The Capture Of A Monster Brown Trout
Alastair Rawlings tells the thrilling story about targeting and eventually catching one of the biggest brown trout ever to be caught from Ireland.
|I was trolling with a big dead roach, using wire line, anti-kink vane, and a 20Ib class sea rod, which was fitted with roller rings so the wire didn't kink. My three day hunt for a monster trout went far better than expected! My first day afloat and all my effort gave only one small but very greedy trout, but this small offering was an encouraging start to fishing for a relatively new species for me, although I was well at home with method and venue. Bivvied and isolated on an island in the middle of colossal Lough Corrib, with a moored up boat and Labrador dog for my only company, along with the Irish wind and rain. Yes, it did feel good to be there, and I was excited and confident for what the next few days could bring.|
Two cases of food, one for me and one for Prince, and enough fishing tackle supplies and bait to cover most presentations, I was ready for a few days of monster trout hunting. A couple of beers were supped at dusk whilst sitting in the low chair looking out and across the huge expanse of water; what monsters swim below, I thought. In the bivvy and head down at midnight and then up at half three. I was trolling at first light and by 9.30 I had trailed a dead roach for miles, and only had a nice perch which hit the other rod being fished with a Rapala. The big trout were evidently not on yet, a moon trigger time was coming up, but unfortunately this also means the force 2 will change to something a lot more stronger. Sure enough the wind increased to a force 6 making good trolling presentation impossible. I headed for cover, motoring through big waves, and took shelter behind an island. Here it was possible to make good bait presentation in the 30ft to 40ft plus of water there.
Troller's Coma, and then the rod took off!
Two hours passed with nothing happening! But I kept motoring up and down that leeside, sometimes close in, other times far out in the rough, but nothing took. I was by this time going into 'troller's coma'! Then, all of a sudden the bait rod wrenched around and was straining in the rests, shaking violently back and forth. By the time I shook myself out of my vegetation, the fish had gone. Reeling in I found a straightened hook, how big was that? Was it a pike? Or a monster trout? What was the time? 12.20, lunar drag time, the wind gusting even stronger, another moon trigger.
The action had awakened me big time, whatever it was, 'they' were now on, and I was ready for the next take, if I got one. A while later it happened, a big hit, and the rod was pulled round at an alarming speed, wire line singing in the wind.
Engine in neutral, I took to the rod and the fish felt real heavy, like a big pike! Just then the fish made a 40yd fast run, then, a heavy thump, thump, thump, thump. I hate it when big fish do that, shake their heads, for sometimes the next feeling is a limp line. But not this time, as the fish made off again on a great deep dive, ripping yards of wire line off the multiplier spool.
This was great stuff, but my heart was in my mouth all the time. I still hadn't seen the fish yet, was it a big trout or a pike? The fight was like that of spirited big pike. The water temperature was up so it could have been a good pike as they do fight harder in warmer water, I was thinking. Then the fish surfaced at 30 yards and I saw the brown flank with spots.
I gained line until the mighty fish was under the boat, the huge trout did a slow awesome swim-by. It looked really huge in the clear water, was this because it was my first big brownie? Or was it indeed a huge one? A few agonising minutes later the fish was netted. "Yes, mine!" I shouted.
Looking into the net at the side of the boat a massive brownie with a huge back and length started to recover from a good fight, which this time I had won. After about fifteen minutes of staring with awe at the creature, which was looking no worse for wear, I quickly motored to the nearby island and popped her in a pike tube where she looked fine. I then cast out a couple of bank rods, for you never know, after all they were on the feed, and I had noted from the sounder that deep water was close.
After that, tea was made, and Prince and I sat back to take in what had just happened. Well, I did anyway. Before setting up the camera equipment I was wondering just how heavy the fish was. It did look big and past captures of big trout from Corrib were around the 17Ib mark. Last year a recorded 18lb 8oz brownie was caught. I had no idea what the fish was going to weigh although it looked as though it would go over the 15lb mark.
My first big one - a 20-pounder!
With camera equipment ready, I lifted the mighty fish from the tube, and posed with her awesome bulk. Next was the weighing, I had just re-certified my weighing scales before the trip, maybe my subconscious knew something was going to happen? I couldn't believe what the scales were telling me, 20lb 4oz of Corrib trout! Bloody hell, my first big one, and it's a 20-pounder! Wow, I was now really buzzing with excitement. A few more photos and I let her go, watching her huge bulk swim over the shallows approaching the drop-off, and then she slipped out of sight. I punched the air, and shouted "Yes! Yes! Yes!" Where are those beers?
And a 15-pounder to round it off
I then set up camp on the island and later went trolling again. I had another good fish on but lost it. The next morning I was out trolling at first light again and only ten minutes into the troll over the same area produced yet another take. Another big trout was hooked, this is fantastic fishing, I thought. So onto the island again for the weighing, and this time the scales said 15lb 10oz. Later another good fish was hooked, but again the hooks didn't connect properly and she fell off. Three hours later the rain was pouring down and the waves were once again growing Corrib into a sea. I decided to head for home and get the eagerly awaited photos developed, and work on a new hook rig for better hook-ups for the next time. What a fantastic fishing trip this had been.
On the 27th June 1959 Michael Kavanagh from Annaghdown caught a 21lb 6oz trout on a trailed spoon. This is the official Corrib brown trout record, also, although unfortunately not officially recorded, Frank Costello from Cong, caught a real whopper at 25lb last year. Frank released the fish back without a photo, and without a certified weighing. Frank had two anglers out with him that day, both witnessed the capture and weighing and release of this monster trout. There is also another story of a 21-pounder caught, but the claim was disputed as two anglers wanted to claim it! There have also been stories of bigger trout netted, but alas no real evidence here. The Irish Specimen Fish Committee lake brown trout record for all Ireland is the second oldest fish record standing, caught in 1894 by William Mears at 26lb 2oz. The oldest listed record fish is the salmon record, caught in 1874 at 57lb.
Last year at Corrib an 18lb 8oz specimen was caught by a German lady, Helena Celia Dietzel, and good numbers of 'smaller' doubles too. The next best of these was a 17lb 8oz specimen for Toby Bradshaw. The official rod caught brown trout record for Lough Mask stands at 18lb, but there have been bigger trout found dead. At the mouth of the Cong canal a 22lb specimen was found, and is now set-up at the W.R.F.B office at Cushlough, Ballinrobe.
Will the record go soon?
So the question is, will this long-standing rod-caught lake brown trout record of 26lb 2oz, or the Corrib record of 21lb 6oz, or even the Mask record of 18lb be broken soon? My guess is that it is indeed totally possible. With more thinking anglers practising catch and release, the chances are that it could well happen sooner rather than later. Here's hoping it's me.
Take care, the big loughs are dangerous
Just remember that these big loughs are very dangerous waters, with many submerged hazards. Always check the weather forecast before setting out and always wear a life jacket. I've seen these big loughs change in a matter of minutes from calm to a raging and very frightening sea. Respect the big loughs power and don't take silly chances as it only takes the wrong chain of events to make a seemingly impossible situation come true.
Special thanks to the Irish Specimen Fish Committee, Danny Goldrick W.R.F.B, for recording and/or providing fish weights and captures and captor names.