One of the beauties of using a bellyboat, is that you can just put it on your back to access any water, anywhere. Although that sounds a lot easier than it actually is, because on a soil like this, where every step can mean that you’re knee deep into wet peat, it can become quite a challenge.
But, as a former fishing guide would confirm a day later: “those kind of lakes keep the lazy fishermen away, so those are the places you have to fish”.
So eventually, we got onto a very beautiful lake, but again we witnessed ‘four seasons in one day’, so the catches were poor. Yes we all caught several jacks, and…
…Phillipe even caught this 70+ pike. That’s actually the only picture of the entire trip I have from him holding a pike in his hands, which is a shame because he caught a lot of them.
And he must have been surprised as well. Because, how much worse can you show a pike to a camera!
Peat soil and paddling can make you hungry, so a good sandwich can give you strength again.
Strength to try out an other lake. But it wasn’t before several hundred meters of paddling and seeing trout jump out of the water, that we realised that this was a trout lake. And that’s the last kind of lake you want to fish for pike in Ireland (they just kill every pike they see on lakes like this).
Luckily, there’s always a friendly face to greet you when you come out of the water in Ireland.
In the meanwhile, the other guys had more luck on their lake. Especially Gino. After several jacks, the size of his pike kept going up and up.
Like this one for example, 88 cm, but look how fat it is already.
That’s a beautiful pike!
And a bit later, he caught this one. This lady was a lot thinner, but with 99 cm, it’s Gino’s new personal best. Well done Gino!
After our disappointment at the trout lake, we gave it another try at our ‘private lake’ back home (and Phillipe used a boat this time).
But jacks like this were the only thing to be caught.
So, after our trout water experience on day 3, we came across this water on day 4.
The ‘Notice’ was promising…
Just click on the picture to enlarge (any picture for that matter).
…and it was a beautiful lake (not to mention the nice weather we had for a change), so the expectations were high. But only two jacks were caught (with four guys on the water), so we changed our plans once again (we later learned that this is a nursery lake, and they collect the pike each year to put them elsewhere).
So, we changed location once again to arrive at another beautiful lake, and pleased our inner selves with some sandwiches before we hit the water.
One thing that doesn’t change when you hit these Irish waters (or elsewhere for that matter) with a bellyboat, is the beauty of your surroundings. Hanging with your legs in the water, sitting at water level, really sucks you into something way bigger than yourself, and that’s nature that’s all around you. Personally, I like it even better than wading (once you get the hang of it, anyway), because sometimes I can get really grumpy when I can’t reach certain places with my waders, but a bellyboat can just take you wherever you want to go (well… if the wind isn’t too strong that is). So I don’t think I can ever get bored with that.
Although the catches were poor again (just a few jacks).
But when we got out of the water, we met ‘Farmer John’. I really regret that I don’t have a picture of him, because he was probably the ugliest Irish fellow on the island (smelled an hour in the wind too). But he had been a fishing guide for seven years, and he told us about certain algae that were in the water this time of the year, “when you see those, take another lake to fish in.” he said.
He also told us the location of a private lake on his brothers property.
So with new high expectations, we were ready to explore another lake.
And he was right, this was 'pike paradise' (for most of us anyway).
Here’s Koen with one of many (and really, Koen, you do have to start smiling when you’re showing a pike to a camera!)
Here’s an other one (with a much better smile).
This was actually a crazy moment. Because only one second after I took this picture, his rod behind him (with a streamer hanging in the water), started to shake like a mad man.
After which, he was just in time to put the pike back, grab his rod, and land an other pike just like it.
But, as I am reflecting now on our trip, it strikes me that I had that same look on my face like Koen when I caught an other jack pike. You see, over here in Belgium, it’s very hard to catch pike, so we cherish every pike we catch (no matter what size).
So, I’m ashamed to admit that when there’s an abundance of pike to be caught, a certain feeling of disappointment steps in very quickly when the pike doesn’t have the desired length.
It surprises me, how quickly we can get spoiled.
So when we saw Gino, drilling a pike that didn’t even want to show itself after several minutes fighting a 10#, it was time to get a little closer.
Eventually this 90 cm piece of muscles came out.
And as you can see, it was love at first sight.
A little tip maybe, if you want to seduce a lady pike like this, do like Gino, use your teeth when you smile, and they just crawl up your lap.
But, in the end (like every other exhausting day on the water), one by one, we found the shore, and called it a day…