Lough Derravaragh Angling Report By Brenda Montgomery, IFI December 7th to December 13th 2015
Each day this week Lough Derravaragh’s levels rose, its flood waters eating away at the shoreline and spreading across fields and low lying areas with a kind of sinister insidious determination until by Friday this lake’s famous Italian shape had changed beyond recognition, resembling more like a paddy field in China than the great 1080 hectare ‘Children of Lir’ lake in Co.Westmeath. Being in full flood and the colour of chocolate posed a big enough fishing problem but true to form as has been for the past number of weeks, the weekend landed with more meteorological hardships – snow, not forecasted ‘except for the high grounds’ here we had it, an early Christmas.
I had arranged to meet fishing friends – Markus and Danielus at Donore for 10am and undaunted despite the car registering a fresh 1 degree I headed off (besides my Polish is still a little basic and an excuse would have been too much of a challenge at that hour to my already overtaxed brain in trying to negotiate snow and sludge covered roads). Markus was thankfully bringing the boat down from Dublin so we escaped the torture of having to wade out through floods to get to our vessel and there was also no bailing out session.
Launching in what felt like a field, we headed out. I have great admiration for the Poles, they seem to be a hardy, fearless bunch and just don’t seem to notice the cold, unlike myself whose movement was severely restricted because of the countless layers I had on me. But my fishing friends are kind and never once commented on my change of shape.
Fishing in a flooded lake is a real challenge and tough because previous knowledge of the lake is useless, as the once familiar fishing terrain has been changed beyond recognition by the pulsing, pushing heavily coloured water. One minute we were fishing over deep water and the next over 10 centimeters of grass. We decided to troll lures and because of the lack of visibility, opted for brightly coloured ones, capable of emitting sound. The brighter colours and larger sizes may be easier to spot through the gloom and the rattling ball bearing within the lures we hoped would appeal to other senses. I opted for some luminously coloured plug baits, roundish ones with the big lip known as the Bigs bait in the angling world. These are designed to dive deep when retrieved quickly allowing the angler to fish at different depths and we certainly had different depths last Saturday. The other advantage I reckoned considering the lack of water clarity was that these baits are hollow with a ball inside which rattles sending out vibrations which would hopefully act as a dinner bell to any pike in the area. My companions weapons of choice were a Rush Diver and 14gram spinner baits but for the next few hours we chopped and changed repeatedly as we failed to connect, at least Markus and Danielus did, I just stayed put in a bid to conserve heat. Markus eventually struck gold using an ‘Atom’ in silver and gold hauling in an impressive jack of around 8lbs, with the duck broken Danielus landed a few small jacks after using brightly coloured Toby’s. The pike were feisty and real fighters and it was hard not to get caught up in the excitement of a take. Temperatures didn’t rise much during the day, mid-day was our best fishing time and although we drifted around in the sea that was Lough Derravaragh, we stuck mainly to the Crookedwood Southern end of the lake as this is where the only fish action seemed to be.
Despite the challenges the flooding had created, this was a good day’s fishing for as well as the 5 pike in total, our lungs got the benefit of good fresh air and our egos and spirits were raised to a high which only anglers can understand. Still as I made my way home I couldn’t help thinking that next time it would be a good idea for me to pack one of those space blankets, those new additions to first aid boxes – a thermal low-weight, low-bulk blanket made of heat-reflective thin plastic sheeting……..
The Rush Diver from Sakura is a long bill minnow designed to get down deeper than other Sakura lipped lures, so no predator is safe! As with any deep diving lure, a slight jig of the rod while the lure is at running depth results in an enticing flash of the Rush Diver’s sides, seriously encouraging big takes from predators.
Fishing was poor on the lake in general because of the high water levels and difficulties accessing this lake. There has been a phenomenal amount of rainfall, a culmination of three storms – Barney, Clodagh and more recently Desmond. The ESB at the weekend recorded 800,000 litres per second entering Lough Derg so we can’t really complain about the conditions at Lough Derravaragh.
There were scattered reports of pike catches, heaviest at 10lbs caught under the hill close to the Southern shore by Pawel Kaczmarek, Dublin using a gold spoon.
It seemed as if everything and anything was being thrown at the fish this week in an attempt to attract them, takes when they did happen were on brightly coloured lures, mepps, pheasant’s eye, bright yellow sliders and bulldogs.
With Christmas just around the corner and the often frequent difficulty in buying for that person who seems to have everything or wants nothing, what about booking a day’s fishing on this braising and magical lake? The best man for the job would be Mullingar man Michael Flanagan whose knowledge of this lake and indeed all the midland water ways is second to none. It would be a unique present, getting back to nature and waking the ‘hunter/gather’ instinct that may have got buried somewhere beneath work, deadlines, shopping and the pressures of everyday life.
Just a suggestion.
The Lough Derravaragh Angling Association will be holding their AGM in February 2016 and all are welcome (date to be decided later). This progressive club promotes and encourages angling – trout, pike and coarse fishing in the Lough Derravaragh system and assists in the protection of the waters from pollution and illegal fishing with a view to improving wild brown trout stocks within the system. Membership levels for 2014 stand at 46 senior anglers and 13 juveniles. Anyone interested in joining should contact Joe Keena at 086 8722449.
Please remember All anglers are required to have a Fishery Permit to fish Lough Derravaragh which must be purchased before going out on the lake.
There is no statutory close season for pike in Ireland and they may be fished for all year round. But it is as well that anglers are aware of the 2006 Angling Byelaws which state specifically for pike anglers the following:
A bag limit of 1 Pike in any one day.
Prohibits the killing of any pike greater than 50cm in length.
Prohibits the possession by any person of more than 1 whole pike less than 50 cm or more than 0.75kgs of pike flesh, this provision does not apply to a person storing pike or pike parts subject to conditions.
Prohibits the possession by any person of more than 12 coarse fish for use as bait subject to conditions.
Brenda Montgomery IFI