IFD: Craig Murphy is one of Ireland’s top specimen anglers, during the year Craig changes his tactics to suit multiple species, and is always on the look out for a new fishing experience, so over to Craig now for his interview
What were your earliest memories of fishing?
I’ve so many it’s hard to say which came first but I’d have to say fishing Dun Laoghaire pier with my father. Nobody could forget that killer walk especially aged 9 or so. We used to go every second Sunday and fish the west pier .
I would float fish or ledger at the steps and catch all the mini species on small hooks and small pieces of rag or mackerel while my dad and brother would fish off the high wall for whatever was in season.
You fish for most species, what type of fishing do you most feel at home?
To be honest I can’t decide. I feel most at home when I’ve fish in front of me and a rod in my hand. Be it sea fishing or fresh water , mullet, pike , tench or smooth hounds. I try fish for species at their peak times.
Seen as its winter now I’m pretty much flat out pike fishing as it’s the best time to target the species as they are feeding up for spawning shortly. Give it a month or two and I could be spinning for trout, feeder fishing for bream or trotting a float for roach.
They all feel natural to me at this stage as I’ve spent a lot of time perfecting my methods but I’m always learning and challenging myself with new species and techniques . Mullet on the fly is my next mission and possibly a trip or two for a specimen carp.
Can you tell us about your favourite pike session?
I’ve had quite a few good sessions over the last few years but a recent trip is fresh in my mind and hasn’t been subconsciously altered yet as most angling tales do as the years go on . Even so it’s one of my favourites. Myself and angling mate Patrick Fagan have been using the new water wolf hd under water cameras since they were released and apart from a few jacks looking at our baits we had been unsuccessful in getting one taking the bait on camera , I had landed two good fish on a previous occasion on the rod with no camera ! One went over the 20 lbs mark and the other was a mid to high double .
I was determined to get a 20 to take the bait on film . So on our last attempt everything seemed to click , we were early for once , levels were up but fishable and I had the “feeling” it was going to be a good day. We chose a swim with the wind off our back , where the water would still be clear enough for filming . The cameras were cast out some 50 or so yards , just beyond marginal drop off and above a steep shelf into some 22ft of water then the waiting game began . My other rod was first to go but it dropped the bait before I struck , soon after the wolf rod gave a couple of beeps along with the sound of the drop off arm hitting against the bank stick , a sound I love the most. I struck the fish instantly and we were on. The fish gave two spirited runs after it seen the net and it came out of the water tail walking and flaring its gills trying to shed the hooks , that’s when I realised it was a good fish and the adrenaline started to pump but tension turned to relief when it finally came over the string of the net. mission accomplished ! The first Irish 20 pounder to be filmed taking a bait on the water wolf camera .
But it didn’t end there . I was just about to take my fish out of the sack to take some snaps when Paddy’s rod gave a few beeps. He was quickly on the rod . Reeling down until he felt the fish paddy struck and connected , I could tell by the bend in the rod that paddy was into a good fish but I didn’t want to say anything in case he lost it . The fish came in handy enough but yet again it woke up when it seen the net and torn off on a screaming run, tail walking and faring its gills, there was no hiding the fact he was attached to a good fish now , a few nervous moments passed until the fish was safely in the net ,another 20 ! To top it all off it was Paddy’s first ever 20 pounder at 20 lbs 14 oz. A session to remember !
Here’s the footage of the two pike being released together and the water wolf footage of the take . That will take some topping.
You have also had some phenomenal coarse catches can you tell us about some tench and bream sessions?
The two day session I caught my pb bream on was a memorable one . I had pre-baited the spot just the once with two buckets of flake maize , hemp and molasses. I had planned to prebait it some more but a low pressure system appeared on the forecast , ideal bream weather supposedly , so I made plans to fish just before it hit ,I arrived at the lake on a Sunday night , with an hour until dark it was a dash to get the gear down to my swim some 400 yards from the van… soon as that was done a full bucket of particle bait was spod out into the swim along with pellet , dead maggots and corn with my back now truly wrecked and the bait out I got the camp set up to keep the women happy… rods then went out 50 yards just in time for the sunset.
That done i sat down for a cup of tea and uttered ” the traps are set” and sure enough within seconds the alarms sounded and i was into a tench, then the other rod went just as i had unhooked the first one , it continued like this for a hour or so into dark before they finally switched off and i could get some sleep or so i thought , 3 o’clock in the morning and the heavens opened up and the alarms were off again and it continued until 6 o’clock when the swim went dead , a misty morning gave way to a day of blistering sunshine and cloudless skies so back in the bivvy for some more zzz’s while the fish were doing the same.
I rose a couple of hours later to a stiflingly hot bivvy to find the girlfriend out sunning herself with the kettle on the stove … bringing the other half has its perks ! rods hadn’t moved in a couple of hours so they were re baited and recast .. within minutes i had a run but this time it wasn’t fighting like a tench…. the slow nodding and kiting fight signalled to me it was a bream and a good one at that .I took my time and played it gently as i had lost a few clonkers on previous sessions by putting to much pressure on the hook hold. A few mins passed and a true slab was guided to the net , after weighting in at 4.2kgs or 9lbs 4 oz and a quick photo , I slipped it in the keep net for a few moment’s while i got things sorted to empty the net . it was a hot day so i wasn’t willing to leave the fish in it to long , i got a few snaps and began to weight the bag , 10 to 15 fish per sling it took 3 slings and a total of 106lbs + the bream at 9lb 4oz they all went back without any problems.
I’ve had a few other cracking sessions with Ben Carvosso where he has landed a near record tench of 7lbs 10 oz on the float and we did manage to catch well over 200 pound of tench in an overnight session in May of 2013 but that’s a story for another day.
In the last few years you got into mullet fishing, what do you love about the mullet experience?
It must be 5 or 6 years since I first fished for them here in Ireland. I blanked my first few sessions as I was figuring them out , but that’s why I like them so much they are hard to catch and they do your head in some days but when you do hook up it makes it all worth while , they are one of the best fighting fish around our coasts ,they just don’t stop!
It’s so handy to head out mullet fishing when you find yourself with a few hours to kill that’s why it appeals to me. it’s also the way in which you fish for them that I like , a simple bubble float set up and a sliced pan or two and your set.
I’ve been lucky the last few years on hitting some really descent ones in the 5,6,7 pound bracket topped by 7.2 lbs this year. Looking forward to getting out on the estuaries again this summer, might even venture south for some golden greys or even thin lipped .
Last year yourself and Michael Cooney caught some huge shore smoothies can you tell us about that session?
A group of us had been flat out fishing evening sessions for a month or two trying to catch a specimen hound . Plenty of fish were landed some hitting the cross bar on both length based specimen (1meter) and specimen weight of 6.6lbs . On the night in question it was pretty grim with only a few small pups landed , the sea was rough and we were only discussing heading home when Micks rod got a smack followed by his rod getting pulled out of the stand and nearly into he sea. Mick was quickly on the rod and playing a strong fish in the surf , up and down the beach it ran but finally with the aid of a big wave it was beached , everyone was ecstatic at he sight of it , it was certainly the biggest hound any of us had ever seen in the flesh, at 12.38lbs and 105cm it was a sight to behold and nearly double the specimen weight.
A few of us returned the next night to see if we could catch something like her and just like the night before only a few pups showed but just before we were due to leave my rod gave a few hard raps and I lifted into a good fish , turned out to be 9.05 lbs and 105cm. Funnily enough it was an hour later than Micks fish the previous night so it was the same state of tide . Hopefully history will repeat itself this year as we plan to target them again .
What has been your personal favourite catch over the years?
I have to say my pb pike of 24 lbs 2 oz , I’ve spent alot of time pike fishing and I’ve been at it from a young age. Its always been close to my heart. I’m still looking for that 30 pounder , maybe this year we will come face to face!
What other session would you most like to relive?
Would have to be a 3 day session were myself and Richie Dunne fished a new water on the first day and another the next two days . On the first day we had to tip across the small lake on the bic 245 to find a swim which was an adventure in itself as we both bring far too much gear and it’s only a small punt.
We marked a few likely areas and dropped bait on them with the boat . Wasn’t long before we were into a few fish topped by a 17 lbs 14oz pristine Pike at the end of the day.
The next day we headed to our second venue and were joined by my mate Gary O’ brien, who had planned on fishing the first half of the day with us but had to be back for work later that day , turned out the fishing was so good Gary rang in sick and went home and grabbed an inflatable mattress to crash in with me . That’s when the crack started , we had set our bivvys up on what we thought was a nice section of bank with a nice moss and grass carpet under us , but as the session progressed and darkness closed in , the moss started to break apart and legions of leeches started to crawl up out of the mud and inside our bivvys. We could do nothing but laugh as we were all freaked out by these blood suckers invading our camp. It was like something out of “I’m a celebrity, get me out of here “.
A sleepless night gave way to a misty morning and we were not long awake before the runs started to come . It’s a few years ago so my memory is a bit foggy but I think we had over 16 doubles between us that day, two of which went 18 pounds plus .Great fishing, good laugh with good friends . I’d do it all again in a heartbeat
For someone just starting fishing but does not know where to begin, what advice would you give them?
Start at the bottom and work your way up! Learn the basics before you go out buying pods, bivvys and bait boats. Start with some float fishing or feeder fish where you have to strike the bites as appose to the fish hooking themselves on bolt rigs , so many young anglers getting into the sport are jumping straight into carp fishing after seeing it on TV. I feel they are missing out on the essence of fishing and I bet if you handed them a float rod and end tackle they would struggle .
Likewise spinning is a good way to go if your taking up pike fishing as you’ll catch more fish , they will more than likely be of a smaller stamp then those caught on dead bait tactics but you will gain handling and unhooking skills in the process, unhooking being the main one as they will most likely be hooked in the front of the mouth and easier to unhook.
Talk to your local tackle shop staff they will be more than helpful and point you in the right direction, join a few angling forums and chat with other anglers. Research the where and the when more then the how as the how should be kept as simple as possible when your starting out , hell I try keep it as simple as possible to this day.
What are your fishing hopes for 2015?
I hope to get out as much a possible over the next year . Try target a few species I haven’t tried yet like gilthead bream and stingray . Might even try for a specimen carp at some stage and I’ve a score to settle with hybrids as I’ve hit the crossbar a few times on specimen weight .
Well Craig thanks for talking to us and hope you have a great year
My pleasure lads anytime