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Saturday, 10 April 2010 11:17

Pike fishing on Lough Derg, Ireland by Rick Zevering

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Fishing for pike on Lough Derg can be done using several methods of which trolling and casting are the most widely practiced.

Trolling: With the engine running as slow as possible, a bait (a plug, spoon or dead bait fish) is towed approx. 20 meters behind the boat. This can be done by putting the rod (or rods) into a rod holder, although a hand held rod is often more productive because of the extra action one can transfer onto the bait. The choice of bait is a very important one. In shallow water (say up to 15 feet / 4,5m) use shallow running baits or be prepared to get stuck in weeds or rocks. In deeper water, say from 15 to 30 feet, use deeper running lures. A depth finder (sonar) is a great help and most pike fishermen wouldn't go out without one. Not only does the depth finder show you the depth, it also shows you plants, rocks, drop offs and shoals of fish. In deeper water you may even see individual fish on the screen.

Seasons: Around the beginning of June, pike fishing on Lough Derg slows down and the summer months are not the best time to plan a pike fishing holiday. Things pick up again as soon as the lake starts cooling down, mostly around mid September. The best months to plan a holiday would therefore be April and May and again from mid September until November. More specifically, April and October are the top months. In spring, concentrate on depths of 10-17 feet / 3-5 m, in autumn depths of around 20 feet / 6m should be more productive.

Some tried and tested trolling baits:
Springtime: Rapala J-14, Rapala Super Shad Rap, YOZURY Chrystal minnow, mann's minus, several thin-bladed spoons, bucktail spinners.

Autumn: Super Shad Rap, Mann's 15+ and 20+, several fairly heavy rubber baits like 10 and 12 inch Bulldawg, rubber shads with 30 grams (1 ounce) leadheads.

Casting: Casting for pike can be done either while anchored or from a slow drifting boat. Location is very important. Pike like the vicinity of plants, so you should position your boat in such a way that the drift takes you along the outside of weedbeds. When anchored, the same applies: anchor the boat in such a way, that you can just reach the plants on your left or right. While drifting or at anchor, try to cover the water in a fan shape instead of casting to the same spot over and over. Several lures can be used but make sure they run shallow, because you fish close to - or sometimes in- the weeds. Wether you use plugs or spoons, always play the bait. Just reeling in is far less effective than a stop-go movement.

Jerk baiting: Jerk baiting is done with a short, very stiff rod with a multiplier reel and heavy braided line (+/- 50 to 80 pound breaking strain). The lures used generally have no diving vane like ordinary plugs. The action under water is transferred into these baits by the "jerking" motion of the rod tip. This works best when you stand on one of the seats in the boat and jerk downwards, which explains why these rods are so short (approx. 6 foot / 1.80 m). A solid steel leader helps to avoid the bait getting tangled in the trace or mainline. The heavy line used is necessary, because of the weight of jerk baits (sometimes up to 6 or 7 ounces / 180 - 200 g) and also to eliminate the chance of a fish breaking the line, which would leave the poor creature with a large bait with big treble hooks in its mouth, possibly resulting in a slow and horrible death.

Some tried and tested jerk baits:
Suick, Buster Jerk. Phantom, Striker plus several rubber lures like bulldawgs and toads and fairly heavy bucktail spinners and spinner baits.

Some general tips for pike fishing on Lough Derg (or anywhere in Ireland):
Always use a steel trace of at least 30 cm long and with a minimum breaking strain of 30 pounds. Make sure the connection to the bait consists of a good quality snap like a Cross-Lock or a Coast -Lock snap. Too many pike are lost because inferior snaps are used.

For all your pike fishing, use braided line. Because of the lack of stretch in these lines, you will have a more sensitive combination which enables you to feel every movement of the bait and provides you with a more secure hook-set. The use of nylon (monofilament) lines for pike fishing is really something of the past.

Always carry adequate unhooking tools with you: A long nosed pliers and a good quality wire cutter are essential. Sometimes hooks can be deep down a fish's mouth and can only be removed by cutting the hook and taking the bait out through the gills.

A marker buoy is a very useful piece of equipment. Throw it overboard when you start a drift and you will know exactly where to start the next drift, say 30 meters left of right of the marker buoy. This enables you to fish a certain area more accurately. It can be very easily made out of a big (5 liter) water bottle. Cover the bottle in black and yellow insulation tape for great visibility even at a distance. Attach 5 meters of string to the bottle and at the end of that a heavy weight (+/- 10 ounces / 300g). Wrap the string around the bottle and lower it overboard when starting your drift or at the spot where you anchor. You now have a perfect point of reference that will tell you how the boat drifts and how to correct the drift- direction with your next drift. Don't forget to collect your bottle when you leave the area !

Fish with barbless hooks - better for the fish and easier for you to unhook. When you keep constant pressure on the fish, the hooks won't come out. Another advantage is the easier removal of hooks that might happen to get stuck in one of your body parts.

Fly fishing for pike: Lough Derg has many spots (invariably weedbeds) where fly fishing can work very well. Use a 9 or 10 weight rod with an intermediate weight forward (WF) line and streamers of 15-20 cm long.

The pike in Ireland are a protected species, all pike over 50 cm in length must be immediately returned to the lake.







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