Specimen coarse fishing is a feature of the wonderful River Barrow and every year this waterway produces more official award winning fish than any other single fishery in Ireland. Challenging conditions exist during summer on the higher reaches around Monasterevin and Athy as the shallow water becomes weeded with islands of reeds throughout. However, the weed becomes an attractive feature and a satisfying method is to tackle the faster water with a stick float, edging the tackle along the fringes of any natural cover. Local experts use small groundbait swimfeeder rigs, inter-changing with straight bomb tactics so not to overfeed the resident shoals of fish.
As the river flows downstream the pace lessens and tackling the stocks of rudd and bream become a little easier above the town of Athy, though the flow never becomes slow. Below Athy the Barrow’s character changes with extra depth and width to the river, lending itself to pre-baiting for serious bream fishing. It isn’t essential but a degree of patience is necessary, particularly if you choose a stretch of river that is rarely fished, because the bream and rudd will need time to locate and settle on your groundbait. Pole fishing can be fun with rudd but two-gramme floats are needed or you can use running line and a large stick or balsa float. Red maggot is good for getting the rudd moving quickly with caster, corn and worms, important for good sport with the bream. Salmon fishing can be had on the River Barrow between the Forth Bridge (below Monasterevin) and Athy. In recent years anglers tackling the Barrow have appeared in the official Irish Specimen Fish awards list with bream over 9lb, perch 3lb 8oz, pike weighing more than 25lb, roach/bream hybrids 3lb 11oz and rudd/bream hybrids of 4lb 4oz. In 2003, we can confirm the River Barrow produced numerous specimens near the Laois/Carlow border. The River Barrow is just waiting to be explored… so why not try a change of location.