Friday, February 21, 2014

Zen And The Art Of Water Management

Carlow or..."as Gaeilge" as it was known- Ceatharlach! The literal meaning "The four lakes". In some ways it may be reasonable to assume, that the county has returned to its ancient geographical form. Many stretches of the Barrow now resemble massive lakes sprawling across many acres of farmland. The fertile land of the river basin is truly soaked and can take no more rain. Many of my favourite swims and slacks have been rendered useless, all that remains are raging torrents of coloured water. We walked (and waded) through many miles of overflowing river and partially submerged towpaths searching for possible swims but to no avail. So the junior piker and myself have been forced to retreat... however not to the comfort of the sofa and the fireplace but to the backwaters of the Barrow, our retreat which I deemed necessary, also for safety reasons, has proved to be to our "trump card". Close quarters are a distinct advantage when it comes to locating fish. The theory being that the Barrow pike in their nature are lazy buggers and do not want to spend all their time and energy holding out in the main flow of the river. So they too, like the bait fish have retreated to quieter, slow flowing waters. We followed suit !

The following few images do not feature or show any part of the river course, but show only flood areas. Where you see water in these photos it is normally dry land.

Barrow floods I
Barrow floods II
Barrow floods III
Having spent the last couple of weeks fishing the backwaters, I've become more accustomed to my new habitat. The main river itself now seems like a vast flowing opaque wasteland, continuously tumbling past at a rate of knots. When I'm at the river now I quicken my pace and ignore the heaving flow as I head for the tranquility and shelter of the back waters, content to wait for the levels to drop and the colour run off before returning to fish open water. Right now I'm eager to find and research the network of sub slacks, mini swims and any unapparent features which the back waters have to offer and may work to my advantage. The Barrow Piker has gone into stealth mode! This doesn't mean that I'm crawling up and down the bank on my hand and knees stalking fish but the tactics have changed somewhat. Precisely placed baits popped up in the clear or small baits twitched through the swim are now the new order of the day. Results were initially inconsistent but then a feeding pattern emerged. One fish (maybe a fish of a lifetime) broke a 2.75lb test curve rod clean in half, right on cue as one feeding spell commenced. I was gutted, still am if the truth be known.....Having said that, plenty of other fish were brought to the bank before being returned to their backwater hideouts.

Barrow Pike from a very tight swim.

The "Happy" Piker with a fine backwater Barrow Pike.
The Barrow Piker extra large, smelly deluxe model Herring !

If you are planning a trip to the Barrow.... bring your wellies !