Cure for the Covid blues
Cure for the Covid blues!
Featuring the Berkley "Pulse" Spinning Rod and Mitchell Pro RZT Reel.
Well now, I'm guessing that I don't have to emphasise how difficult things have been since the arrival of the virus!
My angling campaign began in 2020 as per normal, enjoying a satisfying session catching specimen Spurdog in the company of angling buddy Ross Macklin, and by the following week, the world it seems, changed forever. I proceeded to be a good citizen, hardly went out through the door, certainly never lifted a rod and tried like everyone else to weather the storm and keep Covid at bay.
The serenity of St. Mullins can be good for the soul.
Consequently, I lost sixteen months angling, and shockingly for me, even begun not to miss it! My sleep suffered and depression was rarely far away, but being too wrapped up in one personal issue and another, I couldn't see the cause of the problem.
My closest friends on the other hand, could. They pestered and badgered me into lifting the rods once again, and finally I relented, and agreed to head south (now that it was legally permitted). Of course, there is no better place to ease oneself back into natures bosom and the serenity of angling than to visit my old favourite, St.Mullins, on the mighty River Barrow.
Right up to the last minute, I didn't really want to go, and it was a huge push for sure, mostly being pushed by my long time buddy Sidney Kennedy.
But in fairness, as I neared the small hamlet of St. Mullins, nestled in the Barrow Valley, passing the ancient Motte and Bailey at the top of the hill, laneway sweeping down to the forest-lined river, the old feelings, memories and excitement came flooding back. An angling adrenaline that is destined to course through my blood stream my entire life.
Berkley "Pulse" looks a fine rod for Shad fishing
Arriving that Thursday afternoon, having driven through Dublin and a backdrop of fluffy white clouds and blue skies, it began to rain, right on cue. The soft Irish rain, that light drizzle that "soaks you through" as Peter Kay once said, and of course, it did!
But meeting up with Sid and his daughter Amy, and with the Shad "running", little could dampen my spirits just now. I also had a sexy spinning rod to play with, the Berkley "Pulse", that I balanced nicely with the Mitchell Pro RZT reel loaded with "Whiplash 8" fine diameter braid. A fine Shad set-up for sure.
Teamed with the Mitchell Pro RZT, tasty combo
So heartening to see good numbers of fish, but every larger specimen I hooked, quickly un-hooked itself before I even had a glimpse. And if they leap out of the water, their aerial antics soon shake a hook! This is the nature of Shad angling, and having at least twenty five Shad seasons under the belt, I know it's simply a matter of perseverance until lady luck makes an appearance, putting the odds in favour of the angler.
A leaping Shad, always a heart stopping momnent!
That wet Thursday afternoon ended with many fish landed but the larger specimens eluded me. Certainly, I connected with at least three or four bigger fish, but connecting them to the measure mat for a quick photo of proof was a different matter entirely!
As night closed in, we ate well, had some laughs, and eventually climbed into our respective "bivvies", physically dampened but not spiritually. For one of the few times in my life, chasing specimen fish seemed low on the priority list. Freedom to travel, and reacquainting with life-long friends is a priceless commodity, only fully realised when it's taken from you.
Sid Kennedy slides a decent fish to the bank
Early and chilly start at first light, damp clothing, wet waders and constant rain.....all very uncomfortable and off-putting, but Irish Specimens generally don't come easy, you need to put the work in, and often the hours (sometimes days, weeks and even years!) to earn the prize.
My plan was to stay until Sunday, but four days of rain on my first outing in sixteen months was a big ask, I had hoped for an easier angling baptism! I opted to see how things transpire over the next few hours.
A decent specimen for Sid Kennedy to brighten a damp day
The Shad were numerous, and willing to play, and I soon had my first Specimen on the measure mat, photographed and released. It is vital that this species is returned quickly to the water to ensure healthy release. If it was a lengthy battle, hold the fish in the water, head facing upstream until it catches its breath and finds it's bearings. The Irish Specimen Fish Committee recently introduced length-based specimens rather than weight, and this has helped greatly in safe and healthy release.
A speedy photograph on the measure mat before quick and safe release
Point the head of the fish upstream, submerged, until it catches its breath
As wee Bob Mortimer says....."and away"!
As the tide continued to flood, and "waves" of freshly run Shad made their way upstream from salt water to fresh, sport was tremendous, specimens were landed, and others lost. No different from numerous years previous, but so refreshing to see healthy numbers once again. I managed a second specimen, and on the afternoon tide, a third graced the landing net, filling the species specimen quota. Both Sid and Amy achieved similar.
Its just a matter of patience
Normally I relish the opportunity to stay in and around St. Mullins for four or five days, it is a wonderfully serene and scenic part of Ireland, and great for the mind and soul. However, this further twenty four hours of constant downpours was enough for this old fellow and his aching joints, and by 7pm with a forecast of more of the same dampness, I made the decision to pack and run for home.
Another Specimen, stunning iridescent species, treat them well
I had found my angling Mojo once again, met up with my besties, managed to land one hundred and thirty eight Shad in a day and a half, lost just as many, and ticked the specimen box three times into the bargain! But best of all, I could hardly wait for the next angling adventure, where ever that may take me. The flame had ignited once again. Tight Lines all.