It had to happen sometime and yesterday it finally did – it rained! The heavens opened and it fairly lashed down for the whole afternoon, soaking unwary tourists and flushing the drains and culverts clear of weeks of debris. It remained warm and muggy and the rain kept falling – to the dismay of almost the entire local population apart from us anglers.
I’m caught in a trap………………
The thing is, I am working on shifts right now. Worse, I am working on the evening shift meaning any salmon fishing is going to be confined to early morning jaunts with one eye always on the clock so I can head off in good time for work. It feels like I’m trapped, that my freedom to pick and choose when to fish has been taken away from me. I dislike that feeling intensely, for me the art of picking exactly the right time to be on the water is crucial to trout and salmon fishing. I am ham-strung by my working hours!
I can’t walk out…………
The rain duly produced the required rise in river levels and overnight the Bunowen at Louisburg went from a scant trickle between the stones to a raging flood the colour of oxtail soup. By 6am I was there on the bank, tackled up and ready for action. A few short casts in case a fish was lying close to the bank and then in to the water I waded. the river rushed and gurgled. full of life and vitality after so long being being little more than a rivulet amid the bushes. But the was a problem – I could not walk out any further.
Because I love you too much baby……………
I have loved my faithful neoprene waders since I got them a few seasons ago. They seemed to shrug off wear and the usual attendant holes. That was until today; today the water snuck in where a welded seam had split, soaking parts of my anatomy which are best never exposed to such rapid and unwelcome liquid immersion. I can tell you that backed out of the river a lot quicker than I had entered it.
Oh why can’t you see…………….
Safely back on terra firma, I re-evaluated my situation. The run I had elected to fish required deep wading as the banks were an impossible tangle of man-high vegetation interspersed with hidden drains and gullies. I could put up with fishing off this bank if only I could see the drains but past experience had taught me not to attempt it. But you can’t see what lies under your feet and it is very hard going at the best of times. Now, with the water lapping the edge of the bank it would be easy to step into a drain and do some serios damage.
What you’re doing to me…………………
Soaked and discommoded, I decided to give up on that pool and head over to the other side of the river. normally a wade of a few minutes, I now had to return to the car and drive to the other side via the town. Down the familiar twisty boreens to that grassy spot where my car has safely nestled so many times. The click of the central locking and a final tug on the door handle to convince myself it was secure then off down the narrow lane towards my next intended fishing spot. It was about then that the chaffing started. Encased in waterlogged neoprene the forces of friction against Scottish wedding tackle became decidedly uncomfortable. Adopting a gait not dissimilar to the great John Wayne, I gingerly negotiated the stiles and electric fences which barred my way.
When you don’t believe a word I say?
That jarring squawk was my phone ringing just as I reached the bank. ‘Yes, I am on the river’. ‘No, I have not seen a fish yet’. ‘Yep, the river is in flood, great conditions here’. ‘I know I should have got one by now but you see……’ He hung up, disgusted by my lack of success which, judging by his tone was entirely due to my lack of effort. I thought fishing was supposed to be a pleasant pastime, a balm to ease the troubled soul. Yet here I was enduring some sort of open air medieval torture.
There is a fine high water lie which has given me a number of fish over the years. It is one of the very few which requires a long cast on this small river but thick gorse bushes mean a downstream cast is all you can do. I punched out about 25 yards of slow sinker and waited for the familiar tug. Nothing happened. Many, many more casts flew out over the shimmering water, each accompanied by hope and belief. All my efforts were thwarted though. It seemed mr. salmon was not at home today.
We can’t go on together…………..
I went as far down as the wee pool by the crossing and fished it assiduously but fruitlessly.The fly swung temptingly in the current but the salmon paid it no heed. I on the other hand was firmly clenching my teeth as cold H2O again found a way into my rapidly disintegrating boots. I couldn’t go on like this any more.
With suspicious minds………
Franks! I suspected that Franks tackle shop in Castlebar would hold the solution to my leaky problem. In fact, he probably has a pair hanging up outside on display. I admitted defeat and trudged off back to the lane, hopping a couple of gates on the way.
So, if an old friend I know………………….
I pulled up in Louisburg to get some necessities of modern life from the convenience store on the main street. The Staunton lady behind the counter asked how the fishing was and we chatted about the weather as you do. I was across the road and heading back to the car when I spotted a fellow fisher, John McDonagh, on the other side of the street. Doubling back I waved and caught his eye. Shaking hands we joked about how long it had been since he had set eyes on me. ‘I knew well you would turn up now the river has risen!’ he said. Stories of lost fish sprinkled with laughs kept us nattering for a while before I said my goodbyes and trotted back to the motor. Castlebar and some new footware beckoned!
Here is the king singing a song. What is it called again?