Bars of Gold

‘Bars of Gold’ is how Kevin Lyons described his catch from Kilglass Lake on the River Shannon’s Inner Lakes.

Any other Cockney would have come up with some proper rhyming slang to describe his catch of quality rudd from a beautiful backwater off Ireland’s longest river. 

“I’d prefer to have a 1lb rudd in my hand than a 5lb bream”, he said lifting a beautiful brace from his keepnet. This lake system must be particularly suitable for rudd because they are thriving on a share-basis with big tench, plenty of bream, roach and hybrids. There are not many Irish loughs with such a rich vein of different species and every now and again I’ve had the perfect fishing day.

“My best memories are of arriving on the bank at dawn and catching rudd and tench until about 10 o’clock or so; followed by a mix of roach, hybrids and bream, completing the session with more rudd and going home absolutely cream-crackered (he couldn’t resist it!).

Kevin moved across from London four years ago and runs a guesthouse on the outskirts of Longford Town, which makes it handy for the Shannon and many lakes around Strokestown, Lanesborough, Mohill and across to Lough Gowna. He manages to get out fishing twice a week and during the summer traipses around his top waters encouraging his guests and helping them with groundbaiting for the next day’s fishing.

Good rudd fishing isn’t something that many anglers have experienced and my own thoughts are in the pink haze of ‘Mr Crabtree Goes Fishing’, when he and Peter enticed the evening rudd in the reeded margins by anchoring a slice of bread with some string and a stone, before rowing off and casting a loaded float to catch fish as they plucked at the bread. Strangely, considering the rudd are built for surface feeding, Kevin catches his biggest fish with a groundbait feeder 30 metres out in about 6mts (18ft) of water.

“My best sessions have also come after pre-baiting”, he said. “I like to a lay bed of brown breadcrumb with plenty of casters and about 1.5 catering tins of sweetcorn. The next morning I use an open-ended feeder carrying an ‘explosive’ mix that carries plenty of casters and about three maggots; the idea of the few maggots is simply to have something moving as an attractor for at least a short while on the bottom.

“Two red maggots on a size 14 hook is my starter but if the fish are bold I’ll change up and give them four maggots on a size 12 but there are days went when it can be a struggle and that is when I will try double caster, sweetcorn or a nice juicy section of worm”.

Access to the banks of Kilglass Lake is poor and for this reason it is better to stay in the area and get local advice, rather than drop in at Strokestown just for a days fishing. Mind you, the Inner Lakes system is sprawling and because same species pop up in dozens of local waters, even if you get lost I can guarantee that you will stumble across decent fishing.

Another option would be to sail into the heart of the maze on a hired cruiser!

Fishing and cruising on Ireland’s River Shannon or Erne is a brilliant holiday idea. Apart from sailing on the relatively quiet and beautiful rivers system and through a chain of awesome lakes, this is a rare opportunity to explore backwaters brimming with fish where you can pre-bait, safe in the knowledge that nobody else will be on the peg in the morning!

But it takes planning otherwise you will end up dashing here, there and all over the place. Choose your fishing first. For instance bream, roach and hybrids, will be found along the entire Shannon-Erne Waterway from Killaloe in the south right up to Belleek on the most northerly section of the Erne. But when it comes to tench, they are more likely to be caught in numbers from Lanesborough, downstream to towards Limerick, and it’s much the same when it comes to getting the biggest pike.

Choose your boat carefully. It is essential to have an after-deck (that’s the open space at the back) so that you can enjoy a bit of fun fishing and use the open space for storing the tackle boxes. Ensure the cabins provide a single berth for everyone it it’s a lads-only fishing trip and the number one priority is to upgrade the towed boat - called a tender - to one that is at least 12ft long.

The extra boat is absolutely essential for carrying angler and tackle to the shore for fishing, for pre-baiting of an evening and even for fishing from - so organise it at the time of booking. Carrick Craft – one of the best known cruise companies – seems to be the first choice of UK anglers and have marinas at Banagher on the lower Shannon, Carrick-on-Shannon on the upper river and on Lower Lough Erne in Northern Ireland.

Published in Angling Times 2008

By Dave Houghton

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