In a 15 km radius around our home we had about 30 different lakes to discover, and when we went a little bit further, we had lots more of them. So that wasn’t a problem at all. Our problem in Ireland was the weather. Two weeks before we arrived it was up to 23° C, and they caught loads of pike at that time. We had an average temperature of about 10° C during the day and around 0° C at night. But the worst problem was the constant changing of the weather. Now, I know the literal meaning of ‘four seasons in one day’!
We could arrive at a lake where we needed sunglasses and sunscreen (which I forgot, so now I’m peeling skin of my ears).
Half an hour later, we could have a hail storm on our heads.
This picture was taken 5 min after the previous one, and it’s a picture of a bad sign.
Usually after a complete lack of wind like this, the wind came up very strong, blowing from the complete opposite direction.
And that is not a pleasant thing when your in a bellyboat on the other side of the lake with only the paddles on your feet to take you back.
But we tried to make the best of it, so here’s the fishing.
Now, the idea was to fish the smaller lakes, that were inaccessible (or difficult to access) with a boat, and hard to fish from the shore. To put it in other words, ideal for a bellyboat.
Depending on the size of the lakes, we often split up in two groups, to fish different lakes. On our first one, Koen and Phillipe were able to catch several jacks,
but no Pike for me. But my time would come in the afternoon.
In the meanwhile Gino, Steven and Lieven were even less lucky. After hitting the water, Gino’s bellyboat started to deflate (which he luckily fixed later on).
Then, Lieven, the only one who’s not a fly fisherman, hooked a pike onto his lure on one end and his own finger on the other end.
Which meant, going to the hospital. Luckily it all turned out ok. Next to several jacks he managed to catch two pike from 80 cm (unfortunately there are no pictures of those).
The lakes we fished in the afternoon, made us soon forget the misery from before. Here’s Steven with a fish that is already big for his standards.
He’s actually the jack pike specialist.
He uses an 8# to fish these small flies (they’re called a ‘Piker’s Point’) to fish close to the reeds, and catches one after the other that way.
Here are some nice close-ups he made from some of his jacks.
In the mean while, ‘flash flies’ did the trick for us on the other lake.
So I started to catch fish as well.
Phillipe even caught them on a popper close to the reeds.
But as you can see, you have to be lucky to have someone near you to take a proper picture.
Of course you can lay the pike on your lap (and hope it doesn’t jump of) like Phillipe did here.
Or hold it in front of you if it isn’t to big (like Steven is doing here), although he already had to turn his camera to get the pike completely.
But when they’re a bit bigger (like the one I’m holding here), you only have them partially.
So let’s stick to the nice ones (worth paddling for to take a picture), like this 90+ pike from Koen.
But the best was yet to come when I hooked this old Lady.
Gino (who took the pictures), had to paddle away very fast a couple of times, each time she decided to start another run.
But eventually I was able to pull here out. You might think I was afraid of it, but if you look closely, you can see (on the left of the picture) that my bellyboat was deflating. When I pulled the pike out of the water, I had the feeling I was going to flip over. So leaning backwards seemed like a wise thing to do.
Here she is completely, 105 cm with an estimated weight of 10-12 kg, which is a new personal best for me!
I don’t need to mention that I was (and still am) a happy man!
Although she did give me a little souvenir. I wanted another picture as I was putting her back into the water, but at that moment she shook her body entirely and I was forced to let go (it would have been way worse otherwise). But I gladly take a little ‘war wound’ like this if I’m able to catch a fish of this size.
That about wraps up our first day. Everybody caught at least several pike, so we all went home with a smile on our face.
And after some adjustments for the next day (Koen and I forgot our anchors at home so we had to improvise),
Koen thought he could make a nice picture. Well Koen, I find mine better.
So after hanging clothes (and flies) to dry, we had our first of many delicious meals prepared by Phillipe and were ready for a good night sleep…