It has been a reasonably dry week in Foxford and water levels are falling. The river is now well bellow 1m at Ballylahan bridge. If this weather continues we will soon start to get an idea of what numbers of fish are in the spawning streams. The dry frosty weather is also nice for beach fishing so we will soon get out for a few sessions. This week saw the passing of the former East Mayo Anglers water keeper Martin Howley. Martin will have been well known to a lot of anglers who have fished the Moy and was a fair and diligent waterkeeper, may he rest in Peace.
In search of a Monster
Of all the Loughs I have fished I think Lough Cullen is my favourite. For me it is a “fishy” Lough, Shallows, gravel, stones, rocks, boulders, Islands, Points, little bays, everywhere. It has them all and on the day when its “Onn” one cannot go wrong. All this said it must be the moodiest Lough I know and, on many occasions, I have left it scratching my head. The fish seem to disappear and someone who has not seen it on a good day would swear its empty. On most Loughs you will get a rise or a splash to your flies at some point during the day, if Cullen is “off” you are getting nothing.
Both Conn and Cullen attract some serious Pike anglers from overseas, there is obviously a reason for this. A while back I got chatting with one of these guys and he let me in on the secret, well its not really a secret and apparently it has been well known in “Pike circles” for a long time. Both Conn and Cullin hold stocks of monster Pike. As I have been reporting, we have been dibbling with Pike angling and having some success with the small guys, time to try for a monster.
Along with a friend we set sail on board High Hopes. It was a calm and cool morning, one of those mornings that make you glad you put the thermal suit on. It did not freeze the night before but it was close. We met up at 10am and none of us needed convincing that a coffee before we head off would be a good idea. 11 am and we had the gear in the boat, Life jackets on and ready to go. Our first port of call was a little bay that is hidden away in a corner, a real pike bay. It is surrounded by rushes and has a lot of weeds. This is not a bay that would be fished regularly and is Just the sort of place where a monster pike would hang out. Three dead baits and an assortment of Lures were quickly put to work. I was using a multiplier reel which im reliably told (By the man that sells them) are the best for Jerk baiting for Pike. It made life interesting on board as several of my attempts to launch huge monster pike catching lures failed miserably. Those who have used a multiplier reel will know that until things are fine-tuned there is a chance of “Overrun” and “Backlash” This is where the spool of the reel revolves faster than the line is leaving it and basically the lot jams up very suddenly. The result when this happens while launching a large bait with force is that the large bait returns (Backlash) at an equal or perhaps greater force. You are getting the picture now and I wasn’t the most popular man on board when it happened for the third time. The pike were not playing ball either so it was off to the next bay. This was the place we all agreed that should produce something and it did.
We trolled our way cautiously into the bay. We all know the Lough well but with the high-water levels there are a lot of rocks just sub surface and a good number of the marker pins (Steel rods with an orange marker on them) are also submerged. As we approached a stream Billys rod doubled and we know straight way it was a fish, we knew because Billy screamed “I’ve got a fish, it’s a fish.” I do not know what else he was expecting but yes it was a fish. A nice Pike of about ten pounds had taken his Savage Lure. A lively battle both in the water and in the boat but we got it returned safely. At this stage we were getting cold and decided to make our way up the stream to where we could fish from the bank, have a hot drink, and stretch our legs.
This was a good call and after an hour or so we were all ready to resume the hunt for the Monster. We headed back out into the bay and set our dead baits in the slack water at the edge of the flow from the river. This is where we figured a Pike may lie in wait to ambush anything coming out of the river. We were not wrong and within half an hour Billys float was dancing on the water. He struck early to avoid hooking the fish too deep. Immediately his rod doubled and the reel screamed, we looked at each other with smiles, this could be her. Five minutes of a good scrap told the story. The pike flittered along the surface and we got our first proper look at it, a good fish but not a monster. A few minutes later we had it laid out on a wet towel on the bottom of the boat, we did not weigh it but it measured 95cm. A few more casts and the light was starting to fail, time to head back. We did not catch the monster but we all agreed that another hour would have been nice, that’s always a sign that an enjoyable day has been had. We will be back on either Conn or Cullin soon but P.J and I tried something different this week, we will report here next Friday.