CAVAN is Ireland’s premier angling holiday destination. It is the ‘one-stop’ county for coarse and pike fishing with year-round potential for great sport thanks to huge stocks of bream, hybrids, roach, perch and pike. Special mention must go to the increasing numbers of tench popping up in waters where they’ve never shown before. It is amazing and a great bonus because most were large fish hovering between five and 7lb!

Equally fascinating is the outstanding general sport considering the excessive rainfall that Ireland suffered during the year. Water levels were so high that when it came to the autumn festival season, the Northern Regional Fisheries Board worked like beavers for weeks, often waist deep in cold water, cutting new swims so that matchmen could be drawn along the same shoreline. Their efforts certainly helped to maintain catch rates at such a pitch that in the Arva Festival the average per man per day was over 20lbs.

It is far easier for holiday pleasure anglers to catch a lot of fish because they can pick and choose where, when and how to fish. They also have the opportunity to prepare swims and pre-bait over a couple of days to attract and keep fish in their swim. Obviously those who make the effort get the rewards. Many of the best tales appear in the weekly reports published by the Central Fisheries Board on their website and here are just two that I’ve selected to give a flavor of the moment.Late June – “Angling in the Arva/Gowna/Carrigallen area remains good with anglers who stayed in Arva reporting good catches on all lakes. John Roper, Nottingham bagged 126 lbs in one day with 14 bream and plenty of skimmers and roach. Simon Bradley, Yorkshire bagged 128 lbs, and 86 lbs of bream, roach and hybrids and Carol Thompson 67 lbs, 92 lbs and 48 lbs of bream, roach and hybrids. Catches of bream, roach and hybrids weighing up to 82 lbs, 78 lbs., 68 lbs. and 55 lbs. are reported on Rhododendron stretch of Lough Gowna.“Killykeen, match section beside chalets and Tullyguide are reported to be giving good bags of fish, also at Rann on Lough Oughter opposite the castle with plenty of big perch and lots of bream. One angler who fished Quivvy Point bagged 76 bream in one day”.Early September. “Zoltan Bodnar, (originally from Hungary) but now lives and works in Dublin continued his fine bream fishing this past week at Lough Oughter at Killykeen. He sent me the following mail – I had a fantastic night session with Bream to 10-4-0, 8-7-0, 7-8-0 and nice roach bream hybrids 5-6 lb. Ireland has lot of great waters with big bream, but you need to night fishing for the bigger fish and a lot of groundbait. I caught the fish in the same spots as before. All the fish were released after being photographed”.

Deralk Lough

The fishing tale I enjoyed most of all came from Merseyside anglers Brian Phillips and 65 year old Tom Huxley, both from Wirral, who first came to Ireland in 1986, when they chose to stay in Killeshandra. “There is just so much water within 15 minutes drive that there will never be a need to go anywhere else”, said Brian, who is Chairman of Cammell Lairds Angling Club.

Brian Phillips


Deralk Lake has never been high on the ‘must fish’ list of anyone staying around the town but after a couple of days of catching nothing but roach, perch and hybrids, on Lough Oughter, the lads were ready for a change. Being great socialisers when on holiday, it was about 10 am before they got their act together, loaded the car and headed off to the lake in the hope of getting some decent bream and hybrids. Brian mixed a bowl of breadcrumb and fine pig meal (bought locally); added chopped worms, hemp and a few maggots, dumping it by catapult 35 metres out. Then he rigged up a 12ft feeder rod with 8lb braid direct to a 14s hook and a cage feeder.He got the first bite after 15 minutes – and the shock of nearly having the rod torn from his hand. Brian’s first thought was that he hook a pike; then maybe a really big bream, but as he stood to get better control on a fish that was boring hard and deep he began to suspect it was a tench.“My first Irish tench in Cavan in 22 years”, he marvelled, before going on to catch seven of them in the afternoon. Tommy ended up with one fish to his credit but lost two others in the fringe reeds but he went home with a few tales to tell and already planning to include Deralk Lake in next year’s holiday.

Published in Angling Times 2009
By Dave Houghton