Journey’s End in County Clare
Dave Houghton of Active Irish Angling takes a look at some of the opportunities awaiting anglers in County Clare.
County Clare is a journey’s end for anglers craving peace and quiet while catching lots of fish. It is a county with unspoiled natural beauty and one renowned for the hospitality of its people, the traditions of Irish music and dance, colourful small shops and cosy pubs - which is a wonderful blessing to go with its terrific coarse angling.
Clare is dotted with free-to-fish lakes and rivers that come in all shapes and sizes including the majestic River Shannon – Ireland’s longest river – and the enormous 27 mile long Lough Derg that has massive numbers of big fish to be caught.
In recent years there have been several outstanding confirmed catches of bream to 400lb on Derg at various spots between Portumna and Killaloe. You can just turn up, chuck out a feeder and catch fish; although the really big hauls of bream are more often the reward of pre-baiting for two or three days - an exciting approach offering a genuine chance to notch up your first ‘ton’ of bream.
But there are anglers who quake at the thought of tackling such a huge venue and who instead disappear into the heart of Clare where there are masses of quiet free-to-fish lakes and rivers. The villages of Tulla and Feakle are among the better angling holiday locations with suitable accommodation and a selection of waters to tackle at a variety of locations, including Broadford and O’Brien’s Bridge.
Doon Lough has to be amongst the most mentioned waters in Ireland and it was the venue that produced my first ever 100lb of bream - and I did it for three days in a row until it became boring! Having said that, there have been umpteen more days at home, and in Ireland, when I would have paid a lot of money for half of the fish!
Small roach and skimmers can be something of a problem - there are just too many of them - so big baits are necessary to sort out the big bream with corn particularly worth trying.
Despite its size there are only three accessible shore fishing sections on Doon. O'Donnell's shore is the easiest to get at, located on the Broadford-Kilkishen road, where there is a long bank with plenty of room but the water is shallow, so long range bread feeders do best. Though my favourite is Doorus shore, about two miles from Tulla and signposted off the O'Callaghan Mills to Tulla Road. Here you will get a little more depth with plenty of skimmers and roach to be had on waggler, pole or feeder.
I suppose the best bet for getting among larger fish without waiting too long for a bite is at Lough Bridget (also known as Silvergrove). Here there are several good bank fishing spots, car parking is ok and you can expect a nice mix of bream to 6lb, skimmers, rudd, hybrids, pike and perch - and with a bit of luck maybe a tench to 7lb.
It can be shallow in places, so before dumping a load of groundbait and settling down, do plumb carefully. Pole, waggler and feeder, are all valid methods and I suppose it is worth mentioning that your chance of a good catch will be improved by some pre-baiting. My best ever session here included tench to 6lb and several bream over 4lb by fishing corn and lobworms on size 12 hooks at about 30 metres.
No Angling Festivals in Clare
Interestingly, there are no angling festivals in Clare and it is certainly a bolt-hole for those who want guaranteed peace, quiet and a chance of quality bream, tench, hybrids, roach, perch and monster pike.
However, match fishing in Ireland is a huge success and 2014 will be a record year with at least 40 recognised open events starting on St. Patrick’s weekend in March and taking place almost every week through to a chilly five days in November.
It amounts to a remarkable 200 angling days that attract coarse anglers from across Europe to the counties of Cavan, Cork, Fermanagh, Kildare, Leitrim, Monaghan and Offaly.
A published list of events, dates and contacts, is available and surprisingly used more by pleasure anglers who wish for nothing more than lots of fish on a lake they have to themselves!
For more details about fishing in Ireland visit the website www.activeirishangling.com