When once is not enough
When once is not enough
After my recent and really enjoyable camping-fishing session down in St Mullins I couldn't shake that lingering feeling that, despite the large number of fish caught, it had beaten me. It didn't sit well. It was a brilliant trip, teaching Michele how to cast a lure and catch her first fish, meeting up with old friends and simply relaxing amid serene surroundings.
But I'm a specimen hunter, and I wanted a specimen. Five hundred and eleven fish landed, and none over specimen length just seemed surreal and I needed to try again. Even if I only landed one fish over fifty centimetres, it would go a long way to satisfy the hunger. I guess I just don't like to be beaten by fish, despite it happening all too often!
The forecast was excellent, the tides were perfect, and we had a few days free, so back to St Mullins it was, with jeep loaded with provisions to survive a few days "glamping". My legitimate excuse for this excursion....I had spotted a new lure in the Abu Garcia Catalogue, the Abu "Fast-Cast". The size, shape and range of colours looked the business for Shad, so I promptly ordered a selection in the 10g size.
Thankfully, my favourite spot alongside the river was vacant and we set up camp, with enough time for an evening opportunity to wet a line. Lure of choice was the Savage Gear "Psycho Sprat", a proven killer lure that took a hit on the first cast. Similar to my previous visit, Shad were plentiful, but still remained small. I fished until nightfall, fabulous sport, but somewhat disappointed to be truthful. However, it was a gorgeous evening, warm and comfortable to relax by the camp-fire, cook some grub and plan the following day.
We both fished along the river, landing numerous Shad, and even a few bonus Perch, bathed in glorious County Carlow sunshine, but no fish over 48cm, never mind the specimen threshold of 50! My tally by late afternoon was well over a hundred fish landed, and at this stage, I really needed a break. Added to my previous trip, this totalled six hundred or so, and no specimens!
A new plan hatched, I would try some Coarse fishing, and with that, pre-baited a full mixing tray of ground-bait packed with "goodies" into the swim. The intention to let it work its magic over-night, and see what might be about during the following day.
Back to the drawing board!
This is Michelle, a friend and gentleman that travels each year from France, and I might add, a very experienced angler.
I spent the day hovering over the quiver-tip rod, picking off small Dace, juvenile Perch and the odd decent Roach and Skimmer Bream, but nothing to write home about. Constant tea and snacks kept it light hearted and enjoyable, but extremely difficult to concentrate with little about. By late afternoon, I had given up on the feeder and fast running out of ideas. With one evening and day left of our short holiday, I picked up the spinning rod for a last shot at glory. Same again, good numbers of fish running, but all small, like peas in a pod.
I had actually forgotten about the Abu "Fast Cast" lures in the tackle bag until now, still in their packaging. It would be interesting to see how Shad would react to this new shape and new colours. Out of the packet, strange looking with bulbous bellies, but I soon found out they cast extremely well, hence the name I suppose. Unusually "weighty" for a 10g but I discovered they can be retrieved remarkably slowly without snagging the riverbed, and the slow retrieve imparts a fabulous action.
Finally, a 50 CM Specimen, I think I look shocked!
"Thump", straight in to a fish, they certainly work as well as the Psycho Sprats, dare I say possibly even better. I went through the full range of colours, and caught on every option. It wasn't until I tried the "minnow" colour version, that actually looks more like a Sand Smelt, that a "take" ripped line off the reel in the manner that only specimens are capable of. This finally flicked the adrenaline switch. It was my last cast of the evening, and after six hundred and fifty one fish landed, I had a specimen in the net, praise God. I could now sleep easy!
Following day, and completely spurred on with last night's result, we were rejuvenated and hopeful for another specimen. The Psycho Sprats were cast aside, and the Abu Fast Casts were now the lure of choice. This didn't hamper the catch rate at all, and before long, specimen number two turned up for the measure mat.
We were having so much fun, the decision was made to stay another evening and venture home the following morning. A great call as it transpired. Again, last cast of the day, as light faded and takes slowed, a heart-stopping hit ripped line against the clutch. This fish ran so fast towards me, I was sure it had shook the hook. Uttering the words "I've just lost a big fish" the rod buckled again, fish still attached! These larger Shad have a fabulous turn of speed, a different beast entirely from the average stamp. Safely in the net, another specimen for the trophy shot and quick release. Like number seven buses, wait for ages then three come along at once!
Specimen number 3, hard to find, but well appreciated
I cannot say for sure that the Abu Fast Cast are a better lure for larger fish, that would be an unfair assumption from one short event. But I can say, with hand on heart, that they tempted and landed Shad as good as, if not better than anything else in the tackle box, and all my specimens on this trip were tempted with the Fast Cast Lures. If God spares me, and I manage to venture back to this, my favourite Irish venue, it won't be without a good selection of this extremely successful lure.