THE 2017 Lough Ree International Pike Festival attracted 90 boats to compete for a 17,000 euro prize fund last week. This increasingly popular catch-and-release competition is fished by pairs of anglers in boats and all pike are photographed on a measuring mat before being safely released.
If it is freshwater monsters you are after then the number of one metre-plus fish landed last week is a testament to the quality of Lough Ree, in the Irish midlands, as a pike fishery. On each of the three days a 100cm fish was needed to secure a place in the top 10. Apart from the daily prizes, the big winners were Stephen Gibbons and Al Rawlings and Dave Sanders and Peter Vulovic. Each of these pairs caught a pike that came in at 113cm winning them a share of the Longest Pike prize.
The World Cup title went to Joe McDermott and Pat Healy for a superb three fish total of 330cm, made of pike measuring in at 108.25cm, 112.25cm and 109.50cm.
If it is sea monsters you are after then you should consider heading west. A monstrous shark of around 1,500lbs has been caught off the coast of County Clare. It is the second massive shark in two weeks for Luke Aston’s Carrigaholt-based charter boat Clare Dragoon. Last week’s specimen was 900lb.
English builder Ben Bond took an hour and a half on 80lb gear to get to the six-gill shark to the boat where it was unhooked and allowed return to the depths. It is believed to be one of the biggest fish caught on rod on line in Europe.
Monster bags of coarse fish are expected to bit the scales by the end of the week-long Erne Classic Fishing Festival which comes to a close in Fermanagh tomorrow, May 12. The event is celebrating its 42nd year and is Ulster’s largest fishing competition bringing anglers from across the UK and Europe.
Sadly the monsters of game fishing are proving elusive because the weather is playing havoc with game fishing. The hot and dry conditions have left rivers at summer levels bringing salmon angling to a halt in most places. Some spring fish have been taken on the big systems including the Corrib, Moy, Blackwater and Slaney but in Ulster most fisheries are waiting for a drop of rain to freshen the holding pools and bring on the salmon. Trout fishing too is challenging on the big lakes as the opening flurries of insects signal the start of the May Fly season. Bright conditions drive the fish to the deeper water.
Rainbow trout fisheries still offer a good day’s sport though fishing is best in the evening.