river. Mac and Dave set sail Mac on the back like a Venetian gondolier and Dave gripping tightly to the sides of the boat (he aint been too confident on the water ever since sailing across Lough Erne in a gale earlier this year so much so thats hes asked his missus for a lifejacket for Christmas)
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Everything went according to plan but there was still a load of soaked pasture mix left so we refilled the buckets and gave every peg a second load. We still had three unopened sacks of feed so we stacked them neatly under a tree to bung in another night if necessary. Back to Cootehill for a decent meal at the White Horse and a couple of pints in Bannons.

Following morning, we set off heading for Cavan as usual, and were just past CJs (on one of them wide bits of road with a sort of hard shoulder that slower vehicles are supposed to pull onto if someone wants to be past) when a Vectra shot past me at a great rate of knots, before pulling in behind Dave, flashing his lights and indicating that he should pull over. Dave either didnt see him or ignored him so after a while the Vectra driver got bored and overtook him.
We were full of anticipation when we arrived at Crom (well those on the middle pegs were anyway) I was on peg one, which only produced one bream to Neil the day before but at least hed caught plenty of bits so I wouldnt be looking at a motionless tip all day.
It was a seriously wet day though the predicted gale force winds hadnt arrived but the rain had it started as we arrived and never let up until mid-afternoon, the river rose alarmingly, the leg on my footplate was three inches out of the water when we started, by 6pm it was three inches underwater.
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Anyone who read my report from last year (buried deep in the archives somewhere I think) will remember we saw a group of deer swimming across the river, we spotted another one this year a big male this time Macs entirely predictable remark was that it must have been out on a stag party.[:p]
I got a couple of nice (8oz) roach early on followed by a good bream of 4lb or so (theyd only been 2 or 3 pounds the day before) about 11ish before they tittled off again. Nobody was catching with any regularity it was just odd fish coming out all along the length (even Mac on peg 7 had got a couple) Dougy on peg 5 was leading most of the day, hed had six bream by the time we packed in at 6.30, all around three pound. I thought I had about fifteen pounds (four bream + bits) so when Dougy weighed 17 pounds I thought I might get second.
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I dunno who was more surprised when I weighed 21-10 me or Dougy the bream were four pound plus and I had more bits than I thought.
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Generally though the fishing was poor it had got worse than the day before (1st day 31 bream 107lb, 2nd day 22 bream 83lb) had we overdone it with the prebaiting? Last year we bunged over 500 balls in the first night and another 200 the night after (and that was into only four pegs) so we knew these bream could scoff a bit.
One thing we couldnt understand either was why the flow kept stopping and starting one minute your tip would be bent right round, the next it would be dead straight. When the flow stopped the river would start rising again Im guessing there must be some sort of barrage or flood gates somewhere further downstream.
We discovered the sheep could scoff too, mid afternoon, I heard a disturbance behind me and found the sheep had discovered the pasture mix wed left under the tree the previous night. They demolished three 25kg bags in less time than its taken me to type this[:0][;)].
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Back in Cootehill we decided to try the new restaurant in town (Murphs above Montys Bar) for a change and it was very good (if a little pricey). Mally & Norm were moaning about the lack of bream around Cootehill and Dave suggested they give Druminnick a go. Its a small, roadside lake between Shercock and Corraneary that, in the past, has always turned up some bream for us. Its usually only the end two pegs that produce, wading isnt necessary and its a short, flat walk so would be ideal for the two of them.
Wed arranged to meet Derek later that night (husband of Adeline who cooks our breakfast every morning) in Bannons and found he was the driver of the mystery Vectra that morning hed been flashing us cos we were going the wrong way to Crom. Instead of going all the way to Cavan we should have gone to Clones and then Newtownbutler we tried that the following morning and it shaved about twenty minutes off the journey.

Back to Crom again for our penultimate days fishing and everybody moved up two pegs from the previous day. Just for a change it was pouring down and the river was still rising. Mid-morning the wind dropped and the sun appeared (very briefly) before the wind switched through 180o and we finally got the gales that had been forecast two days earlier foot high waves rolling along the river.
I was forced to move back towards the shore twice, the rising river and waves were threatening to swamp my box and platform.

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Fishing was still patchy, just odd bream being caught here and there, Dave ended up with nine for 30lb from peg six but they were well spread out throughout the day
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Mac had half-a-dozen for 18lb and the rest of us had a couple each.
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Dougy down on peg 7, knocked the bream fishing on the head quite early on and fished the whip for most of the day, ending up with a creditable 12lb 13oz.
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Just nineteen bream today, things obviously werent improving so we decided to knock Crom on the head for this year and go and fish somewhere different for our last day.

Met up with Mally and Norm back in Cootehill, theyd been up to CJs that morning for some more bait and mentioned that they were considering going to Druminnick following Daves recommendation. CJ said Dave was a cruel, cruel man [:0]for even suggesting they go there, then he bundled the pair of em into his car and drove them down to the Dromore river opposite the pharmaceutical factory. Showed them where to fish and they had a good day, no bream but a bite a chuck on the waggler or feeder.

Last days fishing and we were planning to fish Church Lake (on the church bank), the opposite side had been used in the festival but that involved a long walk down a steep hill. Parked up down the alleyway next to the church, hopped over the stile, down the little bank and realised why this side of the lake hadnt been used for the festival it was completely flooded. We dont mind sitting in the water to fish (its often more comfortable) but you do need some dry land, a big enough space to put your holdall and net-bag down at least.
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Fortunately Barnagrow is only round the corner so we nipped round there instead, we had no intention of fishing either the bombholes or the pumping station stretch (two reasons 1-its a bloody long, steep walk and 2-we couldnt all fit in) so we parked up in the main car park, skipped the first couple of pegs on the match stretch and continued on from there.
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Generally at Barnagrow it gets deeper the further you walk the bombholes being right at the end of the match stretch. The last time I fished down there was five years ago (on 9/11), Dave fished it three years ago and had a terrible day. There was still a decent wind blowing though and it was coming straight at us so the conditions were OK.
Everybodys gear was sodden after three wet days at Crom (I had three inches of water in the bottom of my box), so there were piles of gear laid out to dry all along the bank it looked like a giant car-boot sale.

I think everybody had a bite first chuck but it was Stuey and Dougy on the shallowest pegs that were really catching. I think Dougy had 26 fish and I had 5, Mac was initially struggling on peg nine the pegs that we thought would fish the best. Neil got a few fish on the whip late on but it was generally the feeder that was doing the damage.
Dougy had the most fish but Stuey had been getting some quality roach, whereas Dougys fish included a lot of perch (which always seem to be hollow) Since the golden peg hadnt been won all week we were fishing for 1st, 2nd, & 3rd on the final day.
Stuey took first with 26lb 2oz (the best non-bream weight of the week)
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Dougy weighed 20lb 12oz for second
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Mac and Neil tied for third with 11lb 8oz, until Mac noticed hed left a perch in his net that gave him 3rd by a half-ounce margin.
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That was it for another year, Dave finished top weight with 124lbs, closely followed by Mac (96lb) and Dougy (91lb). I managed a mere 67lb but despite the cr*p catches me and Dave will be back next year (back end of August I think approximately 316 days to go) and the rest of the lads the year after.
Theres not much you can do when half the venues you want to fish arent even accessible. I think the problem with Crom was that the flow on the river kept changing, the bream wouldnt settle and hence we were just picking up odd fish. When they get their heads down you can get 40lb in an hour (I had 14 bream in 14 casts last year).

We called into Bannons for a farewell drink or three and managed to drag Michael our landlord out with us and much frivolity ensued beer-toast1.gif .

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From the left - Michael Elliffe (our landlord), Dave, myself, Mally, Norm, Dougy(partly hidden), Stuey, Mac and Neil - Ronnie had just nipped out the back for a smoke.

Copious quantities of this were consumed[:D]
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Mein host Gene Bannon
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Following morning we made good time to Belfast only to be informed that not only was the fast ferry cancelled but that the old tub was getting fixed and would be sailing about an hour late.
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We arrived in Stranraer at 4.15 over two hours later than we should have been and by the time wed unloaded the van and dropped everyone off it was gone 10pm by the time I got home.

I think you could sum the week up by quoting that old poem; Water, water everywhere but far too much for the fish
The water levels cant be as bad next year surely.

There's a couple more photos to add, and probably a load of typos to fix but it's time for bed now[:p]

Just spotted in this weeks Angling Times - ten top tips for Ireland
No.1 - "Don't Forget Waders" - are you listening Mally? [:p]

Tight Lines

Simon
 
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philhezzy

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spot on report simon, trust dave to get the van stuck carnt wait till i see him next hahahahah
 

dpw62

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aagghh memories si,once again as always your report report was as excellent as you company cheers si BIG D xxx
 

The Saint

Paul
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Brilliant read Simon,hope the fishing improves for next year(cos i'm going). [:)]
 

Hooty

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Nice one Simon,
Going next September (first time to the area).
If you have any info on digs in Cootehill i would be grateful mate.

Hooty.
 

lankylot

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Dec 10, 2002
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well done si, another good read. Hope to be there with you, dave, bezzy and John next year but gonna squeeze a week in at the begining of June at carrybridge where me and dave went to in may. It rained constantly then as well (do u see the common denominator) Hope to see you soon.
 

Hopper_fcuk

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Feb 1, 2003
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spot on report that simon, looks like you had a good laugh.

dave kept the van bit quiet, im gonna ring him now haha
 

philhezzy

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quote:Originally posted by dpw62

aagghh memories si,once again as always your report report was as excellent as you company cheers si BIG D xxx

fancy getting the van stuck grandad wot ya like hahaha
 

nrayner

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Great photos, seems like you had an enjoyable time and NO BLANKS!!
 

j w grummett

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message for hooty re digs coothill
kieron and jeanette laws
alder cottages ,clara lane , coothill ,cavan
they have even got a small pond on site stuffed with fish
 

Simon R

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quote:Originally posted by Hooty

Nice one Simon,
Going next September (first time to the area).
If you have any info on digs in Cootehill i would be grateful mate.

Hooty.

Well we always stay at The Manse - mainly 'cos it's the only guesthouse actually in the centre of town.
It looks like we're going first week in September next year so it'll be half full then[;)]
There's quite a few others on the outskirts of town though - CJ Fay owns Cabragh House, he's also the local bait stockist and tackle dealer.
Check out the Anglers World brochure for details of the others (I've got some email addresses somewhere that I'll have to dig out)

Unless you get a special offer deal on the ferry you'll find it hard to beat the specialist travel companies (I think the best we ever did was saved about a tenner a head[:p])

Simon
 

Hooty

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Cheers Simon - 3rd week in September looks on the cards.

Hooty.
 
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