It has been a very hard few days, a lot of ‘stuff’ has been going on, things which have drained me to the point of exhaustion. I needed some time to myself so I made the effort to take my old boat out for a couple of hours on lough Conn.
Heavy rain over the past few days has pushed water levels up and the lake was a good six inches higher than last weekend when I arrived. Where the boat had previously been firmly grounded was now under water and she was riding the wavelets amid the rushes, half filled with rainwater. Out came my trusty old bucket and in a few minutes she was reasonably dry and I could start to load her up. Fat raindrops fell as I set up a pair of trolling rods and an eleven foot fly rod then headed out into the bay under low skies filled with clouds.
Two baits flickered 30 yards behind me as I fished over to Fir Tree Point then circled across the mouth of Castlehill and down past the pin as I drove south into a steady if unspectacular wind. All was quiet. My plan had been to troll down Victoria and the Massbrooke shore but conditions looked good for the fly so, winding in the baits I motored down the lake to save time. Passing two trollers (who were blank) I rounded the point a few minutes before midday.
The wind had picked up as I was travelling and a fine wave looked to be ideal for some action with the fly rod. The only issue was the wind was blowing slightly on to the shore at Mary Robinson’s. Funny how we still refer to this part of the lake by that name. It used to be Ferranti’s until they sold it to Mary Robinson. We have not got around to renaming it since the ex-president has sold up. Drifting meant frequent pulls on the oar to prevent being driven on to the rocks so with the rod in my right hand and an oar in the left I fished on down to Massbrooke Point.
Flurries of olives and the odd greendrake kept the birds busy but the trout were more circumspect. Cast after cast shot out but there were no takers. I decided to change the leader as grilse were a possibility in these conditions. On went some eight pound nylon and three new flies, a Pearly Bibio on the tail, a Silver Invicta Bumble in the middle and a Claret Hopper on the bob. Back to the start of the drift I went.
A small trout showed in front of me almost as soon as I got going again so I covered it and got a splashy rise for my troubles but there was no contact. Further down the drift the line tightened and I was into a nice trout which fought doggedly before coming to the net. I took some snaps then let the fish back. Past the pin I rose another fish but once again there was no contact. This seems to be a feature of recent weeks on Conn, plenty of trout moving to the flies but few actual takers. Coming up to the reeds on Massbrooke point I rose another trout and saw a couple more rise.
To cut a long story mercifully short, I did three more drifts and rose fish on each of them but only boated one small lad which also took the Claret Hopper. By now I was late but I stowed away the fly rod and trolled all the way back to Pike Bay. No offers were forthcoming as the old girl slid northwards, steady as always on the steel-grey waves. Just after 2pm I closed the padlock on the oars and checked all was secure before driving off down the pot-holed boreen.
So ended a fairly typical session for me. I don’t tend to write about this kind of trip because it would be very tedious reading for you guys. A couple of hours snatched here or there makes up the majority of my angling. I had thought I would be trolling but my heart just was not in it and the fly rod was much more fun in the good conditions. Last season was all about my coarse fishing but I am reverting to type more in 2022, just enjoying bobbing about in a wee boat and waving a fly rod around.
The dressing for the successful hopper is as follows:
Hook: anything form a size 14 up to a 10, depending on conditions. The one I was using today was dressed on size 12 long shank
Body: claret fur
Rib: Oval gold tinsel
Legs: 6 or 8 knotted pheasant tail fibres, dyed claret
Wing: natural deer hair, tied quite short
Hackle: tied in front of the wing, back cock, short fibred.