Dermot Ogle is one of Ireland’s top pikers. He has featured in angling publications like Irish Angler and UK magazine Pike and Predators. He enjoys chasing all species but has a special love for pike. Dermot has just moved to the UK so is opening a new chapter in his angling. Here is Dermots interview….
Me: How did fishing start off for you Dermot?
DO: There was a small trout river at the edge of my family’s lands and my earliest memories of fishing was when my father brought be along to see if we could catch a fish. More out of being nagged to death then a genuine urge to catch to go fishing I’m sure. However, he agreed to bring me down to the river to try to catch a trout. He wasn’t much of a fisherman himself, but he has a good understanding of the natural world, which of course is half the battle when it comes to catching wild creatures. We hadn’t much in the way of tackle, and I don’t remember if we caught much but my imagination was fired up just imagining the whole new world that existed beneath the surface. Our approach was primitive to say the least; we did however eventually manage to catch fish despite me testing my father’s patience to the limit.
One session that comes easily to mind was wading in the river with my dad with our trouser legs rolled up, a bamboo pole for a rod, a short length of line tied directly to a crude old fashioned hook (that I haven’t seen the likes of since) and a strip of roofing lead pinched on for weight. The target species was eel and the technique was simplicity itself and really appealing to a young and budding angler as I was all those years ago. It involved dangling a baited hook in our case a worm beneath the water level along the face of an old stone support wall. We systematically presented the worm at each and every hole in the stone wall until an eel eventually emerged tentatively and cautiously from its stony home to avail of the convenient snack that was dangling outside its living room. I watched in total amazement as the eel retreated backwards into the stone wall with our worm now firmly in it’s mouth. A matter of seconds later and we had that eel on the bank. I’m certain my father was as pleased as I was that the ‘dangling’ produced an eel. The excitement and wonderment I felt at the sight of my first eel was enough to turn me into a life long angler, it was tough to shake the fishing bug from then on.
Me: Can you tell us how your fascination with pike began?
DO: I’m not 100% sure when I first encountered pike and I don’t really remember my first one. But, I had a few Salmon fishing uncles and as I listened to the fishing stories they shared between themselves, the stories I found the most fascinating were the stories of these giant marauding monsters that actually ate salmon, had hundreds of teeth, and could grow to enormous proportions. Now, that’s a fish I’d want to catch!
I do however remember certain catches that would have planted the seeds for a life long consuming passion though.
One particular tale goes like this; My cousin Kenneth and I had been perch fishing with worms on the river Suck near poolboy, between the ‘burnhouse’ and Ballinasloe town. The perch were in form this day and we were two of the most content youngsters in the country that afternoon doing what young lads should be doing on summer holidays. Suddenly and very unexpectedly Kenneth’s worm was grabbed by a ‘monster’ pike. This thing was just as described by my uncles in their stories, long, mean, green and fought like a tiger and I suppose when you’re a ten or twelve year old lad and fishing with a light perch rod it amplified the whole experience to a large degree. So, by the time it came to getting this fish on the bank we were both shaking like two wet spaniels in December. Still, we watched as this pike of around twelve pounds splashed and trashed in the margins in front of us not really knowing how we were going to land it. But, by God we were going to, no matter what it took. Now attached to our biggest fish of our angling careers and ‘needing’ this capture to have a monster fish to contribute to our uncle’s fishing stories. In I jumped, up to my waste in stinking river Suck mud and filthy water, but that pike was not getting away. Somehow, I managed to get a ‘forklift’ hold on it and heave it up onto the bank, we couldn’t believe our eyes. To us it was huge, the biggest fish I’d ever seen and I guess at that moment, I knew I wanted the excitement and thrill of meeting Esox again.
Me: You also love your perch and coarse fishing, could you tell us of a favorite days fishing for these?
DO: I guess when it comes down to it, I’d class myself as an all-round angler, at certain times of my angling life I’ve pursued different species with as much enthusiasm as I do my pike fishing these days. I’ve always enjoyed the variety that fishing for different species has to offer and I believe that by being a good all rounder, will in turn stand to you when it comes to targeting other species. As a junior angler I partook in international coarse angling events that were held back in the 80’s along the rivers Shannon and Suck and I did alright at them too. I dabbled in the Irish Carp scene for a while, but that demanded more time than I could possibly commit, I always enjoyed my coarse angling for Irish bream and Tench. I even took fly fishing for trout very seriously for a few seasons. But, the convenience of predator fishing is just so appealing. The fact that Irish pike and perch are so abundant and widespread in Ireland was a big draw. It meant that all I had to do was hitch up a boat and pick a water to drop it into. Perch are a favourite of mine though, and during the summer when the water temperature get too warm for pike fishing, a day in shorts drop shotting and jigging for perch can easily yield a couple of hundred stripies in a days fishing.
Me: What have been your most memorable pike captures?
DO: Believe it or not, that’s a very tough question, it would be easy to say that it’s the capture of my personal best pike which is 32.5 lbs, but for me, there is much more to pike fishing than just catching big pike. I’m not really a specimen hunter although that’s not to say I don’t enjoy catching big pike, I do. But, for me it’s the whole experience, who you’re with, the surroundings and all of the circumstances surrounding the capture.
Strangely enough though, some of my more memorable captures have been when I’ve been fishing solo and I’m more inclined theses days to remember sessions rather than individual captures. For the purpose of this interview I’ll draw on some more recent captures.
Without doubt I find the behaviour of pike the most fascinating of all of our fresh water species. The way they hunt their prey down, the merciless attacks, the flaring gills the lighting speed acceleration. Such a fish demands all our respect and few tactics get to show the true potential of this top end sporting fish like fly fishing with floating lines and big streamers. A few years back I was sitting at home wondering how I was going to kill a few hours, the weather forecast wasn’t great and the pike fishing hadn’t been great the previous sessions, so getting motivated to get out afloat for a few hours wasn’t easy. I really didn’t fancy casting lures and deadbaits weren’t an option I was at all interested in. I had spent a couple of hours at the tying vice during the week and had a few new pike streamers I wanted to get wet. But, being divided between Pike and perch I opted to bring the perch gear along and play the odds depending on the conditions. The day started off well enough and I was enjoying catching well with the ‘dropshot’ for perch, but the weather turned for the worse and I could sit in the pouring rain no longer. I set up the pike fly rod and positioned the boat along a drop off and slowly ‘pulsed’ a streamer along the front of a pottomegeton bed. After just a couple of pauses my streamer was taken by a jack pike much to my satisfaction, this was beginning to be a promising day. I continued the drift along the weedfront. When a substantial pike inhaled my streamer, with my 10 weight fly rod bent to breaking point by a prime early summer pike of 20 pounds, I easily chinned it into the boat and removed the single hook from the corner of its mouth. It was a welcome reward for fishing in such wet conditions. After returning that fish I continued the drift and yet again after just two or three casts another substantial fish hit my fly, a good fish of around sixteen pounds or so. No more than twenty minutes later I was bent into yet another fantastically conditioned fish of a similar size. This was going from a good day to a great day and all the while I was getting wetter and wetter but happier and happier. The sport was constant and at times hectic, the session progressed from a great day to a ‘red letter day’. The final tally was a handful of perch while dropshotting, two superb pike over 20 pounds three other fish over mid double and a load of jack pike. All on streamers tied by my own hand, ‘Satisfaction factor’ a big TEN, I’ve had better days but I’ve not had more memorable ones.
Me: Do you prefer lures or bait for pike?
DO: That’s simple, I’m a lure man pure and simple. My attraction to pike fishing is the fast paced and adrenaline pumping action you get from casting lures to pike. All the hits, bangs and follows all add to the days experience. I just don’t get the same thrill from a catching pike on deadbaits these days. Although it seems as I get older I’ve become less tolerant of some of the more extreme weather we get during the winter and at times being out in a boat in ice cold squalls casting lures is far less appealing than it use to be. So, when the weather is evil, I tend to try to find some shelter on dry land with the deadbaits, that’s a bit of a last resort though. It’s lures or fly when ever or where ever I can.
Me: You are moving to England this week, where do you hope to fish over there?
DO: Yes Paddy, at the time of writing I’m in my new home in Leicestershire in the English midlands.
It’s funny, but many people I meet while out and about in England seem curious as to why an Irish man would choose to live and fish in England given that Ireland has such a reputation for fishing. But, I think that’s a bit of a romantic notion. Ireland has it’s problems, not least from the sustained and relentless miss-management of Irish fisheries at the hands of the Irish fisheries board. The fishing potential of the English midlands is a bit of a well kept secret in my opinion. I live within walking distance of a prime stretch of the grand union canal and the river Soar. The area is rich with commercial fisheries and gravel pits and there are dozens of reservoirs within an hour’s drive all of which offer quality fishing all be it at a price. A price I’m more than happy to pay though as long as ‘gill nets’ and ‘electro fishing’ aren’t the prime tools of the fisheries management agency.
I’d consider myself an allrounder and in that regard I find Ireland a little restrictive in terms of targetable species. Here in the UK, fish like Grayling, Barbel, Chub, Zander, Catfish, and large carp are abundant and I fully intend to get hooks into each species in time.
Me: You have also fished quite a bit in Sweden, whats the fishing experience like over there?
DO: I love Sweden, as a predator angler it’s a very challenging place to fish and the Swedes are ‘Pike mad’ so I fit in well.
I’ve been going to Västervik on Sweden’s Baltic coast for a few years now and I simply love it. However, I wouldn’t say that it’s better than Ireland, it just has a lot more fish and they’re a little more suicidal but generally the size is a little smaller and somewhat uniformed.
For a lure of fly man though, it can be crazy and catches of thirty or forty ‘pikes’ in a day is very achievable on all sort of presentations and lure types. I’ll be trying a new area of the Swedish Baltic next week as a group with my sponsors (Iron Claw) that promises to produce some quality fish. We’re testing some products from the new range which I’m fairly excited about.
I’ll definitely continue to make trips to Sweden for my pike fix I can’t seem to stay away from the place.
Me: Well Dermot, I’ll let you got on with the unpacking mate and hope you have great fishing in 2014 in your new Home.
DO: Thanks Paddy talk soon…