Ireland, Spring 2016 part 3 (by Stefaan)

All good things come to an end, so I find myself at home again after 3 weeks fishing in Ireland.

The last week, it was just Frederik and I, so it was a bit calmer, although I think we spent even more hours on the water. I’m not complaining, especially because circumstances were finally how they were supposed to be. The temperatures went up considerably, and the pike became very hungry and therefor a lot more active.

Like this one for example, here you see a bream or one of those large hybrids (I couldn’t tell for sure) still sticking partially out of his mouth, but he still took my streamer.

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If we would have fished the reed beds now, we could have caught large numbers of small pike. We did it from time to time, just for fun, and every 2 to 3 casts, we hooked a fish. But that’s not why we were here. When the pike are this loose, we look for underwater obstacles (like big stones, small hills, slopes,…) on open water, in search for some bigger pike.

These Irish pike are so much stronger than the ones we got over here. We’ve discussed this with a number of people, but we can’t seem to find any reason for it. Fact is that you can’t compare the strength of an Irish pike with any Dutch, Belgian or French pike. So the moment they reach 70cm, they already give you one hell of a fight.

They will dive as deep as they can…

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Followed by the craziest antics out of the water, dive again, come out again…

They also like to hide under your belly boat, between your flippers.

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And once you think you can land them, they’re off again (isn’t it, Frederik?)

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Anyway, we caught a lot more pike this week over 70 and 80cm. Here’s a small selection:

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On a lot of the pictures, you can see that Frederik brought his spinning rod along, but I don’t think he even used it 5% of the time. To say it in his own words: “It’s a lot more fun on the fly!” That’s the spirit Frederik!

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And we even went over 90cm a couple of times.

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No meter pike this week, but that’s ok, because we had a lot of action and stayed on the lakes until the sun went down; not because the pike were biting good at that time, but just because it was so damn beautiful to be out there.

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So thanks again Frederik, for a fantastic week! We will do that again for sure!

And this is not the end of my Irish adventure for this year, because I’m going back in four weeks, so…

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Fishing Wisdom of the Week

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Ireland, Spring 2016 part 2 (by Stefaan)

Another week has past, here in beautiful Ireland, and some new folks have arrived to fish.

Here you see Cedric, ready to try out another lake.

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The fishing itself hasn’t improved since last week. The temperature has gone up a bit, but we had some serious winds almost the entire week. So, the more promising (bigger) lakes were too difficult to fish on. Thus we had to improvise and do whatever we could do; it wasn’t easy, but we managed to catch fish anyway.

For Diego and his father Martin it was their first time in Ireland, and they wanted to fish the lakes by kayak. Martin, who usually fishes for pike with lures and stuff, only started fly fishing a couple of months ago. So he brought both kind of rods with him to be sure. So I thought he was going to fish his lures all the time with an occasional cast of a fly in between, but oh no! He really persisted on casting flies (that’s the spirit Martin!). And although his casting abilities are still very poor, he did manage to catch some pike every day!

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They weren’t very big, but he had a great time anyway.

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Diego was more experienced with a fly rod, so he caught more fish, but the big ones will be for a next time. Here are some of his catches.

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Diego’s mom, Ingrid came over as well and wanted to come along to whatever lake we went. One day they had a small accident with their car, so everything had to happen with my little van (with only 2 seats in the front), so we stashed Ingrid in the back (maybe that was a poor way of thanking her for her excellent cooking, but she didn’t complain, and she even had a lot of fun in there).

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The catcher of the week though was most certainly Cedric. He came over by plane for just four days of fishing, but he managed to have most of the action.

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Here are some of his pike caught.

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With a new personal best on top of the list: 108cm, well done Cedric!

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Let’s see that one from yet another angle. Oh yes, what a beauty!

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So thanks folks, for a very pleasant week of fishing (and company), and I hope we can do it all over again sometimes.

And me? Well, I’m catching my daily share of pike, although the big ones still refuse my flies.

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But I’m here for another week, so anything can happen…

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Fishing Wisdom of the Week

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Ireland, Spring 2016 part 1 (by Stefaan)

Finally I found some time to write a post. The first group has come and gone here in Ireland, and we had a great time.

I won’t bother you with our journey to get here. I know that it’s popular to show pictures of ferryboats and highways, but most people really don’t give a damn. Except maybe this, we always make a little detour trough Snowdonia National Park when we drive trough Wales. And here the holiday feeling really kicks in.

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Not to mention the ache to cast some flies at the lovely rivers that pass trough the park (with salmon and especially seatrout moving upstream this time of the year), but we’re just passing trough and just dream again of planning a fishing trip to this place somewhere in the future.

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But the destination is Ireland of course, and its fantastic lakes with loads of pike in it.

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But the fishing …that was hard work! With the shifting of the seasons we arrived at a very bad time. It has been cold for a long time (again), so some pike have spawned already, but especially the bigger ones, are still at the bottom of the lakes, not moving an inch, no matter what you try to provoke a strike. We saw loads of them on our fish finders, but it became very frustrating (and useless) to put much effort into those pike.

We met a Belgian lure fisherman, who caught 252 pike in 8 days, but only five or six were bigger than 70cm, and that says it all, doesn’t it. When you fish the reed beds on the fly, it is possible to catch up to 20 (or more) small ones (40 to 55cm) a day, but for the most of us, that’s not really why we are here.

They can be beautiful though.This is Koen with one of the small ones.

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And Edwin, our canary (you couldn’t miss him on the water).

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This is one of Fabris, he spent a lot of time fishing the reed beds, so he probably caught most of us, but all small ones.

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It appeared however that most of the lakes had a certain area where the temperature was just a bit higher and the pike were a bit looser. So it was a lot of try and effort (and paddling) to find those spots, but it was the only way to catch some slightly bigger fish.

Here are some of the pike caught.

Apparently this is the only picture we have of Patrick with a pike (take more pictures next time guys).

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Edwin with an 80cm pike. He really has a strange way of holding his pike (this is the best picture I found), but man what a cook he is. It was like going to a restaurant whole week long (don’t misinterpret this, not a single pike was killed during the whole week).

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Dimitri with a nice one.

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Two times Fabris.

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This last one convinced him to fish open water more often next time.

Hans measuring his fish with his rod

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Anthony of course

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And Koen

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And myself

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And with 102cm, the biggest pike of the week was for Hans, well done!

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I also had a 90+ pike that took off the moment I wanted to lift it out of the water and Koen had one about the same size but it jumped out of his lap before we could take a picture. Too bad, but it didn’t spoil the fun.

At the end, everybody was happy, and agreed to come again next year…

So thanks again guys, for a great time! And a warm hart to our friend Joeri who had to cancel his trip at the last moment due to some very tragic events, hang in there buddy!

Another (smaller) group has arrived already for a week of fishing, and I’m staying another week after that, so more posts (and pike) will follow…

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Fishing Wisdom of the week

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Pimping Up my Float Tube (by Stefaan)

For a while now, I had some modifications for my float tube in my head. And since I’m off to Ireland in just two days, it was about time I did something about it. So for the last two days, my dad and I put our heads (and hands) together to realise my ideas.

First of all, I wanted to get rid off those bags (to put your gear in) on top of the sides. I like some space for my arms for casting, retrieving, setting the hook, or whatever, and those bags were starting to get on my nerves.

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I also wanted to keep the basket (with two batteries) to stop sliding downwards into my back while I’m on the water; that was very annoying. Even with the stretchers I used before, sooner or later it started pushing against my back. And now, it just can’t move.

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The shelf attached to the tubes is for my electric engine, which goes straight down trough the bottom of the float tube. But, both tubes and shelve take off completely when I don’t need them.

There is also a switch fixed on the underside of the shelf forward left (where my depth finder is installed), to start and stop the electric engine. That way I don’t always have to spin my spine 180° to reach for the on and off switch (I already have problems enough with my back).

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And I wanted a horizontal rack for two rods. Those vertical ones are great when your fishing with lures and stuff, but when you have to lean into the wind backwards with your float tube and have to cast sideways with a fly rod (and line), having two rods standing up can become very risky. Here they are on the rack in full length, but with rougher weather I will put them on in half the length (I don’t want any waves rolling over the tips of my rods).

As you can see, I installed an action camera on a rotatable tube, so I can film (or take a picture) from any angle I want. Or just take the whole thing off if I don’t need it.

A nice gadget which comes with the camera is this bracelet with buttons to start and stop filming or take a picture; so no more reaching out, and start searching how to start the damn thing while you’re drilling a fish.

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The whole frame is attached where the oars used to be (I never use them anyway), and takes apart in three pieces so you don’t need a lot of space to store it.

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I’m quite pleased with the result,… and now just a couple of days of patience and I can test it on an Irish lough…

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