Michael Flanagan reports from the midlands:

We featured some fantastic characters in recent years in Angling Focus and Bob Bettinson is up there with the best. Bob and his wife Shirley were staying in the splendid Bloomfield House Hotel on the shore on Ennell and Bob was over to judge the National Alpaca Show in Mullingar Equestrian Centre. Bob runs and owns the Toft Alpaca Stud farm in Toft Manor Warwickshire and is also a retired theater Director working in West End and across the world on musicals for years. One of the big hits he told me was Buddy the Musical, which to be honest I told bob I had no idea. No matter we got on like a house on fire and Bob loves his fishing and shooting. We spent a few hours on Lene in North Westmeath and Bob was stunned with the Countryside and really impressed with the fishing. So much so he is planning a trip back to Mullingar with his brother, who I am told is another angling fanatic. You never know you might see me with an Alpaca woven hat on the Midland lakes in the coming months.

A Lough Lene trout for Bob Bettinson

Peter Wiesmann was in the Mullingar Park Hotel over the Easter break and is coming to Ireland over 30 years, so it’s about time he discovered Mullingar. Peter is a school teacher in Gerlikon in Switzerland, but he was barking up the wrong tree trying to learn me something. The Peter lad spent years on Sheelin staying with Mary and Peter Reilly of Finea and has fantastic memories from his years in Ireland. We just had a few days fishing, but really pushed out the boat regarding what we have to offer in the Mullingar area regarding angling. Peter is in Ireland for two weeks, and gone West now, but might drift back to Mullingar before heading home.

Our good pals Stefano Belisario and Tiziano Finocchio are back in Mullingar for another weeks fly angling.  Stefano and Tiziano have being coming to Mullingar for quite a number of years and have featured in our angling reports on every visit. This time around they have pals Luca Del Grosso and Pier Giorgio Di Benedetto on board, and the lads just got in time for Storm Hanna so we had a few rough days fishing. Naturally during the peak of the Storm we could not venture out on the lakes, but bank fished along the River Inny on some of our Hot Spots, that produced cracking pike. Local pike angling expert Barry Darby and my younger brother J.J. regularly take the lads out and put them over serious good pike waters. It’s kind of a pike angler’s reunion when we all get back fishing together and Stefano, and Luca are mad fly pike anglers with Tiziana and Piergiorgio loving the lure fishing.

Fly caught pike Italian style

Actually it was Pier Giorgio’s first pike angling adventure as he is a keen carp angler back home in Italy. The lads are based in their regular haunt Kerrigan’s B & B and really enjoy their stay. It’s always nice to get good feedback from visiting anglers and they were very impressed with their dinners in Liam Gilleran’s and the Greville Arms Bar food. We have another few days fishing left, and the Abuuzzo lads will be delighted to see their pictures in Westmeath Topic and a few will be taken home to show their family, and angling pals.