Tuesday 1st April 2003
Its that time again, the first day of my six week trip to Lanesborough and needless to say, I’m very excited ! The 09.20 Irish ferry service was cancelled, so I had to spend an extra couple of hours sleeping in the van at Holyhead waiting for the next sailing at 13.45. After docking at 15.40 it took well over an hour to travel the 10 miles to Walkinstown where I picked up the shop stock from Milbro. Then the two hour drive to Co. Longford meant my arrival was not until 19.15. A quick look at the river confirmed that there were fish present, and although I did not sleep until after midnight, I was confident of a good start to this years campaign.
Wednesday 2nd April 2003
The alarm went off at 06.00 and three hours later I got out of bed. I decided on a short session by the gusher and first cast had a 14oz Roach followed by some Hybrids which were up to 2lb The fish were few and far between and at 13.00 I gave up with 8lb 12oz of reward. The power station, which had been running on two chimneys, had now been reduced to one with cold water running through, this probably would explain the lack of fish. I had another go in the evening but couldn’t catch a thing. The river is about a foot down on this time last year, at least 15” below the concrete at the gusher. Went to Joe and Maureens later and fell asleep in the chair, still recovering from yesterday’s long trip
Thursday 3rd April 2003
Ignored the alarm clock again so didn’t get a chance to fish this morning as I was preparing the “Ark Rose” for launch. Cleaned the boat and then returned to stock the shop for the first tourists that would probably arrive this weekend. Had an evening session which only produced three fish, albeit good Hybrids to 2lb. The river was alive with fish but quite simply they were unwilling to feed. Two locals had 4 pike to 10lbs proving just how many fish I couldn’t tempt.
Friday 4th Apri 2003
Had my first early session of the year but shouldn’t have bothered. A solitary bite produced a Hybrid of about 1lb 4oz and I went back to bed a little after 08.00 I did very little today although it was a lovely warm afternoon. Had a brief session between the trees but failed again !!
Saturday 5th April 2003
Saturday is the busiest day of the week in the shop when I usually deal with the tourists and local anglers. It was a beautiful spring day and Bridie went to Athlone. In the morning I tried to pull out a long net that had been left under the bridge. Upon investigation, I discovered it to be a “Fyke” net which was nearly 30’ foot long designed to catch Eels but claiming the lives of all fish who find themselves caught in it. This net I presume had been lost or washed downstream and was full of stones and totally immovable. I secured it to the bridge and informed the Fisheries board. Had an afternoon watching the racing despite being interrupted by customers. A few anglers tried to fish the “Hot water” stretch but didn’t catch an awful lot. Saw my first Sand Martins today. I wish April could last forever.
Sunday 6th April 2003
Another lazy day in the shop with not many customers. The river was not performing too well and the guys who fished through the night had packed and left before my 09.30 inspection. Surprisingly sold out of maggots by 10.00 and those who fed the fish were left frustrated. I watched the Grand Prix and went to Longford for a pint of Smithwicks. About 23.45 I had a look under the bridge and found a very large shoal had amassed there. Amongst the shoal was a huge Pike which I’m convinced was over 20lb so I had to set up a spinning rod with a plug bait. Although I had no success, I intend to start very early in the morning.
Monday 7th April 2003
Got up far too early to try to catch bait-fish on the “Hot water” but perhaps I shouldn’t have bothered ? The first two hours produced only a Roach of just under a pound and a Hybrid of similar size. A move to the gusher was called for. I waded round the post and started catching a good stamp of fish with a few topping 2lb. As I pulled in another Hybrid, a large Pike had a look, so I went and begged an angler on the “trees” peg for a bait fish. Luckily he obliged, and although I was unlucky not to catch my intended fish, I did manage a small jack of 4lb 12oz. The swim went quiet so I vacated my swim with about 15lbs to my credit. When I got to the trees peg, Gary from Liverpool was playing a large Pike that intercepted a 4oz fish on his pole. After a few minutes we saw it was a good double but it dropped the Hybrid. As the dead fish was only fit for bait, I decided to use it on my Pike gear which was still set up and to my surprise within seconds I had hooked the big girl, who when landed, weighed in at 16lbs 1oz, my fifth biggest ever. I’m sure it was the same fish Gary had whose swim completely died. By strange coincidence, on Monday 8th April last year, I caught 15lbs of fish and a 16lb 8oz Pike, now that is spooky !!!
Tuesday 8th April 2003
Another intended early start resulted in over sleeping but at least today I had my porridge before going to the gusher. It was quite slow but the few fish I had were better than before with the Hybrids going to 2lb 4oz. The Pike didn’t show which was just as well as I was unable to get a fish small enough for bait. The bright sunlight put paid to a good session so I downed tools at 1pm I decided to have a look at the River Hind which enters Lough Ree at Port Runny near Knockcrockery, it was a long walk but was devoid of fish. Further upstream, it is a very good trout water and I suspect that given ideal conditions the lower reaches at the mouth although only 8’ deep and 30’ wide could be very productive. Anyway, at least I had a pleasent time with the birds even if the fish didn’t offer a single bite.
Wednesday 9th April 2003
Woke to find yet another bright spring day and I again chose the gusher for 09.45 start. I caught only one small Roach which was to be dinner for Mr. Pike who gladly accepted. It took a good ten minutes before netting the 9lb 2oz fish and then I went back to the trees peg for some more bait-fish. I could only get bites on caster but did get enough 2oz specimens to further my Piking. Shame I couldn’t find another Pike. I had about 4lb of small stuff before giving up. The shoal under the bridge have now stayed throughout the day so everyone should enjoy good catches from now on. The two anglers from the Isle of White had about 50lb between them, with most going over a pound. I had a go for a couple of hours in the evening on the feeder but managed a poor return of only 4 fish.
Thursday 10th April 2003
I wish I could get up in the morning, but my oversleeping gave me a valid excuse for my first trip to the Inny at Castlecore. I started briskly, the first fish being a 12oz Roach followed by the odd fish to a pound but mainly 3oz - 4oz After an hour it went quiet until a big Pike lunged at a small Perch by my feet. I went to the van and assembled my Piking tackle using the Perch as bait. Ten minutes later a 4lb 12oz Pike was netted although this was not my target fish. I re-baited and wasn’t too surprised to hook the rogue fish and it weighed in at 13lb 12oz. I believe this to be the same fish I caught at 8lb 7oz three years previously as it was easily recognisable by a seemingly deformed humped back. The 10th of April would normally herald the arrival of the Swallow but as yet they are absent even though the Sand Martins have been here over a week. Back at Lanesborough there were not many anglers present so decide on an evening Pike session resulting in a double of 10lb 10oz at the fence along with 6lb of Roach and Hybrids.
Friday 11th April 2003
I honestly believed the gusher contained enough fish to have a sackfull, but with only three fish early on, the swim dried up leaving me a pathetic 6lbs. To make matters worse, I couldn’t tempt a bait fish, so the Pike had to be forsaken for today. A little after 08.30 I’d had enough so walked down to see how the angler at the steps had done. Joe Doyle was a Dubliner who hadn’t been to Lanesborough for a few years, but his night session produced six Tench and a number of big Hybrids for over 50lbs which was thoroughly deserved as it must have been bitterly cold during the night. By mid afternoon it became cloudy for the first time since my arrival, so I was optimistic about the evening session. Wrong again !! Although there were plenty of fish present, only three Hybrids found their way to my net. I’m beginning to think I’m useless !!
Saturday 12th April 2003
Shop day again so had to miss the fishing until early evening. It was very quiet, the Power station had been reduced to one chimney pushing out cold water so some of the shoal fish had disappeared. One man from Liverpool had about 60lb before giving up when the going got tough. When I finished in the shop, I went to below the steps at peg C18 where the Dublin angler had found the Tench. I baited with corn and crumb and hoped my luck would change. No chance, all I hooked was a Hybrid and even that was lost so at 21.30 it was back in front of the T.V. for the U.S. Masters
Sunday 13th April 2003
Returned to the same swim at 05.00 and fed more corn, at least this time I landed a fish albeit a 2lb Hybrid. The sun was on my swim by 07.00 so I moved up the bridge to restore my faith in the river when to my surprise landed a Tench of 4lb 10oz first cast. Only four other fish bothered my net for less than the weight of the Tench. The ESB cut the power supply to most of the town today (they did this same time last year) and it started raining by mid morning so this made a day in the shop very boring. The few anglers present did not catch much even though there were thousands in the shoal under the bridge. I thought I could do better this evening when I went out at 19.00 but only caught 2. Is it me or is there something that stops the fish feeding when there are anglers around ??
Monday 14th April 2003
Missed the alarm again ! Two anglers were on the same area that I had been feeding for Tench and they caught three but lost eight, not surprising as they were both using 3.2lb bottom. I usually use 6lb to a 5.6lb hooklength. About 11.00 I tried for some bait-fish between the trees. I got about a dozen sub 2oz fish which were perfect. A small jack snatched at one so I felt it was time for Piking. A sacrificial Perch was quickly taken and the Pike was a surprising 8lb 12oz. Now I had bait in reserve, I was very confident of the evening session being productive, and sure enough a 12lb 12oz fish was banked below the bridge in front of a large audience. This fish was a fine looking specimen and I’m sure it had only recently spawned as it should have weighed well in excess of 15lbs but I can only assume it hadn’t fed on the shoal fish to fatten itself. I never caught a single fish on the stick float, whilst the Latvians were foul hooking and putting 2lb Hybrids into plastic bags for eating. Perhaps shooting Russians should be made legal !!
Tuesday 15th April 2003
Should have got up early but didn’t so went to the Inny at Castlecore. This visit wasn’t as good and an hour later with only an 8oz Roach and four small Perch, I gave up to have a look at Houlihans hole behind the meat factory at Ballymahon. The rivel was at its lowest I’ve seen and with so few fish in the Inny at present, the swims look un-fishable. I can only hope for rain in the next few days to improve things. Having still a few bait-fish, I couldn’t resist a Piking session below the bridge. Once again I could only catch 3 fish on the stick and not a sniff at the Pike bait. I put in a lot of corn in anticipation of an early rise tomorrow. Still no sign of the Swallows.
Wednesday 16th April 2003
Got up at 04.30 and sat on C18 hoping for some action. Lost a feeder first cast and then another ten minutes later. Caught 2 good Hybrids before netting the first of four Tench going 4lb 2oz, 3lb 4oz, 3lb 14oz and finally 4lb 8oz I also lost two others but this was still my best result of the year with a total weight of nearly 19lbs for 6 fish. I had reason to smile again ! I prepared for the first trip out to the cut, should I have bothered ? No, of course not. I had a solitary Rudd before dark then nothing for two hours. It was an early night on the “Ark Rose” I saw a flock of Whimbrel at dusk, this is the earliest I’ve seen them.
Thursday 17th April 2003
Woke at 03.30 to get back to Lanesborough but couldn’t get the outboard started. Without panic I eventually managed it and found my way by 04.30 I tied the boat up and fished C18 but could only find Hybrids to 2lb which, quite frankly, bore me when the intended target is Tench. A move to the bridge again found me a 4lb 5oz Tinca by accident. Was it something I trod in ? As things were, I risked my last bait-fish which was intercepted by an 11lb Pike. It was a very slow day at Lanesborough although the temperature crept into the 70’s the sunlight made the fish unwilling even though the shoal at the bridge is now huge. In the evening I moored under the bridge to tempt the shoal but did not register a single bite. The Swallows arrived at last.
Friday 18th April 2003
Good Friday means no pubs open so those drinkers are left with little to do. The power station went down leaving the anglers with no fish from mid-day onwards. Two anglers from Dublin fished the C18 area and had 4 tench between them during the night. I took one of them out on the boat for a trip a few miles downstream to the islands where there were over a hundred Cormorants. Early evening saw me out on the cut off loading 30 balls of ground-bait in anticipation of the Bream. It wasn’t looking good as dusk approached. I had a solitary Pike of 4lbs 12oz which ruined my average and then a 4oz Perch. It was 23.00 before another fish, a 2lb Hybrid followed by 3 good Roach of a pound a piece and at last a Bream of 4lb 14oz. The bites disappeared and by 01.00 I’d had enough for the night
Saturday 19th April 2003
Kevin and Mark from Dublin again had some fortune with the Tench, this time getting three between them. They packed and left at midday to seek another water. Anglers on the Roscommon side had a few hard sought fish but in general the action was very poor. One chimney fired up which means some fish will return the “Hot water” but those who tried in the afternoon only caught sub 2oz fish. In the evening I joined two guys from Northern Ireland who had baited the area below C18. Although we never caught a Tench, we all had some good Hybrids and I left them to a night session about 22.00
Sunday 20th April 2003
The lads had a reasonable night getting 3 Tench between them along with a good bag of Hybrids to 3lb 10oz Their biggest Tench went 5lb 1oz Considering this being Easter Sunday, there were very few anglers on the bank and those who fished caught very little. The shoal returned but again unwilling to feed. In a couple of hours I had just 3 fish for less than 2lbs.
Monday 21st April 2003
Alarm went off at 04.30 so it was off to have another go at the Tench. This time I had 3, the biggest going 3lb 4oz which was foul hooked along with a 2lb 2oz and a baby of only 1lb also making their first appearance, a couple of Eels. Moved up the the bridge just after 07.00 to catch a solitary Roach of 14oz. Some fish were starting to spawn in the reeds. I moved again to the trees to gain a spratt or two for Piking. Got 1 Rudd, 1 Roach and a Hybrid but couldn’t find a Pike. It went very cold today and it felt more like January with very few anglers trying their luck. This has been the quietest Easter I‘ve ever known at Lanesborough.
Tuesday 22nd April 2003
Had a lay in until 08.00 then saw the bait delivery and decided on another venture at Castlecore. I have a knack at choosing bad days of late and today was no exception. Just 5 Gudgeon in an hour meant that I had to leave so made the trip 10 miles upstream to the Forrest section just below Lough Iron where again I blanked. Had a look at the canal behind the Rustic Inn at Abbeyshrule where I found it unbelievably weedy for only April. Back at Lanesborough one angler got 95lb of boring fish above the bridge but in general, the whole stretch was very poor. The evening saw my trip to the cut in anticipation of at last having a full night. I set up the Pike rod just in case and the excitement of seeing the bung bobbing was soon ruined by the 4oz Perch on the end of the line which took a fancy to my Gudgeon. With only 3 other Perch to my credit, it didn’t take too long before boredom took over and I got half a nights sleep.
Wednesday 23rd April 2003
Took the “Ark Rose” across Lough Ree in the dark again at 04.30 and parked on the bend out of the way from my pre-baited swim. If it wasn’t for the fact I lost all 4 feeders, I would have considered this an excellent session with 4 Tench at 4lb 10oz, 4lb 10oz, 3lb 5oz and 3lb 2oz for a total of 15lb 11oz with no Eels or unwanted Hybrids. The last 2 fish came on a 1/4 oz bomb which I’m sure helped. Most anglers caught on the “Hot water” today with top weight recorded at 126lb
Thursday 24th April 2003
Managed to rise at 04.30 again despite being very tired. As I had not pre-baited the night before, I wasn’t expecting too much. To my surprise the first bite of the day resulted in a 6lb 4oz Bream, my first over 6lb from the town stretch for 5 years. Only a Tench of 4lb 7oz was to follow so again I moved to the bridge where I blanked. Another move to the gusher and found a lot of spawn confirming what I suspected a couple of days previous. This is the earliest date I’ve recorded for spawning in mass. There were not many others present today and only the man above the bridge really caught. He claimed over 50lbs but took a long time amassing that weight.
Friday 25th April 2003
For the first time during this years visit, I woke to find torrential rain, so of course I returned to bed. The wind was blowing a strong south-westerly so at least that should bring in more fish from the lake. The bait delivery of 28 1/2 gallons of maggot and castor means at last there should be plenty of tourists this weekend. It stopped raining just after mid-day so I walked along the bank to find extra colour in the river and the angler on the fence had a good bag of 125lbs made up of the same fish that have been resident at Lanesborough for three weeks. This was the first time that they had moved upstream from the bridge in good numbers. Others on the stretch did not do so well. My evening session on C18 resulted in 1 bite and an 8oz Hybrid.
Saturday 26th April 2003
The temperature for April has been well above average and today was no different, in fact it feels more like May than April. The wind was still strong so I couldn’t get out on the boat. The mid-Shannon region has been very quiet on the tourist front this year. Only a few anglers had a go but the results were down on yesterday. I spent a boring day in the shop whilst Bridie was away in Dublin and though a lot of bait went out, the customers were very few. I was glad to shut shop and have an early night.
Sunday 27th April 2003
The wind continued to be as strong as the last few days making angling conditions very difficult. Another day in the shop saw even less customers than yesterday. In the evening I went to Ballymahon for the Inny festival draw where I do the computer work for the three day competition. The Inny has been very poor this year resulting in only 25 anglers booking in. We all know tomorrow will be hard work, but I’m sure it will be an even match.
Monday 28th April 2003
Couldn’t sleep so got up early for a pre match session on the Tench swim I’d had success on in the past few weeks. I only caught 2 of 3lb 12oz and 2lb 15oz. So for a while at least, I went to the match draw full of confidence. I drew B6 at Redbridge, the same as on the first day last year, albeit on the opposite bank. With a swim only 7-8 foot deep, I had no problem just setting up a stick float. The swim looked good but we knew it would be hard going. First cast produced a tiny Perch so for a brief moment, I was probably winning the match. 3 other Perch followed in the first 30 minutes whilst my neighbours had only 1 a piece. Then came 3 hours of nothing so when I switched to the inside line and a single maggot on an 18 hook caught 5 more to finish with 250g which is 8 1/2 oz in old money, enough for second in section and 70 euros in the wallet. The section was won with a 1lb 8oz Perch. Overall was very poor. “C” section was won with 950g whilst “A” section fared a bit better with the winner getting over 3 Kilo of small stuff. I have something to look forward to, I can still win this competition !!! Saw my first Terns of the year, 3 days earlier than 2002
Tuesday 29th April 2003
I was too stiff and tired to make an effort to fish even though time was running out, I’m desperate to find a bag of Bream. The rain continued in very heavy showers mixed with sunshine so in the evening took a chance on a spot of Piking. I didn’t catch and spent 45 minutes under the bridge sheltering from a torrential downpour. Had a reasonably early night for tomorrows onslaught on “C” section.
Wednesday 30th April 2003
Drew C2 on the Inny bay section and looked forward to five hours of misery in the rain. Achieved my target, - 2 Perch and hoped all the others would get less. Peg 1 slaughtered me with 9 kilos and round the bend, Steve Russell on peg 8, got 47 Kilos, over 100lbs, I got 280 g and finished last in section. A + B had similar results, weights of 35 kilos next to ounces, very patchy. At least with some decent weights, everyone should turn up on Friday as its still very open.
Thursday 1st May 2003
After a long lie in, I had the intention of going to Castlecore for a practise session on the Roach. I eventually got there at 15.00 and was into the fish straight away. Set up a Pike rod just in case but couldn’t tempt one. I had just over 23lb with the biggest going 1lb 6oz the largest for three years. When I got back to Lanesborough, I had another unsuccessful Piking session. A few Tench were caught downstream but in general the fishing was the same as the last few days.
Friday 2nd May 2003
Drew A4 above Redbridge where I was informed lived a few resident fish. I started well but as they were only 2oz each I knew I would need a lot to succeed. I heard others were catching bigger fish so accepted defeat and resigned to a small weight of sprats. When it came to the weigh in, I was surprised to find the highest was 1K 620 and I knew I had more. My 2.500 gave me 3rd in section behind 2 pegs up on 2.560 and the end peg having 5.900 giving me 4th overall and another 30 Euros. Overall winner was Phil McCaffery with just over 10 Kilos and Steve Russell was second after getting only 700g and 7 points on A5 today to add to his two section wins.
Saturday 3rd May 2003
A day in the shop meant I was unable to fish but the “Hot water” stretch was full of anglers catching the usual suspects. All pegs were producing well for those who like that sort of thing. The shop was no where near as busy as previous years, indicating a trend of less visitors to the midlands. Still, over 27 gallons went out this weekend. Too windy to get the boat out for Colin and Dennis who arrived today.
Sunday 4th May 2003
The river parade was cancelled due to the high winds and rain and this meant the shop being quiet again. The wind died down a bit in the evening so I ventured out despite the rain, to get some bait on the mud island swim for the first time this year. I had a go, but only caught two Hybrids so retired for a half nights sleep.
Monday 5th May 2003
Another bank holiday partially made up for a poor weekend in the shop and the fishing was excellent on the river. I went to the Inny at Castlecore and got 30lb of Roach to 1lb 5oz. A few visitors came to see how I was doing. My secret swim was no longer a secret. Beat Wesley 2-1 at snooker to go 10-6 up in our yearly championship.
Tuesday 6th May 2003
Got woken to find Dennis and Colin stranded on the boat in the river, the engine having given up. After succeeding to start it again, we went to the mud island and although it was cold and a bit choppy, we managed to find a few Bream. Dennis had 10 for 59lb (biggest 7lb 8oz) and I had 3 plus 2 Hybrids for 21lb (biggest 6lb 12oz) When we got back it started raining and the wind dropped.
Wednesday 7th May 2003
An early morning start at Castlecore produced 30lb in 4 1/2 hours, quite a lot less than I expected. At first light I hooked what I believed to be a Pike but saw it to be a large Bream of over 6lb but was unable to get it in my small net. After losing it I hooked another smaller 3lb 4oz surprisingly with all the sessions I had over the years this was the first Bream in this swim. Colin and Dennis arrived to tell me they were unable to start the out-board again so they went to the carp lake at Rooskey. The mornings bright start was dampened by wind and rain so I was back at Lanesborough by 10.30 High winds again stopped us from getting to the mud island
Thursday 8th May 2003
Got up lacking enthusiasm but as the wind had died down, Dennis and I went to offload the ground-bait on the mud island swim. Anglers on the river were struggling a bit but the French quartet who come each year, caught a number of Pike to 8 kilos which is about 18lbs. We eventually got out at 19.30 as I blanked and Dennis got 6 Roach and 2 Hybrids. We came back at dusk and the wind was starting to blow again.
Friday 9th May 2003
It seems every year I come to Lanesborough, my trip fizzles out during the final few days. I woke at dawn to find more wind and rain so not surprisingly, I stayed in bed. Colin and Dennis went to the “Hot water” but by breakfast they were not catching much. The arrival of 28 1/2 gallons of bait made this the busiest weekend so far. Its a shame the visiting anglers who plan their week months in advance, will find the next week well below par. We decided on our last trip to the island although Colin declined. Dennis and I remained optimistic but this time it was me who was more fortunate. I had 3 Bream of 4lb 14oz, 5lb 2oz and 5lb 13oz along with 4 big Hybrids to end with 24lb 11oz all in 90 minutes. Dennis had his turn for misery as he blanked.
Saturday 10th May 2003
A lot of anglers arrived today for their bait expecting good catches but I think they are a week late for general fishing so they may be disappointed. I had an evening stint on the island for the last time but only had Hybrids for 13lb so returned at dusk when it started raining.
Sunday 11th May 2003
Still quite busy on the banks of the Shannon although the catches were substantially down on previous weeks. I took the boat out of the water during the afternoon and was resigned to the fact my 6 weeks was over. Had a Chinese meal and an early night
Monday 12th May 2003
My final few hours were spent cleaning my tackle and at mid-day I was ready to leave. I’m left with mixed feelings about this year, on one hand the Bream fishing was again poor and on the other, I had more Tench than ever. The Piking in April was superb, my 10 fish averaging just under 10lbs each. The Inny was far below par with only 30lb being my best bag. Boarded the ferry at 15.30 and made my way home talking about nature to 2 anglers I had met at Lanesborough. Now its all over, can I really say I’m glad to be home ?