Jim O’Donnell is a charter skipper and fishing guide based in Courtmacsherry. Jim also works as a freelance fishing journalist and photographer. He has authored several books for the Royal Yachting Association and has been a regular contributor to monthly sea fishing magazines for many years. To send Jim your fishing news and photographs you can contact him on 087 338 8626. Pictured above: Top Pike Guide William Kavanagh with a another fine Lee System Pike. William also guides Trout & Salmon.
To start this month, I’m not going to mention the weather! Talking of Fresh Water, and trying to stay positive, it doesn’t matter whether you’re a sea, coarse or game angler, when the weather is unsuitable for your chosen style of fishing, if you’re prepared to think outside of the box, you can always keep yourself on the water all year round.
Now if you’re a sea angler like me, the winter months can be pretty hardgoing, but if you’re willing to turn your hand to something different, Pike can always be sought from the calmer waters of the counties loughs and lakes using lures or dead baits, when the weather is too rough at sea. So this month I’ve invited my good friend and local Pike Guide Willie Kavanagh, to give you the lowdown on West Cork Pike fishing.
Willie has been fishing and guiding for Pike in West Cork for nearly 25 years and was at the forefront of pioneering fly fishing for Pike in Ireland, as part of a team internationally known as Fly Fish Ireland. Over to Willie…
In the last ten to fifteen years, Pike Fishing has become more popular amongst lure and fly anglers. Pike fishing with dead baits like roach or mackerel, has and will always will be a popular methods but in the advent of modern tackle design, lure and fly fishing for pike have become the main methods for targeting Big Pike!
Pike Fishing in Cork is no different to any other county in Ireland or country in Europe for that matter, with natural lakes and reservoirs being at the forefront of Big Pike fishing. But unlike many countries in Europe, there is no closed season for Pike fishing in Ireland but most good anglers, who practice Catch and Release and have the welfare of the fish at heart, choose not to fish for Pike during fish spring spawning period, and also when water temperatures are really high in the summer and the Oxygen levels in the water are low.
Anglers do not need a licence to fish for pike in West Cork either, but permits are required in certain fisheries and are easily attainable on the day or before. When fishing lakes and reservoirs, wearing life jackets is a ‘necessity’, and wearing of good quality rain gear is a ‘must’, as the weather can change frequently. Pike are also a very fragile species that need to be looked after if they are to be returned, using the correct catch and release tools including a landing net and a suitable discorger, and a protective unhooking mat if possible. We need to do as much as we can to protect Pike to insure stocks are healthy for every future angler to enjoy.
William’s top places to try
The River Lee system is by far the County’s best Pike fishery. Rising in Googanebarra, by the time it reaches Ballingeary, it opens up into three Lakes, all which hold good numbers of Pike and some very big fish, in excess of 30lbs.
Lough Allua, is a real wild and wonderful Pike fishery with a good mix of shallow water bays, deep ledges and drop offs to explore. If you want picturesque Pike fishing and big Pike, then Loch Allua is the definitely the place for you! No permit is needed to fish Lough Allua and a free council boat launch can be found on the North Road, Inchigeela.
Carrigadrohid Reservoir. This is ESB-controlled water and you must have a permit to fish – contact Inland Fisheries Ireland. Access here is very good with many options for the bank angler and, there is a boat launch at Fountain House. A key is required for the gate, which is obtainable from the ESB at Inniscarra Dam, when you purchase a boat license – contact Fountain House for access. The Fishing on Carrigadrohid can be sporadic but it still has some great Pike Fishing, especially around the bridges between Cork City and Macroom.
Inniscarra Reservoir is the last lake on the Lee river system. Known to be one of the county’s more difficult waters, it is not an easy lake to master with lots of deep water but it’s known for Big Pike, Pike over the magic 20lb size – especially boat fishing around the Inniscarra Dam. Inniscarra also has plenty of Bays with some shallows and drop offs and offers good Perch fishing too. Again this is an ESB controlled water requiring a permit to fish – Contact Inland Fisheries Ireland.
My company Fly Fish Ireland www.flyfishireland.ie provide a Pike guiding service covering the whole Lee System, with trips tailor made to suit every anglers age and ability, as well as guiding for other species including Trout, Salmon and Sea Bass. Check our website out and contact me for more information.
The Lee system forms the basis for much of West Cork’s Pike fishing although there are a few smaller lakes in West Cork also worth checking out:
Shreelane Lakes (Shepperton Lakes) Skibbereen: Shepperton is a wild West Cork lake that has been stocked with Rainbow Trout and is an excellent fishery for big Pike. There are two lakes at Shepperton, spilt by a channel giving access to each. Permits and Boats are available through Inland Fisheries Ireland. Pike fishing is fly and lure only, with fly often catching the bigger fish! Dead baiting is not permitted.
Lough Cluhir (Leap) is a small lake and can be fished from the bank or from a Float tube/Kayak. From my own experience Fly fishing is most productive on Cluhir. No permit is required.
Curraghlickey Lake (Dunmanway) is small private lake with good access and a boat launch. I haven’t fished Curraghhlickey in a few years and information online about it now is vague, but it used to hold a good head of Pike to upper double figures.
Abisdealy lake (Liss Ard Resort) is another private fishery. Abisdealy is a good venue with lots of small Pike with a few bigger fish. A great place to get your string pulled due to the high numbers. Boats are also available – Contact the Liss Ard estate for information.
There are many other smaller lakes in West Cork, especially around the Dunmanway area, that have yet to be explored. If you buy an ordinance survey map or use Google earth and get out there with your Bait, Lures and Flies, you will be pleasantly surprised!
For more information on Guided Pike fishing around West Cork, William can be contacted on (0)87 6497442 www.flyfishireland.ie.
Happy Pike Fishing and tight lines until next month!