IFD: Jason Dingle is one of the leading experts on coarse fishing in Ireland. He has a particular love for bream and tench fishing but is just as comfortable with his winter Pike fishing. Jason is the Irish record holder for roach/bream hybrid and now on with his interview…
What was your first memory of fishing and how did it become a lifelong obsession?
My first fishing memory was a trip to the grand canal at Dolphins barn, my uncle had given me a little 7ft Jaymac rod and off I went with a neighbour who as it turned out was not very experienced so we both caught nothing, but even after that little adventure i was intrigued, none of my family were interested in angling, so some months later i found myself fishing under the road bridge at Blessington lakes for perch with my mates wondering how my parents had let me go off on my own up to Blessington lakes at the age of 11!…so it started from there….every weekend and summer holidays Blessington, Poulaphouca, Golden falls lake, River Liffey , Dodder river..Practically anywhere that had Trout, Perch and Pike that was reachable for schoolboys using buses, bikes and lifts to get to our spots.
As the years passed and into my late teens it was obvious I was obsessed with fishing, I just daydreamed all day long about getting out on the bank, I read every magazine I could lay my hand on, I practically owned every fishing book in the local library, Soon enough my mates and I had our first cars and we simply realised our dream of getting to venues in the midlands that held better sized fish such as Bream and Tench.
Firstly can we talk about your love of tench fishing, where it began and how you like to fish for them?
In my early 20’s I mixed up my fishing between lure fishing for pike and fly fishing for trout, at the time this mobile type of fishing with a relatively small amount of tackle and gear really appealed to me, if I had any free time from work I could disappear for a few hours and catch fish, the concept of camping overnight was not really done as it interfered too much with my social life!, During those years I worked with a fellow angler, Ray Bannerman, I would listen to him talk about his fishing exploits for specimen sized fish and in particular Tench, So I began to fish with Ray on a regular basis, travelling all over the country, Ray put me on a lot of venues and these opened up a whole new world of fishing opportunities and I will always be grateful for that. My first Tench session saw me on a small Co Meath lake…a misty early morning start and I had 11 small “Pondy” tench to really close in marginal ledgering tactics with a light feeder rod and just flicking in small pouches of corn to keep the fish in the swim, It was that session, the pure atmosphere in the air that morning had me hooked on Tench as a species for years to come.
My favourite way to catch tench is feeder fishing, Ive some memorable sessions twitching big lobworms through “Crabtree” type swims with a Drennan Driftbeater, but this doesn’t suit the large natural lakes with open bank venues I fish that require distance fishing tactics, So out of necessity I have refined my feeder fishing over the years to suit these venues and maximise my chances
Having caught some huge Irish bream, how do you fish for them as opposed to tench?
My Bream feeder tactics catch me more Tench than Bream! For tackle its 2.75TC Free Spirit Rods with 6000 size baitrunners…10lb mono and short 3’’ – 4’’ fluorocarbon hook links fished helicopter style. Feeders will generally be 2oz method feeders but I will use cage or open ended feeders to suit fish activity situations or swim types etc. My favoured bait for specimen Bream fishing at night is a combination of heavily flavoured real and fake corn fished neutrally buoyant, maggots and especially dead ones feature heavily in most of my baiting up and actual fishing situations, By using corn at night I avoid smaller fish , however as soon as I’m up and out of the bivvy I will always consider a change on one of the rods to maggot feeders and worms and actively recast every 20 mins . Heavily flavoured ground bait and a small amount of particle (pigeon conditioner) and dead maggots will be spodded in at the start of every session. Simple tactics really but this approach is deadly for big Irish bream.
In the winter you switch over to pike, what’s your style of pike fishing and what kind of water do you look for?
I really look forward to my winter pike fishing and in particular river piking, for the last 8 years, I’ve exclusively fished just rivers , it’s a different buzz, in a weird kind of way it’s the hardship of competing with harsh weather, flooding and hiking in to hard to get to spots and river pike over 20lbs..On these sessions I try to find localised hot spots that hold bait fish and therefore pike.
My tactics are generally to use 1 rod fish static and recast every 30 minutes, I will also twitch the dead bait back towards the bank several times before each recast, my 2nd rod will be a smaller dead bait fished sunken float paternoster style, again I will reposition this bait every 15minutes to see if I can present a bait in front of a non feeding pike to induce a pick up, I will leap frog the rods along the bank to cover water. These tactics call for minimum gear with chest waders, good technical clothing ,lightweight rod quiver, bank sticks and a lightweight roving chair attached to my haversack, a brolly is optional but my flask of strong coffee is absolutely not!
You are the Irish record holder for roach/bream hybrid, can you tell us about that session?
Fishing for Hybrids is in many ways very close to the tactics and baiting strategy that I use for tench and bream, however my tackle will be lighter 1.75TC rods with 5000 size baitrunners, again I favour short hook links fished heli style, my hook bait and feeding strategy will be generally maggot based.
I arrived to the swim just before dark and quickly set up, the swim in the month of May is regularly fished so I put in just 10 spombs of dead and live maggot mixed with a flavoured sloppy ground bait mix for attraction, I fished 2 rods over this at 40 metres and decided on a method feeder on one rod and the other rod would be on a maggot feeder and for both rods hook baits would be 3 white maggots and a fake white UV Glow maggot to add extra visual attraction and some hook bait buoyancy. I planned to fish hard on the maggot rod but as it was nearly 10pm and now dark, my enthusiasm for that quickly waned and I put the coffee on and waited for the late arrival of a mate who was to join me for a 2 night session. It sounds clichéd but I was really positive sitting there watching the lake, the air pressure was dropping , it was dull and cloudy and with a forecast for several days of south westerly wind and rain, conditions were perfect,
The swim came on at 11pm and by 7am next morning I had 6 tench all in the 5lb range, At 8.00am my method feeder rod bobbin dropped and after a few moments I knew I had a big hybrid, safely landed this hybrid went 6lbs 11oz and I was delighted with that fish.
I managed a quick recast and just 10 minutes later another bite and this time my maggot rod went…again I knew it was another big hybrid and I kept it together long enough to get that fish over the rim of my landing net, it went 7lbs 7ozs and the sight of those two big mongrels together in the keep net was just very special.
What are the most extreme lengths you have gone to catch a good fish?
I think in specimen fishing you tend to get out what you put in, I’ve pushed the boat out with family and friends and certainly done things that could be considered extreme in my fishing,
Like staying out in really bad weather conditions.. Fishing in sub zero temperatures on Derravaragh for pike, afterwards my Doctor described my condition as Hypothermic… (The old skool wax jacket was put in the bin after that!)..
Fishing 2 nights on Kinale having stupidly gone there knowing I had shingles and feeling so faint I fell over. I live in Dublin and regularly drive a midweek round trip of 200kms before work to bait up a swim,…but in general i suppose not sleeping and I rarely sleep well on my overnights, so if I’m on fish I will get little or no sleep and I can be simply too tired to drive home.
For an aspiring Irish coarse angler, what advice would you give them for catching bigger fish?
Read up and study your target species, educate yourself on the proven tactics for specimen fishing, Follow how Match men bait up and feed their swims to encourage bites.
Choose your sessions (where possible) to coincide with weather and air pressure conditions that are good for fish activity
Choose a venue that has done decent fish in the past, if lakes have a history of doing big fish then you have improved your chances, if you’re pioneering on a new water just enjoy the challenge.
Bait and Pre baiting: Don’t buy that fancy rod pod!…save your money for maggots, casters and corn, prepare and flavour your bait, I have a huge interest in this element of my fishing and the confidence this brings to your session will show in your results over time. If you can, pre bait before your session and bait up after your session if you’re fishing regularly.
Accurate Casting: Bait up at a distance you can accurately cast to even in windy conditions.
Night Fishing: get used to feeling comfortable fishing into darkness and through the night, In Summer time conditions it’s generally the best chance for a big Bream or Tench
Keep a Diary and record the details of your sessions, you can look back in time and measure your progression as an angler, as the data builds up, you can use this for future situations.
What session would you choose to relive and for what reason?
I have a few choices here, but I would relive a two night Bream session back in May 2009, everything just went to plan, the baiting up, the way the swim responded to my bait and feeding etc, I had 4 bream 11lbs 11ozs, 11lbs 2ozs, 10lbs 5ozs,9lbs 2ozs and 37 tench. Hard to forget sessions like that.
Of all your catches which gave you the most satisfaction?
Lots to choose from, and for different reasons, I had a Tench session last year on a very hard lake, doing the miles in the car to pre bait and catching 8 big tench to 7lbs 7ozs.
What are your hopes for 2016?
Just enjoy my fishing, the banter with my mates, and to bring my youngest daughter Sophie out on fishing trip.
Jason thanks for talking to us and hope you have a great 2016.
All the best Paddy tightlines…