Fishing in Ireland

Winged PT

Here is a useful little fly that does not get the attention it deserves. I use it on the smaller loughs around here where it does well when the trout are taking midges.

Most of you will be very familiar with patterns such as the PT nymph or the hackled Pheasant Tail. These staples of the European fly fishing scene have been around for years and there can’t be many fly fishers for trout or grayling who don’t have a few tucked away in their box. By simply adding wings and playing around with the hackle and tails you can create a great fly for fishing wet during a midge hatch on still water.

 

I like to use red silk for making this fly and being a bit of a traditionalist I reach for a spool of crimson Pearsal gossomer , but can use whatever brand you prefer. Starting an the eye I catch in a small red game hackle. This can be cock or hen, depending on your preference. I normally use a small cock hackle. Proceed down the shank catching in a few fibres of grey or blue dun cock hackle to form the tails. A length of fine copper wire is also tied in as you run the silk down to the bend. Gold wire can be used instead if you prefer.

At the bend, catch in three fibres of cock pheasant tail which will be used for the body. Try to use some brightly coloured herl (there is some pretty awful stuff out there so keep a look out for better quality tail feathers). Now run the silk back up to where the hackle is tied in, trapping the end of the pheasant herl as you go.

Apply some varnish to the bed of silk to give the body a little extra strength. Then twist the herls into a rope and wind them in touching turns up to the hackle and tie them in with the silk. Remove the waste ends. Take the copper wire and wind it in the opposite spiral in open turns to form the ribbing. Now tie the wire in as well and remove the waste.

Wind the hackle which you previously tied in, Only a couple of turns are required as you want to keep this pattern light and delicate. Tie in and trim the waste end of the hackle in the usual manner.

Now for the wings, a pair of matching slips from starling secondary flight feathers. I know this is very old fashioned but trust me, this pattern works well with these wings on it. Don’t make the wings to broad, keep them narrow and light. All that remains is to trim the waste and whip finish a neat head before varnishing.

I prefer to fish this fly on the dropper of a wet fly cast and it does great work early in the season. It has also produced the goods for me on summer evenings. Some of you may be muttering that this is all a waste of time and that buzzer fishing will be more effective during a midge hatch. In calm conditions I would agree but here in the west of Ireland we often fish on days when the wind is a blowing hard and buzzer fishing in a wave is not much fun. Then a team of small wets come into their own and this wee fly can be a useful addition to the cast.

 

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Fishing in Ireland

IFI

An interesting piece in the local rag (the Mayo Advertiser) by Cllr Michael Burke who sits on Mayo County Council. In a half page piece he discusses the huge changes in the structure of the old IFT which has over the years become Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI). He rightly points out that angling tourism which is so vital to the local economy is down and the poor catches of recent years is a major contributing factor. He goes on to point out that a lot of the important work such as maintaining the spawning beds does not appear to be happening as they used to. He says that IFI staff numbers are now down to ‘about 300’.

I can’t disagree with anything in Michael’s article but I would add some additional reasons for the slump in catches. The whole ecology of the western lakes has radically altered over the past 30 years and invasive species are now thriving at the expense of our native trout and salmon. There is no control of the huge shoals of roach and increasingly bream in our lakes. Just imagine the biomass consumed by there fish which would have otherwise fed trout and young salmon.

Mink are present in large numbers across the country and these creatures do immense damage, not just to fisheries but all forms of wildlife. Virtually no controls are in place bar the odd trap here and there.

Agricultural run off is a problem nobody wants to talk about for fear of upsetting the farmers (read voters). Intensive cattle production in a huge local employer so the slurry produced and then sprayed on the land is not going to tackled by government.

The number of dwellings on or near the banks of lakes and tributaries has exploded and these feed phosphates into watercourses, further upsetting the balance of nutrients.

I love fishing the peaceful lakes and rivers here in Ireland but the days of good catches and pristine waterways is long gone. I applaud Michael Burke’s piece in the local paper but it is actions we need if there is going to be any sort of an improvement in angling here in Ireland.

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32, Fishing in Ireland, sea angling, shore fishing

32 – Part 1. Where to start

Having decided that I will tackle trying to catch a fish in each of Ireland’s 32 counties I now need to sit down a begin planning the whole thing. This is going to be a large part of the fun, just researching various places to fish a figuring out what I need to use, how to get there etc. The good old internet is a wonderful tool for searching out potential fishing spots There may not be a huge amount of detail on most websites but there is often enough to whet the appetite and encourage some deeper inspection via phone calls or emails. Perhaps in pre-internet days it was more fun just turning up somewhere and hoping the fishing was going to be vaguely like what you expected. Nowadays we can be much better prepared and forearmed by a few quick taps on the keyboard.

I started by listing all 32 counties so I could get a feel for where my travels are going to take me. I was a bit taken aback my my near complete lack of knowledge of so many of them! I honestly thought I knew more about Ireland than it appears I do. Here is how I summed each county up in one line:

County Province short description
Antrim Northern Ireland (Ulster) Far north, rocky coastline. Looks out on Scotland
Armagh Northern Ireland (Ulster) virtually landlocked
Carlow Leinster Small, landlocked
Cavan Ulster Hundreds of lakes, pike fishing paradise
Clare Munster Long coastline, Cliffs of Moher
Cork Munster Huge, famous for the sea angling
Derry Northern Ireland (Ulster) Unknown to me
Donegal Ulster Rugged
Down Northern Ireland (Ulster) Belfast, Mountains of Mourne
Dublin Leinster City, industrial, canals
Fermanagh Northern Ireland (Ulster) Rural, lots of lakes
Galway Connaught The Corrib, shallow coastal waters
Kerry Munster Sea angling
Kildare Leinster Landlocked, commuter towns
Kilkenny Leinster Known for its hurling not its fishing
Laois Leinster No coast, not much fishing as far as I know
Leitrim Connaught Coarse fishing around Carrick upon Shannon
Limerick Munster The Shannon
Longford Leinster Heart of the midlands, lots of coarse fishing
Louth Leinster Border county, river Fane
Mayo Connaught Western lakes, river Moy
Meath Leinster The grand canal
Monghan Ulster Rural, also lots of lakes
Offaly Leinster Central location, no salmon
Roscommon Connaught Mainly coarse fishing
Sligo Connaught Lough Arrow
Tipperary Munster Lough Derg
Tyrone Northern Ireland (Ulster) Lough Neagh
Waterford Munster Munster Blackwater
Westmeath Leinster Sheelin
Wexford Leinster Bass
Wicklow Leinster Mountains

Suddenly, the enormity of my task is laid out before me. Gaps in my understanding the size of the grand canyon have opened up before my eyes and completion of the 32 seems unattainable. Where do I even begin. My embarrassingly skimpy knowledge of some (most) parts of the island needed to be addressed if I was going to achieve my goal. I couldn’t set off for the far flung corners of the Ireland without some better understanding of the different places I hoped to visit. I have now given myself a target to read up about each county before I visit it.

West Cork landscape, i save this for later in the year

Getting the first one under my belt is going to be tough. March is usually the beginning of my angling year but it would be nice to have bagged one or two counties before then to set the ball rolling. Some possibilities include trying for whiting and coalfish from Glassilleun beach in Co. Galway or maybe a pike from one of the lakes in Leitrim or Monaghan. There used to be great bass fishing in Kerry in January but I think that fishery has all but collapsed these days, so the huge journey there and back would be a very risky objective.

I’ve never fished Glassilleun beach despite its close proximity to the mark on Little Killery which I fish regularly. That’s because the beach itself is a very popular spot for tourists, walkers and others during the summer. The small car park is normally thronged and romantic couples, boisterous dogs while Japanese tourists roam the golden crescent of sand in all weathers. I don’t blame them, it is a lovely spot with grand views out to sea. Night time during the winter is the time to fish here, in biting winds with a sea running. Then the whiting come close to the shore looking for food which has been loosened from the sand. Importantly, it also the best time to avoid the holidaymakers and dog walkers.

Glassilleun beach, Co. Galway

So unless a better idea pops into my head I am planning on targeting Glassilleun beach in January next year to kick off the 32 project. In between now and then I’ll keep my ear to the ground in case I hear of anywhere else that happens to be fishing well.

 

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