Sunday 25 August 2019

An Irish Angler's World

with ASHLEY HAYDEN email: web:

LOUGH MUCKNO, adjacent to Castleblaney, Co. Monaghan is a gem of a lake. Dubbed 'The Killarney of the North', Muckno covers a thousand acres and is stuffed with coarse fish to include roach, bream, hybrids, and perch.

Also noted for large pike in excess of 20 pounds, it is no exaggeration to say that Lough Muckno in terms of angling tourism is a sleeping giant. Coarse match angling in Europe is big business and there are very few natural venues left capable of staging large events such as the European or World championships, most being held on man made locations. Muckno is the exception, and for those in the know this prestigious water ticks all the boxes required for a big match location.

Christiaan Kooloos, a Dutch coarse angler, did his homework and brought a party of 20 anglers to Monaghan in September 2010. They had such a good experience that they rebooked for 2011, consistent bags of fish, easy access to shorelines, and angler friendly accommodation being a major consideration in their decision to return. Having helped plan the 2010 trip and been given a heads up by Christiaan of their forthcoming visit, I made arrangements to join the group for a couple of days fishing last weekend.

Showery and windy, conditions were not ideal but certainly manageable. Pegging a section of the Concra Wood shoreline, we fished a practice match on the Saturday and a pair's event on the Sunday. Boy do these lads have a mountain of tackle - heart attack material if you had to carry it all in. Seat boxes, bait, ground bait, poles, feeder and float rods, spares of each, my goodness you would need a pack horse. Concra Wood though allows vehicular access along rudimentary forest tracks which run close to the shoreline, thanks be to God.

Having only started coarse fishing in 2009 and never fished a match the experience was a revelation. These guys are good their attention to detail, speed of movement, and ability to focus for five hours solid being quite astonishing. Two days in their company was like a semester at angling university, I learned so much, and it was fun too.

The fishing wasn't bad either with roach, bream, skimmers, hybrids, perch, and trout making up the bags. Henk De Graaf won both the Saturday and Sunday matches with bag weights of 6.5 and 9.2 kgs respectively. An interesting aside was how consistent all the bag weights were along the match section, this being a feature of coarse angling on Muckno, the fish are evenly spread.

Double red maggot scored best, however, given that most of the contingent out fished me by two to one it became clear that all was not as it seems, floating double red maggot no less being the killer bait, I told you these Dutch lads are good.

Muckno is on form now, and only two hours up the N.11/M.1 is easily accessible from the south east. Shorelines such as Concra Wood, White Island, Black Island, Church, Toome, the Belfast Steps, and Gas Lake giving easy access to superb mixed coarse angling and specimen pike. With reasonable vehicular access at most locations around this beautiful water, Lough Muckno really is the Jewel in the Crown of the north east counties; why not pay her a visit.