A staggering landmark in Irish pike angling is on the brink of being smashed this week, as one predator expert begins his search for his 400th fish over the magic 20lb mark.
Angling Times can exclusively reveal that Irish pike fishing guide Al Rawlings captured his 397th specimen fish on a recent session on a Lough in the upper Shannon region as part of a three-fish haul weighing in at 26lb 4oz, 26lb 8oz and 21lb 10oz.
The result puts the Lincolnshire born angler within a day’s fishing of breaking through the 400 barrier ¬ a feat never before accomplished on Irish waters.
Within this monumental achievement, the former match angler turned predator hunter has landed a staggering 11 pike over 30lb to 32lb 9oz, with over 100 of his fish weighing in over the 25lb mark.
“I didn’t start pike fishing seriously until I moved over to Ireland for work in the mid-90s,” the former tackle shop owner told AT. “Before that it had been match and sea fishing with the occasional go for pike. But the predator fishing is so good over here I couldn’t not fish for them.
“My pike fishing really took off when I got made redundant in the late ‘90s.
I had a bit of money saved and said I’d pike fish until the cash ran out. Some 12 years later I’m still fishing for them.
“I’ve caught my fish on loads of different methods, but the most productive for me has been trolling with deads and lures on the Loughs like Corrib near Galway.
“My next target is a fish over 35lb, and then it’s the 500 20lb-fish barrier. In a good season I’m averaging between 25 and 30 fish over 20lb, so I’ve given myself five years to get there.” The only other man known to have landed more than 400 pike over 20lb, albeit across a number of countries, is predator legend Neville Fickling. AT spoke to him about Al’s achievement.
“Al will get to the 400 mark much quicker than I did,” said Neville. “He averages more fish over 20lb than anyone else I know, but he’s also very single-minded in his pursuit of big fish, and he’s in a country were the limited angling pressure means he’s got the quality of fishing to achieve what he has.”