Dan O’Neill reports on a very productive trip to the River Barrow…

Late Friday evening as I sat at the fly-tying desk, something was niggling at me. That feeling of forgetting something. I checked the reminders on my phone, but nothing was outstanding. What had I missed? It was only when Anthony came in and asked, “Where are we heading this weekend?” that I realised I hadn’t planned a fishing trip for us.

Fadó, fadó…

As I began to plan the trip I realised it was one of them trips where there was very little planning, I decided to scale down on tackle, I just wanted to go down and relax, not be too pushed on catching a fish. These trips have a way for some reason of being ones that are remembered, this one didn’t disappoint. It reminded of a trip I went on with my Dad to the Barrow. There was a small pond just beside the river that edged out into the field. It had various plants in it and looked like there were perhaps fish in it. My dad said he spotted a couple of perch in there so I rooted around in the tackle box and found an old Mepps that was showing signs of wear. I put the Mepps on and began casting into the pond, some time past and “bang” the rod jumped into action. The fish ducked and dived, and my dad came running over to me. Now I think of it, he looked quite shocked that I had caught something in there.

My Dad netted the fish and said it’s a Jack pike. At first glance this fish looked like a baby alligator. I was amazed that something that looked so prehistoric would live in the waterways we fished. Dad unhooked the fish, and we released it. I continued casting and long story short ended up catching 6 more of these fantastic creatures. The next day we went to the tackle shop. I was equipped with my pocket money savings of previous weeks and going to become a pike specialist. I remember buying an upgraded Mepps, treble hooks and some small dead roach, fancy things to help pop the bait up, better line and pilchard oil as the ultimate attractant.

The following weekend we made our way to the spot with all the new gear I had bought. I put on the Mepps set up a dead roach added my pilchard oil and began to fish. Not one single take in 5/6 hrs. My little angling heart was broken. After all, I had all this fancy gear and I was very prepared. It was after that day that I found that the rush trips with minimal gear and not so much planning can work out the best.

Anois is arís

Back to the present now and this week’s trip. Being slightly rushed through my lack of planning or lack of a “Strat” this trip just fell together. We decided to head to the canals as there was a lot of rain and the rivers would certainly be angry. We wanted to try a different area of the canal than the usual spot so off we went to try to locate some fish.

Looking at the very fishy looking areas we eventually stumbled on one that just had it all; over hanging tree, dark area of the river, the depth, a slight flow of current churning into it delicately. Casting our float just above the area allowed the current to gently wash our bait in under the tree where hopefully there was a hungry fish waiting. It took a few runs under the tree before the float dipped and we met our first stripey. Not of any great size but a fish and even better it was a fish we caught using a Strat we made up.

The swim went quiet after we had a few perch from it so we rested it for a little while. Before we began to fish it again I threw in a couple of lumps of ground bait about golf ball size so it would wash in under the tree hopefully enticing some of the fish to feed. We ran the floats through the swim a few times with no luck. Eventually the float dipped, Anthony lifted into it.The fish held its own and just swam about a bit for the first few seconds before realising it was hooked. A great fight ensued with deep lunges for freedom. Anthony looked at me and said, “This is a bit better. Or maybe I hooked a roach and a jack pike grabbed it!”

A new PB for Anthony. River Nore Perch, 35 cm


The fish came to the surface, and it was a very plump perch and what we now know as Anthony’s new PB. Not an overly long fish at 35cm but very plump. Delighted with his catch Anthony posed for a quick picture and released the perch back to fight another day. We had some perch to follow but nothing as big. It’s great to see such perch in the river, Anthony continues his hunt however to beat his grandads PB perch of 4lbs 10oz.

Go fishing…

South East Casting

Address Thomastown Kilkenny Ireland Mobile Phone: +353857652751