After what seemed like a lifetime last June, the International Competitions returned in 2022. It was Irelands turn to host the Four nations Home International on Lough Melvin.

I have written about this event before as I was lucky enough to be part of the Team. But I have been asked about how my day went.

Ireland won Gold in the Four Nations on Lough Melvin and I was lucky enough to be top rod on the day. At that time all that mattered was winning a Team Gold, that is all I was interested in.

I remember people coming up to me congratulating me on catching the most fish , but my thoughts were only about getting another Shiny gold medal to add to the other two I have. All in the last 3 out of four internationals I fished. Fishing is a team sport and ,if you work as a team well rewards do come.

But now nearly 12 months on I could not be prouder of our team, but realizing a dream I thought would never come through, despite close friends saying that my day would come.

Winning the Brown Bowl is an achievement that few Irish Anglers have claimed, and I am very happy to have the replica sitting on my mantelpiece.

Latest comments

19.05 | 05:47

Hi Denis
Good meeting last night, and enjoyed reading your blog. Felt I was on the lake with you. Great work

02.05 | 20:42

Hi Dennis loved the article straight to the point .just wondered will the trout feed on the small buzzers all year ?

06.04 | 11:57

Cant wait to read this

01.03 | 03:03

glad u enjoy, ty, will be back when the fishing returns

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                   Decision Time

I have been asked so many questions since the match on how I do so well. To be frank on the day I did not take all my chances and I was surprised that my 7 measurable fish won top rod. As I could have had 7 on my second drift alone.

 I will start at the beginning, weeks of practice, months and years of knowledge laid out a plan for the team under various weather conditions. And of course, the fly’s for the Irish Team.


In practice with various partners, Peter Byrne, Tony Walsh, Nigel Greene , Joe Gilroy, Darren Maguire our Captain and our expert Fly Tier and boatman Jackie Mahon I had caught all three types of trout.

But the knowledge I gained from these excellent anglers showed me that Gillaroo could be caught under any conditions, where as sonaghan were very finicky and finding pods of sonaghan on such a vast water was to me was very hit and miss affair.

For me there was a simple choice and the night before the match at our team meeting, I told everyone what I would be doing.

The choice was gone for Sonaghan , or Browns and Gillaroo that lived on the shoreline. Fishing the shorelines was the only choice for me as a team we had where the Gillaroo would reside on certain shores, as in what structure and the numbers of Gillaroo i caught when I fished for them was far far greater than the numbers of sonaghan I could catch when I targeted the deep-water fish

                Competition Day

The morning of the competition I met my boat partner and well-respected Scottish Angler Keith Renton.  We discussed what the fishing had been like and agreed to work together for the day. Our boatman for the day was Gary Crothers, I have known Gary for years and was delighted to have him guide us around the lake for the day.

I asked Gary to bring us over to Breffni Pier and I would work the engine from then on. It was rough, but Gary brought us over to our starting point with great skill.

On arriving I could see that three of our team had also headed towards the Gillaroo ground. The first two bays I wanted to try were occupied, so I fished the point just to give me time to recalculate the next plan.


I had set up an Airflo Fast Intermediate, an 18-foot 5lb maxima sub surface leader with two droppers,  8ft to the first fly then 5ft to the second dropper and 5ft to the point fly. The reason I chose the fast intermediate was because I was fishing shallow water, short casts into likely spots and getting the line below the waves gave me more control of my line/ flys and the non-stretch line meant I could feel everything, be it fish or rocks.

My top dropper was a Mayfly Booby ( Jackie Mahon), in the middle was another Mayfly (Jackie Mahon) and another Mayfly (Mick Mc Cormack) on the point. After fishing the point and releasing a couple of undersize fish, my mind was made.

up to fish the islands.


The wind had whipped up by this stage , so much so it was hard to get around the point and the forecast for the day was the wind to get stronger.

Knowing I would eventually be fishing the pumphouse shore , the far side of the lake where the wind was blowing into, once I burned all the drifts around the islands as it was way to windy to travel back up the lake.  , I really hoped the wind would drop.

We drifted towards the first small island which had a clump of submerged rocks then a 4ft hole and then the island itself. An ideal habitat for a Gillaroo,  the only problem was that we might get stuck. I cast over the rocks pulled twice and as I dibbled the fly there was a golden flash, quickly I cast again another flash, but on the third cast the Gillie head and tailed the booby, I quickly skated the fish across the water into the net and crunch we were stuck on the rocks.

After a few minutes Gary had us floating again and measured my first counter of the day.

Going down by the next Island I moved several fish but not keepers stuck, re doing the drift I slowed everything down and the fish took the fly a lot better. It was hard to control the line in such nasty conditions but the slower I moved the flys the more fish I caught.

Soon enough we had fished the drifts out, Gillaroo rarely come a second time. Just before lunch we headed to the pumphouse shore I and hooked and lost several good fish catching several undersize fish, sods law. Keith was also catching well, but it was hard to find keepers.


I changed my middle fly to a slimmer green mayfly and immediately had another keeper.

The wind wasn’t easing, and I decided to fish a point that had a little stone wall just on the inside of it going out into the lake. During practice I had caught a just off the last broken piece of the wall. Gillaroo like to sit in certain areas where the food comes to the, normally in a spot that is slightly deeper than the areas around them. They just dart up out of their sanctuary eat the mayfly and dart back down again.  I positioned the boat, so we were fishing the calmer water , I cast exactly where I had hooked a fish in practice and sure enough on the second pull the line went tight, I gave it and second and strip striked into the fish. If you strike too early you will miss every one of the Gillaroo a lesson I learnt in practice, let them eat it.  Sure, enough it was a fish of the same size. Probably the same fish I had in practice.


After an ordeal with flies getting stuck under the boat, big waves and then line caught in the engine we decided it was lunch time.. We had a nice break out of the wind, after months of practice and a whole week of official team practice you do get tired. The three of us were getting on well, plenty of fish to the boat and the odd keeper, but the wind was making it difficult to convert a lot of the takes.


We caught three more keepers after lunch including my one and only Sonaghan out deep at the start of a drift that also took the Booby Mayfly. People probably think that boobys are a new thing for wild fish in Ireland, but no we have been using them over a decade.

Looking up the lake it just looked awful, and I knew my teammates would have fished every likely spot up there at that stage.

We continued fishing down the lake towards Garrison, fishing deep and shallow but unfortunately, we landed no more keepers.

With 90 mins to go we decided to head towards home, not leaving anything to chance due to the weather. No point being late. Gary took over the controls and we did not enjoy the roller coaster of a ride back. We could see boats appearing and disappearing in the distance as the waves took them out of sight. We fished for 40 minutes in front of home bay without any luck and called it with 10 minutes to go so we would be back in plenty of time. It was a truly hard day at the office with lots of missed opportunities, lessons learnt, but I was in great company. Thank you Keith for a splendid day and Gary couldn’t do enough for us, thank you sir.

We ended the day with 10 fish, I should have had a dozen myself but that’s fishing.


Ireland won with 36 fish and that’s what was our aim, and my brown bowl was just the icing on the top.


Ireland - 36 fish - 1761 points.

Scotland – 31 fish – 1526 points

Wales – 21 fish – 1029 points

England – 18 fish – 882 points

Best Basket- Denis Goulding – Ireland - 7 fish – 332 points.

Largest Trout - Toby Bracey – Scotland – 33.4cms

A Dream Realized