Richie Dunne’s interview with Ireland Fishing Diaries
IFD: Richie Dunne is one of Ireland’s top pike fishers, totally obsessed by this species, Richie has caught many many big pike. Now join us as Richie talks tactics, and of course about the catch of his PB fish of 32lb 8oz. So over to Richie…..
How did you first start fishing?
I started off at about eleven years of age, about 1993/94. I live right by the river Nore and it’s tributaries, so naturally I cut my teeth on trout fishing. There was a guy who used to work with my Dad, and they were talking fishing and I guess my Dad saw me hanging on his every word. So he got me a little trout outfit. I didn’t have anyone to show me the ropes so I just went out and tried to get the hang of casting and looking for fish on my local river the Erkina. I wasn’t catching a whole lot, until my uncle Peter heard I was interested in fishing and he showed me how to tie flies and where to start looking. So from there I started to catch a bit more.
So from there how did you get into pike fishing?
Again there was another guy who worked with my father called Malcolm Smith, who was a match angler. He was an English guy living over here about 25 years. He took me out to a small lake near Portloaise which is now a carp fishery called Little Bog lough. He took me over there to do a bit of fishing for rudd, he was trying to encourage my coarse angling. The very first fish that took the maggot was a pike about the length of my finger. He told me that these fish could grow over a metre in length and I was fascinated. He gave me a box of coarse angling magazines which I read from cover to cover. There was one pic of a guy with a brace of pike each between 25 to 30lb caught in Sweden. That was it, I wanted one of those. I started trying places further up the river than I was used too. As a young lad, even a few miles is quite time consuming when your on foot. I have a neighbour called Brendan, and one day when I was out fishing, I saw him in a strange type of suit, he looked like a spaceman to me, but he was actually going down to attend his bee hives. So I followed him on down through the woods and up ahead of me I could see a clearing in the woods and where the river started widening out. It was completely different looking to where I had been catching trout. It was dark, it was deep and slow moving. So from then on I started fishing there for pike. At Christmas I got a box of lures and after that I began to catch pike regularly. From then on I’d fish from morning to night, and during the summer I wouldn’t miss a day.
When did you start fishing further afield?
I suppose in 2004, I caught my last decent pike from the river, after that it just died a death. It was a small river and an easy target for poachers, coupled with pollution and it just went downhill from there. I was just about getting my first car, so I started looking at the map to the well known big fish counties like Cavan, Longford and Leitrim and they seemed to be the big pike counties. So for the next few years I was in limbo, putting in plenty of miles and not getting that many fish. In 2008 the gear was coming together and I was starting to get a better understanding of things because all this was totally different to my river fishing. I caught my first 20lber that May from a local lake of all places. So I started fishing the river Suck and in the September had my next twenty a fish of 21lb 4oz. And it just went on from there, every minute and every penny I had went on pike fishing.
From there on how did the next few years go?
Well from there on I only wanted to catch the biggest pike I could get my hands on. After getting a few twenties I really wanted to see could I get a thirty. Trying to catch a big pike will probably cost you some fish because some of these waters hold a few big fish but not so many small and medium sized fish.
What advice would you give someone new to piking on when to hit a river?
There are websites out there that will show you water levels, and ignore any fables such as easterly winds, I have had five twenties in easterly winds. The key factor on those days was the river was just dropping back within it’s banks after a flood. If you can get it just at the point where it is still high but dropping, that’s the time to go. You just need to be in the right spot and you will hit them, and stick to the margins.
What is your favourite method of catching the bigger pike?
Well my favourite way, it’s not necessarily the best way but my favourite way, is behind deadbaits set on alarms and wait it out. It’s just the way I most enjoy catching them. I use a good range of baits, I’m a strong believer in the high feeding scale and low feeding scale cycles. In high feeding scales I like to use smelly baits such as mackeral, herring and I have caught half my decent pike on lamprey. I also use perch, trout although I’ve never had much luck on roach for some reason. Whether to pop them up or not, Ill fish one rod popped up and the other on the bottom and if one is fishing better I’ll change the other rod over too, whatever they want on the day.
What session would you like to relive?
It wasn’t one session but a run where I had five twenties over six sessions where everything just seemed to come right. On the last session I had already had a twenty when just before dark my two buddies packed up and hit the road. I always like to give it at least an hour into darkness on a river. Well I got a run and the fish took off and came airborne upriver of me, but the line was going off the other way, by the time I had sorted it out the fish was gone but it looked huge so it could have been one more. I would love to relive that series of sessions.
Can you tell us about the session you caught your personal best pike?
It was the first of March 2010, It was a full moon which I don’t know makes any difference but some say it does. The whole week leading up to it and the week after, it was an incredible fortnight of piking around Ireland with many big fish coming out all over the country. I recorded them in my diary, Des Chew had one a thirty around that time, and there was another few big fish here and there. So the hairs on the back of my neck were standing up as I got to get out that day. I had been fishing this spot on the Suck for two years and I thought this is time for it. I organized my gear and had the van packed when disaster I got called into work. So I finished work at eleven in the morning, and I was nearly not going because I always think an early start is vital. I got about fifteen miles up the road and realised I had left my bait behind, so had to turn around for that. Got to the river and set up as I normally do. This was about two o clock in the day at this stage. Almost straight away I had a fish of about 7lb, then another hour or so I had another about 6lb. Then it kinda went quiet and I sometimes believe this to be a good sign funnily enough. It was coming up to dark anyway and a rod that had been in the water a good hour and a half with a big mackeral on it. It went off and I struck and it seemed very heavy, I couldn’t get it up off the bottom for the first two or three minutes. She came up and gave a few splashes and threw the hooks at me. I thought that was it, my chance was gone. I was cursing myself. I baited up again and cast out and as I felt it settle on the bottom it seemed to snag up, I went to pull for a break and it came back out for me. So I recast with a lamprey and just flicked it under a tree just a rod tips length out, and next thing it screamed off and I hooked into something really heavy again, it felt unreal. I eased off the clutch and it tried to head across the river, I managed to turn it and get the net slipped under it. It was very dark and I went to lift her up onto the mat and couldn’t believe it. It went 32lb 8oz. I might never get one that size again.
How did you celebrate?
Driving home it was the most unbelievable feeling, pulling into the side of the road just to look back at the pictures, almost to see if they were still there! I got home and I was working the next day so I couldn’t really have a drink that night, so I shared the photos with some friends. It was a great day for me.
What are your fishing hopes for the future?
I don’t know if I will ever top that fish but I certainly intend to try. I would like to try and get more fishing done as I’m not able to get out much at the moment. I get about fifteen to twenty sessions a year now. I would like to target more big pike waters and another thing would be to catch a brace of twenties, and just enjoy the fishing.
Well thanks Richie for your time and best of luck in 2016!
No problem lads anytime!
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