With weather trends being far from perfect and a college/study regime that has kept me busy, angling and kayaking trips have been few and far between for the last six or seven months. After a week with three exams peppered throughout, I decided to grab my chances yesterday afternoon and head for the upper Corrib near the Cornamona area. I found a small car park just off the main Maam to Clonbur road for the van. Launching from here could not be easier; I could park within three feet of the water’s edge which makes it very handy for transporting kayaking and fishing gear. I travelled light, hoping for pike, carrying lures and deadbaits. I got the kayak loaded and was soon ready to hit the water.
Out to the left of the launch point was a large patch of reeds so I decided to target this for pike by casting lures to the edge and working them along the reed bed. I figured that there might at least be a couple of jacks in the reeds, waiting for the larger hens to come in for spawning. The temperature on the echo sounder was reading at just over six degrees so I was confident that I might at least hit something but I got not a touch. I hurled ‘Savage Gear 4-Plays’ in various colours, jerkbaits and even the good old copper spoon but the lures returned nothing.
Hiding In The Reeds
With that, I decided to head into the reeds themselves. I sat just inside them and lobbed a smelt deadbait out, a couple of yards beyond the reeds themselves. It was only a half chance but plenty of big pike are taken every year from just under the rod tip at the edge of a reed bed in a couple of feet of water. Why not give it a try? Besides, sitting there amongst the reeds gave me an opportunity to test the one of the underwater cameras that I have equipped myself with – more on that later. I was sceptical that I would get good results from the camera seeing as it was so overcast resulting in light levels being far from ideal for underwater work. I was pleasantly surprised with the results which can be seen in the photograph.
But back to the fishing! The deads never produced after over an hour of sitting there so I decided to head for shore for a cuppa and a break from the rain. With the kettle on I decided to mull over my options. The fishing was not good at all and the weather was terrible but I did not think that I would be able to get out again after today for a while so I decided to head back out into it and give the reed bed another go with the lures. I fished right along the edge of it, again throwing all types of lures into it but the pike, if they were there, were just not responding. I got tired of throwing lures and with about three quarters of an hour of fading light left, I decided to start trolling.
I put on a deep-diving Rapala and headed out towards some islands where I thought there would be deeper water. If the pike were not in the shallows then they must be deeper down and the reading I was getting from the finder was giving up to 9.6 meters. I weaved in and out of the islands for forty five minutes but it was all in vain and finally, with the light really diminishing, I reluctantly headed for the van. A blank but not just a blank for me, another two lads were fishing for pike on the water, one in a boat, one in a float tube and they returned with the same result – a legacy of the ridiculous practice of ‘fisheries management’ that is gill netting perhaps?
Wet and beaten with the light disappearing I decided to call it quits. Corrib isn’t giving up her secrets easily but one thing I did notice in the area that I fished today was a terrific hatch of duck fly and an abundance of trout feeding on buzzers with the unmistakable “head and tailing” of fish – not quite breaking the surface but swirling at buzzers a few inches below. If I get the opportunity I’ll have to go back with a fly rod…..
The photo in the previous part of this piece gives some sort of clue as to what I am planning in becoming proficient in, not over the summer but gradually over the next couple of years – underwater photography and videography. The last year or so has seen me working in various conditions to test a couple of different underwater cameras that I should be carrying with me on most of my fishing trips, of which I hope there should be many and these many should also be varied. The camera testing has been a learning curve and although I still need to tweak a few minor aspects of the hardware, I am happy enough that it is all starting to come together nicely and I am starting to recognise what good conditions are and how to capture good stills and footage.
One aspect of the underwater work that I really think will enhance the quality of the images and one that I am working on now is not only the submersion of the camera but also the submersion of myself. A lot of underwater work that is appearing on websites and elsewhere at the moment is done by sticking the camera onto a long boom and shoving the camera under the surface while the operator remains on dry land or in a boat. Shooting in this way is successful more through luck rather than judgement. The camera operator generally has no idea what the camera is picking up once the lens has been submerged and they have no idea whether their footage will be any good until they retrieve their camera and review what they have filmed either on the camera’s LCD screen or their home computer or laptop. Shooting in this way can be very hap-hazard and can invariably lead to a huge amount of collected footage being useless due to shots being out of focus or not capturing the subject matter properly within the frame.
I feel that if the operator is in the water and behind the lens then they will have far more control over what is recorded and this should lead to consistently better and more interesting work being produced. I am trying to develop my snorkelling and free diving (diving on a single breath) skills to try and produce better underwater shots. Whilst I am really looking forward to the diving aspect of things I would like to say that nobody should be going out and snorkelling and/or free diving alone. There is a sub-aqua unit in college which I will be enrolling in very shortly. An accident on dry land is one thing, an accident when you are alone and under the water does not even bear thinking about.
Utilising The Kayak
The kayak will really lend itself to the whole underwater filming project and it will provide a great, stable platform for carrying gear and also be the carriage that can transport me to where I think the action should be. The potential projects are too numerous to name here but a team has been amassed and, if the weather and conditions allow us, the results should be very interesting indeed. Some ideas we have hit upon are trying to capture a shoal of midland tench or bream with their heads down over a bed of feed, pollack and wrasse being brought to the side of a boat or kayak, pike being released back into the wild after a capture and how different types of fish react to different types of bait. If the hardware allows, I would really like to try and capture various predators hitting various lures but only time will tell for that particular project. Naturally, I will include some of the photos that I manage to capture with future articles and hopefully it can give you an insight into the beauty and complexity of the aquatic world that is never too far from anybody on this island.
At the time of writing, I have a very busy four weeks looming, crammed with deadlines for assignments, practical lab assessments and summer exams. The pressure is on, so to speak, and the fishing will have to take a back seat as it has for the previous few months. Fishing opportunities have been few and precious but once the workload is out of the way, the fishing will resume in earnest. The exams will finish in early May and if the weather and temperatures decide to get back to normality then I should be able to start the summer with a few early mornings on the canal in search of tench. Of all the styles of fishing that I enjoy, there is something special and magical about watching the sun rise while you wait for your float to show some indication that the bubbling tench in your swim have located your hook bait. Late May should see a return to the Cork area where I had immense fun with jumbo-sized pollack last year. I hope to visit Kerry at some stage in June to assess the quality of fishing available to the kayak angler there. June should also be a month that sees at least a couple of longer sessions for bream and no doubt a few of these will run into July as well. All of this should be punctuated with local trout fishing trips and some sub-surface forays.
Busy Times Ahead
The local tope fishing will come into its own towards the end of the summer and I expect to be on hand for that, kayak at the ready. Again, a word of warning – nobody try to fish for big fish from small craft without the relevant experience. Some of my actions may seem foolhardy but I can guarantee that they are meticulously planned to the final detail and I am very well equipped with relevant safety items like a VHF radio, flares and a dry suit/lifejacket combo, to name but a few. Nobody, especially me, wants their next adventure out to be their last. I will be back to Galway in September to resume classes but I know the area a little bit better now so I should be able to get some good September and October fishing in here before the college work becomes hectic again.
I have a relatively busy summer planned but, as always, I am open to suggestions. I have been toying with the idea of going after meaner targets on the kayak but I would not consider doing so without the safety of a back up vessel. If anybody has any ideas for a species for me to chase and can provide a relief boat then I will certainly consider any suggestions. Please contact me via the email address below. I will not be answering questions on appropriate gear and techniques for free diving or snorkelling as I am far from an expert on the matter – contact a dive shop, school or club.
If anybody has any comments, queries or suggestions please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org