Peter Gleeson, angling correspondent Nenagh Guardian reports:

An angler from Ballycommon near Nenagh  fishing for perch on Lough Derg ended up hooking and landing a monster pike.

As perch are relatively small fish James Kirby was using a fishing rod of just four feet in length – a tool totally unsuited to hunting down such a massive fish.

Early in the day last Saturday James and his friend had been fishing for pike with more robust rods suited to task at hand. But, with the pike being slow to bite, they decided to change over to much smaller and lighter rods to try for a few perch.

Equipped with line of just six pounds breaking strain, and using relatively small single barbless hooks baited with worms, they went on to have some good sport catching the smaller species of fish.

James takes up the story: “We caught lots of perch and bream. At the end of the day, after seven hours of fishing, we were tired but still in that ‘just one more cast’ mode.

“On my final last cast my worm was taken by something big and my light reel screamed off as the fish realised it was hooked.

“I knew I had a big pike on. The fight was on. It was the experience of a lifetime, especially as it was on such a small rod with 6lb nylon.

“I was terrified the line was going to break. The pike stayed deep and made lots of runs for the first twenty minutes and went under the boat twice which involved putting my hole arm and rod under the boat, too, so the line would not break off the keel.

“During the fight the heavens opened with very heavy rain. After 25 minutes I had the pike tired and the monster came to the surface, saw the boat, and went on more runs.

James Kirby with The magnificent ‘lady’
James Kirby with The magnificent ‘lady’ wins our Catch of the Week

“It took a total of half an hour to land the beautiful fish in the boat after the fight of a lifetime.”

James is in no doubt that it was a very special pike: “The fish measured one meter and 26 centimetres and from experience it was well over 30lbs.

“The miracle was the single size 10 barbless hook was all the pike was hooked on.

The magnificent ‘lady’ was returned quickly to the water after a photo and swam to the darkness of the depths safely and unharmed.

“This was truly a magical experience and a reminder that these big fish, although scarce, are still in Lough Derg,” says James.

James got a lot of satisfaction in releasing his fish alive. “Every fish should be treated with respect and returned to the water alive and well,” he says.

One can just estimate how heavy this female pike would have been last spring when she was spawning. “I reckon it would have been close or over the Irish pike record,” says James.

For his great feat of angling skill, James wins our Catch of the Week.

Peter Gleeson
Nenagh Guardian