This piece is written by a young angler who’s lack of years is made up for no end by her enthusiasm for fishing. She is already blessed with some seriously impressive catches and there appears to be no slowing down in her appetite to keep adding to the tally. 

For those who are yet to know Amy, we’ve included a little bio here ahead of her first feature for Hookpoint magazine. 

Name : Amy Kennedy

Age : 9

Aim : To get more kids involved in fishing

Favourite fishing : Specimen Hunting

Favourite fish : Blue Shark

Best fish : 200lb Common Skate

Biggest achievement : Either winning u16 Munster boat or runner up in the All Ireland u12

Some acrobatic jumpers would be the target this time round

It seemed like a long time coming but thankfully the Covid restrictions in Ireland were finally eased in time for the annual Twaite Shad migration. This happens every year in Ireland at a place called St.Mullins in County Carlow in the South East of Ireland. This was going to be an overnight trip so we had to get our gear ready to camp out and be ready for the early morning start. It’s a two hour drive to St. Mullins for us and we arrived just before dark.

You could see a lot of anglers had the same idea as the car park was full of campervans and other vehicles loaded with anglers and fishing gear. Even though I was dying to get fishing, the first thing we had to do was get our campsite ready with the tent, bed chairs and tackle out of the car. With everything done it was time for some food and we always remember to bring some marshmallows for roasting during the scary stories with my dad and while making our plan of attack.

St. Mullins looking stunning and tranquil

With Shad it’s all about the stages of the tide, water temperature and water levels in the river. So this meant a 5am alarm call. We were up fast and even though it was still dark the gas cooker was on and the kettle soon began to sing. After a nice hot cup of tea we were ready and with gear in hand we headed for the restaurant section of the river where the water is deepest. We arrived on the mark at 6 am, the water levels and clarity were perfect and there were even a few anglers already fishing. The plan would be to fish this stretch and as the tide filled move our way up along the river bank and then follow the ebb back down in order to stay in contact with the fish.

When Shad fishing, a certain level of light is needed for them to really start feeding and it looked like we had timed it perfectly. I just got a new set up so it was very easy to get my lure to the far bank and the plan was to work the lure back across the river. Straight away you could hear the anglers along the river ‘Im in’ or ‘I got hit’, ‘Get the net’ it was all very exciting and nearly everyone had a fish or missed one on the first cast. They were small fish to start with but it seemed that every one that came in was getting bigger.

It didn't take long to hear the commotion of fish starting to hit the bank

After a few small ones I got a savage pull on the rod, line started screaming off the reel and when I saw a huge silver fish splashing and jumping in the middle of the pool I knew it was time for a cool head. We had come for a specimen fish and this looked like the size we were after. I kept steady pressure on the fish while keeping the rod tip low to the water to help limit the jumping and violent head shakes these Shad are well known for. The fish was beginning to tire and I was getting it closer and closer to the bank. My Dad ran for the net and I was holding on for dear life and praying it would stay on the hook.

I was so excited and when it finally went into the net it looked like a huge Shad and really fat. We had the recording gear set up and so straight onto the measuring mat 50.5cm and then into the weigh sling. 3lb on the button which beat my personal best Shad of 2lb 14oz. What a start to the morning. The fish continued thick and fast and my dad added a length based specimen which needs to be 48cm at least to qualify. The larger fish had definitely started to move and before we knew it in a hectic spell we had 3 specimens out of 15 further fish. I was delighted to get one at the same time as my brother’s girlfriend Stephanie meaning the girls were definitely winning and it was only lunch time.

I was thrilled with this PB shad

With the tide dropping and the water levels low it was time for grub and a recap on how the day was going.Everyone seemed to be catching so the form was good. I was very happy when my friend Cian arrived with his dad to fish for the afternoon. It’s a long drive for them but not too bad when the fish are biting. With our bellies full and Cians rod set up we headed to our spots and waited for the Weir and as it did you could see the fish backs cutting through the water like the Salmon documentaries in Canada. 

We were bursting waiting for the fish to reach us and on the very first cast Cian was straight into a really fresh and energetic fish. He had hooked a real cracker of a shad. It ran and dived and even did a tail walk on the surface. I was so nervous but Cian did great keeping the pressure on. After what seemed like ages the big shad was safely in the net and straight onto the measure mat. 48cm! A specimen on his first fish .I was delighted for my friend and I could see how excited he was too.

The shad are quickly measured to check for specimen qualifiers

That’s what it’s all about parents seeing their kids out in the fresh air of nature catching fish. With the incredible session coming to a close we estimated close to 70 fish were caught and released throughout the epic session with ten of them being specimen length and three of them being mine including a new pb.

The tackle I was using included a Savagear Parabellum ccs 9ft rod paired with a 4000 sized Prorex lt reel and the top lures were the Tasmanian devil 13.5g or the King Cobra 13.5g. A good braid of between 10-15lb will help reduce lure losses and good quality fluro in 8 to 15lb really helps hook up rates.

There is a large public car park and toilets with an area for tenting too that is near the Mullichain cafe. The cafe is very close to the water and has lovely food plus you might pick up some info from other hungry anglers. St Mullins is a beautiful area so remember not to litter and pick up any that you find along the way. 

I made a youtube video of some of the fishing on the day which you can watch below.  

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