I have been concentrating mainly on game and saltwater fly fishing this year so it was with much excitement and enthusiasm I planned my first coarse angling outing since January this year! I first remember setting eyes on the beautiful Enagh Lough about 30 years ago. Enagh Lough is an intimate 5.3 hectare lake located in south west Tyrone close to the town of Caledon, which has been pegged with mostly concrete stands along one shore. It once had a great reputation of being a good bream and roach water with the odd good tench and some heavy pike! However, as with many Loughs in this part of the Province, they have been in decline and are now mostly stuffed with tiny roach. Many of the large Bream, tench and Pike have disappeared. I will let you make your own mind up as to how this happened!
Roll on the 13th October 2016. 13 is my lucky number. I arrived at the water just after 9am. The Lough was sheltered and there were little roach topping all over the lake! I had a good look at all the pegs, some of which have seen better days. I think the department needs to sit up and pay attention to sort these things out, and not just on Enagh. Almost half of the pegs are not fishable due to reed and bankside vegetation growth which is a shame as there are only 25 pegs on this lake. I also noticed the Blackwater Regional Partnership Group have erected what appeared to be a lovely colour metal sign, with images of the species present. I did however have to chuckle a little when the text underneath the Tench claimed they were common in most Irish Stillwaters! Where do these people get their information from? Another prime example of someone working within a body who is responsible for fisheries and who hasn’t a clue about fish, fisheries management or fishing!
Rant over! I haven’t fished Enagh for a number of years but I do remember it being very deep overall and very deep by your feet! I carried my gear and settled on peg 10 which is on a point. Points are always great fish attracting spots. I cannot emphasise enough how good points are whether you are trout fishing, pike fishing, bass fishing or any type of fishing for that matter! To cover all bases, I set up the following;
1. 9m whip to hand.
2. 6m whip to hand.
3. 14.5m pole – Top 5 rig to cope with the depth.
4. 11ft medium feeder at 40m.
5. 12ft heavy feeder at 70m.
6. 13ft float rod with sliding float set up.
After setting up my peg and laying my keepnet I started plumbing about with the long pole. I was glad I had tied my long pole rigs on a top 5 as at 14.5m there was only about 2ft of line between pole tip and float after I plumbed up! I had about 6ft of water right at my feet and then at 4m it dropped off considerably where it then gradually got deeper to the 14.5m mark and flattened out at around 18ft deep! I set the 9m whip’s float depth as per the 14.5m pole rig. The 9m whip with its longer length of line between tip and float would still allow me to fish the 14.5m line. The theory was that if the fish were having it, the whip would catch much quicker and if the wind increased or the fish wanted more finesse the lighter float, hooklength and smaller hook of the 14.5m rig would be the answer. The 9m whip’s rig was a rugby ball shaped 3 gram float, suitable olivete, 0.13mm main line, 0.11mm hooklength with a medium wire size 18 hook. (The 6m whip rig was identical apart from the float which was 1.5 gram). The 14.5m pole rig was a 1.5 gram float tied onto 0.11mm mainline with a 0.08mm hooklength and fine wire size 20 hook. I used a number 3-4 elastic. I would have used a number 2 but I needed that extra strength to help with striking and connecting with fish with a 1.5 gram float in that depth of water.
WIth the poles sorted, I moved onto my 11ft feeder rod. Throughout the years I have used many different pieces of tackle and different rigs regarding my feeder fishing but these days I rely on usually one set up. I simple thread a snap swivel onto the main line and tie on a Preston quick change adapter. These are absolutely great. It also means I can leave the hooklength off so it doesn’t tangle or get in the way when I’m baiting the swim up with just the feeder. I always like to cast around with a 1oz bomb first into different areas and count it down to give me an idea of contours and depths etc. I found a nice flat spot in front at about 40m just before the bottom started to shelf back up towards the far bank. This is where you want to be. The bottom of the shelf is a favourite for a lot of species, especially Bream! The 11ft feeder set up consisted of 4lb mono main line to a 0.13mm hooklength and size 16 Kamasan B560 hook. I just love these hooks for feeder fishing!
On the 12ft feeder set up I use sinking braid main line. The braid is amazing at showing up the smallest of bites when fishing at distance. I then attach a length of 8lb mono which is enough to have a few turns on the spool when casting so it acts as a shock leader for distance casting. I see far too many anglers “cracking” off because they don’t use a shock leader. The leader also gives me a little stretch which is important when those larger bream lunge under the rod tip as the braid has no stretch whatsoever. The link swivel and Preston adapter are attached to the shock leader and the same hook and hooklength as the 11ft set up are attached. Again though, I attach a 1oz bomb and cast towards a bay which is slightly farther away to my right. It’s a fair chuck at about 70m! Unbelievably though, I find it is considerably deeper as I’m getting a count of 13 before the bomb hits bottom. A few more casts around the area reveal it is slightly shallower around the deeper area so I cast out to the deeper part again clip up.
I plumb up the 13ft float rod with the slider rig on the 14.5m pole line as a back up if the cold easterly wind gets up too much to fish this line with the pole. If truth be told though, I adore fishing the slider as I rarely get the chance to these days. My slider set up is 3lb mono main line to a 0.11mm hooklength and size 18 hook. My float is a 4 SSG bulbus bodied waggler. I see a lot of anglers avoiding this method to avoid tangles! The secret here is to have your bulk shot about 3ft from your hook and droppers need to be larger. I’m using 3 number 6’s bunched together. As long as there is a shorter distance between droppers and hook as there is to droppers and bulk, you’re never going to tangle with a smooth cast.
This may seem like an awful lot of different lines and set ups but as I’ve an up and coming match here, I want to explore all avenues. My ground bait mix is 1 part dark brown crumb, 1 part black roach, 1 part black river. The river is added to make the groundbait stickier and make sure it hits the deck intact in this depth of water. I also want my groundbait dark as although there is a shortage of pike here, I’m sure there is the odd toothy critter still about and I want my groundbait to blend with the bottom. The pike’s prey don’t like giving themselves away over light coloured bottoms! I also have left some of the mix to the side with less moisture in it which will be used in the feeder. Hookbait wise, I have a pint of red maggots, some dendra worms and a tin of corn.
Now for the feeding! 6 orange sized balls of groundbait are balled in on the 14.5m line. 12 large feeder fulls of maggot sandwiched with groundbait are cast in on the 11ft feeder line and 12 feeder fulls of corn sandwiched with groundbait are put in on the 12ft feeder line.
I start on the 14.5m pole swim. I lay the rig in sideways keeping a tight line between pole tip and float, watching for any little signs of a take on the drop in this deep water. The float settles nicely with about 5mm of tip showing. I only have to wait 2 seconds for it to disappear and fish on! I’m now catching 1-3 oz roach every put in. As I know this is working, I try the 9m whip. Once again, its a small roach nearly every put in. I try altering to double maggot and caster but it makes no difference to the size of fish. I also try the 6m whip. In goes three small balls of groundbait. It doesn’t start great but the odd fish starts to show and I’m now wondering would it have been as good as the 9m whip/14.5m long pole line if I’d balled in with groundbait at the start in the same way. Food for thought.
As I fish out the first couple of hours, I notice there is constant surface activity with the small roach and I can’t help but wonder that if I could catch shallow it would seriously speed up my catch rate! I catapult out about 6 maggots at a time every 20 seconds or so. I’ve now rigged up a 0.5g wire stem float set at 3ft deep with most of the shot under the float stem to the 9m whip which, I cast over the area I’m loose feeding the maggots. As I continue the loose feeding and constant laying in, I only manage one fish for 10 minutes work which is enough to persuade me that the best way to catch these small roach is to hold them on the bottom with a sticky groundbait.
Time for the feeder lines. First up is the 11ft feeder rod at 40m. Not a bite, nothing at all! All baits tried, a fresh feeder full every 5 minutes and 30 minutes watching a motionless tip! Hmmmm, onto the 12ft feeder rod line at 70m. My hookbait was a small piece of corn tipped with a red maggot. 15 minutes later the tip wraps round in an unmissable bite! Fish on and the landing net is used for the first time today to land a lovely skimmer bream just under the 2lb mark! I was begining to think there were no decent sized fish left in here and I’m so happy to be proved wrong! Another cast with the same hookbait and 15 minutes later another skimmer verging on proper bream size comes to the net.
As I’ve set up the slider rig, it would be rude not to use it. Besides, I’m gagging to give it a go and it doesn’t disappoint as I start bagging roach again on the 14.5m/9m whip line.
It’s getting towards home time for me so I call it a day and start to pack the kit away. I’ve learned a lot from today’s session. Can you imagine if I had just turned up for a match here and tried to “whing” it? Now I know, find the farthest, deepest part of your peg and fill it in for the skimmers/bream, set up the 9m whip (slider as a back up if the wind gets up too much) and concentrate on catching the small roach as fast as possible on the deck with groundbait. Then, try the feeder line for 15 minute periods on the hour, every hour during the match for those bonus fish. I’ll let you know how I get on in the match however, even if you are just a pleasure angler and only fish a couple of methods, I hope this has encouraged you to make changes and ring the changes constantly to find out what works. A busy fisherman is a successful fisherman! Go forth and enjoy what is Autumn fishing!