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Fishing in Drumshanbo
 By John Weedon, Angling Times correspondent         March 1st 2000

Address: 15, Elm Road, Abram, Wigan WN2 5XG. Tel; 01942 866474 (after 7pm)


The Upper Shannon region offers wonderfully consistent lake fishing, with 200-300lb catches of bream, roach and hybrids, nothing uncommon. But don’t expect it to happen every day.

Yet the area, with the magnificent Loughs Allen and Upper Lough MacNean – two of THE great waters as centrepieces – still is relatively unknown and unexplored.  Lough Allen has a great reputation for producing enormous catches while other perhaps better known waters are off form or have been hit by rushes of cold heavy rain water. Try 200-300lbs from Allen when 25lb was a good bag elsewhere.  Another big plus is…there are detailed water-by-water information sheets with accompanying maps and directions showing the best places to fish, WITH EIGHT as-they-happened videos showing a few hauls between 100lb-plus and 300lb, and a lot of laughs as well. The info sheets have valuable tackle and bait tips, which can cut a lot of corners.

Try this for consistency…Cliff Arnold (Triana Burscough Angling Supplies) opened up with a “200” off Lough Allen and took at least 100lb every day afterwards, except for one day, in an eight-day trip two years ago.  The bottom end of the seven-mile-long water – the first of the Shannon’s great lakes – is the best known area, with Wynne’s Bay, Herons’ shore, Barneys’ Point and Burns’ Rock all capable of producing those 100lb-plus hauls, mainly on the waggler.  Early season, massive shoals migrate into a vast bay where these shores are, and early to mid-May is the best. September, too, can be excellent.

Barneys and Herons have vehicle access tracks and little walking. Even though the accessible side of Herons may only be 4ft deep, it can produce catches to 100lb, usually in May on the waggler. It can be snaggy for the tip angler.

 Boats as water taxis are the usual way of getting to those areas inaccessible by land.  Even the boat quay at the start of the new canal can have its 100lb –plus..especially in wild winds.

Kilgarriff Bay, near Ballinagleragh, is a great area with the deep water on a point a favourite, but like most other areas prebaiting the night before with about 28lb per person brings the best results.

Lough Allen is famous for its huge pike to over 40lb with a good selection of 20lb fish.

Belhavel Lake, two and a half miles north of Drumkeerin on the western side of Lough Allen, has also been a real find. But in high water it may be inaccessible.

I’ve had 70lb of bream – a lot of big skimmers and fish to 4lb – near the car park where the depth may only be 4-6ft, but the colour would seem to keep the shoals there. It’s hard to find…look for wires crossing the road on the way to Manorhamilton, then take a right turn signed Tawnylead and Creeve or Creevaleagh Church, then go first left 200 yards down this country road, past two farms and you’ll come to a lakeside car park.

Belhavel has no roach and when it was seriously tried in Sept 1998, experienced feeder anglers caught up to 150lbs of bream to 5lb, which can be extremely shy biters. Keep the bait moving, if you don’t get a bite straight away.

Upper Lough MacNean, some 20 miles away through Dowra and up to the N16 Sligo-Enniskillen road, has been a magnificent find. Bream run big…one of 4lb 8oz is small and they reach 7lb.

My mate Ian Connor (Triana Burscough Angling Supplies) had 47 slabs in Glenfarne Forest in September 1999 for over 200lb in five hours. Hybrids run over 3lb and the roach fishing, too, can be stunning, with a high average size if you load in enough bait. The scenery is spectacular and as a results of bankside developments, it’s only a yard or two to walk from the car.

Edwards’ Bay just beyond the forest may be quite shallow, but can fish well for roach and hybrids – and I have had rudd to over 2lb here as well on a light waggler.

The Shannon in the area isn’t the river the tourists know. It’s narrow and has pace.  A recently developed stretch with riverside car parking at Drumboylan, near Leitrim village, looks a winner.

I’ve had 70lbs of roach from herein years gone by, when the fish were moving upriver to spawn, and more recently there have been roach and hybrid bags to 60lb. There’s some big pike, too, and holes on bends have bream.

Well-known Battle Bridge, famed for its roach, is only a couple of miles away by Leitrim village.

 The Shannon just downstream of Bellintra sluice gates, about 100 yards beyond the start of the car access track to Barneys, can also fish well for roach and bream.  Acres Lake, on the southern edge of Drumshanbo, can be a real cracker. Bream and roach bags to over 100lb have come up on pole off the end of the boat moorings, and it’s good cold weather water.

Roach go well off the bottom, too.

Some of the smaller lakes on the edge of town are worth exploring, although Flynns or Prices is rated slow. 

Lough Scur can really produce the goods in the right hands, and the Shannon-Erne Link is still developing and gets more promising all the time, particularly when boats are not passing through.

Keshcarrigan Lake, near the village of the same name, is an underfished water with great potential. I saw bream bags of  to 100lb in poor May weather four years ago…we bagged off a prebait, even though the lake rose 1ft overnight after a day of rain.

Early season, the Boyle River just below Boyle town can produce stunning catches of roach, bream and hybrids, when the shoals are moving up to spawn. Catch them at peak, and like a friend of mine, you could bag over 200lb. But Drum Bridge with good access and car parking can be too popular at times.

And nearby, the magnificent beauty of Lough Key can be matched by the quality of its bream fishing.Boat access to the islands is essential (see Peter Walsh at Rockingham in the country park – he knows his lake).

Roach and hybrids can be caught off the shore here, right by the car park.

A good bait tip…take some 10lbs of pearl barley  per man, soak it overnight with a red colouring agent, to supplement your casters. We take on average 3-4pts of barley per man for a day on the waggler on the lakes because there’s an immense amount of fish to feed.

This is only a brief  guide to what’s on offer in a brilliant area. If you want further info, send me an A3 size self-addressed envelope with stamps and I’ll send on the full information guide with maps.

You’ll get spot on information from Brian McGourty, Carrick Road, Drumshanbo (tel: 41648 code from England 00-353-78, then the number). Brian’s a good angler who knows his lake and what’s going on – and he also hires boats.

Hopefully at some future date, I’ll add to this website tips on how to tackle the lakes.