Well after what can only be described as a disastrous winter pike campaign which left a really sour taste in my mouth. Not only for the continuous and unrelenting strong winds but also having to watch the IFI yet again set their cruel death nets across the spawning bays on my favourite lake and one of the world’s best pike fisheries. Anyway that’s another story and it`s got to the time of year when my mind strays from the big loughs and pike and starts thinking about carp. Normally around paddy`s day I stop piken and start back carp fishing. As the water is still quite cold I would usually start on a water that has a high stock and is also shallow. These types of lakes normally get out of the blocks a bit quicker and can provide you with your first carp of the season and it’s a nice way to get your head fully back in the carp game. Although for me it`s not hard at this time of year, the smell of boilies is enough to make the pike a distant thought.
I would describe myself as equally both a carp angler and a pike angler but have many friends that have a mild or no interest in the either carp or pike angling. But are engrossed in the other. One of these such friends is Davey (AKA Edgey Dave). An avid carp angler who sometimes comes pike fishing with me. Anyway Davey calls me up and asks me to do a session on lyreen for a bit of a social as we had not fished together for a while so I agreed. Now lyreen is not my normal starter lake for the year, it is shallow and is a good winter water. Not like some I can think of that just completely shut down in the winter. But as I’ve indicated before i like to get a bend in the rod before I target some of the harder waters. But to be social I agreed to do a session there. After there was some confusion/accusations of sneakiness about the start date of the session I arrived on the Monday and Davey arrived on the Wednesday. There are always white lies/tactical manoeuvres/misdirection /red herring and generally throwing people off the scent. Which creates a high level of mistrust when it comes to arrival days/times and also departures. You can only stay in a swim for 4 days before you have to move which adds another dimension to the tactics. But after you get to know the characters it can be quite amusing. The four day rule was brought in so the Bank Side Tramps like me self could not hold swims too long and to give the Weekend Warriors a chance.
On the Monday (Paddy’s day) I arrived to find the lake empty so preceded to set up in swim 7 as it`s never a bad bet. I knew swim 8 or Johns swim had been fishing well but had not done any good for me the previous year so I decided to stay away. Swim 7 is sort of the middle of the lake on your left the deeper water starts and on your right the shallower water starts and there is a lily bed in the margin. Straight in front there is an island that seems to always hold fish, so it`s a good ambush spot if the fish are moving from the deep water to the shallow. As I was setting up I tried to remember what tactics worked for me this time last year. I could not settle on one so decided to try a few different things starting with Sticky Baits Krill white pop ups and bottom baits and giving each tactic 24 hours before changing and trying something else to see what was working. The first night pasted without any action so the next night I tried what I call a mini zig on one rod, which is a foot long zig rig and a pop up with maggots on the hook on the other rod. I`d heard that the maggots had been working well so I had bought some that day and had poured some krill liquid on them and fished the rig with a small PVA bag of krill pellet. The second morning came and i`d still not had anything on the mat. At this point Davey arrived and went into swim 8 beside me and after a few more accusations of slyness regarding the start time of the proposed session. We settled down to talk about tactics and what was working. Davey was adamant that I should be on the maggot rings on the deck.( Ie maggots on their own and not in conduction with a pop up). He`s been the top rod on lyreen for the last three years so I decided to take his advice.
New rigs would have to be made and I was not sure that I had any maggot rings to make them. I rooted around my tackle box and finally unearthed in the mess that is my tackle box a few maggot rings or clips as some people call them. It`s amazing the stuff you`ll find in there and you carry around “just in case”. I think it was probably 05 or 06 since I last used maggots rings.. Normally the use of maggots is a strict NO-NO on most waters, well on the hook anyway. As it will result in a night of beeps ending in your maggots gone and rig rendered useless by small silver fish. But Lyreen fishery is one water you can get away with it, well for now you can, when the water heats up the eels and small carp will make the tactic only advisable during the day or you`ll end up with bags under your eyes, tired and generally bad company after a sleepless night and eel slime. In saying that there was a 4.11lbs eel caught last year from the lake. Not the target species but a nice fish all the same.
The rigs I made where quite basic to be honest the clip was just tied on to the rig material and then a knotless knot on to a size 6 hook. The rig itself was about 10 inchs. So not rocket science. After putting the maggots on I put a rubber maggot on just in case the clip opened and the fake one would hold them on. All rods where then put onto this tactic with just a small PVA bag of krill pellet. I like to put a small bag on not only for the free offerings but I think it helps with the presentation of the rig. The weight of the bag slinging forward and helping the rig straighten and not tangle on the cast. Not so much a problem when casting a boilie but a pop up can be a disaster, when the pop up weight can swing and cause a tangle that you’re not aware of til the next day or recast. Rendering the time in between a write off.
I fished one rod just in front of the island with no other free offerings apart from the krill pellet in the bag as it was my first carp session of the year I’d forgot to buy a spomb or throwing stick. I`d left all that type of stuff in the lock up myself and Gordon use for the hire tackle for our company (Sixtysixwild) in France the Nov before. I was just thinking about pike fishing and what I’d need for that before I left. Anyway the other rod I decided to fish up the margin. Which I was able to just walk up to and bait up by hand. I love this type of fishing easy, precise and effective. Rebaiting and replacing a rod after a capture can be also done with minimal disturbance and effort. So on this rod I was able to apply a lot of maggots in a small area and then just drop the rod in.
Davey fished the same way as he`d advised me to do and we settled in for the night. The night passed again without any action and in the morning after some breakfast I decided to nip home to get some provisions. I gave it to 11 o clock and then said to Davey “right I’m going to go for it , I’ll see you in a few hours”. I then walked up to reel in the rods and picked the margin rod up first. It felt stuck in something straight away and I thought that I’d just wasted a night with that rod. I gave it a bit more pressure and then I felt a knock. Then I was thinking that I’d picked up a small one which happens when using the maggots. The closer the fish got I realised that it was not a small one but quite a big one. There is one fish in lyreen renowned for its ability to sit motionless for hours after been hooked sometimes only giving one beep or none at all. She`s also not renowned for fighting very well at least when she`s full of spawn and I’d a good feeling that it was her at the other end of my line. I called Davey to do the honours with the net; he arrived looking baffled and bemused as to what had just gone on. Then quickly grabbed the net and placed it in the water a few seconds after my prize was in there. Two heads then peered over the net to see if we could ID the fish. We quickly came to the same conclusion that it was her. It was Big Hole. My first run of the year and it was the biggest fish in the country and it looked big. I knew it had been out at 38.8lbs earlier in the year in January so I was quite confident that it would be my PB from lyreen. I`d had her years ago at 33.6lbs which was a top weight or near top weight for her before I moved to France in 08. And then last year I missed out on getting her before she spawned and had her shortly afterwards at 33.10lbs.
Scales, sling where zeroed the mat placed and a strong branch was chosen to place a rope which the scales would be hung from. It`s my experience that a man can have shaky hands in these situations and this can lead to the needle bouncing around and a clear reading of the weight can be hard to pin point. A strong branch does not suffer the cold or emotions so it was chosen for the job and it did it well. 39.4lbs the needle rested on and we both agreed on it, a new Lyreen PB for me and what I’d failed to do in three months last year i`d accomplished in three days this year. But as we all know this is fishing.
The trip home for provisions was suddenly put on hold, rigs where redone and replaced and the kettle was put on. I had two nights left in the swim before I had to move and I’d had to make the most of it. Edgey Dave was hot on my trail and breeding down my neck my days were numbered. Lyreen can be a slow water sometimes and then all of a sudden it can just switch on and pay out like a poker machine and today was one of them days, about 2 hours later the rod on the island spun off. This time it was clear I had a fight on my hands. It was a much stronger fish and it also felt heavy. After about five minutes I got a look at her and confirmed that it was big. A few minutes later I got another look and I had a good feeling it was a fish called the long mirror. As it got closer it made a run for the front of the swim and got caught in the line of the captive back lead. In a rooky mistake I’d forgot to pull the line in normally I’d just lean down and when I got a chance I’d pull the back lead in. Now I had myself a mess, one that was to get worse as It made another run in front of the swim and caught the back lead line and the main line of the other rod. Nervous monuments in sued while I tried to fight the fish and work out the best way of negotiating the mess I was in and land the fish. The fish was not helping either making massive runs left and right. I thought to myself it`ll be a miracle if I land this. The first back lead and line was now dangling 7 or 8 feet out of the water wrapped around the main line and the other ones was under the water. Eventually she started to tire and i steered her towards the net and her went in first time. I looked into the net and seen that it was in fact The Long Mirror and she looked heavy also. That much I was able to work out what I could not work out was the mess of lines that was now looking back up at me from the water. It took me about five minutes to sort out the tangle and get the fish out of the water and onto the mat. Davey was summonsed again to be my witness and she weighed in at 33.6lbs a new top weight for her. Happy days a brace of 30`s in a few hours.
There was no more action that day despite me sitting in the bivvy in a state of cat like readiness. A watched kettle and all that. The night also passed without a beep on either mine or Davey’s rods and I thought that was that ,until 10 in the morning I had a another run from the island again a good fish and after another good fight she was in the net and pushed the needle around to 27.2lbs. I knew the fish from years ago i`d had it at 17 or 18lbs in the early days of Lyreen. But I did not remember seeing it anytime recently. It later caused some confusion between the members of Lyreen as to the name of this fish. It was then concluded that it did not have a name.
The last night of my permitted four nights was a blank and then came the inevitable question “what time are you moving?”. It was time to go, so I swapped swims with Davey and set up on Johns swim. Johns swim had not been good to me for some time now so I was not optimistic about my chances. After getting set up I decided to do the provisions run I had postponed a few days earlier. On my return I learned that Davey was only in the swim an hour and had 2 fish a 23lbs and a 24.8lbs.
The maggots doing the damage again. Over the next four nights he had 9 runs and landed 7 fish including 5 x 20`s to 25.8lbs. After Davey`s four nights where up Mick jumped into the swim and had his first Maynooth fish of 23.8lbs and the next morning i was awoken to photo and see “big hole” on the bank again at 38.8lbs this time, she likes her food, which was a lyreen PB for him also. Mick followed on with another two 20`s and went home a happy man with a modified view of maggot fishing for carp. Then it was Joseph`s turn and he in turn landed “the big bling” at 27.8lbs another lyreen PB. Swim 7 was alive and no other swim on the lake was fishing at all. Dave Layton the master of misdirection and deception appeared from the woodwork early on the Monday morning after announcing that he was to arrive on the Tuesday. This man is not to be trusted, his ungodly moon o clock swim moves are just not fair to the rest of the sane patrons of lyreen. He then proceeded to sneaked into swim 7 just like the early morning swim thieving slime ball he is. And that night I was putting the net under “the grey” at 30.8lbs for him. Not a bad start to his year too. Although it was hard for me to move from swim 7 knowing it was the going swim but in hindsight I suppose it`s better this way as instead of me sitting there for two weeks looking like the cat that got the cream. There were 5 happy faces leaving the lake.