They are called red letter days, when all the preparation, experience, and knowledge comes together to produce a memorable fishing session. In conversation with Gary a few evenings previous we had agreed to coarse fish the River Barrow close to Athy. Arriving at the chosen venue shortly before 10.00am a change of location was agreed, primarily because the main river was in perfect condition, slightly coloured with an even flow. We took a chance that fish would have ventured out of the backwaters and decided to fish a swim close to Athy town centre, an inspired hunch? You could say so.
Having fished the marina recently due to the river in flood, we learned that fish shelter out of the main current in heavy flows. Once levels drop back they venture out again to where the feeding is better. Our guess was that the vast shoals that inhabit the marina wouldn’t stray too far from the haven, our assessment proved correct. Having chosen a swim on the right hand bank we set up and proceeded to feed Gary’s particle mix at sixty second intervals until bites commenced, which they did almost immediately.
Plugging the feeder with particle mix and filling the centre with casters we lobbed to a line about a third of the way across and touch ledgered. From the get go bites occurred within one or two minutes, good heavy knocks which produced a string of hybrids. A feature were slack line bites from the larger fish which lifted the feeder causing the tip to straighten quickly. Lighter but equally purposeful knocks resulted in prime roach some reaching a pound+. Interspersed were the lightening machine gun rattle of dace, which even using a size 14 hook are hard to connect with. I would say that one in three bites resulted in a hook up, I’m no match man but then again we were pleasure fishing, the action was constant with every recast suppling extra feed to the swim.
Noted for its big perch one heavy slack line bite resulted in a nice perch around a pound. Beautifully striped and in great condition prior to spawning they can reach 3 pounds+ in this area, here’s hoping. Its broad dorsal fin raised in the current and never day die attitude contributed to a memorable scrap. On that note include hybrids, the larger fish in the two pound plus bracket ran a merry dance also before sliding over the net. Fishing leisurely we had an idea that at days end the keep net might hold a substantial catch.
As the angelus bell rang out we lifted the net. Throughout the afternoon bites had been constant with numerous shoals of fish entering our swim. Stopping every so often for photos and lunch upset the pattern of ground baiting resulting in lulls, but once the feeder (30 gram) was reintroduced bites recommenced fairly quickly afterwards. Six species made up the haul which topped forty pounds, roach, silver bream, dace, perch, roach/bream hybrid, and rudd/bream hybrid. The bait was three red maggot presented on a two foot snood incorporating a 4.lb fluorocarbon tippet. This was wild coarse fishing at its best. The River Barrow is a superb fishery, and with the sterling work and initiatives being implemented by both Athy and Carlow coarse angling clubs, can only go from strength to strength. Gary and I had a great day in the early April sunshine, we’ll be back….