Monster pike find rainbow heaven in Derry fishery


Angling Notes/Derek Evans: It has taken Ivor Smyth quite some time to realise why regular restocking was required at his Oaks Rainbow Trout Fishery at Campsie, near the city of Derry.

Poaching, cormorants or anglers were definitely not the culprits responsible for the depletion in stock levels.

The puzzle was eventually solved after he opened the fishery to pike anglers. To his amazement, man-size pike - well, many in excess of 9.072 kg (20lb), were par for the course - fed, no doubt, on a rainbow menu fit for a king.

As time passed, fishing improved and anglers caught pike over 13.608kg (30lb). The burning question: "Where is it all going to end?" became the talking point in the town.

That question was probably answered last Tuesday week by Ballymoney angler Alan Stewart when he landed a huge pike in excess of 20.866kg (46lb). Stewart lured the fish of a lifetime on a roach deadbait and, if ratified by the Irish Specimen Fish Committee, will be a new Irish record. The present record, caught three years ago in Lough Ross, Crossmaglen, is 18.598kg (41lb).

To avoid stress associated with transportation to the fishery office, Stewart weighed the fish on a spring balance at the water's edge, thereby ensuring a quick and safe return to the water. In line with conservation, anglers are encouraged to catch and release these big pike. For further details, contact John Todd at 0044 7736 374110.

The Green Party is organising a rolling campaign across the country to encourage people to take part in a public consultation process on regulations for wild salmon and sea trout tagging scheme 2005. Submissions close on April 13th.

The objective is to alert the Minister to heed scientific advice and limit the total commercial catch to 97,000 salmon rather than 139,900 as proposed. The campaign will start this Wednesday on the Millennium Bridge on the Liffey.

Printed postcards will be handed out which can be forwarded to the Minister's office. Similar campaigns are planned for Carlow and Kilkenny (March 31st); Wexford and Waterford (April 1st); Cork (April 2nd); Killarney and Tralee (April 4th).

As a gesture in support of the Save Our Salmon - Ban Drift Nets campaign, the renowned establishment Longueville House in Mallow, Co Cork, has decided to remove salmon from its menu.

And Ballyvolane House, Castlelyons, Co Cork, has also taken salmon off the menu - the exception being if their anglers catch a salmon on the Blackwater River and request it smoked or for dinner.

With the recent rain and mild temperatures, the Finn River in Co Donegal is coming good for the first time since the season opened on March 1st. The first reported salmon was taken by Frank Elliott just above Lifford Bridge on a yellow cascade fly, which was given to him at the recent Loughs Agency Angling Fair by distinguished fly-tyer Robert Gillespie.

The Moy system produced 19 salmon last week including 10 from Pontoon Bridge. The first salmon since the takeover of Cloongee Fishery by the fisheries board fell to regular visitor Bill Ashton on an orange and gold Rapala spinner. Permits are available from Tiernan Brothers Angling Centre, Main Street, Foxford.

Meanwhile, free fishing continues on the Ridge Pool until the first salmon is caught.

Extra caution should be exercised this Easter Monday - the day that traditionally heralds the start of the boating and angling season, according to John Leech, chief executive of Irish Water Safety Association.

Approximately 70,000 boat enthusiasts will take to the water and it is important to ensure lifejackets are worn and fully serviced, he said. Safety issues to be checked, include:

a) ensure C02 cartridge is housed properly

b) check automatic inflating device for damage

c) adjust for body size

d) check bulb (if fitted)

e) ensure buckles, fasteners, crotch strap and webbing straps are functional

f) wear lifejacket over oilskins

g) after use rinse in fresh water and hang vertically in dry atmosphere.

Frontiers Travel has a small number of deposit-paid cancellations on offer for fishing in Russia this year. On Kola's premier big fish river, the Yokanga, rod dates are available from July 16th-23rd at £2,499 (€3,608), down from £3,050 (€4,401) and July 23rd-30th July at £1,950 (€2,814), down from £2,450 (€3,536) for two and four rods respectively. There is also limited availability on the Ponoi River at Ryabaga Camp. For list of dates and prices, contact

Around the fisheries

Ballyhass Lakes, Co Cork: 13 young anglers took part in a fly-fishing course last weekend under the supervision of Philip Maher. The course included tackle set-up, knots, flies, safety and casting instruction. Particular interest surrounded an insight into the lifestyle of salmon and trout. (Tel: Tom Lofts at 087-2248097.)

Corkagh Park, Dublin: Anglers continued to enjoy great sport since the recent restocking. Noel Foley managed 20 rainbows in one session.

The coarse lake also produced plenty of carp, rudd and perch. Contact Godfrey or Keith on 4592622 or 087-2650495 for further details.

Maynooth Fisheries, Co Kildare: Buzzers fished under an indicator brought success to Roger Fowler and John West landed 12 using various flies and techniques.

Seven mirrors and one common, all over 9.072kg (20lb), were landed on the carp lake. Stephen Penders also managed a 1.135kg (2lb 8oz) tench. As places are limited, advance booking is necessary. (Tel: 01-6293202.)

Rathbeggan Lakes, Co Meath: Anglers turned to dry fly action for most of last week. However, there was plenty of frustration as the fish spent several evenings dining on tiny buzzers.

After much fly-changing, contact was made on small green suspended buzzers, but only when moved smartly through the surface.

With the clock change, evening fishing is highly recommended and, if you mention The Irish Times, Rathbeggan will give an evening ticket for just a tenner. Now that's got to be worth a throw! (E-mail:

Don't miss next week's Angling Notes for the third of our monthly Irish Times/Reel Hunting reader competitions.

A Dublin reader who values his anonymity wrote to ask about the history of the word cheque, spelled by the Americans as check.

Well, cheque is a differentiated spelling of check, which originally meant the counterfoil of a bank bill. Both check and cheque originated in 18th-century England. Dr Johnson spelled it check in 1750, and glossed it as "the correspondent cipher of a bank bill." A 1774 source did a little better: "A written order to a banker by a person having money in the banker's hands, directing him to pay, on presentation, to the creditor, or to the person named, the sum of money stated therein."

As to the word's origin, it comes from the noun check in the sense "a means of verification". On the person was who first spelled it cheque, and why he did so, the great dictionaries are silent.

I had a conversation recently in a Dungarvan restaurant with a lady from the town of Bad Gastein in Austria, a beautiful ski resort, and, as the name implies, spa. I was introduced to her as a man who dabbles in words, and I was surprised when she said that I might be the man to tell her how the American expression Mickey Finn, a soporific drug put in a drink, came to be. She spoke perfect English and French, learned in school, and not for the first time I wondered what in the name of blazes is wrong with our Irish educational system.

Michael Finn was an export of ours to the great city of Chicago. He worked hard, and cheated his employers even harder, and by the 1890s came to own both the Palm Garden restaurant and the Lone Star saloon on the well-named Whiskey Row. Finn's establishments were well known to the police, but as many of these gentlemen were Irish they turned a blind eye when shown the brown envelope on a Saturday night. One of Finn's methods of turning a dishonest penny or two was to lace the drinks of what his eagle eye told him were soft touches with chloral hydrate; this knocked them senseless, and they were then carried out and dumped in a nearby alley, minus their wallets and jewellery. He worked hard at this aspect of his business until 1903, when a new police chief arrested him and closed down his premises. By then Mickey Finn had entered the American language.

What eventually became of this intrepid Tipperaryman, I don't know. Nothing good, I suspect. A firm request to cease prattling forthwith, was often a peremptory "Shut your gob"! In other words "Shut your mouth - Dún do ghob!" Gob is defined as "a pointed or beak-like mouth; a bill or beak, a fish's mouth, a snout; tip, point or end". But who now knows what "a nib" is? This was the pointed end of a writing pen - gob pinn. That which succeeded the quill. This was a pointed instrument which was dipped into the bottle of ink for the writing. But of course gob had other meanings - "a point of land jutting into the sea; a mouth or mouth-piece of various tools and instruments; a bud". Gob an locha was the narrow entrance to a lake. Ceol goib was music of wind instruments - often referred to as "gob music", lilting to provide music for a dancer. Betimes Ó Duinnín in his Foclóir Gaedhilge agus Béarla got coy in his explanations, as when he gives a ghoib i gcac (its beak in shit) daintily translating it as "thou vile wretch!".

Gub names a townland in Co Cavan; Gubb one in Co Leitrim, and with an English plural, Gubs in the same county. Its diminutive Gubbeen (Goibín) Co Cork, is the sole place-name based on this word, found in the combined provinces of Munster or Leinster. Of the 36 place-names based on gob, 11 are in Co Leitrim and seven are in Co Fermanagh. Another diminutive is Gobán, meaning a point of land, but also a muzzle for a calf or kid; a stick in the mouth secured behind the head; a gag; a child's soother; an obstruction of speech from an extrinsic cause. With the alias Cooperhill, Gobbadagh names a townland in Co Sligo. We have been unable to discover the meaning of this but gob appears to be almost certainly its first element.