A man who has been travelling to Ireland for 43 years, clocking up a staggering 464 trips in that time, has this week laughed off suggestions that the country’s fishing is in decline, claiming sport is ‘better than ever’.
In recent years, rumours have circulated that the once legendary shoals of Irish slabs, roach and hybrids had all but disappeared, but those in the know have been telling a very different story.
Derbyshire’s Mick Gee knows the situation better than most, having visited the Emerald Isle up to 20 times a year since 1966, and he remains adamant that stocks are at an all-time high.
“The bream are still present in massive numbers, but people need to realise that in recent years the water quality and clarity levels have improved dramatically. This is due to environmental pressure on farmers and more zebra mussels which filter the water, meaning the fish may have moved from the spots they used to be in,” said Mick, who works as a consultant for Anglers World Holidays.
“It’s a simple case of taking a bit of local advice, putting in the effort to prebait your swim, and then fishing it early and late on in the day when the bream are most active. Huge nets are readily possible.”
Someone else with a good handle on the current situation of Irish stocks is Kevin Lyons, an ex-Londoner who now runs the Melview Lodge guesthouse in Clonrollagh, County Longford. In the past few months Kevin’s customers have been compiling some astronomical nets of bream, with a group of visiting Dutch anglers taking up to 500lb of fish a day during their week-long stay.
“There are stacks of fish to be caught, but anglers need to remember that these are truly wild creatures with natural habits – they don’t need anglers’ baits so you need to put in a bit of effort, and bait, in order to catch them. I fish around North Longford, Leitrim and Roscommon, and I can’t think of a lake that isn’t stuffed with quality fish – catches from 50lb to 100lb are fairly standard.”
But it’s not just bream hauls that have been making the headlines – with massive nets of roach and hybrids to over 100lb featuring in catch returns from the River Erne system.
Mick believes people returning to Ireland after a break will be amazed at how stocks of species other than bream have soared.
“There are plenty of big hybrids and roach to go at – especially around Belturbet and Gowna. They fight like little carp and provide superb sport. My advice is to go to Ireland. Your float never stops going under and your tip never stops going round – it’s as good as it’s ever been, if not better!”