2022

A strange year in many ways, 2022 will not go down in the annals as one of my finest when it comes to angling. I strongly suspect it may have been the same for many of you judging by the feedback I get to this blog.

For the first season in many, many years I did not land a salmon but in mitigation I only fished for them once. A marginal day on Carrowmore when most of the lake was badly churned was the sum total of my efforts for the silver lads. My heart was just not in it due to the tiny numbers of fish around. Friends who fished hard for them landed a few but in general the picture was bleak around these parts. The dry summer didn’t help of course but even when there was a little bit of rain the grilse were scarce. Maybe they will appear in good numbers next season but I for one am not holding my breath. I gave away or sold most of my salmon flies, keeping a couple of boxes in case there is a big change in fortune.

The big problem for 2023 will be how many systems are even going to be allowed to open? Catches across the west were so low the fisheries board will probably decided to ban angling on many of them in an effort to allow stocks the chance to increase. I struggle to see how reducing angling effort will improve fish numbers, surely 100% catch and release would be a better option?

Trout angling varied a lot last season with some very good days mingled in with poor enough fishing on all the loughs around here. Carra was very bad again of course but a few good trout were landed by locals who persevered. Mask was probably the pick of the bunch but again, the good fishing tended to be quite localised so in intimate knowledge of the water and a willingness to keep moving until you found fish paid off. Conn had a reasonable mayfly but was very poor after that while Cullin was surprisingly good.

My coarse fishing was equally disjointed. Some good days scattered among lots of middling sessions. I’m still learning and know my abilities are limited but it would be nice to be a bit more consistent. The coarse fishing was a large element of me completing my ’32’ journeys around the country in 2022, a full two years after I started out. I miss those trips badly and am now considering options for something along the same lines. We all need fresh challenges, don’t we?

My own circumstances changed so much over the year that it was not possible to settle into any sort of plan. A health scare caused all sorts of problems during the summer and, as is so often the case, brought some harsh realities sharply into focus. While my well-being is now less of an issue the ramifications are still being felt. A job in the midlands meant no time for fishing since September, a sad state of affairs which can’t go on much longer. Like so many of you, my life feels out of balance these days, being buffeted by events which are hard to control or even adapt to.

My return to the fly tying vice during ’22 has been a bit of a revelation for me of late. For many years I have tied flies in almost mechanical fashion, topping up boxes when I had too rather than tying just for the sake of of it. Working away form home changed all that though, in a most unexpected way. Initial ‘topping up’ morphed into taking a long, critical look at how and why I make flies and a realisation that I was actually bursting with ideas that needed to be tried out. Evenings in my digs after work are usually spent tying and the level of enjoyment I am getting from this rediscovered desire is enthralling. The balance of the winter nights will see me churning out more and more flies, not that I need any more but just out of the sheer pleasure of making them.

So here we are, the last day of an odd and unsettling year. War in Europe, still active pandemics, the collapse of UK, rampant inflation, global warming and extreme weather – the list of woes goes on and on. The dismal month of January is knocking at the door once again, a cold and cheerless time of the year. Yet spring with her warmth and hope is not so very far over the horizon. We can all battle through the remainder of this winter and use the time to get ready for a new season. It is easy to fall into mental lethargy these days but I am looking forward to time on the water next year. Long days drifting the big loughs will be few and far between by the look of it but I will be able to snatch short sessions here and there. I’m already making plans for a at least one trip back to visit Scotland and this time will be taking some rods with me.

Some of you have been asking about the upcoming book. It is currently in the production process and should be on the shelf of your local book shop by the middle of 2023. It turns out that writing a book is only the beginning of job!

Wishing you all a Happy and peaceful new year and tight lines to all my fellow anglers.

9 thoughts on “2022

  1. Good to read your thoughts today, the last day of 2022 Colin. I concur with your impression of 2022 as an angling year. The old certainties are fading away as we enter a period of instability and change. We can only hope for better times ahead.
    I would like a copy of your book on the 32 county fishing challenge, please keep us posted when it’s available.
    I wish you all the best for 2023 and look forward to reading more about your thoughts and adventures soon. Take care

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    1. Hi Richard, maybe every generation has feelings like we are experiencing now. Change is the only constant after all but now it feels like you can nothing for granted. Best wishes to you for the coming year. Colin

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    2. Best wishes for a happy and bountiful New Year. Enjoy your writing immensely as it echoes some of my own situations. At this point in my life I mainly tie for the joy of artistic expression, new challenges in patterns, and relaxation. Tight lines!

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      1. And a very Happy New Year to you too! There must be some sort of reaction to getting older which sees us gain the maximum enjoyment from the smallest of tasks. All the best, Colin

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  2. Happy new year to you Colin. Looking forward to catching up with you in the new year. Very keen to see some of your new flies.

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  3. Happy New Year Colin and thank you for the blog, I always look forward to it!
    In terms of salmon this year, I felt the spring run wasn’t the worst and there were certainly fish to be got when we had the conditions on the waters in the NW which I fished.
    The grilse run was poor though and my local river in Sligo had very tiny grilse. They averaged 2-3lb and I even caught one that couldn’t have been more the 1.25lb – not good! Whatever is going on at sea? Who knows?
    Let’s hope for some improvements in 23.
    Keep up the good work for all of us fishing addicts
    All the best
    David

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    1. Happy New Year David and thanks for your kind words. I suspect there has been a steady decrease in the size of grilse over the past few seasons. That 1.25 lb fish of yours is now a common size down here on the Moy. A decade ago we never saw grilse that small! Over fishing of sandeels perhaps? Or maybe it is cyclical and the size of fish will return to nice fat 5 and 6 pounders in the future. Who can tell. Anyway, have a great New Year and lets hope we all catch a few good ones in 2023. Colin

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  4. Happy New Year to you and everyone here! It’s all relative of course but I had a reasonable season by my own modest standards I guess. I have taken comfort in immersing myself in many of the activities around my fishing like tackle collecting and tinkering, improving my tying, helping run my local club, learning about the boat and last but not least reading about fishing (here Claretbumbler has been a mainstay of this – so thank you.) I intend to continue in the same manner this year. All things angling has been very much my escape from a world that has mainly been too depressing to dwell on. As such I try to remain positive about the future of fishing and the ever decreasing chance we have to prolong and even improve the wild fish population. Anything else is unthinkable in my world! Here’s to a positive and productive 2023. Best wishes and tight lines!

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  5. Happy New Year! Thanks for the injection of positivity (I tend to be too pessimistic). Like you, all the activities which are linked to my fishing take up more of my time than actually angling itself. That is something to be celebrated and enjoyed I guess. There is a real sense of belonging as an angler, of being part of something big yet you remain an individual. Defending the natural world feels like an impossible task but as anglers we find ourselves on the front line every day. Tight lines for the upcoming season.

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