A Secret Lake in County Clare

It’s every anglers dream – a secret lake stuffed full of fish, rarely tackled and only then by a handful of friends who are determined to protect their Irish bolt-hole.

Too good to be true? Such promises are often a load of time-wasting nonsense but this time around the “Blarney” provided seven of us with a brilliant, fun-packed fishing session, that involved loads of hybrids, roach, bream to 7lb and more than 100lb of fish for one man.

Every summer I take a week’s fishing break with Frank Lythgoe, secretary of Warrington AA, along with Billy Delves who is secretary of St Helens AA. They are great friends, enjoy Ireland for all of its angling niceties but truly enjoy fishing from first light or late until the evening and they are happy catching whatever happens to come along. Little did they know that they would end up fishing in an upturned roof of a transit van!

This summer we opted for East Clare Lakelands, mixing our venues from the massive Lough Derg to some of the smaller lakes that so often chuck up a decent net of tench or bream. But our start was only just short of awful. We spent three mornings and evenings pre-baiting for bream on Lough Derg with nothing more than a few perch, yet on the same ground that produced a 400lb haul of bream just 10 days before.

It was time to shout for help. Mike Daly has been living in Ireland for years; he is an excellent angling guide and runs a small B&B at Brook Bungalow in the village of Feakle in County Clare. “How can I help”, was his simply reply. We were eager to get among the big bream on Lough Derg and straightaway he offered to meet us on the slipway opposite Holy Island with two boats.

It’s a short sail from the public slipway near Mountshannon and within 30 minutes there were five of us getting ready. We now had Mike and 73-year-old angling guide Peter Crew-Gee who moved to Ireland 21 years ago from Northampton.

Within 20 minutes I netted the first bream and then a gale force wind hit the lake (at 27 miles long it is like an inland ocean) and we had to dash around the corner of Holy Island for shelter. It was perfect shelter but flat calm and we did well to catch a number of decent bream, hybrids and roach. As we packed up I could see Mike and Pete were having something of a conference and then Mike came over and whispered that if we were interested, there was a secret lake that we could fish, providing we didn’t reveal it to another living soul.

Only a fool would refuse such a generous and exciting adventure. “Be at my house for 10am and we’ll take it from there”, Mike ordered. “There will be seven of us altogether and you two (he said nodding at Bill and Frank) will be fishing from the trannie van”.

Of course we were on time; though the clock slowed down as we were introduced to Bob Benall from Gloucester and Stockport’s John Sheldon just as the cups of tea appeared and then we were given a tour of Mike’s huge fishing tackle room.

Eventually we loaded three boats with tackle, baits and butties, then pushed off the slipway on to a large ordinary looking lough. Our mini flotilla headed across the open water at fast speed to what a looked to be an unbroken reed bed until our leader sailed into the narrowest of waterways. In fact is was little more than an overgrown ditch in places – something along the line of the Amazon – but water so shallow that the engines had to be lifted to their highest point.
It was exciting but I feared that a crocodile would stick its snout above the surface. And then suddenly there was light and a circular, reed fringed lough, that had no other obvious access and brimming with fish that made the fish-finder dance … we had arrived into another angling world; perhaps even heaven!

Sure enough, Frank and Billy were transferred into the upturned roof of the transit van. The idea came from Mike, not a man to waste money, who cut it from an old van then fitted it out with buoyancy material and ensured it was water proof. The space allowed the lads to take their normal fishing box and the agreed it was very comfortable.

Mike and Peter have been fishing the lake for a couple of years from the same spot where they fixed mooring stakes to providing a fixed point. They are so stable that it is possible to use a quivertip and not be annoyed by false bites whenever somebody on board moves around. From then on it was a bite a cast for me, though I didn’t have anything else but roach and hybrids with the biggest fish hovering around 1lb. Mike was alongside me and enjoyed the same sort of fishing, while in the furthest boat our friend Pete caught bream-after-bream up to 7lb. He was absolutely chuffed and we estimated his catch to be knocking on 100lb.

For the rest of the squad – Bob, John, Frank and Bill – there was a mix and each caught large bream, hybrids and roach. Out plan was to fish until 8pm but the typical west of Ireland weather changed quickly and there was an threatening massive of clouds looming and so we made a dash to get back and leave the fish to their peace and solitude.

Published by Angling Times 2011
By Dave Houghton

For somewhere to stay and fish call Dave on 0151 324 4744