Tuesday, 18 September 2012

The Weighing Game

Lee Corrigan

It was spring 2001,whilst fishing Lough Derg with my Old friend the late Dave Overy.  Dave told me that he was going to fish a lake in the Irish midlands the following day with Darryl Grimmason to Film an episode for the angling programme “Coast to Coast”, it was to be called “The Pot Lake”.

The Pot Lake is approx. 80 acres,  Gin Clear Water, 12 – 15 FT Avg Depths with a small area of 18 – 21 Ft with Roach, Perch, Tench,Eels, Pike and the odd wild brownie present.  The lake gets heavy weed growth which makes it very difficult to fish from June to  October.  Dave rang me the same evening to say that they had caught a few good doubles to 18 Lbs.  The Lake had been taken over recently by the local Trout Club and was being stocked with 1500 Brown Trout.  Dave reckoned I should keep an eye on it for the winter.  

Horton with a jack caught 22lb
Dave had fished The Pot Lake, 4 years previously with a couple of big fellas from Reading, one of whom  had a 25lbr.

Ade with a mid 20

 At this stage Dave had moved on, the Big Irish Loughs are where he wanted to be.   A few phone calls were made and I became a member of the Trout Club with use of the club boat and oars, as a no engine rule was in place.  It was mid -October, the trout boys were gone and I was on the Pot Lake.  The weed growth was unreal, 80 % of the lake was unfishable but I did manage a couple of low doubles on float trolled Roach from the 18-21 Ft area.  The Pike didn’t  look like they had been feeding on Trout, being very thin but in good condition.  Driving home that evening, I wasn’t convinced on catching big pike from there.  All that weed making fishing difficult, skinny pike and “Did they really put  1,500 Trout in there?”  I decided to go back maybe Mid November, when the weed should have died away with the wind and frost.

In the meantime, I was back on my old haunts, Derravaragh, Iron and Derg.  Derravaragh was particularly kind to me Nov, Dec and Jan. with fish to 26lbs.  It was Feb 8th 2002, I was back on the Pot Lake with my roach fishing buddy Neil, who would be my boat partner for the day.  It was mild, light south westerly and light rain.  The order of the day was to float troll 1lb bream under the oars set at 5Ft.  We headed down towards the deep water, it was Gin clear with weed still present 10 ft down in 15ft of water.  I have a take, it’s no Jack and it puts up a good account of itself.  It’s 16.8 pristine and fat. My hopes are high!  3 hrs later, not a touch until trolling out of the deeper water towards a point with 12ft of water.  Bang the bait runner screams off.  I’m using a 3 Hook Rig so after 10 secs I wind down.  I can feel the fish head shaking and I’m happy the hooks are set.  The Pike comes alongside the boat, 5 ft down I can see it.  It looks 25ish. Three powerful runs off the tightly set clutch and Neil does a good job with the net.  With the fish resting in a net over the side, she looks pristine, fat and similar in length to my PB of 29lbs from Lough Derg in 1999.  I’m confident that I have broken that elusive 30lb mark.  Neatly hooked in the scissors, the hooks are out and into the weigh bag she goes 29lb 2 oz.  I am elated at catching such a fish from a water of this size and so wanted it to be a 30!!.

Pot Lake 29.2

  I am already thinking ahead  about what size this fish can grow to feeding on the next stocking of Brownies.  Two more trips in Feb produces four doubles and two fat low 20,s.

March 1st, 1,200 Brownies averaging from 1lb -1.5lb are stocked.  The Trout boys are everywhere, the pike are well fed and I dread being seen catching a Big Pike, so I decide to throw in the towel until Oct.  All I have thought about that summer is getting back on there when the trout boys have gone and how much bigger the 29 has grown?  It was Late Oct, myself and Neil are back on the Pot Lake, its very weedy and flat calm.  We get a run to a float trolled Roach in the middle of the Lake.  The fish buries itself in the heavy weed. Neil eventually bullies the fish out, it is 23.14 and later turns out to be “the 25 “that the Reading boys had caught five years previous.  It was a big old brute with battle scars and was surely a bigger fish at one stage.   I had decided that I would concentrate all my efforts that winter on The Pot Lake and make the most of the fishing while it was there.

Working 9 – 5 meant that I had to fish Saturdays and the odd sickie off work during the week.  The odd club member would come onto the lake if the weather was settled but they usually did this on Sundays and packed up after a few hours when their hands got cold from spinning.  I fished hard through the winter, fishing mostly alone.  The odd  20 and a lot of doubles coming to float trolled baits.  But I really got amongst the better fish when I concentrated on the small area of 18-21ft with float ledgered dead baits.  Trout and Lamprey out scoring everything else.  Approaching Feb ’03, I had caught 11 20’s with two more good fish at 25 and 27 pounds. 
Recapture of 29……….at 24.8
February 3rd 2003 I was back. Where was the 29? Had she died after being captured? Or had a club member got lucky and maybe killed her? I really was enjoying the fishing but I wondered if I’d ever catch a 30 from there. Sitting there anchored up in the deep spot I had a run on static bait. The fish comes close to the boat, I can see it clearly it’s a mid-double. It makes for the anchor rope I turn the fish away when in the corner of my eye I see the float on my second rod is on the move so I engage the bait runner on the double and I wind down on the second rod, the fish feels heavy and immediately takes line from the clutch, after a few dives for the anchor rope I have the fish in the net it looks a mid-20. Secured over the side with a bungee around the seat, I then hand land the double, with both fish now in the net over the side, I lift them both in, the double goes 15.8 and the second fish goes 24.8 a quick photo was taken of both fish together on the unhooking mat. A few days later the photos are developed and as usual I check markings for recaptures. My suspicions are right the 24.8 is a recapture but not one of the low 20’s I thought it might have been, it’s the 29 from February 02. I was at a loss to explain how could it not be a 30 with all those trout going in as well as me throwing the left over baits in every time I packed up. I felt I’d been robbed. The following week 500 trout were stocked. That was the end of the pike fishing for me that season on the pot lake.
Over the next winter I fished it on and off when the weather was too bad to fish elsewhere. I brought good piking friends there who also had 20’s. over the few seasons I’d fished there I’d had 22 20’s with the best fish going 29, 27 and 25 with 12 of the 20’s being individual fish and the 27 being recaptured at 22lbs. The only thing I could think of was the pot lake pike hit a ceiling weight of high 20’s and then dropped back again. The trout boys were not getting the returns and they said the pike were to blame. They moved away to nearby trout clubs and the trout stopped going in.

Karl on a break from Float Watch
It’s a long time now since my times on the Pot Lake. Although  my dream of catching a 30 from there never materialized.  I really did enjoy it, even meeting a big English farmer minus his rabbit to photo a 23 on my last visit there!.

Lee Corrigan
I dedicate the pot lake story to David Overy as without the tips from him, I wouldn't have fished it

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