As long as I can remember, my father has had myself and my brother fishing. His father did the same for him and his brothers, I will do the same should I have children. It has its detractors, sure. Hurting fish, pointless past time, play golf. I’ve heard it all. All I can say is that I’m always conscious of the well being of fish, I rarely if ever keep what I catch and the prolificatiin of our fish population in Ireland is of paramount importance to me so that future generations may enjoy the same endorphin rush as I do.
My father will correct me, but as far as I can recall, myself and my brother, to the best of my knowledge, began our fishing journey on Blessington Lake. From there we have ventured to many locations, Offaly, Mullingar, Roscommon, Dublin and Kildare but my heart remains in Wicklow. It was there I caught the first Roach, Rudd and Perch that spurred my interest. Age 6/7 I hooked a 2 or 3 pound Rainbow Trout on a silver Shakespeare Big S that, had my father landed it, would have been a personal best for many years.
We also went to a commercial fishery when I was young, hauling in Rainbows all day and, apparently, myself and my brother showed a slight over eagerness to kill our catches! Ah when you’re young. But it was the canal that brought about the bug, the infection in my veins that is fishing. We moved to Kildare in 1995 but well before then we had been visiting the Kildare stretch of the Grand Canal for some coarse fishing. Fly fishing was well ahead of myself and my brother, more on that in another post, but I don’t think I’ve had better moments in my life than those spent waiting for that float to disappear.
It is frowned upon, fishing in the “ditch” as some anglers refer to it, but for a young lad just getting into the sport nothing beats the canal. You get your introduction to the natural way of the aquatic world. The flora, fauna and insect life around you. If you are poetically inclined you’d never be stuck for inspiration as you watch the Heron stalk out its next meal, watch the flies dance over the water’s surface as opportunistic Roach and Rudd rise to pluck them from the air. Hear the pigeons call to each other, the wind through the trees. All of it is magical and as far removed from fishing the “ditch” as possible.
Some canal highlights for me were fishing the harbour in Sallins, Co.Kildare on spring and summer evenings, hauling in fish after fish on an old starter kit rod that has served me better than any other. Sadly this cannot be done today, years of boat and pedestrian pollution seems to have taken a toll for the worst on the harbour. But anywhere along that stretch tended to provide great sport in its day, and today many spots are still productive.