An Irish Anglers World

Peadar O’Brien, Pike and Coarse Angling Guide

The joy of angling for many is fishing a different location to the norm. A new mark or venue broadens the experience, exposes the angler to a wider selection of species, bigger specimens, and different angling methods. The scenery changes, new friendships are forged, and contacts are made. The primary reason for travelling though is to catch fish, and there in lies the rub. Visiting a new venue can prove daunting for even the most competent of anglers. With time nowadays at a premium it is important to make the most of whatever freedom from work that we have. Visiting a new angling venue can be fun, but if one has only a long weekend within which travelling to and from has to be taken into account, limiting oneself further by having to learn how to fish the area, is a factor that should be considered as well.

Peadar O'Brien

We have all been there, a venue is picked, dates are set, brochures and maps are scrutinised for every relevant detail. The day comes and we are off giddy with anticipation. It only becomes apparent when we arrive that even with all the information and our collective experience there is something still missing from the equation. Guide books and brochures tell us what to catch and where, in most cases though they do not tell us how to catch and when. Add into the mix seasonal variations and one can see that for even the most experienced anglers a trip away can become somewhat of a lottery in terms of success or failure in the fish catching department.

A way around this is to employ the services of a guide. For European anglers and in particular those from the United States there is an acceptance of the value of guided angling, a concept which the angling fraternity from both Great Britain and Ireland still need to grasp. Have rod will travel. “Sure I know how to fish, it will be fine”. Tuesday morning comes after the long weekend and the chat in the canteen turns to the fishing trip away. “Should have stayed at home, caught fish on Monday afternoon alright, but spent Saturday and Sunday trying to figure the place out. It was not really worth the trip”. Sound familiar? However if the services of a local guide had been employed even for one day the whole complexion of the trip may have been completely different.

There is every likelihood, that if a guide had been hired for the Saturday alone, fish would have been caught and enough knowledge imparted to warrant the rest of the trip a productive experience. Relative to the overall cost of an angling holiday the hiring of an Irish guide is inexpensive, € 150.00 – €200.00 per day being the average, with a lot of guides prepared to take two anglers for that price. Invariably the cost will include tackle hire, flies, lures, bait, boat and engine, and pack lunch. Add in years of local experience and one can see that relative to the price the angler gets real value for money.

Peadar with a Co. Monaghan Pike

Ireland has for a long time had a tradition of ghillies, particularly on the western lakes. However in recent years’ professional guides specialising in pike, trout, and bass angling have added a new dimension to the Irish angling product. Some are full time, while others work on a part time basis. All are dedicated to their craft and work tirelessly to provide a first class angling experience for their clients. Peadar O’Brien, a pike and coarse angling guide based in Carrickmacross, County Monaghan, ticks all the boxes required of a professional angling guide working in Ireland today. An angler for over thirty years, Peadar has coarse fished for Ireland, caught countless specimen fish of various species, and knows the waters around Cavan/Monaghan as he says, “better then I know my wife”.

Cavan/Monaghan is drumlin country, the undulating topography creating a home for hundreds of lakes both big and small. Bream, roach, hybrids, and pike, many to specimen weight, abound in these mainly underutilised waters. The key to the area is knowing where to go and when. Peadar O’Brien, along with his wife Maria, ran a guest house specialising in angling for some fifteen years. Their main business was with anglers from the U.K, and they were very busy. Peadar baited swims, put anglers on productive waters, provided tackle and gave advice. Repeat business was the norm and due to word of mouth new clients kept the wheels turning. After 15 years Peadar and his wife Maria needed a break and sold on the business. With fishing in his blood, Peadar formalised his experience by obtaining his guides badge and has been working independently ever since.

Peadar O'Brien in his element.

A day with Peadar would kick off normally at 09.00 am, and finish around 17.00 pm. If pike fishing, all gear would be provided unless the angler/s stated otherwise. This would include a dazzling array of pike lures which are stored in various buckets, rods, reels, ancillary gear, and life jackets. His boat is a well maintained 19’ Kingfisher, powered by an 8 HP outboard, and towed by a 4×4 to the various venues. Over the years good relationships have been built up with local land owners, which allows for access to certain waters that would be out of bounds to the average visiting angler.

Peadar is also constantly surveying new venues, of which in the Cavan/Monaghan area there are plenty. One such water, which is due a session shortly, has roach to and also not surprisingly is home to many large pike. Clients of Peadar will have a whole new vista opened up to them regarding marks and methods, and will no doubt become better anglers for being in his company. When pike fishing at least three approaches will be considered, trolling, spinning various bays, and float trolling dead baits. The latter is a favourite method of Peadar’s, being both visual and productive. A particular way of setting the bait in the trace, with the head facing towards the attacking fish, allied to striking seconds after the float disappears means nigh on 100% of pike taken are hooked in the mouth. This writer can vouch that the method works having seen numerous pike landed in this fashion. A simple and careful use of the forceps and the pike is away.

Peadar with a mixed catch

Peadar is equally at home fly fishing for pike on systems such as the Dromore River. Combining a series of interconnecting lakes, the Dromore River System in recent years is under fished, and an exploring pike fly angler’s paradise. When water levels allow Peadar will launch his boat and work his way through the lakes and along the backwaters, so unveiling some very interesting pike fishing in an area which is normally hard to access.

Whether coarse or pike fishing, if one is travelling to the north east counties of Ireland a phone call or email to Peadar would be well worth the effort. A day in his company will be productive both in terms of fish caught and knowledge gained. Given how productive the Cavan/Monaghan area is, his experience may even connect you with a fish of a lifetime.

Ashley Hayden ©

March 2009