Dark skies and wintry showers around Foxford this morning. The river is high, 1.7m and rising at Ballylahan bridge. The Loughs are also well up which makes access difficult, that’s if one did want to go fishing, not this morning.
A weekend away with the club
I have mentioned in the past that I am involved in a little angling club here in Foxford. The Foxford angling club is a small club that is made up of like-minded people who enjoy angling and all it brings to our lives. We meet regularly, once a month and discuss all things angling. The agenda ranges from catching fish to drinking pints and saving the planet. We plan a club calendar for each season and try to extend this into the winter months. Club events throughout the game angling season generally revolve around the Loughs and our trout angling competitions. In winter we must think outside the box a little. In the past we have had beach angling days, Pike competitions, fly tying and trips to put and take fisheries to fish for stocked trout. Of all these activities the weekend away to one of the stocked fisheries has always been the highlight.
Most of the guys who go on the trip are seasoned game anglers who throughout the season can be found on any of the big trout loughs like Conn, Mask, Corrib, Sheelin, fishing for wild brownies or on the Moy after salmon. You might well ask why would they bother traveling to a put and take fishery to fish for stocked trout. It’s a fairly simple answer “there’s more to fishing than catching fish”. This is a club activity and we do it as a group, nobody really cares whether they catch a fish or not and any fish that are caught are released unharmed. We have a fun competition and a little prize giving ceremony for a cup that has no huge monetary value, its all about friendship and camaraderie.
Thus, last weekend we headed for the Laois angling center in Portlaoise. This was not our first year to go to Laois. We have been there on a few occasions and have always been treated very well by “Johno” and his family. This year was no different and on arrival we were greeted by Johno who chatted about everything from the game season gone, the prospects of the season ahead, his own fishery and his plans for it to the price of Christmas trees. He is a gentleman and it is always a pleasure to meet up with him.
The fishery itself is well managed and a pleasure to fish. I would highly recommend it to anyone wishing to practice fly fishing and hone their fish catching skills. We do know that stocked trout are a little easier caught than wild fish but even this group of seasoned anglers were very happy with the fishing. Hard fighting and wise the Laois trout were not giving themselves up easily. We had a cold and wet start on Saturday morning and by lunchtime there was a bit of head scratching, my own included. No one was “bagging up” and a lot of the usual tactics were not giving great results. Johno came to the rescue with recommendations of a few fly patterns and as the sun broke through the clouds in the afternoon there was a few happier looking anglers moving around the fishery.
We fished until dark and again were joined by Johno in the angling centre where he made coffee and tea for us before we departed for our hotel and all-important dinner. A huge benefit to us as a group of anglers away from home who had plans to fish the following day was that he had a roaring fire lit in the stove and told us to leave our wet gear there to dry for the night. It’s the little things that matter but it takes someone with experience to know what the little important things are. We departed for our hotel refreshed and happy.
We stayed at the Racket Hall hotel, warm, comfortable, and good food. We were good boys, had a nice meal, our little prize giving and I believe some of the lads had a glass of sherry before we retired early. That’s my story and funnily enough I have twelve others who will back me up with exactly the same wording 😊.
The following morning, we were back to the Laois angling Centre where again the service and hospitality was second to none. The weather was a lot better with no rain, although the wind was cold. The big difference for us today was that we had a suss on the fishing and were straight into action. I stood talking for a while and by the time I got to the lake shore several of our group had already caught fish. We did not count and I cannot say how many trout we caught but we all agreed there must be a huge stock of fish in there. As the day moved on some of the group headed for home early because of work commitments, some of us stayed until dark, drank coffee and chatted about fishing. Overall, it was a very enjoyable weekend and something that makes the club stronger. I am a firm believer that if our sport is to survive and thrive clubs are vital and the only way to keep a club going is to be active and have active members.
The Laois angling center can be contacted here http://www.facebook.com/laoisangling.centre/