The Irish Quest

Every competitor fishing the World Pairs in Ireland strives to catch a big enough weight to finish in the all-important top 10. Here’s how Dean Barlow and his partner Steve Fleming got on in their quest for glory against 48 other pairs.

dean-barlow-world-pairs-1The first week in September is always an exciting time for me as it means the World Pairs in Ireland. This year was no exception as we heard it was fishing well.

Me and my pairs partner, Drennan North West star Steve Fleming, made our way to the fabulous Angler’s Rest in Ballyconnell, which was our base for the week. We drew on the Sunday night, which put us on Rotation 4, so we were beginning our campaign at Brackley and Bunerky lakes on the Monday.

Here’s how we got on…

Day One

dean-barlow-world-pairs-day1I drew Brackley peg 3 which I was a little disappointed with as the high numbers are always best. Steve had drawn peg 8 on Bunerky which had won the previous day’s open match with over 40kg of bream. This is a weight-based competition, so we hoped they would still be there!

I started on the feeder at 40m which produced two bream in the first half hour. I thought I was going to bag up, but bites dried up very quickly. A move to the pole produced about 3kg in 20 minutes in between pike strikes but that went dead to. It seemed that the lake wasn’t fishing at all.

Another two bream in the last hour gave me a total of 9.1kg which I was disappointed with as normally 15kg+ is the target weight you need, however, I was the best weight up to the last two pegs where young Irish star Dave Heron had 19kg and Scott Russell had 12kg off the end peg.

Good news came when Steve picked me up and said he’d had 38kg of bream to win the lake and county. A great start! Word had also come through of some big weights off the Erne, where German pair Jens Koschnick and Thorsten Küsters had a massive weight of 65kg for Day One!

Day Two

dean-barlow-world-pairs-day2The second day saw us on Lake Garadice. Steve was on Connally’s Shore peg 4 and I was on Church Deeps peg 3, not the best draws to be honest.

I started on feeder again for seven early hybrids, then changed to the pole where I caught roach shallow up until the last hour when it went dead. I finished up with 11kg and Steve managed 14kg, so more weight added to the total.

Day Three

dean-barlow-world-pairs-day3Wednesday was our first trip to the North on Lough Erne. I drew Horse island and Steve drew another island called Inish Favor. I love fishing the Erne as it’s probably the most wild fishing you could imagine, with 3ft waves making it challenging!

I was soon into big hybrids on the feeder, some reaching 3lb, while feeding a short line for the pole. I caught on and off on the feeder for four hours. When I finally dried up I had a go on the pole, which was a Series 7 Margin pole fitted with power gum and fished 4m to hand. It took me a good 20 minutes to get the rig right but it was worth it, catching 70 roach in the last 40 minutes. My total of 28.05kg was enough to win the county and the whole match on the day. Steve had 9kg off Inish favour so a 37kg total kept us in the hunt!

Day Four

dean-barlow-world-pairs-day4I was heading for Garadice Lake grass bank peg 13 and Steve on the pumphouse on Lough Scur. My section had fished poor all week with 8kg being the best weight. I caught a few fish on the feeder early but felt I wasn’t going anywhere, so I got my head down on the pole and had a lovely days fishing, catching roach up to 12oz.

I finished up with 11.625kg and Steve put 11kg into the total, so we were in the top 10 going into the last day on the Erne!

Day Five

dean-barlow-world-pairs-day5The final day saw us on the famous Kiladeas and a new venue for us called Greenies Shore, both on the beautiful Lough Erne. We needed a good draw to try and get some weight back on the leaders, but when Steve pulled out Kiladeas 13 and I drew Greenies peg 4 we knew it was going to be difficult as both these pegs had been last on the previous day.

dean-barlow-world-pairs-3I got to my peg and the wind had started to blow and I can honestly say I have never fished in conditions like it in my life. We had 50mph winds and driving rain, but I loved every minute of it! How can you not enjoy sitting on a wild lough a mile-wide in beautiful surroundings? The disappointing thing was that the Erne had switched off and Steve and I both struggled. I had 5.9kg and Steve 8kg. We both felt gutted as we feared that would probably drop us out of the all-important top 10.

The Result

dean-barlow-world-pairs-4We waited in anticipation at the presentation. The Daiwa Cup was presented first to the top individual over the week. Good mate Jens Koschnick from Germany won it and the good news was that Steve had finished 10th overall, which I was so chuffed as he was brilliant all week and also a few quid to add to our kitty.

As the names were read out we were absolutely delighted to discover we had actually finished up as the 7th best pair, which is a great achievement in such good company.

Jens and Thorsten won the event outright, adding to their World Feeder Championship golds. These two guys are a credit to the sport and are worthy winners.

Gearing Up

dean-barlow-world-pairs-2My tackle for the week consisted of Acolyte Plus 12ft Feeder rods with 1.5oz tips fitted. These are perfect for wild Irish fishing! The setup was completed with Nisa plastic cage feeders up to 44g and window feeders up to 50g, with hooklengths of 0.17mm and 0.19mm Supplex Fluorocarbon. Hookwise the Kamasan B512 and B651 in size 10 and 12 are great hooks for Ireland.

My trusty Acolyte pole was fitted with Aqua F1 & Silverfish Bungee which is also perfect for hybrids and roach. Floats were prototype Drennan AS7s and Carp 5s.

Groundbait was Pro Natural Dark and Bream with a little Pro Natural Extra when pole fishing.

I also want to say a massive thanks to the sponsors, Daiwa, Lakelands & Inland Waterways, DAERA and all the guys who tirelessly help get the anglers to their pegs, either by boat or tractor. Without you we couldn’t get to the best venues in the world! And lastly to the organisers.

If you fancy some of the best fishing and hospitality you can get this is the place to be!