Dan O’Kelly is one of the best carp men out there. Pushing the boundaries with his Good friend Gordon Goodwin, they are catching monster carp from totally wild waters in France.
Dan has been around angling a long time and has been consistently catching fish wherever he goes. His first bass was 11.8lb so luckiness just follows some anglers. He has caught carp from all over Ireland and has many monster pike to his name, we’re glad to be having a chat with him so here we go…..
Me: How did you start fishing?
DO’K: To be honest I don’t remember the first time I went fishing i was 5 at the time. I get reminded every Christmas by my uncle Martin that it was himself and my father that brought us to blessinton for our first fishing trip. He remarks “look what i started” .I not sure if we caught anything. But apart from that my father Sean brought us fishing most weekends as kids. He did a range of fishing so we ( myself and my brothers ciaran and Damien) would have been exposed to a lot different types of fishing. Trout pike and sea fishing. Also growing up in tallaght casting distance from the dodder also helped. Many’s a summers day was spent down the dodder. The 65 bus to blesso helped too.
Me: Growing up in Dublin, when did you start travelling outside Dublin for the fishing?
DO’K: As just mentioned the father would have had us up and down the country with the grey stones angling club doing competitions. Plus yearly trips to mayo for summer holidays. Trout fishing would have seen us all over the place too and pike fishing in blesso. But on my own steam it would have been when I got my first car when I was twenty that’s when the madness started and has not stopped. Probably the best thing I ever did in my life was to get a car. It opened up so much for me. Every weekend I was in different parts of the country.
Me: How did carping start for you and tell us about your first carp?
DO’K: Well to be honest it sorted of started and stopped and started again. It started when I was living in renalagh when I was twenty. One day ciaran came bursting into the house saying that he had found a pond that was full of carp. We went to the shop and bought two sliced pans and went around to this pond. We then covered the pond with bits of bread and every bit of bread had about 30 to 50 fingerling carp sucking on it. Although fishing was not allowed it happened and not long after that on my way to work one day I borrowed a rod off ciaran who was fishing there and on the second cast the float just settled and then slid under and I landed my first carp a mirror of 5.6lbs. I then jumped on my bike and went to work much to the disgust of my brother. We did not know of many places that had carp and just decided that carp fishing was just not worth getting into it was not until 99 that I heard about galmonstown and I started there and it was all down hill after that. My bream and tench fishing went to the side as quest for big carp took over.
Me: Can you tell us a bit about the history of Maynooth
DO’K: My first recollection of Maynooth was seeing a stall in the angling expo in swords which had pictures of the lake been dug after that I remember catching fish in decoy that where sold to Maynooth. 16 low doubles I think it was and loads of small stuff. Then I heard that a syndicate was set up. I did not have much interest as I had already caught all fish that when in there in the first place. Then stories of big French fish started to surface. Which was a different story and caught my interest. Anyway it was December 03 when a delivery of fish arrived from France. Maynooth was supposed to get 120 fish of certain sizes but 256 fish arrived. The only think I can think of was that the fish farmer did not have the sizes of fish he promised and made up the poundage in smaller fish. Although there was a lot of big fish to 33.8lbs but just not as many as there was supposed to be. Anyway this amount of fish coupled with the amount of decoy fish and the Roscrea fish that where already in the 6.5 acre lake led to the inevitable and fish died. I’m not saying that overcrowding was the only reason for fish dying but it was a factor. Nature has a way of always balancing things. Now I think the lake is at it right stock level with about 90 to 100 specimen fish. Around about 15 fish per acre in right for this type of fishery and it shows with fish hitting 40lbs.
Me: You then went to France, living there during the main carping seasons and returning to Ireland for the piking in the Winter, Can you tells us about your French travels?
DO’K: well the first time i went to france was in 02 to a commerical lake which blow me away. on the way to the supermarket we passed over the river mayenne which was heart stopping and light bulb turned on in my head.i fished it two years later and that was the start of my exploring around france. i got offered a job in 05 to work on commercial lake in the limoges area. which quite naively i jumped on it turned to out be an absolute disaster and only lasted 3 months, but was a good time with my mate the late John mcdonnel. the other two good thing`s that happened is i got to known Andy and Tracey at etang de brigueuil but more importantly i got a taste for france. In 07 Andy and Tracey offered me a job as a bailiff on brigueuil. i started there in 08. i finished there in 012. it was great working on a fishery watching the fish grow , building your experince and understanding of the fish the anglers and the business and meeting new anglers from all over europe.i used my time off and two months at the end of each season to explore the public waters around france. there is so much to explore and i love fishing new waters and cracking them.
Me: What makes a good carper?
DO’K: patience and more patience but not to much patience. I think knowing when to move or change tactic is key in carp angling. trusting a tactic too long or not trusting it long enough can be the difference in catching or not. a good angler should take the time to get to know the biomass of the water their fishing. they should get to know the fish and their movements ( not the going swim ) and of course not be afraid to be different and never be to arrogant not to listen to others.
Me: Do you see any new fisheries being developed in Ireland in the future?
DO’K: Of course yes, there is always stuff going on. but as for each one that comes along one disappears for a few reasons the main been otters. so i think it`s come to the time where anglers should pick their waters responsibly and not the auld shallow small waters which is just a buffet for the otters and a death sentence for the carp. unless you can built an electric fence which are not flawless either and are open to human error , power failures , sabotage and nature (ie tree`s falling down leafs building up on them , grass growing and shorting the fence etc.) the best advice i can give people is to look at deeper waters where the carp have a better chance of evading the otter. plus i`ll also add that just because you spend money on something it doesn`t not give you the right to destroy anything that gets in it`s way. you do have the right / responsibility to pick your waters better.
Me: You had a very near-miss out fishing recently, can you tell us about that?
DO’K: It was not that bad and it was my rods that nearly got it when a tree blew over and landed just beside them. always a threat when your out fishing.
Me: Most surreal moment out fishing?
DO’K: It think it would have to be the night i was piken one November and the northern lights where showing. i had 5 runs that night each run was a hour and a half from the last one and each time the northern lights where showing stronger. the last run was at 3 in the morning and sky was just full then it was like a big wall of red and green. it was the first time i`d seen them and five fish in a night to 19lbs was also strange.
Me: You have set up Sixtysixwild, a carp company specialising in wild french carp. you and Gordan offer an amazing service and exceptional value for money. Can you tell us about Sixtysixwild, what services you offer and how it came about?
DO’K: Sixtysixwild is the brain child of Gordon, Sixtysix is 66lb which is 30kgs, the big target for all European anglers and the wild is that we only fish wild public waters. We offer a guided package on public waters for anglers wanting to take the leap from commercials or for anglers that just want to jump straight in and tackle the big waters. The fact that you fly straight in and we pick you up from the airport and have the bivvy’s/tackle/licences waiting for you. This helps with anglers that are time restricted and don’t want to spend hours/days on ferries and roads. Basically we’ve pooled our knowledge of the years we have spent driving around France fishing public waters. We’ve collectively clocked up a lot of blanks and successful sessions. But there is no better reward in hooking and landing these big wild fish from big wild waters.
Me: Whats your dream capture?
DO’K: i think i`ve already had my dream capture in carp fishing a 64lbs from a public water that i found knowing nothing about it and getting the lake record after fishing it for a few years. i may never beat it but i`ll enjoy trying. but my all time dream capture would be a 40lbs plus pike from one of the Western loughs.
Me: Dan its been a great pleasure talking to you, thanks for your time
DO’K: No problem Paddy