Back on the Salt
Over the St. Patrick’s weekend I decided to travel a little further than Lough Corrib. With the rising temperatures and seemly more pleasant weather rolling in, I wanted to see if anything was stirring way out west in Connemara.
It is probably still a little bit early in the year for it but I am ever an optimist and there are far worse things to be doing than kayak fishing so I packed up the van and for Connemara I headed. The day was a typical March day in Ireland. Rain followed by sun followed by rain followed by more sun. Due to the horrible winter fishing that was a feature of Ireland and a lot of the UK due to the disruptive weather and pressure systems sweeping over us, I hadn’t the heart to try freshwater fishing just yet. I wanted to see if the saltwater could throw anything up.
No matter what the weather, the drive through Connemara is always a lovely experience with dramatic landscapes changing as often as the spring weather. A drive of a little over an hour saw me landing at a beach and getting the kayak ready to hit the waves. Once out on the water I searched for fish but the pickings were slim. Some very small ‘pin’ whiting were about but perhaps it is still just a few weeks too early for the wrasse and pollock to be inshore and providing good sport. After a short while on the water in what could be described as ‘challenging’ conditions I decided that my time would be better spent having a look at some more potential launch sites for the coming summer.
The west of Ireland and Connemara in particular is an untapped resource for the kayak angler and when fish start to move inshore there are plenty of bays and launch points to avail of. I’m sure that when the fishing starts to fire on all cylinders then there will be fewer more picturesque places to try your luck. On the edge of the Atlantic and deep in salmon country when you go but a small distance inland, an angler should be spoiled for choice.
As the road twisted and turned through bog land I noticed that there are any amount of lakes to launch on. Bog water being acidic probably will not allow the wild brown trout that dwell within to attain any great size but if there are a pike or two among them then they have the opportunity to get to a very good size indeed. Especially, as I suspect, if these lakes are as unfished as they appear. Waters for future investigation, that is for sure.
I followed the road some more and as it wound around yet another bend I came face to face with Kylemore Abbey;
What a beautiful backdrop to any lake and one that I must get the kayak onto later on in the year, if not for the fishing then just to get a better look at this magnificent building. Following on along the road and I stumbled across a couple of spots that look like they could be useful in inclement weather; handy launch points in sheltered bays, ideal places for rougher days when the fish have moved in.
In the town of Clifden I met a group of anglers that were returning from a day’s fishing on a chartered boat. After a quick discussion they told me that they were catching pollock but they had to steam a good distance offshore before they started to connect with them. It’s only a matter of time before they move within range of the kayak but it is still going to take a few weeks to happen yet.
I moved on, looking at other spots that will be worthy of attention over the coming months and there are plenty. The trouble will be choosing where to leave out. I decided to finish my tour with a stop at the village of Cong. Originally the settlement was first founded in the 7th century with the main abbey being constructed at some stage around the 12th century. The ruins are some of the finest examples of Gothic architecture in Ireland.
The area is also famous for its trout fishing, in particular ferox trout. These mysterious fish congregate to spawn in this area and the opening of the season coincides with their spawning run. Like most other things this year, the horrendous weather patterns have dashed any chances of catching a monster here this year; the river is far too high to fish this year and the ferox trout will have to wait until next year……
Winter is over and Spring has arrived. Good times are just around the corner!