The waters of Boyle and the surrounding areas contain a wide variety of
species. Most lakes contain good stocks of pike, perch, roach, Rudd, bream,
eel and trout. A select few contain tench .
large head and mouth and double dorsal fin. Prominent spiked first dorsal fin
with dark blotch at the back. Second dorsal soft rayed. Vertical dark stripes
down flanks. Back and stripes dark green, flanks fusing to yellow and then
Irish record: 5lb 8oz, S Drum, Lough Erne, 1946.
The perch is our boldest and most striking coarse fish, with dark stripes
camouflaging its broad, deep flanks, and a proud bristling first dorsal adorning
its humped back. Also called ‘the sergeant’ and ‘the billy’ in fishing
circles, it is often the first fish a young angler catches, because it is
aggressive and not tackle shy, and so will take a relatively poorly-presented
bait with some gusto. A predator, the perch feeds in packs on the fry of mainly
silver fish like roach and bream and often gives its presence away by sending
fry scattering out of the surface film in their bid to escape its gaping jaws,
often as evening approaches. Present in the majority of our clean rivers,
canals and still waters, but does not like polluted water. Usually a shoal fish
which likes to lie close to underwater features.
Fishing a small spoon, plug or blade spinner is an excellent way to pick off the
bigger perch in clear water venues where they hunt mostly by using their
excellent eyesight. Perch tend to harry their prey, nipping at their tails until
they become disabled. The lure angler must use this to his advantage and it pays
to ‘tip’ your lure with a one-inch long piece of fish strip or bacon rind or
even a piece of lobworm, so that when the fish ‘nips’ at your lure it feels
like a real fish and it will come back for more. On the bank you must ignore
these little tugs at the bait which result in aggressive pulls of the rod tip.
Instead you must continue to retrieve the lure slowly and steadily until the rod
hoops right round. Even then there is no need to strike, the fish will hook
itself against the force of the rod. Big perch can also be targeted with small
live baits such as roach, gudgeon and minnows of about an inch in length, fished
on a size 4 hook. Smaller perch are caught on all manner of baits including
maggots, caster, pinkies, squatts, bloodworm and worms. A really good way of
fishing specifically for perch is to feed chopped up worms with a one or half
inch piece of worm on a size 16 hook. This is often used by pole anglers who
feed the worm through a bait dropper. With this method it pays to fish at least
number six elastic as perch have tough mouths which require some force to
penetrate them. For the same reason you need to change your hooks quite often as
they soon blunt on a perch’s mouth if you are catching lots of them. Another
fine way of targeting big perch is to fish a whole lobworm on the hook, either
trotted along reeds on small rivers under a big float like a balsa or chubber,
or legered and twitched back inch by inch (the movement often triggers the
perch’s natural aggression). On still waters it pays to pop the lobworm off
the bottom by injecting air into the head just above the worm’s saddle, but be
careful to inject with the needle pointing away from you as if you pierce your
finger by accident and inject air into your bloodstream it can kill you!
Small brass or silver coloured
spinners or spoons are best for Perch.
Deep profile, bronze, slimy flanks, down-turned mouth, protruding lips. Smaller
fish, called skimmers, are silver. Older fish develop humped back and turn a
brown/grey or bronze colour, depending on the venue.
Irish record: 12lb 3oz, Paul Mathers, Bolganard Lake, 1997.
Bream move around in their own good time in large numbers, browsing as they go.
They are present in most still waters and canals, and in deep, slow stretches of
many rivers, where they don't have to expend too much energy fighting the
current. They grow biggest in gravel pits, where low stocking densities and
abundant food mean they can achieve weights over 14lb, and prefer flat, silty
bottoms. Any double figure bream is the fish of a lifetime though. Although
bream don't fight as well as fish like carp or barbel, the gleaming bronze
flanks of a fish over 5lb is an impressive sight and the good news is if you
catch one you can be sure there are others in the area. Small bream or
'skimmers' as they are known, are silver-grey in colour but can still be easily
distinguished by their slimy sides and down-turned mouths from other silver fish
like roach. Once they reach about 1 lb, bream tend to take on a darker
appearance and as they grow older their humped back becomes ever more prominent.
Bream are lazy bottom feeders and they won’t chase a bait. The way to catch
them is to present a static bait and the number one method is undoubtedly the
groundbait swim feeder with baits like red worm, red maggot and caster on the
hook, or combinations (‘cocktails’) of these. Quiver tipping is a favourite
method. A good set-up would be 4lb mainline to a 2.5-3lb hook length and size 16
hook. The more accurate your casting is, the more you will catch and when you do
hook a fish, steer it away from the rest of the shoal quickly so as not to spook
Plain brown crumb is probably the most effective bream ground bait of all - and
Elongated, streamlined shape, greeny/cream mottled flanks, flattened head, lower
jaw slightly protrudes.
Irish record: 42lb (river), M Watkins, River Barrow, 1964.
Another area of angling which has enjoyed an increase in popularity in recent
years is pike angling. Although pike can be caught at all times of the year,
they are traditionally a winter fish. This is a predatory fish which follows its
food supply, so when pursuing it, look out for signs of small fish skipping
across the surface. A pike will often display its presence in this manner. Pike
will also often hunt their food in a more leisurely fashion, picking up dead
fish from the bottom, or lying in ambush for some unwary prey to swim past.
Likely places to find them are reed fringed bays, near snags (sunken trees for
example), and where the water has a sudden increase in depth (known as
Your rod needs to be quite strong. Ideally about 2 1/2 lb test curve rod for
ledgering and 2 lb for spinning and wobbling. Most types of carp rod can be
used. Generally the softer the action the better the fight is.
There are three main methods in fishing for pike. They are, float fishing,
dead baiting and lure-fishing.. Drifting floats, complete with their own sail,
can be used to fish a bait hundreds of yards away. Dead baits can be either
freshwater or salt. They can be presented in in a manner as in carp fishing, a
popped-up dead bait ledgered on the bottom can be as effective (and sometimes,
more effective) as a lure fishing. Dead baits can be enhanced by colouring, or
by the use of an attractant such as Glow bait. Pop-ups can be made by cutting
open the baitfish and inserting into its belly cavity a piece of foam or
polystyrene. Alternatively a dead bait pop-up punch is now available which takes
the mess out of it. Wobbling a dead bait gives you a cross between all of the
popular methods. Make your own rig up or buy one of the ready made ones in the
shops Wire traces are essential when piking. The trace should be at least twenty
inches long and can be fastened to the hook at one end and the swivel at the
other by crimps or by twisting. To make it easy, the tackle shops sell ready
made traces (which are a rip off as it is cheaper to make your own). The hooks
used in pike fishing are normally treble hooks. Get the semi-barbed variety, and
you will find that unhooking your fish is a lot easier, on both you and the
Removing the Hooks
Unhooking a pike is not as hazardous as it might first seem to some one who
has never done it. The first rule is, don't be frightened of it. The name of
'freshwater shark' is completely erroneous, pike are no trouble on the bank as
long as one follows the following procedure. Place the pike on an unhooking mat
or other soft surface to protect it from damage. Kneel astride it, and turn it
upside down. Using a gloved hand, slide your fingers into the underside of its
jaw and, gripping firmly but gently, open its mouth. In this position the hooks
should be easy to remove. Use a big pair of forceps. If the fish is deep hooked,
pull gently until the hooks become visible, then unhook it by turning the
trebles upside down. Sometimes it is easier to access the hooks through the
fish's gill-rakes. In the case of a really badly deep-hooked fish, it is
sometimes better to cut the hooks away from their shanks by using long handled
wire cutters. The stomach acids will soon put paid to the remaining bits of
hook. If in doubt, ASK OTHER ANGLERS TO HELP! Your damaged pride is a small
price to pay against the life of one of these majestic fish.
Lure fishing has been around for several thousand years. Then, the ancient
Greeks used feathers tied to bronze hooks to tempt Mediterranean tuna. Things
have changed a little over the years. Now a whole industry has emerged from
those humble beginnings. A lure can be constructed from almost any material. A
couple of years ago, a major brewery had a lure designed as a miniature can of
beer. It was a very successful pattern too. Feathers are still used as trout
lures, but when most people think of lures they are thinking of spinners,
spoons, plugs and the like. There are far too many types and patterns of lure to
discuss here, but a few of them are illustrated. The bewildering range displayed
in your local shop can be easily narrowed down to what you will need. Look for
the ones that are nearly sold out, they are often the ones that are catching in
your area, but your dealer will advise you anyway. Recent research and
experiments have shown that a 'Starlight' or other type of beta-light attached
to the trace can often improve the effectiveness of a lure. The attraction of
lure fishing for many is, that it is not static fishing. One is constantly on
the move, and can cover a lot of water in search of the fish. Lures will often
take a fish that would otherwise refuse a bait. The fish may be enraged at the
intrusion of its territory, and snap at the lure in anger, so 'natural'
presentation is not always required or desired. Spinning rods are cheap, but not
essential if you just want to have a try at it. Your feeder rod will do a
reasonable job. Multipliers are the traditional reel to use, but again your
fixed spool reel will get you by. When fishing a swim with a lure, fish the
whole swim by casting in a fan pattern. Start with the right hand margin and
work your way around the swim to the left hand side. Alternate the depth, and
speed, of retrieve to cover every inch within casting range, for often a fish
will ignore a lure unless it is drawn right past its nose. Then the water will
erupt as it smashes at it. Fish that will normally take lures include pike,
perch and trout. Roach and bream have also, but rarely, been caught on them.
Abroad, catfish and carp have been known to take them too, but that is a very
uncommon occurrence in this country.
Plugs are one of the favourite lures used by pike anglers.
Unmistakable freshwater fish. Small red eyes, green flanks, paddle like fins,
two barbules on upper lip. Thick set body with tiny scales make flanks smooth to
the touch. Only females grow to double figures. Males are easily distinguished
as they have very large, paddle-like pelvic fins.
Irish record: 8lb 15oz, Nick Parry, Ballyeighter Lake, June1995.
You are certainly not going to mistake the tench for anything else, with its
soft-to-the-touch olive green body, red eyes and thick lips. Tench are bottom
feeders and, strangely, very small tench are hardly ever caught. They can live
for up 20 years and where there is an abundant food source such as in
sparsely-stocked gravel pits, can reach over 10lb in weight. A double figure
tench is however the stuff of dreams and any tench over 4lb is worthy fish.
Although they are present in some slow-flowing stretches of river, tench are
essentially a stillwater and canal fish. They love to be close to cover - lily
pads in particular - and are famed for the tiny bubbles they send to the surface
when feeding - called ‘tench bubbles’ in angling circles. They fight hard
too, and have a strong following among pleasure and specialist anglers.
The bigger fish are easiest to catch in the first few hours of daylight, but
only in the warmer months of the year. Forget winter tench fishing! Like pike,
the largest tench are all females. An enjoyable technique called ‘the lift
method’ has long been associated with tench fishing. Top baits include sweet
corn, lobworms and especially casters, and pre-baiting a swim for a few days
prior to your session with a few handfuls of corn and hemp can work wonders.
There are rods designed specifically for fishing for tench but really you just
need a strong float rod coupled 4-6lb line and strong, forged size 10-14 hooks.
Tench used to be known as ‘the doctor fish’ as their slime was once thought
to have magical medicinal properties and in the Middle Ages was used to treat
headaches, toothache and jaundice.
Protruding lower jaw, dark back light belly, dorsal and anal fins continuous
around tail. Colouration from yellowy brown through grey to almost black. Very
slippery and difficult to hold.
Irish record: 6lb 15oz, J Murnane, Lough Droumenisa, Bantry, 1979.
Aged 8-13, a distant voice calls the eel to the sea in late summer and early
Autumn. Once there, its eyes enlarge, it takes on a silver sheen (becoming what
sea anglers call a ‘silver eel’) and then sets off a five month, deep-water
journey to the Sargasso Sea area of the North Atlantic, where it spawns, and
dies. The young, leaf-shaped and fragile elvers then take up to four years to
make it back to fresh water and start the cycle all over again. Some travel far
inland across wetland meadows by night during heavy rain to reach even the most
remote ponds. A few eels never make the journey back, usually because they are
trapped somewhere, perhaps, a venue with steep sides. These fish can live for up
to 25 years and grow to double figures, but any 3lb plus eel is a cracking fish.
The species is present everywhere but to maximise your chances in your area you
should keep your eye on the angling press and concentrate on a venue which is
producing a good number of big fish (over 2lb).
By day eels tend to be holed up under banks or in features, and by night they
come out to feed, so that’s the best time to fish for them. Like catfish, eels
are scavengers and the best plan of attack is to fish a dead bait or bunch of
lobworms on the bottom close to the margins. They hunt by smell rather than
sight so there really is no need for finesse tackle. Line should be 10lb at
least and you should use a wire trace of similar strength, but with a single 2-6
hook at the end. Use 2-3 inch dead baits (roach on still waters, gudgeon on
canals, minnows on rivers) and slash their flanks so the juices can flow into
the water and appeal to the eel's amazing sense of smell. Smaller eels, called
'bootlaces' by anglers, are suckers for casters.
Wonderfully-marked and aggressive game fish which puts up a amazing fight when
hooked, commonly jumping clean out of the water in a bid to throw the hook.
There are two record categories for brown trout - ‘natural’ and
‘cultivated’. This system was introduced as a response to some fisheries
rearing and then stocking fish over the British records for publicity purposes.
The cultivated brownie record is bigger than the natural record at over 28lb,
but the latter carries infinitely more prestige. Sea trout are the migratory
branch of the brown trout family. They are more silvery in appearance, lose
their red spots at sea, grow to similar sizes and are another prized game fish
which also make excellent eating. There is a separate sea trout record, a super
fish of 28lb 5oz 4dr from the River Test. 'Brownies' are commonly bronze,
although can be silver. Large black and red spots often adorn the flank. Has
adipose fin with tinge of red.
Irish record (lake): 26lb 2oz, Wm Mears, Lough Ennell, 1894.
Irish record (river): 20Ib, Major Hugh Place, River Shannon, 1957.
Likes clean loughs and the upper, swift flowing reaches of our cleaner rivers,
although it has also been stocked into many commercial trout still waters and
has naturally reached weights approaching 20lb in the larger venues. In
addition, farmed brownies closer to 30lb have been bred and stocked into venues.
Sea trout usually spend their first 2-4 years in freshwater then move out to sea
where, like the salmon, they grow rapidly. They run in many rivers around the
coastline, especially in the east and north of Ireland. Like the salmon they
return to the river where they were born to spawn in September-December, which
is when anglers target them. However, closely guarded local knowledge is usually
required to find out where and when they are running and can be caught, and this
species is best targeted at night. The main difference between the spawning of
sea trout and salmon though, is that more sea trout survive the ordeal. Sea
trout can spawn for up to 10 seasons.
Purists fish dry flies on chalk streams like the Test for brownies. On big
waters big lures and fry patterns are more popular. But they are
aggressive fish and would be easy to catch on blade spinners, maggots and worms
were they allowed. River brownies are limited in size and any fish over 2lb is a
good one, but in some lochs wild brown trout become predatory and grow very
large and can approach 20lb. These trout, known as Ferox trout, are very hard to
catch and such is their lustre that there is a Ferox trout society which
specializes in fishing for the species. Generally the method used is to troll
big lures close to the bottom, often using downriggers.
Beautiful coarse fish especially when it reaches 1lb or more. Golden flanks,
bright red fins, golden iris, lower lip protrudes.
Irish record: 4lb 8oz, Hugh Gough, Coney Lake, 1996.
A beautiful, golden shoal fish which has a protruding lower lip designed for
feeding off the surface. Rudd develop a deep profile once they grow over about
1lb and can live for up to 15 years and love to be close to reed beds. Rudd
hybridize readily with roach, but populations often go into rapid decline when
they are introduced to the same environment. This has happened in many parts of
Ireland, where the Rudd fishing used to be spectacular. It’s not all doom and
gloom though, as there are still plenty of Rudd left in reed-fringed Southern
Irish lakes and loughs.
You can locate them by getting upwind of the reeds and firing a trail of
floating casters along wind channels until they give their presence away by
swirling on the surface to take the casters. To catch them, fish a crystal
waggler with a 2-3 foot hook length below the float with no shot on. Bait up
with a sinking caster on a size 16 hook and 2-3lb line and cast in among the
floating casters, checking the float just before it lands so the bait is sent
beyond where the float lands. The bait should sink naturally in among the
floating casters and the float should go under with some gusto - big rudd are
not tackle shy, just difficult to find! Floating maggots is another deadly
option and two on a size 16 hook will counterbalance the weight of the hook and
either sit on the surface or sink enticingly slowly! To single out the bigger
fish in a shoal, floating crust on a size 12 hook is hard to beat, although you
will get fewer bites.
Along with the carp the British coarse angler's favourite fish. Dark grey/brown
on the back fusing to a pewter blue grey and then silver on the flanks, with
orange red anal and pelvic fins. Very slightly down-turned mouth (lips are
almost level), whereas Rudd have a slightly upturned mouth.
Irish record: 2Ib 13oz, Lawrie Robinson, River Blackwater, 1970.
A popular shoal fish present in almost all stillwaters, rivers, drains and
canals. They feed at all depths and can be caught close to the surface in warm
weather, although just off the bottom is where they are happiest. They will
still feed when it’s cold, and that might be why most anglers love them! Small
roach can be easy to catch, but once a roach reaches about 8oz in weight it has
been caught and returned several times and has learnt plenty, and many anglers
value a specimen roach above any other species. Present throughout England and
Wales, and common in Scotland except for waters north of Perthshire. Introduced
into Ireland and tend to barge out the less aggressive resident Rudd here.
Readily hybridize with bream and Rudd.
Really big roach are browsers, which will move off if other big fish appear.
They feed best on overcast, windy days and the last hour of light. They like to
feed over gravel on rivers and on slopes on still waters, and love white
maggots. A 1lb fish is a cracker. Catch a two-pounder and it's time to get the
camera and only a handful of anglers catch a 3lb plus roach each year. That’s
a dream fish if ever there was one. Roach, also known as ‘redfins’ due to
their bright ruby fins, are fast-biting fish which are difficult to catch on the
leger, so light float fishing is a good approach. If the water is crystal clear,
stick to a loose fed maggot and hemp approach. Bronze maggots are excellent hook
baits, while casters will pick out the bigger fish. If there is some colour in
the water, ground baiting with fine, dark ground bait is a good idea. Terminal
tackle should be as fine as possible. For smaller roach up to 1lb, use size
20-22 fine wire hooks with maggot and size 16 hooks baited with caster. A good
choice for mainline for float fishing is 2-2.5lb and hook lengths should be
Bread flake folded around a size 12 hook can be a superb specimen roach bait on
the upper reaches of rivers.