The lake at Dromoland instantly scared me. Why, I wasn't sure, it was tiddly compared to some of the monsters I'd been on. So as soon as I arrived at Dromoland Castle in the west of Ireland and the prospect of fishing was offered to me, I fudged a bit. "Tomorrow" was decided upon (Ireland is a bit like Spain like that, everything is so laid back it's always "manana"). Instead we decided to go to the drawing room and have one of the famous teas at Dromoland and look out upon the lake instead.
Everyone was talking about the weather which, compared to what we'd left behind in England, was hardly the height of summer. But, as my boyfriend reminded me: "Every day that it doesn't rain in Ireland is cause for celebration". Then we went for a drive out to the cliffs of Moher - spectacular scenery, all sea mist and sunsets; we half-expected a woman in a cloak to materialise.
The next day we met Dennis, the ghillie. He settled all three of us in his rowing boat, whilst I pretended not to be too scared. Because I hadn't been able to bring my own life jacket with me - the type that inflates when you hit the water (you can't take them on a plane because they contain compressed air) - I had to wear a bright orange life jacket the size of a dinghy. I'm afraid I soon discarded it in favour of drowning as it was so cumbersome.
Dennis rowed us out through the lilies and we set off around the lake. We had two rods, one with a Woolly Bugger, and one with a Daddy-Long-Legs dry fly which I periodically flicked out on to the water. The lake held rainbow trout and some pike, too. Indeed, I found out by chance later on that it was recently stocked with rainbows (hopefully not for my benefit but I suspect it was).
We fished, and fished. There was the definite air of "nothing happening". Although initially I was anxious (mostly, I must add, because I would have tried more aggressive methods of fishing but have long learned to go with the ghillie's advice, at least to begin with...), I soon settled into a lazy morning's fishing.
Dromoland sits in 400 acres of County Clare parkland, offering some wonderful walks. We'd explored them the afternoon before, wandering round the lake and also down to the nearby river - tiny and pretty and rather inaccessible. I only wished I could have run along the paths that snaked through the trees (I was seven months pregnant at the time so that was a no-no), for it was an exhilarating place: sort of magical, well kept but also a bit wild and forgotten in places. For some reason there were swarms of black flies (as in pesky house flies) everywhere we happened to go. I tried not to take it personally.
There was also a golf course, and the service and ambience is some of the best we'd ever found. It made for a wonderfully peaceful stay. I highly recommend it for a weekend's fishing, but any longer than that and you'd have to look off-base for some further fishy stimulation - though this being the west of Ireland, there is plenty.
We chatted with Dennis; about some of the people he'd fished with just recently (John Travolta being just one), and how there was going to be a fashion shoot that afternoon which he was to take part in. He'd been instructed to bring along a creel (a basket to put fish in) - the sort of thing only fashion people would think could add a bit of authentic fishing flavour to things (hardly anyone uses them any more).
We fished and fished but nothing was happening, not a nibble or a splash. Dennis grew anxious... it was the green algae on the lake, he said, that was putting the fishie off. Whatever, I was so relaxed by this stage, as I flicked my Daddy L-L in hypnotic fashion on to the water.
Eventually, my boyfriend decided to be a little more pro-active and put on a little black and lime-green lure which, in pretty deep water, the fish had a chance of catching sight of through the murk. Almost immediately he hooked a perch, tiny and angry as only perch seem to be at being caught. It was to be our only catch of the day.
Nevermind, we went back to the hotel and were comforted by hot tea, fresh sandwiches, squidgy cream cakes and the soothing attentions of the staff, who reassured us that, tomorrow, the fish might just bite.Reuse content