Fishing in Ireland, Uncategorized

alive and kicking

So today I finally made time to take a look at the sick Evinrude outboard which let me down so badly last weekend. When it failed to start on the lake I rowed ashore and whipped out the spark plugs, thinking the mixture may have been too rich and she had oiled the plugs. Both plugs were in perfect condition so I put them back into the head and called it day. By the time I had reached home there was a strong smell of petrol emanating from the boot meaning I had a fuel leak somewhere.

Today I wanted to be 100% sure the spark was strong so I tested both plugs again and they were sparking away good-oh. I turned my attention to the fuel system and checked the fuel line from the tank to the carburetor. Although it looks a bit dirty it was intact and the clips at both ends were tight. All linkages on the carb were in perfect working order and I was about to remove the whole unit when I noticed one of the two mounting bolts was slightly loose. Checking the 4 screws which hold the float bowl to the body of the carb I found one of these was also loose. These faults could lead to air leaks and thus make the engine hard to start or run unevenly. I tightened up the offending bolt and screw and gave the engine a test. She burst into life on the third pull and idled reasonably well. Here is a clip of her running (sorry about the wrong title)-

To be perfectly honest the slack bolt and screw may (or may not) be the cause of the problems with starting. Certainly they both should have been tight, so I have not done anything wrong by applying the spanner and driver to them. The fuel leak was not obvious to me so I can only presume the bolt and screw had slackened off in use and the petrol was trickling out at those places. Only another trial on the water will confirm if I have solved the problem. I had better head out fishing tomorrow I guess (sigh).

Now to other matters: I was in Ballina today and the river Moy was very busy with anglers on all beats. There were salmon and grilse showing in good numbers in the Ridge Pool.


The ridge pool being diligently covered by anglers today

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

Mixed fortunes on Lough Conn

The big southerly wind we were promised on the forecast didn’t really materialise after all. A steady force 5 brought mild, damp air up over Ireland and a good day for fishing. I had semi-packed the gear the night before so it was just some last minute additions that had to be slung into the VW before heading off for Pike Bay. Mayo was verdant and lush around me as I wound along the Lahardaun road with Conn on my right. The car park at Brown’s Bay was busy and lots of boats were already hard at it along the Massbrook shore.

Parked up close to the boat, I donned my gear in a heavy shower. This would be the pattern for the day, steady winds and occasional heavy showers. I trolled my way out of the bay and turned left into Castlehill, scanning the surface for any activity as I progressed deep into the shallow waters. No signs of life that I could see but some boats were covering drifts at the extreme edge of the bay close to the reeds beyond the mouth of the Addergoole river. I joined the queue but still can’t figure out why they were combing the water there – not a sign of fly or fish was to be seen! I gave it a couple of drifts then headed out of Castlehill and trolled down towards Massbrook. I saw my first mayfly of the day a few yards from the start of the Cornekillew shore, quickly followed by the first rise too. I pushed on down the shore a bit further before stowing the trolling rod and  setting up for a drift to take me back over the spot where I had seen the rise.

coming out of Castlehill bay

The wind was difficult as I was alone in the boat and with my weight at one end and just fresh air at the other she tended to dig in by the stern and slip sideways on the wind. I like to use this to my advantage when wet fly fishing on my own and ‘hang’ the bob fly for a long time as each cast fishes out. The wind forms a sag in the line as I am crossing it, giving the fish that extra few seconds to grab the flies. That tactic worked a treat today with browns nabbing a Green Peter on the the bob fly and hooking themselves in the scissors. A couple of smallish lads were quickly hussled to the boat before a better fish made a mistake and walloped the size 12 Connemara Black in the middle. I was thoroughly enjoying myself up until now, but then my good fortune deserted me.

a well proportioned brown

a bit thin but still a good trout

I had reached the end of the drift and wound in. Pulling the starter cord on the old Evenrude elicited only a cough and a splutter. I repeated the pull, the engine gave me a similar reply. Hmm, maybe she is cold and needs some choke? Nope, that didn’t work and by now I am well out in the deep water, a few hundred yards from shore. Maybe swearing at the inanimate object might help? Surprisingly, this had absolutely no effect what so ever! Nothing else for it, so I grabbed the oars and bent my back into turning the boat into the wind and rowing hard into the stiff breeze. Some fellow anglers from the midlands who had watched my antics came to congratulate me on my sterling efforts and to see if they could help in any way. I declined the offer as there were fish moving and those lads should be covering trout not ripping an engine apart. Being the owner of old engines I habitually carry spares and tools so I had the Evinrude’s spark plugs out in a jiffy (thinking that she had possibly oiled the plugs). The spark plugs looked good so I decided to call it a day and head back home. It was 2.30pm and I figured I was not going to lose much by that time of the day. Driving home I had time to think about the problem and a duff coil would seem to be the likely culprit today.

a few minutes after this photo was taken the old girl packed in

While it was a shame the day was cut short by mechanical failure I still enjoyed my time on the lough. Mayfly are still scarce but a few are fluttering around now. I will get the engine repaired during the week and be ready to hit the lough again next weekend.

even the Perch were taking the fly today

The lough is fishing well so if any of you are contemplating a wee trip to Conn the next couple of weeks should be good.


Late update: I hear the Castlebar Anglers club held a competition on Conn today. 18 anglers caught 7 trout between them.

dryfly, Fishing in Ireland, fly tying, trout fishing

Variation of a spinner pattern

Old age is a bugger, isn’t it. Advancing years bring some positives I will grant you; experience, appreciation of the good things in life and a calmness which is rare in the young. But weighed against these positives are some pretty hefty negatives, the chief one being (in my opinion) failing health. Now look, I’m not ready for the pine box just yet but as 60 looms large my body is starting to show definite signs of wear and tear. Joints are arthritic, energy levels are noticeably declining and my eyesight deteriorates and a near daily basis. I used to be blessed with excellent eyesight but now life revolves around the never-ending hunt for my glasses. I hate spectacles with a passion, they are never where you want them and the fiddle of putting them on to perform the smallest task irritates me enormously. Unfortunately I just can’t see without them so I am trapped in the thrall of these hideous contraptions.

the top pool

the neck of a pool where sighting your dry fly is a real challenge

Given my ocular limitations, spotting tiny flies on the water is a huge challenge for me. It is bad enough in good light, but as the shadows lengthen in the evening I struggle to see anything at all, let alone a size 16 spinner floating along in a streamy run. Glasses or no glasses, frustration grows as cast after cast is fished out with me blithely unaware of where the damn fly is. A remedy was called for so I spent some time at the vice this afternoon to tackle the problem of making my small dries more visible.

My particular issues were how to make spinners easier to see in low light. I was thinking of evenings on the Robe and the Keel canal where, by mid-May there should be falls of olive spinners. The brownies can rise in big numbers during these occasions so a good copy can be very effective and my normal design incorporates a couple of features which I think make them winners. Firstly they have wings tied fully spent made from pale grey floating yarn. I imagine this gives an instantly recognisable shape for the fish to key on to. The second feature is a fur body which allows any remaining light in the sky to shine through giving a ‘glow’ to fly. I am not a fan on ‘hard’ bodies on spinner patterns (quill, silks etc).

Micro fibbet tails, a body of dubbed rusty fur and a post of pink fibres for me to see gave me the look I was after. I tied up a couple with a chocolate cock hackle wound around the pink post but it didn’t seem to add anything to the fly so I didn’t bother with it on subsequent models.

These flies are fine for the streamy necks of pools but in the flat water and smooth tails I feel the need for something softer for presenting to trout who have time to be very choosy. I replace the synthetic yarn wings with CDC for challenging water.

Looking downstream

Challenging water on the Keel canal

Fishing in Ireland, salmon fishing, sea angling, shore fishing, trout fishing

No fishing again!

I was ill today so my plans to fish Lough Conn came to nothing. I’m hoping to feel better soon and to get out for a few hours fishing through the week (work permitting). Here is a very brief up date on the local angling gossip:

Low water here on the Clare river near Tuam

There are a few salmon and early grilse being caught at the Galway weir but not as many as you would think given the low water conditions. The Clare river is down to its bare bones.

Anglers fishing the fly on a shrunken river Corrib at the Galway Weir


All the rivers in the area are below summer level and fishing is out of the question on them all. Good pools on the Robe where I normally fish are now ankle deep. The tiny drop of rain we have had over this weekend has not made any difference at all. There is rain forecast for the south of the country overnight but it doesn’t look like we will see any up here.

Lough Conn remains quiet with no hatch of mayfly yet. I am hearing of only the very occasional trout being caught on the fly and no trace of salmon at all. The river Moy is producing a small number of salmon from the bottom of the river up as far as Foxford, but really it is very, very poor this year so far.

The Ridge pool on the Moy at Ballina. Low water suits this beat but the fish are in short supply so far

No mayfly hatch yet on Lough Carra but I heard that Kevin Beirne lost a huge brownie this weekend. Fishing with Pat McHale he hooked a leviathan, estimated to be 8 – 9 pounds in weight. Hard luck Kev!

Moorehall bay on Carra

Early mackerel are in Clew bay so the sea fishing will kick up a gear over the next few weeks.

Killery Harbour, July 09

Mackerel, like these caught on the fly from the shore, will begin to show up from now onwards

Not much to report there, but hopefully we will get some rain soon and the fish will appear.


Waiting for these guys to hatch!

Fishing in Ireland, salmon fishing, trolling

A day for sunbathing

Tried Lough Conn today but the conditions were hopeless. Flat calm and brilliant sunshine are the nadir to all Irish fishers and that was exactly what the weather Gods provided for us today. No signs of fly life beyond a solitary olive. No mayfly at all to be seen. A few very small trout rose in Pike bay and again off Massbrook but of the salmon there was no sign. Here are a few pics:

looking out across Conn from Pike Bay

A fellow fisher coming in after a fruitless session

Blue skies

With such terrible conditions we were forced to troll to have any chance of contacting a salmon. The sun burned and the wind remained resolutely meagre. Castlehill and Massbrook received our fondest attentions but to no avail.

Trolling rod out

An ancient Toby which got a swim today

A bit of dressing on the treble to give it some extra ‘bling’

We tried Toby spoons, Rapalas (9 and 5cm) and some other spoons from the bottom of the box but other than one suicidal 10 inch brownie we touched nothing all day.

The bottom

The bottom clearly seen in about 6 feet of water

A well earned mug of Cinnamon tea

With no fly life, very low water and settled weather forecast for the rest of this week I will hang up my waders until the rains come.