Having received a trout angling invite from the lads at Lee Reservoir Angling, I made hasty bait and tackle preparations for this un-expected adventure. Unusually for trout angling, this would also be a night session.
It is well known just how effective ledgered worm baits can be for trout, and so, bait supply would start with one hundred black-heads, courtesy of my old mate Alister Smyth, Tight Lines Tackle Shop, Belfast, but I needed something extra. This was in the form of Greyabbey’s finest home-grown Rudd. Every summer, I crop a few from my Father’s pond from the thousand million that thrive in it, and freeze a handful down for winter Perch fishing. At two-three inches long they seemed perfect to trot down through a river glide. Large trout are predators, every bit as voracious as pike and perch, and there is no reason to ignore a tasty Rudd if presented correctly!
All my hopes were pinned on these two bait varieties, which meant I could turn my attention to the tackle set-up. What is the ideal brown trout ledger/trotting rod? I don’t know, you tell me! I had recently purchased a pair of Shakespeare “Agility” Barbel rods, which are based on the “Avon” style and for budget priced rods, they are definitely the business. I found these to be perfect for fishing small dead-baits in pursuit of large Perch, and the “through action” seemed just the job to cushion the power of a spirited river trout. Nicely balanced with my old Cardinals and 10lbs Berkley XTS, the final link required was the end rig.
There are several options here including a running ledger or possibly a paternoster style rig using a “jumping jack”, or simply a few swan shot added “up” the line in order to keep the bait in the killing zone. A quick scan of the river bed with the aid of the head-torch showed stones and boulders throughout. These potential hazards could be a nightmare whilst playing a decent fish in fast water. A trailing lead weight would be prone to “snagging up” resulting in lost fish! I wanted to use the “jumping jack” and so, pulled in a little of my salt water shore angling knowledge on this occasion. I am not quite sure if anyone has ever fished for trout with a “Pulley-Rig” before now, but nothing ventured is nothing gained!
The Pulley Rig is a simple design that uses the weight of a hooked fish during the fight, to pull the lead sinker up against the main line, thus keeping it out of danger. It works at sea, so why shouldn’t a scaled down, slightly more finesse version of the same work in this situation? Having attached a size 8 JRC carp hook and a size 8 Owner as a “stinger”, I was ready to give it a try.
A trial run, trotting downstream showed this method to work extremely well. By holding the rod tip high (this is where the 12ft Agility came into its own) and keeping most of the main line out of the water, the rate at which the bait travelled could be fine-tuned quite easily. Lift the rod-tip, and the jumping jack would rise in the water. Release extra line under finger-tip control, and it would slowly work downstream. Hold firm, and the bait would lift attractively and wiggle life-like. Confidence in a method is half the battle, and having watched how well this was working, I was brimming with it!
Approximately half a dozen runs through the swim and I was into my first fish of the night. The fight was dogged, with the fish simply keeping his head down and using the current to full advantage. Each vicious head-shake was comfortably absorbed by the “Agility” and finally, my prize came within head-lamp and landing net range. The scales put this trout over the eight-pound barrier, a fabulous fish and for a specimen hunter, the stuff dreams are made of! A quick measurement and photograph were followed by a speedy return to the river. What a stunning fish, and quite possibly the first ever specimen trout to be taken on a pulley rig!
Within half an hour, Ross and Sid simultaneously landed a brace of ten-pounder’s! It’s always extremely difficult to get one up on these guys! These glorious fish were an impressive sight, especially as a double shot. An hour later, I tipped the balance in my favour with another 8lbs+ stunner, and finished the session into day-break with another three fish, this time salmon averaging 5lbs. Salmon on Rudd dead-baits, who would have thought!
My short adventure to the west of Ireland was a resounding success, and I wish to thank the lads from the Lee Reservoirs Angling Services for their knowledgeable advice and information. If you wish to benefit from this knowledge and would relish the opportunity of an angling trip to remember, they offer a boat hire and guiding service in the Cork area. You would be foolhardy to by-pass this service. I have booked a week with the lads for early summer, and am fully confident of a result and plenty of material for another article later in the year! Further information can be obtained through http://leeangling.com/.