Tomasz Kurman is one of Irelands top fishing guides. Tomi specializes in large ferox trout, and has been at the forefront of ferox fishing in Ireland since he arrived in Ireland ten years ago. A real fishing fanatic, he has guided many guests to the fish of a lifetime, so now over to Tomi for his interview…
Me: Hi Tomi, where did you grow up and what was your introduction to fishing?
TK: Hello Paddy, I grew up in Poland, and I was enjoying fishing with my father from the age of 3 or 4… My father passed all his passion to me, a kid who loved it so much, that he couldn’t sleep night before a fishing trip.
I was really turned and everything in my life was about fish- fishing and fishkeeping. When I was 10, I was chosen by my local club to represent the Club on the Junior Inter Club Comp. By catching 312 fish in 3 hours I won my first angling competition! Then the new part of my fishing hobby started and I really enjoyed this buzz of competition fishing. Since then on nearly every weekend I took apart in competitions on all levels, from Club to National Champs. At a later stage somehow I was able to reconcile competitions, work in the tackle shop and extramural studies. It wasn’t easy but surely I couldn’t give up my fishing!
Me: Can you tell us about your first fishing experiences in Ireland?
TK: I was seriously confused with all the fishing choices, Ireland and especially Galway had to offer. I arrived in Galway, and didn’t knew where to start- sea with it’s all, only theoretically known species! Rivers with all salmon and trout, lakes full of trout, pike and all coarse fish and a very mysterious fish- Ferox Trout…
At the time (10 years ago), I didn’t own a boat so I was practically tied to the banks, but that didn’t stop me from catching some great fish in Irish waters. I remember well, first water I fished. It was Ballyquirke lake, few miles from Galway. I had some great coarse and pike fishing there. With time I tried every kind of fishing available locally and I sticked with predator fishing mostly in fresh water for pike, trout, ferox, salmon and perch. From time to time I still enjoy some sea fishing and coarse fishing night sessions.
Me: How did your love of ferox fishing begin?
After about 3 years of fishing in Irish waters, I heard about some brief information about monster trout from Corrib. I didn’t know much about Ferox, so I started to gather all the possible information from books, internet, magazines. At this stage I was working part time in Corrib Tackle in Galway, where I had chance to asked some questions… Local anglers were very quiet and not really happy to share information “with a foreigner” about this mysterious form of trout (intentionally I’m not using word species!) All I knew about Ferox was from the scraps of information, formed the theory in my head, that they are deep, open water fish, very rare and extremely hard to catch….Something for me then….
And one day I went fishing with Pat- local angler who offered me a place on his boat for the day. On that day I landed trout of about 8-9 pound and I was hooked. When I looked at this magnificent trout going back to his kingdom after few photos, I knew that I will do as much as possible to know their habits, best locations, and techniques to catch them regularly. In 2008 friend of mine and later business partner- Jacek joined me on that mission and from then we could work twice as fast and hard to know all the Ferox mysteries.
Year after year, with many days on the water, we had more and more Ferox on our accounts, but we didn’t stop on searching new things and little details which were improving our Ferox fishing results.
Me: Tell us your impressions of Lough Corrib?
TK: It’s the best fishing spot in the world! But seriously every time when I’m on the water I’m still amazed about it’s climate and character.
On the other hand, Corrib can be a “Bitch”. If you don’t spend time on it, and you are fishing it only occasionally, your results will be only occasional as well. It’s hard fishing venue with miles of “empty” water, but also I’m confident that if you put effort into your fishing you can enjoy some unbeatable trout, pike and definitely Ferox fishing. Its a beautiful lake with all different surroundings, from flats on the lower part, to rock and Islands country in the middle part, up to mountain touching the water at the northern part. I’m fishing all over the lake, from Galway, all the way up to Maam, depending on conditions, time in the year and target species, and I enjoy every single day.
Me: What have been your favourite catches over the years?
TK: I can remember many of my favourite catches, but to mention a few, I can clearly recall Blue Shark fishing session when I caught my first ever shark and it was 145lb fish, so not bad for a first shark.
I can remember one days pike fishing, when together with Jacek we caught 40 pikes in about 3.5 hours- smallest about 8lb, 22 doubles and 6 twenties- biggest over 28lb!
Best Ferox day- I fished with my friend Sebastian, he caught his first ever trout and it was fish of 16.5lb! I landed my PB trout at 19lb 12oz and smallest fish of the day at 12.5lb. Also that day, we lost another two good fish, so it was definitely one of the best Ferox days ever.
From this year my favourite catch it definitely was 93cm Ferox, well over 20lb caught and released by my client from the Czech Republic.
I can also remember all my biggest fish in every different species, but the best part of it is, that over the years, my clients on guided fishing trips have caught bigger fish in all species! But don’t worry, I’m not jealous… after all this is what it is all about. Today I enjoy a big fish caught by client a lot more than fish caught by myself.
Me: What tactics do you use while ferox fishing?
TK: Mostly trolling. Depends on the time of the year, water temperature, and fish activity, we use trolled dead bait or lures though Never together. By trolling we are covering huge expanses of water and maximising our chances of meeting Ferox in the same spot at the same time. The biggest mistake anglers can made is thinking that it’s easy way of fishing. After all everybody can chuck baits or lures behind the boat, start the motor and hope for the best…. People who do it that way, are rewarded very rarely.
It’s not true that ferox can be caught only on open deep water- sometimes we had great results around the islands or underwater structures close to the banks, especially in spring time.
Right location, depth, speed, bait and lure presentation in different time and weather conditions, is critically important in Ferox fishing. Also tackle is extremely important, though I’m not talking about money you had to spend for the tackle, use the gear you can trust. All smallest parts like snap links or swivels must be highest trusted quality. You are not fishing for 10 fish per day, so every take must result with landed fish without possibility of tackle failure. Apart from trolling there are 2 short periods during the season when we are catching Ferox on casted lures. (I’m not talking about non intentional catch of Ferox on casted lures intended for pike) Early season, in well known over the years “hot spots” close to winter shoals of roach, and at the end of the season, close to the rivers, where a few weeks later Ferox will go up for spawning. These are the two occasions when you will have realistic chances of getting Ferox other way than trolling.
If you don’t have success on the first day, or first week, don’t give up and keep trying, or simply use my knowledge end experience 😉
Me: You also catch many large pike, what’s the pike fishing like there?
TK: Pike fishing is great, but not as good as it was years ago. Gill nets are constantly cleaning the lake of pike, so fishing for them isn’t as easy as it was in the past. Also the lake is changing. 10 years ago if you found piece of weed, you found your pike. Now weeds are all over the place, but the pike are only choosing some spots. Without local knowledge it’s hard enough to find best locations and have confidence that your choice was right as pike are not feeding all day, so you could be over a potentially great spot, without even knowing about it.
We are getting great results, as we know the water very well, but please don’t judge by the photos or reports and think it’s easy. Ofcourse every year, we are still enjoying the rare days with 4-5, occasionally even 6 twenties per day, along with plenty smaller fish, but it doesn’t come easy.
Me: What would be your dream catch?
TK: Simple question. Without a doubt it will be 1 meter/ 30 pound Ferox Trout. I didn’t use the word “would”, but “will be”, as I strongly believe that one day I, or one of my Clients will cross the line with 30 lber. I know they are there. I saw them myself, so it’s not dreaming about something which doesn’t exist. 2 years ago I lost fish of mentioned size right at the boat. I had “soft legs” for an hour afterwords, and even catching two great fish at 13lb and 16lb few hours later, didn’t make my day….
Me: Where else in the world would you like to fish and for what species?
TK: I have a few destinations I would love to go to:
– Frasier River in Canada- fishing for salmon and sturgeon
– Canada- fly fishing for 30-40lb pike
– Spain- Catfish
– American Great Lakes- fishing for “lakers”- lake trout similar to ferox but lot bigger.
Me: I know that you are a fair believer in C&R (catch and release) especially when it comes to ferox?
TK: First of all, I can’t really call myself fully C&R angler. Reason is simple- I do kill fish. I kill mackerel and herring for bait. I kill 1-2 grilse per season, and I kill a few trout in the size up to 3lb in the season for the table. It’s a small fraction of my catches, but there you go.
I don’t kill springers, ferox, pike, all trout over 3lb and so on, but this is my personal choice (and policy for my Clients)
On the other hand I have nothing against people keeping few fish to enjoy them on the plate. I’m also against full C&R policy, as I think anglers should be allowed to keep small part of their catch for consumption if they wish, but it needs to be done with common sense. I heard stories about trout anglers, enjoying a pint in the local pub after days fishing, complaining that fishing isn’t as good as it used to be. They blaming “foreigners killing our fish” but they seems to turn a blind eye to a buddy who kept 15 trout on the same day!
The law is ‘a little off” from the reality as well. At the moment for example roach has more protection than trout. Pike is the same story- It’s prohibited to kill pike over 50 cm for the table, on the waters where they have been killed by gill nets and dumped….. weird country….
I’m totally against of killing any trout of more than 10lb! Every trophy fish in specimen size should be protected by law! Killing a double figure or bigger trout is a total waste and serious harm for the ecosystem and their population. Killing big Ferox just to make a trophy is only an act of short sighted selfishness and stupidity. However 20 and more years ago it could be justified with lack of good cameras and technology, to make a copy/ replica of the catch, today it’s not an excuse any more.
So please, If you finally catch that elusive Ferox trout- return it alive where it belongs. Show that much needed respect for this beautiful fish.
Me: And finally Tomi, what are your plans for the rest of 2014?
Fishing for as much as possible, making my Clients happy and putting them over the fish of their life and most importantly enjoy my work as being close to the nature and doing what I love- fishing!
Me: Thanks for talking to us Tomi
TK: Anytime Paddy…