Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Father and Son.

The weather was just about holding, the river was still pretty low and clear. There was one problem, I was getting earache from the junior piker. To say he was bursting to go down the river was an understatement. It was a triumph. The river, fishing and the chance of an Esox had won over X-box, Instagram and Youtube. Yes, my twelve year old son had seen the light, he realised that its hard to beat a good old fashioned adventure down the river; even if it is with your father... I took my cue (well rods actually) and we were off down the Barrow track.

He was eager, he'd seen the fish I'd caught over the previous days and wanted a slice of the action. Taking last week into account and the fickle nature of the Barrow pike, I decided to take no chances, we packed lures and a selection of deadbaits. Everything but the kitchen sink - no doubt you know the routine! We finally made it to our first swim. My strategy was to fine comb the whole swim with the lures, maybe we could root out a couple of "smash an' grab" opportunist pike and if they didn't fancy lure chasing we'd sit behind the deadbaits and wait it out! The lures caught the morning light as they flew through the air, they hit the water, we were on the hunt. As is often the way with lure fishing things can happen very quickly. There was a large flash in the water as a very decent double missed the junior pikers lure on the first retrieve, he covered the fish again but she was not tempted. A short while after another fish gave me such a hard follow it almost ended up on the bank when both it and the lure ran out of water at the margin. It sat there for a moment perplexed as to where its prey had suddenly vanished to. I looked at the fish and the fish looked at me, I moved to cover it again but was seen, it bolted for the depths. One jack was not so lucky, he came to the bank and was quickly returned. Then, as they do, they switched off...

Things went very quiet, no takes, nips or follows. Had we spooked them with our presence, I figured it was time for a brew and  some covert operations. We started changing the rigs, it was back to the ledger set up, we were going hard on the bottom. The siege had begun.

Is it my imagination or does it usually happen when your about forty minutes in? Perhaps it takes your average pike this kind of time frame to pick up a scent trail or to find what's on offer. I often have visions of the Barrow pike sitting beside a deadbait weighing  up the odds. Anyway that famous forty minutes in and the junior pikers rod decided to take a BLEEP.  Eyebrows raised - we waited. Eventually after what seemed like a pikers eternity a casual but continuous string of blips sounded from the alarm. The fish was starting to move off, he tightened down hard  but she didn't budge. The stalemate remained for quite some time. A twelve year old boy and what I reckoned to be a twelve year old fish - I thought this could get nasty! It was time for her to exercise her authority, she made the first move. A hard powerful run upstream, the boy was at the mercy of the fish, all he could was keep the rod tip out, follow her along the bank and keep the pressure on as she ripped the line through the water. An epic power struggle was underway. For every few feet of line he put back on the reel she took it back as quick and we still hadn't even seen her. In the back of my mind I knew well that the junior had a serious PB on his hands if he could bring her to the net. Eventually she tired, put her head up and we slid the net under her. The junior piker was in awe, a true mammoth Barrow Pike and an obliterated previous PB!

A Barrow 20 +
A couple of photos later and she was on her way back to her watery hideout. We fished for the rest of the day, did we see another fish? No, not as much as a run. Did we care? No!
Father and Son - what an experience - what a team. BTW here's the vid !

Friday, February 13, 2015

Shovel Face & Baldy, on a Roll.

Ok ! So the blog posts have been a bit sparse of late. Excuses, I have none really but in reality the river wasn't calling me, I walked the tow paths regularly, Christmas came and went but all the time the river just looked cold and uninviting, maybe it was a bit high, a bit coloured, a bit fast, a bit slow - a bit whatever, I dunno. On top of that to put it mildly the weather was crap. Hey maybe is was post Christmas or "January Blues" But I don't think so!

Pea Soup @ Leighlinbridge
So roll on to about ten days ago, that nice dry spell and a touch of frost had kicked in. I was watching the river like a hawk, for the first time in a long time the Barrow was calling - in fact, it was roaring at me, begging to be fished. It was dropping and the water clarity increasing by the day. I ran through my gear, big lures and bigger dead baits were the order of the day. I reckoned the Barrow Pike were on the move. It was time to get my arse in gear.

A Barrow lure chaser.

A Barrow Jack - Lure addiction

And what a rollercoaster ride its been for the last week or so. I've had monsters follow my lures - rods pulled clean out of the bank sticks - a string of doubles to the bank and as many lost (hate a missed run) and all the while the the Barrow Jacks kept the matinee entertainment going in full technicolour. Yes, its true to say that the Barrow can be an absolute ball breaker but if you can drag yourself away from the television and social media you're in with a chance of meeting one of these great wild prehistoric beasts. The apex predator.
Its great! I've just fallin' in love with the Barrow all over again and its not even Valentines day yet.

A high double Barrow warrior, hard on the bottom.
High double to a SG lure,  BTW Always check your camera lens for condensation! Obviously I didn't...
Another Lure Addict

Fatty - BOOM - Batty hard on the bottom

Take two!

Shovel face & Baldy ;) I love em' really!

Ok.... so here's the Video, till the next time Keep it wet an' Keep it real. C & R all the way!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Salinger !

The air in my artist studio was filled with chat and anticipation, finally I hung up the phone. After a few days of amateur meteorology and a game of "How's the water clarity?" I was off the following morning to fish a new venue. I packed some lures and flies and then fell into a hazy slumber dreaming of prehistoric Esox monsters.
To be honest this is a water I've been meaning to fish for a long time now, a year or two at least!
Finally the Barrow Piker was on tour. The term AWOL comes to mind too...

The remaining overnight dew glistened on the manicured lawns, I rolled to a stop, threw on the handbreak, lit a smoke and contemplated, slowly but surely the water revealed itself as the early morning mist retreated. This place just screamed Big Pike and it has been known not to disappoint.

There was a sharp rap on my drivers side window, I resisted for a moment but eventually pulled focus from the water and there beside me was my guide for the day Rob Love of Rob is fishery consultant and head guide at the incredible County Kildare venue Carton House. Yes! The Barrow Piker had finally arrived at the famous Rye water.

The Rye lake is a spring fed back up water on the Liffey system. A Small enough body of water but having said that its got more nooks and crannies than your granny's scullery. First records of a house at Carton date back to the 17th century, however today it is a world renowned  golf, spa, leisure and adventure resort. The type of place you could as easily run in to an A - list celeb as a good double figure Pike.
The Rye Water At Carton House.
A few pounds of thrust from the electric outboard propelled us silently along the margin, we were in stealth mode. I was having difficulties taking my eyes off the water, this bottle neck section of the Rye had a seemingly infinite amount of potential big pike lairs, swim after swim they were countless, no matter where I looked the Rye quietly whispered "fish me".

We continued to glide by not making a sound, we were on our way to deeper open water this is where some of the Rye's larger residents have been know to frequent. As we rounded the final corner the famous shell cottage lay before us. It looked like we had stumbled upon a Tim Burton movie set. There was no sign of its old tenant Marianne Faithful, she was long gone. Rob recounted stories about the heady crazy days at the shell cottage, famous visitors and wild parties.  In my minds eye, I had visions of Bowie sitting near my swim, guitar in hand, smoking a cigarette strumming the cords to Queen bitch.
There was quite a rock star air about the place, it was surreal. All of a sudden a brightly coloured figure walked by, holding a nine iron... There was a splash - my lure hit the water.

Expertly guided by Rob I placed my lure as close to each target area as possible, this was far more than the usual over hangs and margins routine. Rob knew equally well  what was happening under the water as above. Every drop off, shelf,  hole and submerged feature was covered. I could feel my adrenaline starting to ratchet up with each swim we covered, cast for cast my anticipation grew. Its amazing how a private water thats lightly fished can focus the mind.
Rob Love of Love Fishing Ireland.
Rob's rod took on a deep bend as a good fish made a take - it was gone as quick. We drifted on through the channel. He stripped the line back bringing his home tied perch fly to life - a Rye double moved in but the take was shy. We stared in awe, as the water boiled, the large fish turned, showed its tail and dismissed us.

We fished on discussing tactics, strategies, sharing ideas and solving world problems. It was a super day! Then I had one of those pike fishing moments. You know the type well. When you least expect it and you just happen to be paying no attention whatsoever... yeah you guessed it - you get a take! A beautifully formed Rye jack came to visit the Barrow Piker. A stunning hard fighting little fish went back strongly to its watery domain. Shortly after, tight to the margin another jack ambushed my lure, the braid cut through the water as he made a run for it but it was too late he had been duped. I put him back in the margin to sulk.
A Rye jack meets The Barrow Piker near the shell cottage.
Swim after swim. Take your pick!
I think its fair to say that Rob had one of those wonderful pike fishing moments also! But I'll let him tell you about that one himself, lets just say it was a superb fish...

Carton House is a wonderful world class venue, Rosie and the staff were so helpful.
My guide for the day was Rob Love, a true gentleman, highly skilled professional angler, informed, helpful and most importantly a good sport and great "great" company.......
The Rye... I believe could produce the fish of a lifetime. I have no doubt that a mammoth pike will come from this water sooner or later.

What a day out !

Post script

Carton House Fishery
Further details in relation to fishing at Carton House contact Guest Relations on (01) 5052000  You can also see the other activities on offer at Carton House by checking the Carton House website
Rob Love
Love Fishing Ireland have a small team of experienced guides available for tailor made fishing excursions for both wild brown trout and pike. While the standard days guiding on the River Liffey or Rye Water will appeal to many, for the more adventurous they offer guided trips by Canadian canoe along what are considered to be the best fishing beats of the River Liffey.
Tel: +353 (0)87 1947811 / +353 (0)1 6270353

Monday, September 15, 2014

Its Crystal Clear...

No! Its not one of those iffy pop up internet windows on your super mega hi-speed wireless broadband connection... A bit like the dreaded RTE autumn schedule for what its worth. Its me - I'm back.

I've never been one for summer on the river and even now personally I feel its very early to be out piking but I couldn't resist, needs must an' all that. There had been a slight nip in the air over the last few evenings and the nights were starting to draw in just a tad so I thought hung for a sheep as a lamb. Better than a poke in the eye with a size 6. Lets go down the river!

If the truth be known the junior piker and myself did do a little wandering along the banks this summer but it was more therapeutic "leisure angling" (is there such a thing?). The type of day you bring a rod with you, at least then you have an excuse to look into the reflective glare of the Barrow as the nettles singe you to the armpits. These summer excursions resulted in the usual mixed bag that the Barrow has to offer and a couple of reasonable Perch.

So fast forward to yesterday.... There we were on the river, a fine autumn evening (could have still been easily mistaken for the height of the summer). The difference was, I had a serious hankering for a fish. I was looking for that rush that only a well cheesed of Barrow Pike can deliver. I was in hunter mode.

After a bit of the obligatory farting about and head scratching we settled on our first swim. The junoir piker had a bit of a coup, he met up with a shoal of striped warriors, cast for cast he caught and a few half decent ones too. The Pike however remained well under the radar, they were having none of it. I was getting despondent. I worked my way through a few different lures, the same time trying all levels of the water colum. Then things started to come together, I got a follow from what I reckon to be a beautiful low double. I threw the lure again, the fish came a second time, grabbed the lure but spat it it out equally as quick. I covered it again, nothing. The fish was gone but it was well cool to be able to watch the antics through the crystal clear water as I attempted to taunt the fish to make a solid take.

Reluctantly I moved on to another swim and immediately met a tiny jack, this fish was only learning the finer art of "the take" he missed my lure three or four times before running scared. One last swim to try before home and it was a new one. Second cast, the lure was wobbling, making its way to the margin. Then, Ka-Boom! What a take, hammered, nailed, call it what you will. The Barrow Pike never cease to impress me. That was some rush, I got my fix!

Oh yeah! One more thing. Here's the video for this post...

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 !

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Red Alert! This is Radar Base...

 Its been a bit of a funny if not peculiar start to the new season really. All a bit up and down, hot and cold or very mild as the case may be. A false start may be a more accurate account. I started catching fish and then stopped. The Biker Piker and myself had a few decent fish and then things went a bit pear shaped to say the least. Word comming back from the Barrow was that it was all a very hit or miss affair and not for the want of trying. The same was true for many other venues right across the country too. Overall I think the barometric pressure was too high, river levels too low and the water too clear... Eventually the mega blocking high pressure gave way to the current Atlantic depression fronts which seem at this point to be endless. The country has taken its worst winter beating in a long time and now looks as if its been dragged through a hedge backwards and as for the river...

Eventually the levels went up. I watched the river everyday and just as it came right the next series of Atlantic storm fronts arrived. I felt as if the next thing I would see would be Vader's Death Star on the horizon. Things really were that bleak. Christmas came and went (as it does) the level was up by almost two meters at one point, which is very impressive for the Barrow. The land didn't take long to saturate as the rain kept coming, the towpaths, drains, ditches and fields all flooded. It was a wash out!

Since then the status quo has remained and as I sit here typing this post it is still pouring and blowing a gale...
So what did happen before the biblical floods arrived?
Some dead baiting, some lure and fly fishing, a little river photography, an online radio show and lunch out on the bank!
The few images below sum it up pretty well. Don't forget to check below for the post script.

So what next? Well no matter what shape or condition I find the river in over the next couple of weeks I'm getting out! I've a serious dose of cabin fever to remedy. I saw a small drop in the river today and there are plenty of slacks and cuts that are well worth investigation. I reckon the Barrow Pike are holding up in the backwaters, (you know where I mean) away from the main drag. Thats where you'll find me.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Its Like Waiting On Buses...

The Barrow was calling, I had to get back to the river. My long summer malaise had been broken by the events of Friday (see the previous post). My mind raced as I poured over maps of the river examining swims, hidden lane ways, access points and photos from last season. It looked like something out of CSI Miami. I laughed to myself, yes there was a serious predator at large!
I was stuck in the salt mine all weekend but Monday was looking good, the weather pattern was holding nicely and the river should have fined down another little bit. I made some traces and grabbed a couple of Archie's finest (WaterWolf) scud floats and was ready to rock n'roll....
A distinct nip in the air and a touch of ground frost caught my attention as I left the house, it was ball breaking cold, I glanced the temperature in the dash, 1.3 deg. I was frozen. I threw on the blower and pushed on to the river.
As I headed to the swim the sun finally decided to make a guest appearance, it forced its way through the cold morning haze, things were starting to warm up.
A very small fish was the fist to trip the alarms, he came to the bank quickly and was dispatched back to the margin.

First fish of the day.
It was only about twenty minutes later when another jack nailed a dead bait in the exact same spot, he made a short lived charge up the middle of the river before making a cameo appearence for the blog and then headed straight back to his watery lair. A little bigger than the first fish but not by much, the jacks were queing up for the early morning feed and  I was glad of the action. I wondered if this was a feeding spell I'd happened to hit upon or just a coincidence. Would it bring any bigger fish on the feed.

Another eager Barrow jack comes to the bank.
As I watched the water, a wooden pallet and football floated by... anything is liable to float past you on the Barrow. I once saw a partially submerged old tube television go by, obviously it was not plugged in and I know of a 3 peice sofa too, its wedged up against a undercut bank, red in colour if my memory serves me right. Is it any wonder they threw it out...
Blip blip blip..... a tripped alarm pulled my gaze from the bobbing football. Then the line tore off the reel. Usain Bolt was in town! This was a more powerful fish, it kept its head down and pushed upstream, charging for its goal. I upped the drag and held my breath... Two runs and a damaged net later a most incredibly marked Barrow Pike came to the net. Not the biggest fish in the world but fit, wild and atheltic with a super paint job! It looked like somebody had just pimped my Pike.

A well marked Barrow Pike.