Fishing in Ireland, salmon fishing, sea trout fishing, trout fishing, wetfly

Three flys from my table

I was trying (unsuccessfully I might add) to tidy up the mess of feathers, hooks and other assorted odds and end which have accumulated on my fly tying bench. In amongst the detritus I found some flies so I thought I would share them with you.

First up is a Grey Winged Salmon Gosling. Goslings are widely used in this area for trout and the occasional salmon has grabbed one in passing before now. The difference with this one is the hook, a large bronze double (size 6 or 8). Tied on the tail of a cast for salmon it can do the business on lough or river. It looks so radically different to other salmon patterns I am sure it is taken sometimes just because the fish haven’t anything like it before.

Next we have a variant of the Clan Chief, this one is tied in Fiery Brown colours. It is sporting a couple of strands of twinkle in the tail too and the head hackle comes from a grouse body feather. I tie this on a size 8 for salmon but there is no reason why it would not work for brownies on a size 12.

 I love this fly. The Charlie MacLean hails from the outer isles and does well here on the small brown trout bog lakes. There is a bit of work required fitting all the materials on the hook but when you see this fly in the water and how those long hackle work with every pull of the line you will forget that it took you 20 minutes just to make one. I am toying with the notion of adding a glo-brite no4 head to this pattern

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Fishing in Ireland, fly tying, sea trout fishing, trout fishing, wetfly

The Bumper

I always have a few of these flies in my box as they come in handy on those days when you have no idea what to try next. It is a very simple variation of that grand old favourite of the trout fisher the Wickhams Fancy. I love the original in all it’s different forms but mainly as either a tiny dry fly (anything bigger than a size 16 is a monster), or as a middle fly on a traditional cast for rainbows. I lost count of the number of ‘bows I netted on a size 12 Wickhams many moons ago!

The Bumper

The Bumper

But back to the Bumper. It hails from the North East of Scotland I believe and it did sterling work for me on the rivers Dee and Ythan. It was never responsible for big baskets of trout nor indeed can I recall landing any particular monsters on this fly. It’s ability to produce the odd ‘normal’ sized fish is what makes it useful. I like it on the bob and enjoy stripping it back to me at a fair old lick. It is a poor imitation of anything natural so it pays not to give the trout time to look at it too closely.  Here is the tying:

Hook: wetfly, size 10 (I have tried other sizes but none seem to work as well as a standard shank 10)

Silk: brown or black

Tail: a bunch of red game cock hackle fibres, reasonably long

Rib: Fine gold wire

body: flat gold tinsel

Body hackle: red game cock, slightly long in fibre

Head hackle: Bright blue soft cock hackle, 4 or 5 turns

As a slight variation I sometimes use a long fibred grizzle hackle dyed bright blue at the head.

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Here are a few I tied up this week:

I will experiment with a version for salmon next season. I think that adding a wing of squirrel hair and a blue muddler head this could be a useful pattern for Lough Beltra in a good wave.

So there you have it, a great fly to have when you are scratching your head and muttering oaths under your breath, Tie on a Bumper and pull it in at a good clip. It will give the trout toothache!

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Fishing in Ireland

Moving a boat on Beltra

Mid September and recent heavy rain has pushed water levels up. Small numbers of fish are running but Lough Beltra is pretty much finished for another season so I decided to take advantage of a quiet day to take a boat off the lake. All too often this task is attempted in high winds and driving rain making the whole exercise unpleasant and hard work, so a day like yesterday made a welcome change and I could enjoy just being out in the early Autumn countryside.

I borrowed a van and trailer and headed for the lake around 10am in glorious sunshine. I used to live very near to the lake so I know the people in the houses as I drove along the quiet road past the fields of cattle and sheep. I mulled over that strange sense of belonging yet being apart which every ‘blow in’ feels here in the West. Out the Newport Road and those never-ending roadworks which have kept Mick O’Malley’s lads so busy all summer and along the new stretch at the back of Cornanool before taking the Bangor road off to the right. The first views of Nephin and those deceptive bends at the Glenisland National School. Through the still green trees with the river on the right, now thankfully back down to a normal level. The land was very wet but still retained that vibrancy of well tended farmland. Then along the edge of the lake and the temptation to look at the water instead of the road! I swung the wheel hard left and drove into the harbour carpark.

Boats are an integral part of our fishing here. Back in Scotland everyone hired a boat for a day’s fishing but in the West of Ireland you don’t get off as lightly as that. Maintaining, baling, lifting, storing, varnishing, sanding, checking and moving boats takes a bit of effort and you either accept and enjoy the experience of owning a small fishing boat or the time spent on them will feel wasted. I admit to enjoying the whole boat owning experience and so days like yesterday were a joy for me.

The recent rains had left some boats full of water. The modern fibreglass hulls never really sink due to the buoyancy tanks fitted to them. They fill up to the top but with a bit of baling they can soon be re-floated. The boat I was moving was half full and took about 20 minutes to bale out with the aid of a big bucket. Some fellas fit pumps to their boats but the bucket meets all my water removal requirements and the little bit of exercise does no harm.

Taking the boat around to the small beach where I could load it on the trailer I stopped for a breather to take in the scenery. Glenisland is a beautiful place and on a day like yesterday with the sun on the hills it was picture-postcard Ireland.

 Now came the job of loading the boat on to the trailer. In a big wind this can be tricky but the flat calm meant aligning the boat and winding her up on to the trailer was pretty straight forward. Lights clamped to the back, run the cable to the connection on the tow bar then pull the belly band across to secure her in place – it all went like clockwork. 

I double checked everything and then set off back home bathed in early autumn sunshine. It has been a poor season but hopefully enough spawning stock has evaded the nets, sea lice, seals and all the other perils which salmon and sea trout face to regenerate the rivers which feed Beltra. I will be back here again soon to help out with the Glenisland club boat lift when we take all the club boats out of the lake for the winter and stow them safely inside. Only when that day is over will it feel like the end of the season for another year.

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Fishing in Ireland, salmon fishing, sea trout fishing

Successful flies for Carrowmore lake

Here are some patterns which have worked for me and my boat partner over the years on Carrowmore lake, Co. Mayo.

Claret Bumble, blue head

Claret Bumble, blue head

Claret head

Claret head

Claret bumble is the first choice on a dark day with low cloud. The standard dressings works just fine but I like mine to have a Muddler head in either claret or blue.

Clan Chief

Clan Chief

The Clan Chief would probably be the fly most likely to be on my cast on any given day on Carrowmore. It seems to be able to produce fish under any conditions and you really must have some in your box if you are fishing the lake.

Goats Toe

Goats Toe

I personally love a Goat’s Toe with a black muddler head on it.

Golden Olive Shrimp

Golden Olive Shrimp

The Golden Olive shrimp has taken many salmon over the past few seasons and the orange tail looks great in the water.

Connamara Black

Connemara Black

The Connemara Black is a good dark fly for the tail position

Magenta Bumble

Magenta Bumble

I confess that I have never caught a salmon on a Magenta Bumble but I have been in the boat when it has succeeded. One for a bright day in my mind.

Claret Dabbler

Claret Dabbler

Always worth a try, the Claret Dabbler is an ever present on the cast of many who fish Carrowmore.

Bruiser Bumble

Bruiser Bumble

A deep blue hackle is needed for this pattern, much darker than the colour on a teal blue and silver.

Silver Doctor

Silver Doctor

I prefer a hairwing version of the Doctor, it is tougher than the original feather winged fly.

Silver Stoat variant

Silver Stoat variant

The silver stoat with an orange hackle does good work. I like it on a heavy hook and fish it on the tail off a sinking line.

Green winged Green Peter

Green winged Green Peter

And a Green Peter of course………………this one with a green squirrel tail wing.

As you can see, I prefer Black and Claret flies in general. If pressed I would be happy to fish with a Goat’s Toe on the bob, a Green Peter in the middle and a Claret Bumble on the tail.

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Fishing in Ireland, sea angling

Scad

Still as dry as a bone here in the West of Ireland but the forecast is for a belt of heavy rain to move across the country at the weekend so there is some faint hope of action before the end of the season.

Sunset over the islands

Until then all there has been is the occasional sea fishing outing. Everyone is sated with Mackerel this year and when Ben and I visited Roonagh yesterday evening it was deserted (not a sinner to be seen as they say around here). We tackled up and right from the first cast we were into Mackerel. A bucket was quickly filled and unwanted fish returned safely to the sea. We filleted the fish there and then to save on the mess back at home, always a good idea.

On one cast I hooked what seemed to be a small mackerel until I got it to the surface when it turned out to be a Scad. I was pretty delighted with this lad as I have never caught one of these wee chaps before. Try as I might I could not repeat the feat. Scad are a handsome fish with a pearly body and distinctive black spot in the gill covers. Watch out when handling them, they sport impressive spines on their fins and body.

my first ever Scad

  It is had to see from the photos but they also have a line of finlets on each side of the body on the lateral line in front on the tail, just like Tuna

The eyes are large in relation to the size of the fish. I think my one was average for the species, around a pound or so in weight.

 

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salmon fishing, sea angling, trout fishing

Badge

When I got back from fishing the Owenduff I found a package with a Scottish postmark on it waiting for me. Inside was a wonderful old badge of the second angling club I ever joined, the illustrious Mugiemoss  Social and Recreation Club. Many thanks to my old mate Grahame Reid who sent it to me, I will wear it with pride!

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Fishing in Ireland, salmon fishing, sea trout fishing

Casting practice

Friday morning and the weather vane on top of Lagduff Lodge is still firmly set in a Northerly airflow. Dry again today so the fishing will be little more than casting practice, leaving me less than overjoyed

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I fished from pol Garrow down to the Rock Pool but the only fish I saw was a  large resident who made a terrific splash in the Brigadier’s pool. Small flies like the Black Pennel, Blue Charm and Stoat’s Tail were all given a swim but without success. Time to head back to the comforts of the lodge.

The walls were decorated with old photos of past glories and the fishing register had pride of place on the table in the sitting room. 155 salmon had been landed from the beat this season but we were not going to be adding to that impressive total this week!

Gawn, who had been fishing down river returned to say he had an offer from what he was fairly sure was a salmon but the fish didn’t stick and we remained fishless apart from Julian’s early success with a Sea Trout

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Fishing in Ireland, salmon fishing, sea trout fishing

Sticks and stones

Day 2 on Lagduff and the drought continues. There was some mist in the morning which we all prayed would develop into a deluge but it petered out without making any difference to the water level in the Owenduff river. I elected to try fishing down at the bottom of the beat and set of with rod and wading stick along the side of the shrunken stream. The wading stick was an essential bit of kit as the bottom of the river consists of rounded stones covered in very slippery algae.

All the way down the river was a sad shadow of a river, more stones than water.

I fished the deeper pools but this was hard work as there was so little flow the flies were virtually lifeless. A couple of very small sea trout jumped in one pool but it was quiet apart from that. I was picked up at lunchtime and caught up with the rest of the party who all had similar tales of woe. The only salmon we saw all morning were in the photographs on the walls of the lodge.

After a bite to eat I strolled up river to the Rock Pool. A slight increase in the wind ruffled the surface at the top of the pool but because it was coming from the North the main body of the pool was flat calm – not ideal conditions.

As I fished down a grilse jumped some 20 yards below me giving a degree of encouragement. I covered the lie without success but some small sea trout started to jump hard against the far bank. Julian appeared from upstream where he had fished without seeing any signs of fish. He worked his way down the pool and near the tail another grilse jumped close to him. We fished on for a while but could not stir the salmon so Julian went back to the lodge for a well earned cuppa.

Two more grilse jumped in quick succession but these all looked like fish which had been in the river for a while and were highly unlikely  to be takers. I called it a day and made my way back to Lagduff Lodge where it was my turn to make the dinner. Maybe Friday will see a change in fortune for us.

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Fishing in Ireland, salmon fishing

No water on the Owenduff

The Owenduff. Just the name is enough to set the pulse of any salmon fisher racing. This lovely stream flows through some stunning scenery in North Mayo and I am  lucky enough to be fishing it for a few days this week. I’m staying at Lagduff lodge in the company of 3 other like minded souls and casting small flies for salmon and sea trout.

I drove up in the morning and met the rest of the guys as they were tackling up outside the fine old lodge. The news was not good however as the river was at extreme low summer level with no forecast of any rain to come. This was not unexpected but disappointing all the same as the river has fished well this season when there has been a spate. High pressure has settled over the country and any chance of rain looks to be remote. The river is down to its bare bones.

Undaunted by the challenges I set off to the top of the beat. The river is well managed and provided with bridges to cross the river.

I fished down from the top of the beat to the famous Rock Pool, covering some lovely water with the flies but there was no signs of fishy activity beyond a couple of yellowfin (junior sea trout). The low water levels meant the flow was weak and the flies had to be hand-lined back to impart some degree of life to them.

Julian (that’s him in the photo at the top of this post) saw a small fish move in the Rock Pool when he approached it first thing in the morning and covered the rise without any reaction. He had a lovely 3 pound Sea Trout last Saturday but the river was showing 6 inched on the gauge that day, now it was below the gauge completely.

I  fished on through the middle pools and then headed back tot he lodge for a bite to eat. Julian had beaten me back to the lodge and was catching up on some work beside the fire.

After a spot of lunch it was time to try some pools further downstream. My arthritic ankles precluded much in the way of exploring and I had to be satisfied with a short walk down the river casting into the likely looking spots where a salmon or sea trout could be sheltering. I was using my faithful old hardy rod – the one which I repaired the handle on earlier this year.

For flies the choice was tiny single hood offerings like the Black Pennel.

At the end of the day we all gathered back at the lodge, each with the same tales of no water and no fish. A hearty dinner and a few glasses of wine restored some degree of hope for the next day and we retired for a good night sleep. Tomorrow would be another day……………….

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