This corner of County Cavan offers an opportunity to practice all methods from a stick float for roach on the Woodford for River, canal fishing on the Shannon-Erne Waterway then pole or feeder fishing on loughs of all shapes and sizes.
It was a long time ago, but my first visit to Ballyconnell was in search of an angling feature for Angler’s Mail. Colin Mitchell, the deputy editor, joined me on what proved to be a great jaunt staying at the Angler’s Rest, smack bang in the middle town. The pub was – and still is today – run by Pauline and Francis McGoldrick. Our evening meal was prepared by Pauline, who was very obviously expecting a baby then later Colin and I joined Francis at the bar until late.
Next morning we went for breakfast and Francis was doing all of the cooking – Pauline had been taken into hospital because the baby was on its way. Colin and I got our bait sorted and were ready to head off when Francis popped his head round the corner and shouted: “Hang on lads I’m coming with you!” And he did and we went to Upper Lough Erne in Enniskillen, a drive of about 30 minutes and caught a lot of very big roach. At lunchtime Francis dusted himself down and headed off to hospital. He was back within the hour, sat down on his box and started catching again. “Pauline’s doing well and we’ve had a little boy”, he said with a cheesy grin across his face.
Today the Angler’s Rest is one of the most popular Irish pubs with accommodation and famous in Cavan for its food. Anglers are very welcome, there is bait and tackle facilities, plus one of the best stocked fishing tackle shops in the region.
(Photo – McGoldrick on Cuillaghan Lake in 2005)
Fishing-wise Ballyconnell has lake, river and canal angling at its highest level. The Woodford River comes within the “hidden gem” class. It is running water pushing its way through lakes such as Garadice and Derrycassan on route to Belturbet and luckily (for anglers arriving in 2013) a new section of fishing stands and car park midway between Ballinamore and Ballyconnell. Like everywhere else in the area, fishing is free and there are no fishing licences required.
Local lakes are heaving with roach and hard fighting hybrids that seem to be pushing the larger and ponderous bream off and groundbait. Who knows for sure, what’s going on under the water, but it is interesting to see more skimmer appearing in catches. There is a wealth of lakes including the more popular and well known venues like Derrycassan, Killywilly, Cuillaghan, Brackley and Bunerky, all capable of terrific catches.
Located on the banks of the river is Woodford Lodge guesthouse run by Mick Priest – a Yorkshireman who settled in Ireland almost 40 years ago and apart from taking in guests, runs a very successful worm farm, so there’s no need to struggle bringing them across on the ferry. Apart from anything else, having two very good anglers on the scene does mean you will get pointed in the right direction and offered advice if you want it. And that might lead to getting the catch of a lifetime.
And if you preference is a self-catering cottage Cassidy’s Cottages have a selection of cottages with two and three bedrooms. All bedrooms are individually designed to be warm, comfortable yet airy. Each bedroom has lots of wardrobe space, (1ensuite). All bed linen and towels are provided. What’s more they are located overlooking Cuillaghan Lake with 25 stands within walking distance.