2017 proved to be a very fruitful year of angling both for me and my fishing pals. I enjoyed every minute of it, sharing some great laughs and memories along the way and making lots of new friends on the bank, that’s what its all about! I’ve been kindly asked again by Paddy Keogh to share some of these in a story, so here are my top 3 starting back in April.
NO.1 A new lure PB
Myself and my good friend Ambrose, set off down the river for an overnighter on the first weekend of April. We planned to fish a stretch which we had been good to us on previous sessions. It was a hike and a half to get to this spot and we didn’t fancy lugging bivvies and bedchairs, barrowing the gear wasn’t an option as there is a number of fences to cross and a stream you need to pass through to get there. So we decided to fish a stretch nearby for the night and head off at first light to the ‘hot spot’.
We got the rods out, bivvied up and kicked back with a few tins and tunes with the hope of a run or or two, through the night. We were woken at 6:30am to my phone alarm, not the alarm we wanted, but after everything remaining motionless all night, we quickly packed the gear down to set off on the trek ahead with just the bare essentials.
Finally we were there and it was looking promising with Roach and Rudd topping on the surface and we didn’t waste any time with getting the rods set up and our lines in the water. It didn’t take long for the first bite and we had consistent action for a few hours. We could literally tell when we were going to get a run, as the river would have been calm and then suddenly erupt with scattering coarse fish, as the Pike came through on the hunt. You don’t often get to see this, but the stretch was alive! All the runs were falling to Roach deadbaits and not a single touch on any other baits. We had a number of Pike to mid doubles and we both felt there was a bigger fish to be had.
I had a Savage Gear 25cm Roach in my armoury, which was a lot bigger than any of the baits we were using. I had a few knocks on the lure after a few casts and It didn’t take long until the LT Roach got inhaled and I was battling a very angry and powerful fish. It was hands down the best scrap I have had from a Pike taking me up and down this narrow stretch of river for a good two minutes, but for what felt like 20! There wasn’t much I could do but keep steady pressure on her waiting until she came to the surface. Ambrose was following me up and down with the net and tried netting her 3 times but she just burst off on another run each time. We looked at each other and all we could do was laugh even though my legs were trembling , we said 4th time lucky , and luckily enough in she came.
I knew it was a new lure PB as my previous was an 18lber. After weighing and some pictures I left her to recover in the retention sling for a moment, before releasing her as it was a warm day. I thought she would have gone heavier than 22lb 2oz but she was spawned out and gave me an unbelievable fight so I was more than happy with that. We got a great video of her powering off downstream which I have to look back on and remember this awesome fish. I would love to see her again one day in January at her highest weight. Until then missus 😉
NO.2 Another great trip to the mighty river Ebro
Myself and my good pal Darragh were back and forth weighing up our options to plan a trip back to the Ebro. We had both been out with a guide the previous year and I have fished it with my dad twice in years gone by. Ideally we wanted the 3 of us to go and make a proper lads fishing holiday, out of it. We didn’t think it would be possible for me and my dad to be missing from our tackle shop at once, during the summer which is obviously our peak time. but last minute we decided to head over on the 12th of May and booked our flights a week or so before departing on an epic fishing trip.
It was pretty hectic organising everything last minute but with the main bulk of the tackle and bait sorted we were soon on our way. Though to be fair me going on a propper piss up for 2 days before we were departing which resulted in us just about making the flight didn’t help matters but after that it was a sign everything would fall into place! We arrived in Sunny Spain with a few jobs to do with plans to hit the river early the next morning.
We went to a tackle shop for our day tickets and were soon on a stretch we had fished the previous year with a guide, but sadly it was rammed with locals and fishermen from all across Europe. However, after a quick scout around, we were delighted to find the swim we wanted to fish was free, so we began setting up. Not long passed, when the guide mentioned (Nick Shattock) arrived down to tell us this stretch had not been fishing well and the weather was to turn for the worst, with some torrential rain due.
After some discussion we decided to stay and do the night there to see how it fished, as we had 5 days and nights fishing ahead of us and a few back up spots in mind. We settled in and got the rods on the spots with a few kilo of boilies and felt hopefull as darkness fell and within an hour we seen and heard carp crashing over the baited spots. But nick wasn’t wrong and soon the rain came down , literally monsoon rain! We were bivvy bound and soon asleep when were woken to 4 out of our 6 Delks screaming. A Catfish had taken out 4 rods but one of my dads rods was still beeping a few minutes later. He was into the first Carp of the trip weighing in at 31lb which was a great start for him and made us a bit more hopeful in the bad conditions. We wanted to get all the rods back on the spots but with the rain pouring and a big flow on the river, it would have been madness to go back out in the boat, so got back in the bivvies, but soon my remaining rod in the water, literally tore off. Unfortunately I lost the fish in a snag, so with no rods in the water and the rain still pouring biblically, it was time for a few whiskeys in the bivvy and then re-acces the situation.
When morning came, the river was discoloured, but still fishable, so we decided to stay put , re-bait , re-do the rods and hopefully get on some fish. It wasn’t long until I had another run which found a snag within seconds. I quickly took to the boat and made my way towards the snagged fish but once again lost it to the same snag. I went out in the boat to lead about to find another spot near by, when I noticed Carp on the far bank spawning!
We were contemplating packing up and moving down river when they started crashing and spawning right in front of us on our side of the bank. So that was it, the stretch was dead and we were planning the next port of call for our Ebro adventure. I got some great videos of the carp spawning (screenshots below) and it was great to watch this spectacle right infront of us but it was time to get out of there. With all the gear packed down and ready to load we faced another problem when the rental car was stuck in the sandy bank, due to the torrential rain. But some quick thinking from Darragh, soon got it free and we loaded the car and we were soon on our way to another stretch 45 minutes away.
We stopped into a tackle shop on the way for a few sacks of Halibut pellets for both Cats and Carp in 22mm and 14mm. The carp on this stretch have become custom to Halibut pellets due to the large quantities Catfishing Guides bail in every day and it was a great way of getting quick bites if there are Carp in the area. There were a number of guides and other anglers on the stretch, but we finally found a swim we were happy with, that 3 of us could fish in, comfortably. While we were unpacking the car and setting up the gear we seen a few fish crashing right in the middle of the river at around 150yards, so we decided to bait that spot in a line with pellet and boilie and fish our 6 rods over it. It was quiet that night, as it got dark, we opted for an early night, as it was a long day moving swims and getting set up. 3 hours into our sleep and we were woke up to my da’s alarm screaming, which resulted in another 30 for him weighing in at 32.06 , this fish gave him a great scrap and there was no sleep after that as the fish were all over our baited area, so we sat up watching and waiting on the next run.
A half an hour later, I was into my 3rd fish and thankfully landed this one! I was over the moon to get this one in the net after losing 2 to a snag on the other stretch. It was a very nice looking common at 27lb , it could have been 17lb and I would have been just as happy, it was just great to be off the mark and get the ball rolling. I had another fish at 29lb and soon after it all went quiet so we got the heads back down for 2 hours before the sun came back up and scorched us for the day.
Day 3 now and we set up the cat rods for a days catfishing. We dropped out 4kg of pellet and 2 cat rigs consisting of eight 22mm pellets on each hair rig. 3 hours passed and after a few beers and some lunch it was time to re-do the rods and drop another 4kg of pellet and fresh rigs. Another 3 hours passed and again nothing, so we took the cat rods in and re-done our carp rods and got some boilie and pellet ready to bait up the same spot we fished the night before.
We had a mixture of different fishmeal and birdfood boilies all in 20mm and halibut pellets in 14mm which we mixed together in Source liquid. The previous night we put around 2kg of this mix over each of our 2 rods so we decided to give them a good bit more bait on this night, in the hope to get a few more fish on the bank and hold them in our area for longer.
It worked , and we had a fish a piece with Darragh now off the mark too and we could all relax knowing nobody was blanking! Darragh had a right old warrior at 29lb and my Da had a 27lb and I also had another 29lb. We could all relax and chill a bit, now that nobody was blanking!
The extra few kg of bait we put in also did help hold them for longer than the previous night as we had our first day time bites. We were chilling having a few beers in the shade around 2pm when my lefthand rod went into meltdown. I scrambled down the steep rocky hill to find the alarm had stopped beeping so I grabbed the rod and wound down the slack and I was into what felt a very heavy fish. It had kitted way off to the right and I was playing it on a tight long line so it was hit and hold for a few seconds until I felt her turn and I was playing the fish towards me. It felt a very heavy fish and I was playing it a bit too hard to be fair, but it was a long way out. After a minute or so the hook hold was undone and the fish was gone! I was a bit gutted because I knew it was a big fish and I should not have rushed things, but onwards and upwards, lessons learned.
The 4th day was an absolute scorcher well into 30degrees and there wasn’t much fishing done , plus there wasn’t much shade around the swim on the rocky terrain.
All we could do was drink and drink some more waiting for evening to fall. Any excuse for a session in the sun!
We decided to move our markers further out around 50ft from the huge cliffs on the other side of the river, as we had seen some big carp crashing on that spot throughout the day.
The same procedure again , a mix of pellet and boilie in large quantities over the 6 rods on a wide baited area. The night proved to be extremely quiet and the river was very calm. There were no fish showing or been caught up and down the stretch. We didn’t have our hopes too high but we were happy to have a good chance to cool down and get a bit of rest… after a few more drinks.
Morning came to some sore heads and it was uneventful as expected. We were into our last and final day and night as the following day our flight was at 2pm. We used up the rest of our 22mm Halibut pellets in search of some Cats but they werent playing ball and even the guides up the way werent catching. We packed down all the gear we didn’t need and got the rigs and bait ready for the final night. I decided to change my rig a bit by making it longer for a start , with a bigger size 2 Mugga and a longer hair to accommodate larger hookbaits. We were fishing to the same spot as the night before with around 3kg of bait over each of our 2 rods. It was go hard or go home and we were going home in the morning anyway, so we had nothing to lose.
It eneded up being our best nights fishing. Both of Darraghs rods went off first 20 minutes apart resulting in 2 fish to his net, a 25lb and a beast of a 32lber that gave him a right scrap!
Half an hour later my dads right hand rod was away and he landed his third 30lb fish of the trip at 31lb14oz.
An hour had then passed and no runs for me yet and I was beginning to think whether or not I should have changed the length and size of my rigs with bigger baits on.
I wasn’t in doubt for too much longer when I landed a brace of 35lbers! The runs were around 30mins apart and the first fish was a long solid torpedo shaped carp and the second was like a breezeblock. We all thought the second one was a lot heavier, but the scales don’t lie. I was over the moon and so were my da and Darragh , we all had 30s on the last night and ended our trip in style!
Soon the camp was empty and the car was full and it was time to say goodbye to an amazing spot on the river, with a suitcase full of memories that will last a lifetime, but it wont be long until I am back for more and I finally get my Ebro 40.
NO.3 In search of a new Irish carp PB
It was now May and target for the summer was to beat my Irish carp PB. I was planning to concentrate my fishing on just 2 lakes with the odd session somewhere else with a few mates. The first lake I was fishing is a fairly big one and I wasn’t quite sure where to start. Very little anglers on it and hard to access all sides of it so I picked 2 spots that looked carpy and done some feature finding. I fished these spots 2 weekends in a row with no joy so it was time for a change of plan. I knew they had been seen at the opposite end to where I was fishing so I spent a few hours up there and sure enough I spotted three close to the bank.
I prebaited twice over the following week and fished it that weekend for 2 nights and not a tap. I prebaited again twice the following week and another 2 nights were spent blanking and wondering were there many carp in here at all. Over the week and half that I had been fishing it I was constantly watching the water and checking other spots but it defeated me on this occasion as I seen Fu&k all!! It was clear I wasn’t going to get a fish over 17lb from here never mind a run so it was on to plan B and C.
After the continuous blanking I needed to put a bend in the rod and see a fish on the bank so me and my good friends Eamon and Barry took a trip down to Cobh for 2 nights fishing on a bagging session. We were all catching from the off with a few singles and low doubles being caught both off the surface on floaters and on the bottom. Over the 2 days we got onto some bigger fish and had a great weekend with plenty of fish caught.
I now had me eyes set on just 1 lake that I was going to spend the next few months fishing , but the more summer went on the less I was getting out with work being so busy so it was looking like late summer again I could spend 2 nights a week. I had the odd quick overnighter catching some low doubles.
It was mid September and I was away for 2 nights to the lake I was planning on prebaiting each week and fishing 2 nights a week. My good mate Danny had recently had a bad run of luck with his health and was out of work for a few weeks. He had never caught a carp before and I had been saying we would organise a session for ages so now seemed like a perfect time! We arrived to the lake around 2 hours before dark and got everything set up. I gave Danny 2 rigs the same as mine with pop ups on and a 2 handfuls of boilies and sent him into ‘Carpy Corner’ as it was a short cast and looked like it was always sure to do a bite. I then got my rods out and we were set. The following morning we both broke our PBs. Any size of carp would have been Dannys PB but he went straight in the deep end bagging a beautiful mirror of 19lb4oz! Mine was a cracking looking common at 17lb14oz.
I was delighted and so was Danny , I had only beaten my PB by a few ounces but it had been 4 years trying to better it. Danny deserved a moment like that after his bad run and I was happy to have shared it with him. We had a bit of a session that night and the following morning he was in for yet another surprise! He ended up catching a 19lb10oz common and beating his PB already. Hows your luck!? It was an amazing session one we wont forget in a hurry. I felt as if I could stop fishing it then… But that would be madness , so I continued fishing it for another month and had some lovely mid doubles out into October.
So all in all I had some top moments in 2017 shared with great friends, and all of us catching some serious fish and making a lot of memories along the way.
But my personal best moment was collecting my Da’s new boat with him and getting it out on the water for the first time. He hadnt been doing much fishing over the past 4 years, but after our trip to the Ebro and the odd pike session, the bug was back and he wanted to be back out on the water as much as he could and where he belongs. First up he had to sell his Dory and Bass craft boats, which didn’t take long and then it was full steam ahead with the boat of his dreams, that he always planned on getting. It was great to see him back in the swing of things and I look forward to many great days afloat with my old man and hopefully a few lumps along the way too.