Thursday, May 19, 2016

On the run.

Ever since I heard about it a few years ago I've really fancied heading over to St Mullins in Ireland for the annual shad run on the River Barrow. For a variety of reasons I've never made it over but earlier this month my mate Martin and I made the journey overnight and arrived in St Mullins just after five o'clock in the morning. 

Driving down narrow country roads in the dark during the last part of the journey I was sure we'd end up lost but eventually we got there with the aid of this helpful sign post.

Despite the overnight drive and virtually no sleep on the Cairnryan to Belfast ferry crossing amazingly we felt quite good when we arrived. I started fishing straight away and fish were having a go at my Tazmanian Devil from my first cast. The trip couldn't have gotten off the a better start for me and my first twaite shad was hooked while Martin was still setting up. Aware of the reputation of shad to throw hooks I took my time playing the fish before drawing it over my net. 

A lovely looking fish with some beautiful iridescent colours on its back. One of those species that photos never really do justice. 

I thought this might set the tone for the duration of our trip but after catching a second shad about an hour later the action slowed down as the tide forced the river up its soft banks. As we ventured from our starting point to try and locate some fish Martin caught a couple of small brown trout and also hooked and lost a few shad over the remainder of the first session. At that point we both wondered if catching more shad was going to be tougher than we initially thought.

Martin works his way up the river as the water rises. On the bigger spring tides it goes right up over the road that runs along the side of the river.

In the afternoon we headed to our accomodation in nearby New Ross, returning to fish and explore further upstream in the early evening. This saw Martin opening his account and he seemed to find a rythym catching a few more. I struggled though and only caught a single shad. Fishing in the morning and evening with a break in the afternoon became our routine and Martin outfishing me also rather frustratingly became a regularity too.

On day two it rained a fair bit. I thought this might kill the fishing as the river coloured up but it certainly didn't stop Martin catching a few more shad. 

Over the second and third day of the trip I continued to find it hard to draw takes from the shad, averaging only one or two fish per session. They were clearly around though, Martin was enjoying a lot more sport and had caught almost fifty shad over the trip by the end of our last evening session. Trying to figure out what he was doing drove me a little mad but when I did hook a fish I took my time playing it and landed almost all of them.

One of my shad. The colours show up better in this photo. They give a good account of themselves and often leap out of the water. This sometimes results in them successfully throwing the hooks too, often right at the net. In this respect I did quite well.
Their exertions swimming up the river to spawn and then being caught mean they require careful handling and some support whilst they recover. All our fish were successfully returned. 
St Mullins and the stretch of the River Barrow that runs through it are very picturesque. Even in wet conditions.

I'm not sure what exactly Martin had done differently and whilst he did his best to tell me what he thought he was doing a few times during our trip nothing I tried seemed to improve my results which was a little frustrating at times. Just one of those things in fishing I guess. It was still a very enjoyable trip and we both succeeded in catching our first twaite shad. St Mullins is a special place and twaite shad are fun to catch so I think Martin and I will certainly return in the future.

Tight lines, Scott. 

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