We booked into the Breffni Arms again through Anglers World Travel, £300 each for 7 nights B & B which also included the Ferry is a great deal.
The Breffni Arms is the HQ for the festival, registration, daily draw and presentation night.
We travelled over on Saturday 3rd September catching the 15:10 ferry out of Holyhead and docked in Dublin around 17:30 and then onto Arvagh arriving at 19:30. A quick wash and brush up got us into the bar by 20:00, some food and a few pints of the black stuff before the singer came on at 22:00. More pints of the black gold and a singalong, talking rubbish to locals as the night went on and off to bed by 01:15.
There was an open being run on the Sunday but we decided to pleasure fish the local lake within the town. Lough Garty was 5 minutes walk from the Breffni Arms!
I pleasure fished it for a few hours last year and found quality roach on the waggler loose feeding caster. It was a causal start to the day with a fine 'full irish' and then off to the lough. Andy who also came with us (he was not fishing the festival) decided to give it a go as well. It did not take long to set up the one waggler rod and mix up a couple of kilos of ground bait.
Depth is only about 4 foot and within 10 minutes I was into my first roach around 10 ozs. We fished for 6 hours and I ended up with a good 50 lbs of roach, Steve around 30 lbs and Andy 20 lbs - 25 lbs from the slipway. For such a big piece of water access is very limited but on the town bank you can get 6 anglers without walking too far.
nice bag on the waggler for me
Steve caught on the waggler and a few on the feeder
Garty Lough from the town shore
Monday E Section - Gulladoo
Tuesday A Section - Rockfield
Wednesday B Section - Tessa's
Thursday C Section - Corfree
Friday D Section - Dernafest
Tessa's shore, Corfree and Dernafest are all part of the mighty Lough Gowna system.
So a fairly earliest night on Sunday (before 23:00) saw us up bright and early at 07:00 on the Monday and we were tucking into a full irish by 07:30. The Bait Van also turned up from Irish Bait and Tackle at Ballyconnell supplying fresh bait and odd bits of terminal tackle. Anglers began to arrive and there was a range of accents from the North East, North West and the East Midlands. most of them have been fishing the Festival for years and it almost turns out to be a re-union. Kevin Rowles and Nigel Franks from Devizes and a couple of guys from the Southampton area appeared to the the only ones along with us south of Birmingham. All very friendly and helpful and good instructions supplied in order to get to the sections and pegs.
At 09:00 we were both fairly near the front in our draw due and we ended up in adjacent pegs on Rockfield Lake. It was only a few miles away and we knew were it was but had never seen it. Access was excellent and we were able to park in-between the two pegs and unload our gear and had plenty of time to set up before the 11:30 all in.
I set up two pole rigs, 1.5 gram top 4 deep at 11 meters and a 4 x 16 for fishing up in the water. The Feeder Rod was clipped up at 35 turns where it was about 20 feet deep. David Heron who is an Irish International gave me a ground bait mix after I messaged him a few weeks before we went over. Caster, hemp and chopped worm were added to it and 6 balls went in at 11 meters on the 'all in' followed by 10 big feeder fulls of chop and caster at my clipped up distance.
Coming in on the pole line I had a bite straight away and began adding a few roach and perch for about an hour before in died on me. The fish were not as big as the ones we had been catching on Garty. I could see Steve through the trees in-between our pegs and he shouted up to me holding a big Skimmer that he caught on the feeder. I gave the feeder line a go myself and stayed on it for the rest of the match. Had a few perch and small skimmers and then at 16:40 I had a more positive knock and hit it connecting with what I though was a bream. It wasn't until I got it up in the water that I saw it was a tench! Never ever had a tench in Ireland before and it went between 3 lb - 3.5 lbs. I did not add that much more and weighed 5 kilo 400 grams for nowhere, Steve had 5 kilo 800 grams with a few bream. Nigel Franks won our lake with 12 kilo on the whip, all small fish.
Ready for the off on Rockfield
Day 1 catch and my first Irish Tench
Day 2 was on Gulladoo (or would it be Gullapoo!). I drew 14 on an area they call the 'steps' and Steve was up in an area call the 'cross'. Andy dropped me off first and it was only a short walk to the peg but took me 3 trips with the gear. Water levels were way up and the access path to my peg was knee high in water.
I had top 4 deep at 13 meter and set up a shallow rig as well along with the Feeder at 30 turns. Same bait and ground bait mix as the day before.
I had bites all day on the pole, deep and shallow so just stayed on it not picking up the feeder at all. The fish were a half decent size and I did had a big hybrid shallow. I was expecting to weigh more but the scales recorded 7 kilo 800 grams. Nigel won our lake again with 19 kilo plus taken shallow.
A misty day on Gulladoo
A busy day
On to day 3 and I could have been on Tessa's or Kevin's Shore on Gowna (section used to be called Rossduff). I drew peg 10 on Tessa's and Steve drew 12. Access was great and Andy dropped us off behind our pegs. Same set up as previous days but found top 4 deep at 8 meters this time. I did catch from the off and the fish were better quality, I had another big hybrid up in the water before the lines died after about 90 minutes. I saw the angler on peg 11 net a few skimmers on the tip so i had to go for it. I caught small skimmers and roach and then i had a proper wrap around at around 16:00 connecting with a small bream. I ended up with 7 kilo 240, I think Steve had 5 kilo plus and the angler in-between us 6 kilo ish.
Peg 10 Tessa's Shore
Day 3 catch
On to day 4 and Corfree. Where ever you drew on this Section it involved a boat ride. I drew peg 9 and Steve was further on up in the higher numbers. The boats are well organised taking 2 anglers at a time and dropping them off in-between the 2 pegs. Everyone helps each other load and unload.
My peg was quite shallow at 11 meters, about top 3.5 deep. I could not fish any further out because of the wind although I still set my shallow rig up. The Feeder clipped up at 30 turns indicated it was about 15 foot deep. I did catch on the pole at the start, all depths but died after 40 minutes, I could see the angler on 10 also giving up on the pole, plus the wind was getting stronger. I caught small skimmers and hybrids through out the day but it was far from steady. I weighed 5 kilo 840 grams.
Steve heading off in the 1st boat
Day 5 put us on Dernafest and another boat ride to the pegs. I drew 7. The lake had been won from this peg the previous day so no pressure. Heavy rain was due today and it was drizzling when we arrived at the boats. Two pole rigs set up again, it was very deep close in so only needed to fish 9 meters out top 4 deep. The angler the day before had caught a load of perch on the feeder so I chopped up a kilo of worm to save me getting off the box and platform which was way out in the water.
The pole line barely lasted 40 minutes, cannot understand why it does this. I could see the anglers on 6, 5 and 4 putting very few fish in the net and they were chopping and changing between the feeder and pole quite early. My feeder line had been fed at the start and I had a positive bite on it straight away from a perch around 4 ozs. I stayed on the feeder the rest of the match catching mainly perch and ended up with 9 kilo 340 for second on the lake. I was beaten by 40 grams by Ian Fieldhouse who managed to snare a 3 lb bream!
Here are some photo's taken by the official photographer.
Ian who beat me by 40 grams for the lake win
What a great week that was and I had a 60 Euro pick up on a Festival and venues I had never fished before.
Learned a lot and have already booked for next year.
Nice little touch by way of a hat.
Full results as follows:
Entry to the Festival 150 Euro
Insurance 5 Euro
Boat fee 10 Euro
Pools for the week 50 Euro but they pay out sections and mini sections as well as overall each day.
Optional pairs pool at 40 Euro per pair
Optional super pool as well.
Really well run Festival, cannot wait until next year.