How many of you have thought about a piking trip to Ireland or Scotland? Quite a few I’m sure, but for one reason or another it’s never got off the ground. Rather than pen the usual article about “our first trip to Scotland” or “piking in the Emerald Isle”, I have decided to write a few words to help you with the preparation of such a trip.

I’ve been going over to Ireland now since 1996.Why? There has been much negative talk over recent years of netting operations, foreign nationals, fisheries boards etc so is it still worth the trouble. Well next year’s excursion is already planned so we certainly think so. It’s not just about the fishing but the overall experience. The friendliness of the locals, the scenery, the laid back way of life, the much published craic, superb all round coarse fishing, oh and did I mention the Guinness!!
So where do we start. Ireland has more waters than anywhere in the British Isles and the majority of these are generally much larger than our English counterparts. Loughs Mask, Corrib, Ree and Derg are all in excess of 30000 acres and there are literally hundreds of “smaller” loughs (less than 200 acres), many of which are hardly ever fished. Unfortunately Mask and Corrib have definitely suffered at the hands of ill advised fisheries people netting operations. Unless you are lucky enough to have someone “in the know”, then the internet is probably the best starting point. Just type “pike fishing in Ireland” in your search engine and you will come across www.fishinginireland.info/pike/index. This will provide you with lots of very useful information. Over the years we have used Loughs Derravaragh, Gara and Derg as the main focal points, but have fished some of the numerous surrounding smaller loughs when the big ones become unfishable due to weather.

Having found the general area next port of call is accommodation. Look no further than Anglers World holidays who have loads of varied digs available, the majority of which are geared up for anglers, having tackle sheds and freezers available. How much is it all likely to cost? Good question and there is no doubt that things have become more expensive over the past few years because the euro has moved against us. Last year the overall cost per person for the week was about £400. But that is everything; accommodation, ferry, boat hire, bait, food, drink and fuel. We do tend to take a fair amount of our own food and drink now to keep down the overall cost, but it’s still cheaper than a week in the sun and much more enjoyable.

How much gear do you take with you? Basically as much as you can get in your cars!! The majority of Irish piking is from a boat. You will be able to hire decent boats and outboard engines but you will need to take a trolling motor, boat rod rests, unhooking mats, anchor, spare rope etc with you. Be prepared for the Irish weather! You may experience spring, summer, autumn and winter all in a single day so have summer and winter wet weather gear with you. Never ever go afloat without a lifejacket. You will need both bait fishing and lure rods, bait catching gear, although please note that only 2 rods may be used and livebaiting is banned in Ireland. There are also specific rules regarding how many coarse baits you can use. Please read the regional fisheries board rules because there is an on the spot fine of 90 Euros if you are caught! It is advisable to step up your gear as Irish pike fight like fury. I now use 50lb power pro braid and 30lb trace wire as standard, even then a low double is likely to make you look a fool!!!

When is the best time to go to Ireland. We have found for sheer consistency that Spring is the best, somewhere between mid April and mid May. The fish may not be at their biggest then but they are far easier to locate, generally not being too far away from the shallow spawning beds as the roach and bream make their way. It’s generally advisable to keep on the move until you locate fish and then consider anchoring up, as when you find one there are likely to be a few fish around. Although Ireland is fairly notorious for being wet, we have actually been very fortunate during our spring trips, however when it does rain, it RAINS!! The biggest problem regarding fishing though is windy weather. There will be times when it is too dangerous to venture out. Don’t risk it; no fish is worth your life. A useful website is www.met.ie/forecasts/inland-lakes which provides pretty accurate weather forecasts for the big loughs. I would also recommend getting hold of the local Ordnance Survey map as this will allow you to find a smaller lough that should be fishable should you get blown off your main lough.

What can you expect from the fishing then. Well over the past 5 years our group have generally managed 3 or 4 twenties and 15 doubles between us, with most of us catching over 10 fish during the week. You can be very much at the mercy of the weather conditions however, generally speaking mild, bright conditions being preferable. Don’t give up during the week, last year our first 3 days only yielded 18 fish between the 6 of us. The next 3 days gave us superb sport with over 70 fish, 4 twenties and numerous doubles. Fantastic fishing. It’s definitely well worth the effort, have a go.

Phil Kirk 12 August 2010.