Lots of Fish in Ireland

Frank Lythgoe is involved up to his neck in angling. He is the full-time professional secretary to Warrington Anglers Association – the second biggest club in the UK – and now in his 24th year looking after its members and many fisheries. He is a great fan of Irish angling and in recent years has found himself catching an array of species in Cavan, Leitrim, Tipperary, Roscommon, Galway and Clare.
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“I’ve been dead lucky”, Frank confided. “Over the last four years I’ve been tackling a range of different Irish waters without going to recognised fisheries and have still managed to catch a lot of fish.

“Some of the shorelines showed no signs of having been fished before, yet a little pre-baiting has always helped me to get a fair catch. And it’s amazing that in Ireland an angler can turn up, find a stretch of lake or river that looks inviting and just plonk himself down on the bank and begin catching fish!”

11 ardkeen 30Frank’s jaunts around Ireland have produced some terrific catches yet his most memorable was a netful of small roach. The plan was to tackle Castle Lake, known by some locals as Ardkeen, and located not far from Kilkishen, County Clare. The target fish were bream but there were two challenges; high water levels from the excessive spring rain and oppressive thundery conditions. Frank travelled with Billy Delves, the St Helens Angling Association secretary, and they started their attack with groundbait feeders in flat-calm conditions and no matter what bait went on to the hook, the result was always the same and produced nothing other than roach.

That evening the two lads groundbaited heavily hoping that an early start the next morning would have the slabs waiting for them. That didn’t happen and apart from a smattering of skimmers it was back to a bite-a-cast, so Frank quickly decided to come inshore with a short pole and make the most of what was available on the day.

“Once I committed myself to fishing for whatever swam past, the day became really enjoyable and I managed to get a bite on every drop in”, he recalled with a smile. “I placed my platform close to a drop-off and chose to use five and six metre pole rigs. During the session I tried red maggot, bits of worm, caster and even corn to see if it that would produce a bigger fish, but there was little change and the fish kept on coming. If the opportunity arises I shall certainly try Castle Lake again because it is renowned locally for bream and tench, the fact that they didn’t appear could possibly be blamed on the high waters and weather”.

There is a session that Frank claims to be his “greatest day’s fishing”. “I was with Billy Delves again and on the last day of a week’s cruising holiday on the Shannon-Erne waterway we took a boat to explore Drumharlow Lake (on some maps it is Lough Eidin) that forms part of the River Boyle system. 

“It was early evening when we arrived and a quick walk along the bank with a leger rod and an arlesey bomb gave us a maximum of two metres (6ft) with a 40 metre cast. We had hoped for more but decided to stay and give it a bash with groundbait feeders to see if there was any response. Nothing happened for 45 minutes and then we started catching a few roach. They were magnificent fish averaging between 10 ounces and 1lb, absolutely scale perfect and most certainly had never been caught before. It was June and the light allowed us to fish until 10pm. Then Bill and I spent 20 minutes covering our swims with groundbait using the largest swimfeeders we had and then retired to the cruiser for supper and a nightcap".

“The next morning we were on the bank for 5am and casting into a flat calm lake that showed no indication of life whatsoever – then bingo!  At first I just caught roach to 1lb while Bill, who was casting another 10 metres, latched on to bream of 5lb and ended up with a personal best catch of 130lb. I even managed to make three figures!  It wasn’t the amount of fish that made this a special day but the overall experience; a combination of once again finding a spot that has rarely – if ever – been fished, the anticipation from having to wait for so long to get the first bite, the adrenalin rush when the tip pulls round for the first time and then to slide the net under a fish in prime condition. It was pure magic”.

Published by Angling Times 2010
Written by Dave Houghton