Irish angling and “bed & breakfast” go hand-in-hand. You can be sure that every single angling holiday village has at least one house welcoming guests, often lads returning for the same week year after year because they know they will be looked after. A typical guesthouse will have four ensuite bedrooms with TV and tea tray; the “Irish fry” will be a plate loaded with bacon, sausage, black pudding, white pudding, the egg of your choice and probably a potato cake”, supplying you with enough energy to haul dozens of bream towards the net.
If you want to control your spending, there are still plenty of ladies who also offer a hearty evening meal at a very reasonable price and I know for certain that around Leitrim it is possible to get a three-course roast for €15 per night. But staying in an angling house in Leitrim is much more than that. Apart from taking a pride in welcoming their angling guests, your hosts will provide bait fridges, a tackle room, information and maps on the local fishing plus a hint as to where the best pint can be found in town.
They are the backbone of Irish angling holidays and set Ireland apart from all other destinations. Nowhere else in the world will you get such a warm welcome; a truly genuine sentiment that must be experienced to be understood.
B&B in a good Irish home is unbeatable holiday value and for those who prefer an inclusive holiday with the ferry organised too, you will find that they all work with the specialist angling holiday companies.Here is a list of the most popular Irish Homes providing B&B in County Leitrim.
Ballinamore. Glenview House 00353 71 9644157 (Bar licence)
Carrick-on-Shannon. Aisleigh House 00353 71 9638095
Carrigallen. Allendale House 00353 49 4339706 and Greenville House 00353 49 4339938
Drumshanbo. McGuire’s Cottages 00353 71 9641033
Mohill. Glebe House 00353 71 9631086 (Bar licence)
The heart of Leitrim – Ireland’s least populated county – is just 100 miles from Dublin and thanks to the new fast roads, it is possible to be fishing in within two hours of driving off the Dublin ferry. Here you will discover great loughs, small lakes, rivers and canals, all crammed with fish and you can tackle all of them free of charge and no licences required!
Bream anglers might like to note that Leitrim produced nine of the top specimen bream in 2009. Six of them from Drumlaheen Lake during May, the biggest weighed 5.33 kilos (11lb 12oz) and was caught by Jason Dingle in late May on a boilie. His superb fish nudged the Irish record that currently stands at 5.52 kilos and was caught on Bolganard Lake near to Ballinamore, also in Leitrim.
Bolganard also produced an official specimen in September, and then came another from the famous Garadice Lake in June. Incidentally, Drumlaheen is a large lake situated off the Ballinamore to Keshcarrigan road travelling via the village of Fenagh. Though I don’t know exactly where the big bream were caught, the access is easy with good banks and you can expect to catch bream, skimmer, hybrids, roach, perch and pike. Weather-wise the best Irish fishing generally comes in mild settled weather from mid-May until October but there are exceptions, to be sure.
Leitrim has several easy-to-reach early season venues churning out good catches starting in April through until the end of May. The only problem is that such waters are subject to the fish gathering en-masse prior to spawning and nobody can stick an exact day or week on that! The perfect example is at the Drumshanbo Lock on Lough Allen. The narrow canals runs from Battlebridge on the River Shannon, allowing holiday cruisers to enter the 16-mile long Lough Allen.
This is known locally as Wynne’s and the shallow water entices shoals of bream, hybrids and roach, to gather prior to spawning often providing huge catches for anyone on holiday at the right time. In fairness, there are always some fish to be caught at this point and the bonus for many fishermen is the easy walk and being able to fish from the landing stages into a decent depth of water. And if your timing is totally out of sync there is always good fishing for the same species, but especially hybrids and roach, about a mile away on the Holy Island stretch of Lough Allen. Once again the access is superb and cars can be driven to the water’s edge.
Last April I wandered along to Drumshanbo Lock and came across David Bell quietly helping himself to a mixed bag of fish from the floating jetty. Originally from Yorkshire, David moved across to Leitrim nine years ago and now lives in Ballinamore, spending as much of his free time fishing a variety of waters. He reckoned this was one of the easier sessions and though the bream and hybrids weren’t fighting to get into his net, he was making bites regularly and putting together a decent catch.
“The water is around three metres (9ft) deep with a soft bottom, so I’ve mixed a damp, light groundbait mix of brown crumb and Van den Eynde Bream”, he explained. “I put six balls in while tackling up and once I got underway mixed loose fed red maggots with the occasional ball”.
Dave used a four metre pole with a one gramme float and double red maggot on a 14s hook. Life couldn’t be any easier and it became the perfect day as the float started to disappear under the surface. There were no scales but the catch was probably between 30 and 40lb.
Published by Angling Times 2010By Dave Houghton