A Lifetime Spent Fishing

My earliest memories of going fishing date back to the very early 1960’s. I grew up in Killester, a
suburb of Dublin. The venue of my first expeditions, (three small ponds located in the grounds of
Clontarf Golf Club), required me surreptitiously climbing over the wall near my home late in the
evenings, when Golfers had gone through the 12th hole on which the ponds featured as water
hazards. My first attempts at catching fish involved a bamboo cane of the type used for gardening,
black thread for line and a straight pin bent into the shape of a hook with a cork for a float. Bait was
invariably home-made bread paste. The quarry was golden finned Rudd, the largest of which
weighed no more than 8 ounces. After just a few expeditions, I was just as hooked as any of the fish
that I caught.
Over the years, my angling tactics & skill improved just a little, while the money I spent on fishing
tackle grew exponentially. Having tried my hand at most of the angling disciplines, pike fishing, sea
angling and game angling, my interests eventually coalesced into coarse angling, specifically Tench
fishing. My love of Tench fishing is as much about the appearance of the fish itself as my admiration
for its hard fighting abilities. I have spent many an early morning session, having pre-baited the night
before, intently watching a crystal waggler float, while bubbles fizzed up from feeding Tench just
inches away from my baited hook.
The story I wish to relate refers to a small lake called Dumb Lake, just outside of Killeshandra Co.
Cavan and it occurred sometime during the early Spring & Summer of 2014. Dumb Lake is a shallow
reed fringed lake with an extensive growth of pond lilies. It has three stands, installed by Inland
Fisheries Ireland, from which it is possible to fish. I usually fish that lake in the company of a good
friend, Brian Hartley, who lives locally. It has a very good head of Tench as well as Roach, Rudd and
Pike. Most times Brian & I would catch at least one or two Tench during a session, but even on blank
days we could always find good reason to enjoy the day, usually by catching sight of some bird
species or other while fishing. Brian is an accomplished twitcher as well as an angler. I on the other
hand know just a few species by sight. My favourites to spot were either the occasional Kingfisher
but more often the Buzzards that frequently circled above the lake calling to each other.
That year, we had both become acquainted with a family of Moorhens, who had built a nest in the
reeds beside one of the stands. For those unfamiliar with coarse angling, it is necessary to mix up
ground-bait while fishing for Tench. Ground-bait includes bread crumbs, sweet-corn and maggots.
Early that Spring, the mother Moorhen and her four chicks would approach within a few feet
seeking some ground-bait. After a few weeks and sessions, the chicks became fearless and would
scramble into your ground-bait container at your feet in search of titbits. We both enjoyed seeing
the young chicks grow up during that Spring & early Summer. We also, on one occasion, witnessed
the mother Moorhen courageously defending her brood against a wild Mink who sought to catch
one of her chicks by swimming out from the reeds in an attempt to catch it.
I have and continue to have really great days fishing, not all of which involve catching multitudes of
fish, but it has to be said it’s also nice to catch one now and again.