Fishing in Ireland, fly tying, salmon fishing

Some flies for Lough fishing

I spent a few minutes at the vice this evening to tie some size 8’s for lough fishing. Not that was any great need to tie even more flies, I just wanted to enjoy making some old favourites. I know that I cart around an ridiculous amount of patterns but it is simply the price us fly tyers pay for enjoying both the fishing and the making of the lures. Most of them will sadly never even be tied on to the line, let alone catch a fish, but the sheer enjoyment of sitting at the bench and creating a fly from a bare hook and some feathers is just too much to ignore.

Tonight I kicked off with some Connemara Blacks tied for salmon. What’s the difference? Well, I like to add a bit of colour under the tail so I make a tag from two turns of Opal tinsel and then wind on some Glo.brite no. 5 floss. I rib the black body with flat silver tinsel to give it some extra flash too. I also make an underwing from a bunch of GP tippet fibres. This adds strength and a bit more colour when the fly is wet.

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Connemara Black

Next up was a few of my own version of the Raymond. With this one I add a small tag of Glo-brite no.4 but keep the usual body of golden olive fur and double body hackles of red and golden olive. The normal wing of paired hen pheasant secondarys are followed by a long fibred guinea fowl hackle.

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Raymond

I made up some small Green Peters too. Much more delicately dressed, these were busked on a size 12 hook. I can’t say there is too much different about this fly except that it is very lightly dressed by Irish standards. 3 or 4 turns of body hackle are all that is required.

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A lightly dressed Green Peter

Finally, I wanted some heavy Green Peters for the tail of the cast when lough fishing for salmon so I made this next pattern up on those lovely Loop heavyweight doubles. I used a size 10 and made the wing from the ‘bad’ side of a bucktail dyed green.

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Heavy Green Peter

So that was it for the evening, more flies to confuse me and the fish!

 

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Fishing in Ireland, salmon fishing, trout fishing

Angling update

A wee update for you on the fishing in these parts.

Beltra -the odd spring salmon being caught but to be honest the lough needs a good shot of water in it now to encourage a run of salmon.

River Moy – a trickle of fish seem to be entering the system now and catches, while still low, are beginning to pick up. East Mayo Anglers water is producing an occasional fish including a 10 pounder on the fly last week.

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The Moy in Ballina

Lough Mask – continues to fish well. All the normal spots are seeing some action but a lot of very thin trout showing up

Lough Conn – It is still very quiet on Conn but the angling pressure has been virtually nil so there could be more chances for sport than people realise. Should be worth a cast from now on.

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Trolling for salmon on Lough Conn

Lough Cullin – good buzzer hatches and the first olives now hatching.

Carrowmore Lake – Fishing very well when conditions allow. Ben Baynes took a 4 pounder there last week and followed up with a 9 pounder which he released on Lough Beltra on the same day!

In summary, the cold weather and East wind have not been doing us any favours this month so far, but if we get a spell of wet and mild weather things will liven up and the fishing will be good here in Mayo. Carrowmore is the hotspot right now!

 

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Fishing in Ireland, Nymphs

Dragons and pole dancers

Friday night’s revelries led to a very tired Colin this morning which was not good as Ben and I had an arrangement to launch another boat on Lough Conn. Scrambling out of bed and into some fishing clothes, I noted the blue sky and stiff breeze moving the trees in the garden, scattering the last of the cherry blossom. The forecast of a cold and windy day looked about right. I looked out the 11 foot fly rod and prayed my wrist would stand up to a day casting with the brute.

We set off around the planned time and chatted about the fishing as we drove up to Pike Bay.  It’s a handy spot, nice and sheltered with good access to the whole lough and the added bonus of a couple of good lies near at hand. Launching went smoothly and we were soon out on the water in a wind which was much more Easterly that the forecast Northerly.

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Safely launched

We adjusted plans accordingly and fished the lies in and around Pike Bay itself, but nothing fishy showed any interest in our flies. So we switched to trolling and dragged spoons and Rapalas all the way down to Massbrook. Once again, no stir from the fish.

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The Peter Ross Bumble in the middle of the cast

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My Green and Claret Dabbler was given a swim today too

With a more favourable wind behind us we drifted the lies on the Massbrook shore. No hatch of flies today which was a disappointment for the third week in April. Lake Olives are usually appearing in reasonable numbers by now but today must have been too cold for them. We trolled for a while again, retracing our passage back up to Pike Bay and then beyond into Castlehill. Enthusiasm was waning fast in the face of an apparently empty lake so we pulled into the shore for nourishment and a stretch of the legs and to take some photos.

As is my want, I prowled the edge of the water, flipping rocks to see what lived there. In amongst the usual louse and shrimps I came across  the imposing shape of a Dragonfly Larvae. Brian Clarke referred to these beasts as ‘the Ghengis Khan of the lake’ as they eat anything smaller than themselves.

Tea break over, we decided that enough was enough, so one last drift at the pole outside of Pike Bay would provide a final chance for today. The wind took us just to the inside of the pin which marks a shallow some 50 yards from the shore.

Ben’s deft oar strokes kept us just clear of the marker and my cast, like hundreds before landed 15 yards in front of the boat. Half way back to me a solid tug and a flash under the surface woke me up somewhat abruptly. A Springer!

He wasn’t big but he certainly was lively. An initial short, boring run culminated in a spectacular jump before he charged off towards open water. Next, he came up to the top and danced across the surface in a kind of rolling tailwalk. The next 10 minutes saw him circle the boat 4 or 5 times and kept me guessing right up to the end. Ben netted him on the second pass as the fish tired. A new fish, not sea-liced but a bar of silver never-the-less. Around the 7 pound mark he had taken the Green Peter fished on the bob. Time only for one quick photo before he was slipped back into the water.

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Hook on the outside of the salmon’s mouth

We squeezed in one more drift before packing up but the lone springer was the only action we saw all day. No matter, at least we met a fish and breathed some good, fresh air. That boat will get good use over the next few weeks!

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The fly that did the damage

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

How to fix a sticking net

A quick wee post that might be of some use to you……………

Ben’s extending salmon net was stuck fast, no amount of pulling would free it so I volunteered to try and fix it for him. I was confident I could do it as I have done the same before with my own nets over the years.

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The sliding collar

I took the net home and used clamps to move the collar up to the end of the shank. The expansion bolt was unscrewed and kept safe before forcing the frame off the shank. As suspected, the soft insert in the collar had deformed and was in need of re-profiling with a fine file. The temptation is always to take off too much so care is required and some restraint with the file. just smooth off any ridges and try to get back to the square shape. Offer up the frame to the shank again – it should just go on but still be tight. Now for the magic.

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The man on the black horse

Apply a very light coating of olive oil to the shank.I never use any other oil release agents like WD-40. And don’t try to put on too much oil, it will only cover anything it comes in contact with and attarct dirt.

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The insert after it was filed

Put it all back together and you are done. To maintain smooth operation simply apply a fine coat of olive oil once or twice a year or when there is the first sign of sticking.

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Fishing in Ireland

Underground river

Not really fishing I suppose, but this short post is about the underground rivers which lie under our feet here in the west of Ireland. This afternoon Helen and I took a walk through the woods in Cong and had a peek down the Pidgeon Hole. This near vertical hole leads down to an underground river. It dries up in the summer but at this time of year there is a steady flow of water. The whole area around Lough Mask and the north of Lough Corrib is a honeycomb of limestone and water flows freely through the maze of rivers, unseen from above. Indeed, all the water in Lough Mask empties out of the lake via sink holes dotted along the edge of the water.

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Helen descending into the hole

The porous nature of the limestone has an effect on the fishing as the land acts like a giant sponge, holding huge volumes of water in these underground vaults, water which releases slowly and maintaining river levels over a long period of time.

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Looking up from the bottom of the hole

The drop in temperature can be felt as you edge lower into the hole. The clamy, damp feeling increases too as the daylight becomes just a circle high above. On the bottom there is a flat area with the river running in front of you, dark and mysterious.

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The river as it disappears once more into the rocks

I don’t think I fancy being down there in the dark. As it was we just took a few photos and then headed back up the steps once more.

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Steady flow of water in the river

There are hundreds, maybe thousands of small underground waterways in this area. After periods of heavy rain you can see water bubbling up in fields and woods where the underground rivers are filled and the excess water finds its way to the surface through every crack.

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We regained the surface and finished our loop walk in the woods. Over the stone bridge by the monk’s fishing hut on the Cong River and back to the car, ready for a nice cuppa. I can heartily recommend the village of Cong to any visitors, there is so much to do and see in and around the village. It tends to get busy in the summer months but the woods are great at any time of the year.

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Fishing in Ireland, trolling

Cold day on Cullin

It looked for all the world like one of those days in mid-winter when the sky fills with menacing clouds and snow falls thickly, snarling up traffic and turning the pavements into streams. That was Saturday and the cold snap continued into Sunday.

Between the snow showers three of us flipped my boat over and loaded it on to a trailer, ready for Sunday morning’s journey to Lough Cullin. An inch of ice in the boat greeted me the next day and it had to be hacked off before we hit the road. The snow had retreated to the hill tops but the bitter wind remained to test our resolve. Rods and gear had been brought along but with such coldness we remained undecided to last minute if we would venture out. Cullin looked blankly uninviting, the wind blustered and blew out of the freezing east and even the strenuous effort of launching the boat failed to generate any heat in the pair of us. The moment for decision came once the boat was safely in the water and we managed to convince ourselves there was a chance of a fish. So the outboard spluttered into life and we motored off to the favourite spot to troll for a while.

A small but steady hatch of buzzers came off the lake all the time we were afloat but not a single fish rose. I didn’t blame them. We were threading our way between the pins when my rod buckled and the reel woke me from what I considered to be the early stages of hypothermia. A ten yard dash and then………….nothing. Just a heavy weight and the odd head shake. Pike. A stone of teeth and slime came to the boat, hooked conveniently in the corner of the mouth.

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Ben boated another Essox around the 7 pound mark before we stopped for a bite to eat on the shore near Pontoon Bridge. As usual, the prawning brigade were hard at it but enquiries showed they were fishless like us.

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Pulled in near the bridge

We changed baits, switching to plugs instead of spoons but all to no avail. The cold and rising wind made it unpleasant to be out in so we decided to call it a day around 2pm. Hardly an exciting day’s sport but the boat is now in place for when the fishing does eventually pick up.

 

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Fishing in Ireland, trout fishing, wetfly

A few hours on the Robe

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Spring has sprung at last

I was late. The morning just seemed to slip away and it had gone noon before I set off for the Robe. With no wind, overcast skies and the temperature hovering around a pleasant 11 degrees conditions seemed to be favourable. I had decided to try the river at Castlemaggaret, close to Claremorris. The river here flows through pasture and was developed by the fisheries board a number of years ago, providing styles and creating some lovely pools and runs. Since then, little work has been done to keep the river in good order and access in some places is a bit difficult nowadays.

The car parked, I tramped off along the riverbank and after a half mile tackled up at a favourite run. The usual lies failed to produce any fish but right at the tail of the pool a small trout grabbed the stonefly imitation on the dropper. A small fish, he was safely returned and swam off strongly. Another trout splashed at the flies on the next cast but that was all the action and I moved on upstream to the next pool.

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The first of the day, only a small lad

Soon I was catching fish every few casts but they were on the small side, averaging only 8 or 9 inches. Everything was coming to the Partridge and Orange Spider with the other two flies on the leader contributing nothing. I stopped and changed the bob fly, tying on a Partridge and Yellow. Three casts later and a slightly better trout took the newly wet bob fly, this one being near the 12 ounce mark.

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One of the small trout had a deformed mandible:

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A deformed mouth on this trout

Very few flies were hatching and the occasional olive was not enough to tempt the trout to start rising and instead they were feeding deep today.

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The run where most of the action took place today

I was beginning to think today was only going to provide small fish when a strong take announced something a bit better had arrived. A good scrap ensued before I landed the best fish of the day, just a little below a pound in weight.

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The best fish

I decided to try a pool further upstream and ploughed through a waterlogged field and over some fences to get to it. Unfortunately it only yielded one small trout after all that effort.

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Hooked on the outside of the mouth, another one for the P&O

Retracing my steps I gave the best pool one more run through and I managed to land another small brownie, making a total of nine for the day. None of them would break any records but it was grand being out in the fine weather again. The lack of fly life was disappointing and we maybe just need to wait another week for the river to burst into life.

 

 

 

 

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