As a young boy, I found the lough to be a place of dreams where every dip of a float or an alarm screaming could be a monster. However, nowadays it is a lot less exciting as it has become a runs water instead of a big fish water. As many anglers do not know the history of the current carp stock, I will explain. Back in 2000 and 2001, our club purchased 750lb weight of small carp at a rough cost of €7.50 per pound. These carp came from Decoy Lake in Co. Tipperary, a private water where there was a huge stock of small carp that needed to be removed in order to improve it as a big carp fishery. These fish were purchased to rejuvenate the Lough as at the time although it was unrivaled big carp water in Ireland, the stock of original fish was old and spawning and fry survival was very rarely successful. The club ran out of funds and as I was the organiser I had to with draw hundreds of euros from my own account to cover the balance. That was ok as I was promised by a group of carp anglers (non-club members) that they would chip in and cover me [still waiting].
The size of the carp we bought were from fingerling to palm sized. The survival rate of the small carp was a surprise. With each year that passed, you could see them putting on weight, some at a very fast rate. To be certain of their growth rate Ross Macklin, Bill Brazier and I got 300 fish (floy) tags [not cheap!] to attach to the carp for identification and monitoring. We measured length and girth as well as their weights and photographed both sides of the fish we tagged. With all the tags used up, we had up to three years or so before the small carp’s growth would literally pop the tags out [some of the larger carp we tagged still have tags to this day].
As you can guess there has been a bit of poaching happening out there and not just from our cross water cousins but also from Irish anglers taking larger fish to stock lakes closer to home. This made the research much harder. This is fact as we have pictures of carp from the Lough that match pictures of the same fish in other lakes that I would love to mention. As the young carp turned into adults [around 2003/04] there was an explosion of carp fry and with the vast numbers of carp an Argulus [fish lice] epidemic broke out. This, along with a warm, dry summer and poor water quality overwhelmed many of the older residents and tragically resulted in many large fish deaths.
The highlight of my carp fishing was land this 29lb 13oz Republic of Ireland Irish record carp back in 1998
Back in the early days at the Lough, between the ages of four and eleven I was fishing for Rudd and perch. It was at the age of twelve before I realised was really was swimming around the lough. I was float fishing for perch and as I lifted a small perch into my hand, a huge fish jumped out of the water near Toney and myself. It did not look like a pike, as it was red and gold in colour and way too fat. For the next few weeks, we walked our dog around the Lough to see could we get another glimpse at it. With no luck, we were starting to wonder did we even see it at all. About a week later, Tony cotter and I saw two anglers whom we now know as Connor Healy and Ken Ready. These anglers were catapulting out sweetcorn to attract the fish. We asked them why not maggots or worms and they said, “we would get plagued by perch and Rudd”. I asked them what they were fishing for so and they replied, “carp”. They then showed us how they put on their sweetcorn and to our surprise, they was five grains of corn hanging beneath the hook [I thought there were off their game!]. We sat down next to them, as there were setting up the rest of their gear and when they put their rods on pods that had alarms, I was amazed and wanted the same set up. With every scream of the alarm and with huge fish on the bank I knew it was the same type of fish that I saw when perch fishing and now I wanted to catch them even more.
From that day, all of 30 years ago now, I was hooked on carp fishing. Since then, with the help of the club members especially Ross Macklin, Bill Brazier, Tony Cotter, Paddy Higginson and Barry James, we have dedicated a lot of our free time to protect and try to help the Cork City Council to develop the Lough. This is hard and thankless work. We had meeting with the Council and Fisheries Board (now IFI) and established a fish protection byelaw for all fish in the Lough [that means even if you take a fish under 25cm you can and will be fined]. We also helped IFI and the Marine Institute with the Koi Herpes Virus (KHV) testing that resulted with a clean bill of health for the fish. With all the hard work through the years, since around 1997, we have now firmly hit a brick wall. The Council have blocked most of the fishable water around the island with barley straw that is in long nets. They have also allowed a model yacht club to take over most of the prime fishing areas on a Sunday morning that produce most of the large fish. We have argued until blue in the face and sent countless emails, letters and proposals to complain about this. We also explained that the keels of the model boats are too deep and will hit fish and get snagged up in fishing lines as the lough is to shallow. Worst of all is the markers they use to race around which are not in any way fish or bird friendly.
HOOKS AND LINE CAUGHT UP ON MODEL YACHT MARKERS
Even when we sent in proof that the markers are dangerous for fish welfare they just didn’t seem to care. It is clear to us that it is highly doubtful at the moment if any of the issues with the Lough will be fixed in the near future…
Back to fishing the lough cork
The Lough is one of the easiest lakes I think to fish because the lake has no natural weed (too many fish and birds) and has very little features to cast too. There are no drop offs and any natural gravel areas that were there are long covered with tonnes of silt. What I have found is that if you find the carp you are in with a huge chance of catching them.
Like all waters the best thing to do is pre-bait. What I would do with any new bait I use is, every second day put in two hundred boilies around the lake. After ten days, I would narrow the locations to where I want to fish. When I am sure that the fish are feeding over the pre-baited area I will put large PVA bags or a method ball stuffed with boilies out on each cast. In addition, with every run I would put out twenty or so loose boilies to keep them on the feed. I know some lads say they do not have the money to spend it on bait but I have found a lot of them always have enough for cans of beer or top of the range fishing gear, and will happily spend €1000 to go to France and put in over 15kg of boilies in one week. I know pre-baiting will be hard for many anglers as they live a few hours from the Lough. However, if you are unable to pre-bait what I would suggest to do is pick one area and at least put a hundred good quality baits over it every day of the session. I have found that by doing this you will get the smaller resident fish to move over the baited area and then the larger carp will come over to investigate. This in a lot of occasions will result in you landing fish.
One year by not going to France I was able to buy a boilie gun, rolling tables, air drying trays and a enough base mix to last me four years of pre-baiting and to fish with. I believe there are no excuses to arrive at the Lough with a tub of pop up and a hand full of shelf life boilies
A faster way to get fish onto your bait is Method mixes. They are easy to use, all you do is add water until you can make small balls for the catapult and when using on the feeder it has to be more pliable as it needs to break down. With most mixes, I will add chopped and full boilies to give the carp something to pick up and with every run, I would add more boilies in. After applying the mix to my feeder, I will then wrap my hook length around the method ball and push the hook into it, so the hook bait hangs outside. I find by doing this that you will not tangle your hook length and in weedy areas it will help stop your hook snagging before it hits the bottom. I have used this method abroad and at home with great success.
If using a method ball remember, you are adding many ounces of feed to your method feeder and if your rod is not suited be careful when casting.
Frame 1 With some method mix in the palm of my hand, I will then push the lead of the feeder into it. Then I keep adding the mix until the feeder it covered with the right shape and weight to cast. Then I will wrap the hook length around the method ball and then insert the hook into it on the opposite side of were the lead is.
I use a throwing stick on most occasions to get the boilies out to where I want them. They can be frustration at times but with some practice they are super. When using a throwing stick keep it roughly at 90 degrees to your back with elbow bent, hand and wrist pointing up. Then with a straight and swift movement bring the throwing stick towards the area were you want the bait. The tricky part is when to stop your arm and throwing stick. Frames 1, 2, and 3 show you where your arm and throwing stick should be from start to finish. All that is left is to practice that vital sudden stop that launches the boilie.
Frame one: keep throwing stick at 90 degrees to your back. Frame two: with a straight and swift movement bring the throwing stick towards the area where you want the bait. Frame three: at roughly this angle and a sudden stop the boilie will travel a long distance.
My son Derick and my daughter Amy, aged three, with her first specimen mirror carp at the Lough
My son Derick with an 18lb+ and a 21lb 10oz carp. This carp is the largest mirror in the lake and they both took boilies over a pre-baited area
When fishing the Lough make sure that pedestrians can walk past your rods, especially at night because it is a public amenity and many citizens use it for their daily walk
A PVA mesh bag loaded with crushed boilies can be deadly when fishing a pop up over it
The late Robin Brazier back on 1st July 2001 with three carp 23lb 10oz, 18lb 15oz and 13lb 10oz