IFD: As well as being one of Ireland’s top athletes in track and field, Tim O’Connor is also one of Ireland’s top carpers. Tim is from county Limerick and now lives in Dublin where he concentrates his angling on Meadow Lodge fisheries in Maynooth. So here is Tim’s interview….
Where did you grow up and how did you start fishing?
I grew up in Limerick City about five minutes from the river Shannon. My earliest memories of fishing were with my Dad at the Plassey falls and he would be salmon fishing and I would tag along as an 8 year old and try spinning from the bank or even the boat sometimes. As a kid I found it quite boring that many were not catching fish regularly if at all.
So I started wandering off trotting maggots down the swim for silvers and I loved it. I would seek out the slower water and it was always the intrigue of what lay beneath the water was most appealing, the mystery of it all and every now and again you caught a decent fish. Later myself and two mates started fishing Doon lake in Clare when our parents would drop us out and also tench fishing in some local ponds a few minutes from the house. We got mad into it and would be down there at the crack of dawn with our drennan crystal wagglers chasing the pin prick bubbles.
What was your best days fishing on these ponds?
Well we had been getting many 4’s and 5’s with the odd 6lber, and on this particular morning we were swing tipping for them with castors and cage feeders. We had some that morning, but as it slowed down as usual as the morning went on we weren’t expecting much more. We were in no rush home so we stayed longer than usual, suddenly Alan’s tip swung round and it was a fish of 6lb 10oz. The game was back on and I was being outdone here! Not long after my rod went and it was my pb of 7lb 4oz. that was back in 1994 and I was 16. It’s the only fish I’ve ever claimed as a specimen and was No. 2 on the list behind the infamous Nick Parry at the time. We were to have many chats and a few articles since then.
Besides the tench fishing we were also bream fishing on the river shannon. We would fish “the deeps” in winter in a deep basin but then “the shallows” in summer in 5/6ft of water over clean gravel. From a young age we were regularly getting 100lb+ bags. In those days lots of English anglers used to come over every summer and we would pick up tips each time. On a few occasions Bob Nudd was over and we even fished with him and learnt loads. Im sure we just seemed like annoying kids but we took what we learned and fished some east Clare lakes which were on our also on our doorstep and just enjoyed the whole experience.
Some summers we would get a group together and cycle out to Newport in Tipperary just outside limerick and walk the river beats fly fishing for trout. It was fun and a great experience but I was starting to lean towards the bigger fish and intrigue of how big can they go.
You also fished Anglegrove in Woodford in county Galway?
I fished there over a good few years, at first it was mostly a tench lake but the carp started coming on and they are predominant in the lake now. So at the start they were quite hard to catch and I managed one at a whopping pb of 8lb. Nowadays it’s a runs water and a great place to test your rigs or get the buzz going again on a social. It’s a very coloured water and think the thing there is to fish the margins with a smelly bait. Match fishing style works best there too for numbers but if you want to catch some of the bigger residents a double boilie approach can work well though sometimes even a small carp will take that. Feeding is key here too.
When you moved to Dublin for college you started fishing in Corkagh park in Clondalkin, what was that like?
Well after moving up to Dublin for work, I was looking for somewhere to fish and I had heard about Corkagh park. I was just getting back into fishing after an absence due to 4 years in Waterford IT doing Sports management and recovering from having all my coarse fishing gear stolen out of the car.
It was about 2004 and I fished it about half a dozen times or so with some success. The fish averaged 4/5lbs at the time and very exciting and a step up from the scrap of tench of the same size. I tried the Lough in Cork shortly after with a few mates from home and became truly hooked on carp fishing after an amazing debut session there. Soon after I had a pb of 18.06 and a majestic old scaly warrior to boot. It was a bit of a runs water at the time too with the new stock of Decoy fish starting to push through averaging 7/9lbs.
What were your first impressions of Maynooth or as it is now known Meadow lodge fisheries?
I had actually passed by Maynooth about ten years ago and dropped in on my return from Angle Grove fresh off my 8lb pb. I wasn’t impressed at all with the barren look of the place. At the time it was way too far ahead for me or so I thought and it wasn’t as attractive looking as it is now with tree growth, reeds and lilies etc. So I went back about three and a half years ago after another short stint on Corkagh Park and thought it looked amazing but also intimidating as the guys on there really knew what they were doing, had all the gear, water was gin clear and seemed choked with weed. I think it’s a good idea to fish the coarse lake which holds many carp to hone your skills before fishing the specimen lake which is for more experienced anglers looking for 20lb+ fish with the chance of a 30lb+.
Can you tell us about your favourite sessions on Maynooth?
It was my first session that I caught on last year, it was the 7th of March. I had put in one blank previously where it had been very cold. So on this session I caught one early on at 24lb 10oz and was more than happy with that when the alarm went again and I knew this one was a lot bigger.
Soon I had the fish to the net and it went 33lb 2oz, a gorgeous looking fish known as the Grey.
It was my first thirty of the year and my second ever (the first one was big hole at 33lb 1 oz 2 years earlier.) so I was delighted with that session. To say my legs went to jelly was an understatement and was happy to let a couple of cooler anglers weigh it for me. When it went back I was pinching myself asking what just happened there!
Can you tell us about the session where you had your PB?
Well I broke my PB twice last year with the Grey at 33.02 and big hole at 38.10 twice. Another highlight was catching another thirty called Dimpleback at 31lb 8oz back in early August.
It was also another first for me to catch a brace thirties on one session and even within 24hrs. It had been a crazy three day session starting off with a 27lb, an 18lb then 31lb 6oz followed by a 20lb 4oz and to cap it all big hole on the final morning at 38lb 10oz, it all seems like a blur now looking back.
I won’t forget those three nights at the end of August anytime soon. You couldn’t dream it up that way and I would never have dreamed that far either!
What tips would you give to a new comer on the fishery?
Catch a few fish on the coarse lake to get the hang of the place so you can have confidence in your rigs.
The next thing is to go in, relax and enjoy yourself and make sure you remember why you go fishing in the first place.
Just keep your eyes open and get a feel for the place and listen to the guys who are experienced on the lake who are always willing to help.
Where else in the world would you like to fish?
I don’t feel any major yearning to fish anywhere else for now. Someday though I’d love to fish somewhere really wild like Alaska, fishing for salmon in a beautiful place like that. Like everything though with life being so busy it’s hard to get the time for such trips.
What are your fishing ambitions for the future?
My ambition for the future is just keep catching a big fish simple as that, and we will take it from there, I don’t have too many plans.
There are one or two fish in Maynooth that have so far eluded me such as the Big common and the Other mirror or even the majestic big white koi at nearly 20lbs so it would be nice to catch these and just enjoy my fishing that’s good enough for me…
Well Tim thanks for talking to us
Anytime lads and hope to see you on the bank sometime….