Angling Notes: Waterville lakes now open, new Currane Fisheries club opens

A great old yarn: Zane Grey’s hammerhead catch

Robert Millard proudly displays his specimen smooth hound of 110cm, caught at Greystones, Co Wicklow, in June 2019.

The US writer Zane Grey fished worldwide. His stories of vicious tiger shark, giant hammerheads and spectacular marlin made him a legend in his own lifetime. After Izaak Walton he is still probably the best known angling author in the world. But despite his fame, even Grey must have been astonished at the behaviour of some of the fish he caught.

Once, while fishing off the coast of Australia in 1936, he hooked an enormous hammerhead shark. Without panicking Grey began to play the fish in the most bizarre way. Instead of using the full power of rod and reel he seemed to make every possible effort to play it in the gentlest manner possible.

He simply led it up and down as if it was a poodle out for a walk on a lead. After an hour or so the crew wondered what on earth was he playing at. Still Grey continued and despite his tactic, managed to bring the shark to the surface close to the boat.

John Purtill from Clydagh, Co Mayo with a fine trout of four pounds from the Kilbeg area of Lough Corrib.

Soon the huge fish was swimming quietly just feet from the side of the boat. Grey instructed his men to get ready with the rope. The trick was to lead the fish to the boat without putting any pressure on it and then get a rope round its front and back ends.

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By the time it realised what was going on and that it had been captured, it was too late to do anything about it.

And that’s exactly what happened. It was strapped to the side of the boat and only then did it go berserk, thrashing wildly so the whole boat bucked and kicked in the water, but even a 600lb hammerhead shark is no match for a large steel fishing boat.

Grey always maintained that this was the best way with hammerheads and other big shark species. Exerting pressure on them simply goaded them to a fury and meant several exhausting hours for the angler – hours that, as often as not, resulted in the loss of the fish anyway.

The only drawback to Grey’s method was that the fish was often still full of fight when he returned to port and on at least one occasion a shark being taken up the beach caused pandemonium when it took a bite out of one of the men carrying it!

Edited extract from Tom Quinn’s book Fishing’s Strangest Days, published by Portico, an imprint of Anova Books.

News in brief

– Waterville upper lakes Derriana, Cloonaughlin and Namona, along with beats on the river Inny and Cummeragh are now open again. A new club, Currane Fisheries, has been established with a committee that includes Michael Roden, Kevin O'Sullivan, Neil O'Shea, John Quinlan, Dominic McGillycuddy, Terence Wharton, Thomas Curran and Tadgh O'Sullivan to oversee angling activities on these spectacular fisheries. Currane Fisheries will also run the hatchery and organise cleaning of the spawning streams. Please support this community based not-for-profit initiative. Memberships and day tickets are available from the Mace shop in Waterville.

– As angling begins to return to something akin to normality, Declan Gibbons reports of a slimmed-down angling effort on Lough Corrib. First and foremost, he stresses the need for lake users to wear a lifejacket or PFD (personal flotation device) at all times while on the lake.

– In the Oughterard area, Basil Shields of Ardnasillagh Lodge (091-552550), reported good mayfly and sedge hatches in the vicinity when conditions were conducive. Cork anglers, Tom Murphy and Pat Hoare had four trout on wets and fellow county man, Barry Healy had two all on wet fly. Larry Kelly from Dublin had 12 over three days, best 5.25lb on a mixture of wets and dries.

– Richard Molloy of Ballard Shore Boat Hire & Self Catering (087-287 9339) said Meath man Paul Geraghty enjoyed a good day dapping with several fish in the pound mark and his best of 20in. (est 4lb), all sportingly released.

– Dublin angler Tom Ormond and family members had three keepers on dapped mayfly and crickets, best 2.5lb, all released. Ormond also reported localised hatches of mayfly and fish showing to them.

– Philip Kavanagh enjoyed his day out from Kilbeg with two good fish. "With a bit of luck, I should have had six," he said. His friend, John Purtill from Clydagh, landed a beauty of about 4lbs.

– Continuing this week with one of the big fish of 2019 as recorded in the Irish Specimen Fish Report, I include a smooth hound of 110cm, caught by Robert Millard at Greystones, Co Wicklow on peeler crab, in June.

– The Angling Trust, Angling Trades' Association and Environment Agency in the UK, have teamed up to give anglers the opportunity to introduce someone they know to fishing this month.

– Take a Friend Fishing continues until Sunday, 19th July, whereby licence-holding anglers will be able to register for a free one-day licence (worth £6) to take someone they know fishing. To take advantage of this offer, visit takeafriendfishing.co.uk.

– Really sad news to hear of the passing of Jack Charlton at the weekend. I had the pleasure to fish with Jack on numerous occasions. Salmon fishing was his passion (even above football, I would suggest). He had a house close to the Ridge Pool on the River Moy in Ballina and each year would travel over from Newcastle for about six weeks during the grilse season.

I recall one occasion fishing together on the Ridge Pool. After several hours we adjourned to Doherty’s Pub which overlooks the river. Sitting at an otherwise empty bar for a quiet chat, it soon became apparent that the man himself was in there.

Within, I’d say, half an hour the bar began to fill up, all looking for a photograph with Jack or his autograph. Without having time to finish his drink, he said to me: “Sorry about this Derek, I’ll have to leave and head home.”

The locals always accepted Jack as one of their own and the young people didn’t really know who he was. The tourists, however, were always anxious to get a ‘selfie’.

My condolences are extended to his wife Pat and his extended family. (I hope to include a more comprehensive piece on Jack in next week’s angling notes.)

angling@irishtimes.com