Posts Tagged ‘River Barrow’

Paradise Lost or How to Wreck a Fishery within Five Years

Friday, June 28th, 2019

I first cast a line on the Beara peninsula in May 2005, close to the Dursey cable car, a 32 gram silver Kilty catcher and at a count of forty seconds, yes Dursey sound is that deep, I hit mackerel. Since then I have traveled down annually, sometimes bi-annually, on one fateful trip meeting and chatting with Roger Ball on the rocks at Garnish. Born out of that conversation developed a friendship centered around sea fishing, soccer and a love of the bountiful marine paradise which the rich coastal waters off Beara are, or should I say were, because they are under attack, from within.

Roger and his longtime friend Dave Hoskins have been traveling across from the United Kingdom and down to Beara for years, Roger came first in 1997. Both Cornishmen, they talk about how good the fishing was in the 1970′s around Plymouth where they grew up and how it was destroyed by over fishing. When Roger by accident found the Beara in 1997 while driving around Ireland he thought that he had landed in heaven, for there before his eyes were vast shoals of open sea mullet, his favourite fish to catch. From then on he returned most every year to walk the dogs along coastal paths with his wife and to fish.

Between Roger, Dave and I we have 22 years of knowledge built up about the shore fishing from Dunboy in Castletownberehaven around to Urhan close to Eyeries. In that time shore fishing mainly from rock platforms we have caught 19 species of fish ranging from bass to wrasse. What amazed us about the fishing was how many of the resident species such as conger, wrasse, pollack, bull huss, mullet, plaice and dab grew to their full potential size and also the numbers of fish available which in this day and age of over fishing at sea was staggering.

Well it was too good to last, year on year when we returned the fishing was as good if not better than the time before. Yes one could add that our improved catches were predicated on a build up of acquired knowledge, however the quality of fish and fishing never changed, for seventeen years it remained constant. Then in 2014 we noticed a change, the mullet were not as plentiful and the average size of pollack and wrasse on the marks that we fished began to shrink noticeably. Then, the clean ground marks which were paved with large dab up to specimen size began to produce less fish. Could all this be our collective imaginations running wild, were we losing our touch or getting paranoid. No, a trip planned for June 2019 unfortunately revealed everything that we had suspected.

On Saturday 22nd June 2019 we arrived at our holiday cottage all geared up for a weeks fishing. On the way we had supped Guinness in McCarthy’s Bar, Castletownbere, devoured bowls of Adrienne’s lovely chowder with brown bread and dug fleshy lugworms for a well looked forward to ground fishing session. The weather was not great, strong south to south east winds and rain but we persevered, lure fishing with spinners to catch a few medium size pollack but no mackerel on the first evening.

Sunday was a washout however things improved on Monday enough to seek out mullet and shore fish locally again for pollack and the hoped for mackerel which along with the mullet again were marked absent. A couple from northern Ireland who were fishing on a favoured mark near our cottage mentioned how they had been traveling down to fish for years but that on the last number of visits a perceptible decline in the fishing had set in. Might it just be an aberration said I, no it’s the gill netters they categorically said. My heart sank, as this is what Roger, Dave and I had always suspected but could not prove. The evidence was there, smaller fish sizes, dearth of mullet and flatfish, but we had never seen them, that is until the next morning Tuesday 25th June 2019.

With full tide around 11.30 am and a pet day ahead of us we hiked out onto the headland to a favourite mark which traditionally produces plenty of large pollack and wrasse. The form of this mark without fail is rods on the first cast doubling over to quality pollack hitting jelly worms. Numerous casts later we were fish less before a couple of juvenile pollack hit our lures, something was dreadfully amiss. Roger decided to wrasse fish and yes he had bites to hardback crab from the get go, but not from the mothers that we used to catch, instead their half pound offspring made up the offering. We were mystified but deep down knew, then we were informed.

The half decker tootled across the bay eventually lining up about eighty meters offshore commencing to shoot its net right across our casting line. It had taken us an hour to walk out and now we could not fish as this obvious gill net ( we could see it slipping over the stern of the boat) was well within our casting range. To add insult to injury a crew member lifted up a good size pollack and taunted us with it smiling as he motored by.

The really sad part is that they did not even have the whit to consider that it was tourists from another country they were mocking. Tourists that are long term friends and admirers of the Beara, tourists who sing its praises and encourage others to consider visiting, tourists who come twice a year, tourists who spend good money on accommodation, in O’Neills of Allihies, McCarthy’s Bar, Supervalu, the local petrol station, etc.

Now we knew the source of decline and it created a sick feeling in the stomach, a feeling of helplessness because Roger, Dave, Rob and I all knew the final outcome of the action we were observing, total annihilation of the fishery. These individuals were doing nothing wrong according to Irish law, they could carry on regardless and will, we all knew that nobody was going to stop this violation, this rape of a pristine marine biosphere, a diamond in the rough. I couldn’t continue fishing and said to the lads I’m heading back, they hung on for a while but eventually succumbed also as their heart was not in it.

For years we had respected this place, catch and release, an odd fish for the pot, our angling was a conduit, a way to connect with nature and give something back in return, the stories of basking sharks, dolphins playing tag, gannets diving, the sea alive with flashing fish, the few bob left in various local businesses, on Tuesday 22nd June 2019 modern life caught up with paradise and chewed it up.

As stated earlier in this piece, from 1997 until 2014 the shore fishing we encountered between Crow Head and Cod’s Head to include Dursey never changed, it was totally consistent and always surprising us in the affirmative. To witness the mullet shoals was in itself incredible, when they merged with mackerel and sprat as we saw on occasions the spectacle was blue planet stuff. This will happen no more as within five years, 2014 to date, gill netting using in this instance a net approximately 500 meters long (a legal practice) which did not occur in this area to the scale that we witnessed before 2014, first took out the vast resident mullet shoals and is now having a right go at the pollack, flatfish and whatever else swims into their indiscriminate invisible plastic meshes.To cap it all the boat was targeting prime wrasse to be used as pot bait, what an ignominious end for a wonderful sport fish.

This writer comes from a family with coastal fishing in its bones, was taught how to dig bait, long line, trammel net, lay pots, tie knots, row boats and understand the sea by my father, grandfather and uncles. I was taught to respect the sea and respect the creatures within it. I was taught how to maintain a fishery by leaving some for tomorrow, never to be greedy. If this plunder continues which it will unless there is Government or EU intervention there will be no adult fish left and the dynamic of a wonderful local unique to Ireland marine ecosystem will be altered forever.

It would make you weep, in just five short years the fishing has been severely damaged, not as yet mortally, but if it is not curtailed the future for the coastal bays off Dursey Island and Allihies Bay is stark and I should know, I saw the incredible mixed fishery off Greystones Co. Wicklow disappear before my eyes within ten years once the mussel dredging commenced. However the future for Dursey could be different as there is still time, again it just needs people to be informed and not be afraid to speak out.

No one is saying for one moment that local people in rural areas should not earn a contribution to their living from fishing, quite the opposite in fact, community managed sustainable artisan inshore coastal fisheries are part of the solution to marine over fishing. However, in that context no individual has the right to say that a shared resource is theirs alone, which is exactly what is happening on the Beara peninsula and other such places around the Irish coastline and the state has to recognise this fact and be the catalyst for social change by introducing radical inclusive legislation acknowledging that all citizens have a stake in the marine and not just those who choose to commercially fish.

A way forward would be for the state to Firstly, ban monofilament gill and tangle nets forthwith as they are lethal indiscriminate fishing engines, continue to fish as “ghost nets” if lost in storms and these same lost nets become major contributors to micro plastic pollution as they eventually rot and break up. Instead artisan line fishing should be promoted and encouraged as an inshore fishing methodology which is more environmentally friendly being less indiscriminate and also delivers a higher quality end product for market.

Secondly, the targeting of ballan wrasse for pot bait should be banned immediately and instead fishermen/women should be encouraged to obtain carcasses and fish heads from fish processing operations for pot bait instead.

Thirdly, community managed marine protected zones should be established in key areas such as the Beara around the country to protect and preserve wild places, nursery areas, habitats and local ecosystems which are the foundation stones for the wider marine biosphere. These zones would not necessarily be no take but most certainly would be net free, with creeling (potting) allowed inside under a management plan, commercial line fishing outside along the perimeter where the over spill of prime fish would occur, and sea angling would be catch and release using barbless hooks.

The above is a loose template but has merit for further discussion as within its frame resides inclusivity which is key to successful long term management of Ireland’s coastal resources. The present modal is predicated on take while giving nothing back as this story shows and that path as is abundantly clear has led Ireland’s and the worlds marine fisheries to where they are today, broken and or severely strained.

Meanwhile those who make a living or contribution to their income from fishing complain of lack of fish, or reduced access to fish when in actual fact there are reduced numbers of fish relative to what there was because of the methodologies and approach that the industry they are part of employs. In effect the industry is shooting itself in the foot while those who work within the sector point the finger at everybody but themselves as to why they cannot catch or access whatever fish are left. This race to the bottom breeds a mentality of take what you can while it is still there before someone else gets it.

In this day and age of climate change, biodiversity loss and musings on the value of natural capital how we interact with resources is vital and obviously changes in approach are essential. Sadly, when it comes to what is left of sea fishing in rural areas trying to introduce change is akin to sucking blood out of a stone as the same old cliches will be trotted out with vehemence even when the fishing as it used to be has died. Its our resource, we looked after it, its what we have always done. Compromise, which is the way forward, where everybody benefits will be a dirty word but that is where we must go.

So if anyone has read this piece and been moved by it, please send a letter or email to the Minister for fisheries, Minister for Tourism, Environmental NGO’s, Inland Fisheries Ireland, the CEO of Failte ireland and anybody else you can think of who might make a difference at a national decision making level, calling for protection of our wild marine places, the adoption of environmentally friendly fishing methodologies and practices and recognition of all stakeholders when it comes to resource use management. Your efforts could just make a difference. Thank you………..

PS: The images used in this piece are from previous trips, not the one described above.

Ashley Hayden © June 2019

New Years Pike from the Barrow

Monday, January 2nd, 2017

Walking back up the tow path my gaze alighted on the now distant angler that I had passed and said hello to earlier on. Targeting pike in the slow water where a canal merged with the main channel his rod was in a noticeable hoop. Increasing my pace I reached the fisherman just in time to help him net the large jack pike. Only then exchanging greetings, there are priorities when fishing, I then offered to unhook the fish using a long nosed forceps while Pat gently held the pike within the landing net meshes. Quick photo and away.

A new years day 2017 River Barrow pike.

Watching the pike swim off we struck up a conversation about our collective fishing experiences on the river which established pike holding locations and possible reasons for their presence. Pat’s preferred methods are float ledgering and or sunk and drawn dead baits of which the fish pictured above was tempted by the latter approach. Wishing Pat well in 2017 I promised to forward him the photo, then turning I continued my walk back up the tow path…….

Coarse Fishing Tourism: Managed Access is the Key

Thursday, May 12th, 2016

Of all the tourism angling/fishing products Ireland has to offer coarse fishing has the greatest potential to provide a serious return on investment, primarily because Ireland’s coarse fishing species to include pike are not exploited commercially for food and are therefore in waters where they reside abundant and growing to a large average size. The downside to this major selling point is ease of access to Ireland’s best coarse fishing swims while carrying the amount of tackle and bait necessary to enjoy a productive match or pleasure fishing session.

Landing a hybrid while coarse fishing the River Barrow, Co. Carlow, Ireland.

The image above clearly shows the amount of gear an average coarse angler brings to the water, much more than can be carried without the aid of a pack horse. The best swims are never those that are immediately accessible from say car parks or bridges, most requiring a trudge along forest paths or over fields and ditches. Many out of the way prime swims though can be accessed by enabling managed vehicular access through upgrading/modifying existing rough tracks and walk ways.

A 3.5 lb River Barrow Hybrid and one happy coarse angler.

Thomas and I fished an out of the way section of the River Barrow yesterday and boy was access to the swim difficult and the return leg to my car a not looked forward to experience. Yes we caught some prime roach to a pound plus and hybrids to 3.5 lbs, however and we are fit, when the towpath was reached we set up shop, being too knackered to go any further.

Having co-authored and driven with Dick Caplice chairman of the Irish Anglers Development Alliance the hugely successful managed vehicular access coarse fishing infrastructure on Lough Muckno, Co. Monaghan and presented an adapted plan to modify sections of towpath along the River Barrow for managed vehicular access back in 2014 to Tourism, Enterprise and Co. Council decision makers in Co. Carlow with zero response it begs the question. When it comes to developing an innovative and commercially viable tourism product has official Ireland employed the best people available………………….?

Bream Time on the Barrow

Friday, May 6th, 2016

A solid lift, bump sensation transmitted through taught six pound test line prompted an immediate upward sweep of my thirteen foot feeder rod, a pulsing heaviness manifest thirty meters out in the slow moving water signaled a good bream on, happy days. Staying deep while doggedly moving left towards an overhanging bank side willow, applied side strain guided Mr. Bream towards my outstretched landing net, job done.

A fine fish in great nick of between three and four pounds, the sense of achievement after all these years fishing still kicks in when all the planning, travelling and effort comes together post landing a targeted species. A third bream of the day banked, one each also for angling companion Thomas and neighbouring coarse angler Cathal, two more were brought ashore before we upped sticks around 17.00.pm.

A fine barrow bream for Ashley Hayden tempted by four red maggot on a size 14 hook.

It was good to touch base with Thomas who like many coarse anglers has a passion for catching big dustbin lid sized slimy bream. Although bream dog it out rather than running when hooked, their resistance allied to their bronzed largeness makes for an impressive sight when resting in the landing net before unhooking. In this instance Thomas, Cathal and I were feeder fishing maggot and worm to catch alongside the bream a succession of dace, roach, trout interspersed with an odd hybrid.

A barrow bream and one happy coarse angler.

April, May and early June are great months to target bream on the lower River Barrow, bring lots of ground bait as a bream shoal will hoover up a prepared swim and move on similar to a herd of cattle munching on fresh grass. On this occasion not having pre-baited Thomas and I relied only on what our feeders attracted, a brace each of quality bream made our day. Until the next time………..

Barrow Bonanza Match, 22/08/2015, Day One Results

Sunday, August 23rd, 2015

The River Barrow up stream of Carlow Town flowed slow and clear, an odd dace could be seen topping and if one peered hard into the peat stained water fry could be seen flitting and darting amongst the weed beds. All the hard work in setting up the Barrow Bonanza coarse fishing match by the Naas & District Angling Club had most certainly paid off as 42 match anglers lined up on two stretches of the Barrow between Carlow Town and Athy, “Knockbeg and Maganey”, to compete for the guaranteed €1000.00 first prize.

World Coarse Fishing Pairs Champion Phillip Jackson fishes the River Barrow, Co. Carlow.

Tubs of maggots dyed in various colours, sweetcorn, hemp, chopped worm, buckets of ground bait and an arsenal of ready to use fishing rods/reels, poles and whips surrounded each competitor as they settled down for the five hour competition first leg to commence at 12.30 pm with lines up at 17.30 pm. Tactics given the  conditions, overcast grey, muggy with little or no breeze appeared to be feed little and often utilising variations in casting length, bait type and presentation.

Padraig O'Riordan fishing the Barrow Bonanza 2015 Match with an average roach.

Those fishing the Knockbeg section to include World Pairs Champion Phillip Jackson and Irish Junior Champion Michael Kelly definitely worked hard for any success that they got. Small dace made up the bulk of anglers catches however on the lower pegs a few roach and hybrids bulked up competitor Padraig O’Riordan’s 2.28 kilogram haul while in mid section Andrius Simbelis concentrated on perch to record a 4.26 kilogram first day section win.

Match angler Gary Quayle displays a River Barrow dace.

Special mention must go to all the Naas & District Coarse Angling Club membership led by Paul McLaughlin and Padraig O’Riordan for their tremendous effort in planning and organising the Barrow Bonanza event, you would not believe the amount of work that is involved from canvassing sponsors to clearing bank side pegs. In so doing the club have showcased what is a wonderful and healthy riverine coarse fishery.

Today Sunday 23/08/2015 as I write the rain is teeming down and with little or no wind competitors will be settling down for another five hours concentrated fishing. Mark Leonard holds what could well be an unassailable lead however in match fishing you never know who could come up on the rails, so in short there is still a lot to play for on day two.

Competing at the Barrow Bonanza 2015 Coarse Angling Match, River Barrow, Co. Carlow, Ireland.

Top 10 weights posted on day one of the Barrow Bonanza 2015 Coarse Angling match fished on the Knockbeg and Maganey stretches between Carlow Town and Athy were as follows.

Mark Leonard 14.100 kg
Cathal Hughes 4.590
Andrius Simbelis 4.260
Kevin Hodson 4.080
Ollie Doyle 3.140
David Mc Neice 2.850
Christy Moore 2.770
Brendan Collins 2.710
Chris Moore 2.230
Padraig O’ Riordan 2.280

 

Barrow Bonanza Coarse Angling Competition, 22nd – 23rd August 2015.

Sunday, August 9th, 2015

Barrow Bonanza Coarse Angling Competition, 22 - 23 August 2015, Carlow Town Area

Naas and District Anglers are delighted to announce Ireland’s richest RIVER FESTIVAL. In association with Waterways Ireland we bring you the BARROW BONANZA, to be held on the 22nd and 23rd of August 2015 on stretches of the River Barrow close to Carlow Town (match stretches to be announced).

First prize is a guaranteed €1000.00.

Entry is €60.00 per angler and the event is limited to 50 anglers subdivided into 2 x 25 person sections rotated on day 2.

Based on full entry payout will be as follows:

  • €1000.00 first prize (guaranteed irrespective of entry).
  • €750.00 second prize.
  • €500.00 third prize.
  • €300.00 fourth prize.
  • €200.00 fifth prize.
  • 5 man sections paid out daily. ( €50.00 euro per section)

The winners will be decided on overall weight.

No dip No draw.

An optional super pool of €30.00 paid out evenly on day 1, day 2 and overall. (Pay out entry dependent)

Please book via PM or text or call numbers on poster.

VERY IMPORTANT as spaces are limited if you book in you are committing to the event and not turning up on the day or at short notice will affect anglers on the waiting list and impact on the prize pool. With the added sponsorship we expect this event to sell out so please don’t book unless you can come.

 

Coarse Fishing in Ireland: Exploring New Waters

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2015

Exploring new waters besides enabling one to progress as an angler can also be good fun. Yes for sure a lot of time, effort and money will be invested in an exercise which at first glance may not deliver much in return, however in the medium to long term the picture can become much more clear as all knowledge gained, either positive or negative, is good knowledge. On that basis one should get into the moment and appreciate that for all the planning which goes into a reconnaissance fishing session it could still be hit or miss, therefore by lowering ones expectations and just enjoying the time spent casting a line if fish materialise they become a bonus, either way you win.

The River Barrow, Co. Carlow, Ireland.

To date 2015 has been a year of exploration, generating much aesthetic satisfaction, networking opportunities and fishery information with little in the way of decent fish. That said, we only learn from adversity and to that end a lot of positive information has been gleaned which will be put to productive use in the months to come. Also, there have been some interesting encounters and observations along the way, in particular a couple of close encounters with pike, of which more later.

Coarse fishing in Ireland: Perch.

This season tench have been hard to come by, conversations with a number of experienced coarse anglers putting their scarcity down to a very cold spring epitomised by frosty mornings into late May. A session on a new water last weekend after old “tinca” resulted in another blank apart from small rudd and perch to float fished maggot/sweetcorn combinations. Tench were definitely present as both David and I observed our swim fizzing like crazy and our floats being bumped rather than pulled, however they were not taking. Conversation with a local angler confirmed that our approach was fine, it was just that the tench had not started playing ball this season for whatever reason.

Coarse fishing in Ireland: Rudd.

Were there positives from the trip, absolutely, it was a nice day out on an obviously productive water, David and I gained very useful advice from a couple of welcoming people and we know for certain that the fishery delivers specimen tench to eight pound. As Arnie would say, “I’ll be back”.

Coarse fishing in Ireland: Tackle and bait requirements.

Turning towards the River Barrow, a life span is too short a time period within which to learn all its secrets. To confuse things further this writer both coarse and game fishes so to maximise ones knowledge of the river involves a lot of disciplined thinking. Season 2015 so far has been about assessing the Barrow’s coarse fishing potential, utilising Google maps, asking questions and trialing different stretches. Returns have been predominantly small dace but that is not a bad thing, a pattern is emerging, the Barrow is a fine coarse fishery along its length but this quality is confined to certain stretches. To expand, based on my experience and observations the Barrow has untold “latent” potential as a mixed fishery, it just needs a visionary to unlock it.

Coarse fishing in Ireland: River Barrow, waiting for that bite.

With that aim in mind within the last month while coarse fishing the Barrow I’ve connected with two big pike in the process losing both due to lack of wire. The first encounter lasted about four minutes whence old esox ran up, down and across my swim before escaping, the second heaved my feeder rod over into a hoop while engulfing a hooked dace. While sitting on my seat box I’ve observed salmon jumping and tempted a few nice trout on the couple of occasions that I fly fished the streamy waters. Fishing is not just about catching big fish, it is also about putting oneself in the frame to catch big fish. One has to speculate to accumulate, the fruits of my efforts will be rewarded of that I am certain……….

 

River Barrow: Mick Lyons Memorial Coarse Fishing Competition 2015

Saturday, July 18th, 2015

The annual Mick Lyons Memorial Coarse Angling Competition 2015 for people with disabilities kick started the Bagnelstown Summer Festival in style last Friday 17/07/2015. The event is held on the River Barrow upstream of Bagnelstown, Co. Carlow on a section of towpath modified for wheelchair accessibility, the brain child of local keen angler Michael Lyons Snr, who was sadly deceased before he could see his idea become a reality. Today his son Michael aided by a host of volunteers ensures that this wonderful piece of social infrastructure is utilised as was intended while also celebrating the memory and traditions of his late father.

Micheal Lyons Jnr who runs the annual Mick Lyons Memorial Coarse Fishing match for people with disabilities, Bagnelstown, Co. Carlow, Ireland.

Blessed with bright sunshine tempered with an odd shower, well it is Ireland, 22 volunteers helped organise the eventual 45 competitors and their respective carers who traveled from far and wide to their respective pegs. Accents from Cork, Tipperary and Donegal filled the air, a gang from the Central Remedial Clinic, Dublin made their annual visit by train no less, they must have left early, as did competitors from the Ardeen (Wicklow) and Tullow (Carlow) Cheshire Homes. Smiling faces lined the bank, banter flowed and at 12 noon proceedings commenced.

The annual Mick Lyons Memorial Coarse Angling Competition 2015, Bagnelstown, Co. Carlow.

Held annually since 2002 the event is sponsored by many groups and organisations to include the Bagnelstown Summer Festival Committee, Bagnesltown Resource Centre, the Irish Wheelchair Association, Waterways Ireland and Access Printing. All competitors get a medal for taking part with trophies being awarded for first, second and third. A raffle completes the day and based on what yours truly witnessed everyone would appear to get a raffle prize too, there were so many the tow path resembled a cuddly toy factory.

Orla Keating, winner of the 2015 Mick Lyons Memorial Coarse Angling Competition 2015.

At lines up a clear winner emerged with eight year old Orla Keating fishing her socks off to take first prize with a fine catch of 35 dace, nudging last years winner Billy Black into a creditable second place. Billy for the record also weighed in with a grand haul of dace.

Billy Black fishing his way to second place in the annual Mick Lyons Memorial Coarse Angling Competition 2015.

Events such as the Mick Lyons Memorial are a celebration of inclusiveness that modern society can be proud of, the prize giving being testament. Micheal Lyons Jnr, his family and friends and members of the Bagnesltown Festival Committee to include chairman James Lakes awarded and shared out prizes while thanking all those who attended and donated so making the event a total success.

The Mick Lyons Memorial Coarse Angling Competition Winner 2015.

It only remained then to award young Orla Keating with the Mick Lyons Memorial Perpetual Cup for 2015 and most importantly her hard won trophy. Does not her smile say it all, God bless your vision Michael Lyons………

Fly Fishing in Ireland: Tail Water Trout

Saturday, June 20th, 2015

Line shot out turning over enabling team greenwell’s, a glory on the point covered by his batman spider on dropper, to enter the slacker eddy sandwiched between far bank and mid stream gut. Instinctively throwing an up stream mend I wasn’t expecting the savage take and leaping zig zagging yellow blur that captured all my senses over the ensuing twenty seconds. Pull leap, shuddering run leap, dive leap, into the fast water zzzzzzz line given, reposition myself down and sideways right, now back in control. For another couple of minutes fish and I played then safely over the rim now lying in the meshes, fat yellow bellied, black and red spotted, nestled a fine River Barrow trout running half to three quarters of a pound.

Wild brown trout from the River Barrow, Co. Carlow, Ireland.

Firmly hooked in the scissors applying wet hands I carefully extracted the greenwell’s glory, then facing trout’s head upstream cradled the fish until it revived, kicked and swam indignantly off. Gathering myself I waded towards the mid stream gut recast and instantly wallop I’m in again, this time not so lucky as trout and I parted after thirty seconds. Now most likely disturbed the fish holding pocket became silent, a few more casts and I moved on.

Fly fishing on the River Barrow, County Carlow, Ireland.

More noted for coarse fishing the River Barrow, especially in the streamy tail waters downstream of its weirs provides some quality wild trout fishing. Only picking at it over recent years, my experience wet fly fishing has been consistent catches of trout averaging half a pound, not many in any given session, usually a brace, but enough quality to make each trip worthwhile. Boat fishing I believe could up the ante, enabling more water and inaccessible places to be covered, of which more later.

Tail water below a weir, River Barrow, Ireland.

Fishing on until about one o’clock, hunger pangs took over directing yours truly to slowly wend my way bankside upstream towards ultimately the Step House Hotel in Borris, Co. Carlow to devour a bowl of chef Alan Foley’s scrumptious pumpkin soup topped with Parmesan shavings accompanied by a trio of home made bread, all washed down with a creamy pint of Uncle Arthur. Now that’s what I call fishing…………

Bream Catcher

Saturday, May 30th, 2015

Compensating for the strong north west breeze I cast my forty gram feeder slightly to the right in order to have it splash land right in front of me two thirds of the way across what is a wide section of the River Barrow, Ireland’s second longest waterway after the mighty River Shannon. Targeting bream, a size 16 hook baited with four red maggot comprised the business end of a two foot long fluorocarbon tail. Feeding with a mix of crumb, Sensas red magic additive, sweetcorn, hemp seed and 10% horse mix, it was not long before dace accompanied by a few brown trout entered the swim.

Coarse fishing in Ireland for bream on the River Barrow, Co. Carlow.

Regular feeding kept the silvers interested on what was a sunny but chilly day. Bites were not constant instead coming in short five/ten minute bursts of activity with gaps of up to fifteen/twenty minutes in between. Only having four hours fishing time due to a previous arrangement, it was in the last half hour that things got interesting,  a heavier than normal double knock quickening the senses. Now waiting expectantly a second double knock was met with a firm upward sweep  resulting in a nicely curved rod and a heavy kicking sensation.

Playing a River Barrow bream, coarse fishing Co. Carlow, Ireland.

The bream used its broad flank to kite backwards and forwards across the current, however not known for their fighting abilities the fish was quickly brought to the net whence the reason why this species is sought after became apparent. Burnished bronze in colour its large scales reflecting the sunlight, even though weighing not more than 2.5 lbs the bream looked impressive resting in the landing net, a quick use of the disgorger and away.

Unhooking a bream, River Barrow, Co. Carlow, Ireland.

With time for a couple more casts only, no sooner had my feeder rig touched bottom then a further double knock resulted in a repeat performance. A more spirited fight ended with a heavier bream running 3.5 lbs slipping over the landing net rim, a great end to what had been a busy four hour session……..