About me

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That’s me in the photo, motoring along on Lough Mask. Looking at the photo you can see that my boat could use a lick of varnish, but there is no mad panic about that yet. Those waders look a bit dodgy too, but nothing a few patches won’t sort out. That cap on my head has seen many, many season too. Of much more importance is the nice ripple on the lough, just grand for the wet fly. From this you will have gathered that I am not a tackle tart who invests huge sums in the latest hi-tech angling equipment. I try to maintain my gear so it lasts as long as possible and view the tackle industry through a jaundiced eye – it looks like a marketing managers dream and we anglers are the suckers who rush to buy the latest new-fangled gadgets!

Achill

I live in Co. Mayo and this blog is where I write down my thoughts, ideas and experiences of the angling in these parts. Fishing in Ireland is much more than just going out with a rod and catching a few fish. The challenges are great and the results sometimes leave a lot to be desired but the ‘craik’ is a huge part of the the whole angling scene. In modern Irish culture ‘the craik’ is good enough reason to do just about anything and fishing is an extension of that devil-may-care attitude to life which goes a long way to defining the Irish. A days fishing is often rounded off with a pint of porter in one of the local pubs and the details of the day discussed in great detail by all present.

Now a confession – I am not Irish. I am in fact ‘a blow in’, born a raised in Aberdeen, Scotland. The locals put up with me because I have been hanging around this neck of the woods for many years now. My fishing apprenticeship was on the rivers Dee, Don and Ythan in Aberdeenshire in the company of some excellent fishermen, many of whom are sadly no longer with us. In those far off days salmon and sea trout were present in good numbers and big baskets were not uncommon. I vividly recall my mother groaning ‘not another salmon!’ as I came through the front door with a fresh springer. Those days are in the past now and fish here in the west of Ireland are scare. Spring salmon are now rare and the huge runs of summer grilse are but a memory. The ecology of the the great western lakes has altered and the massive hatches of flies and accompanying rise of trout are also a thing of the past. I fish hard for meagre returns, as do those expert anglers I am lucky enough to fish with. Despite all these problems I still get out as much as I can and enjoy the Irish countryside.

Mugiemoss sports and social club angling section circa 1978

In addition to the actual angling I also tie a few flies so look out for patterns and tales of the ones which worked and the ones which didn’t (many more of the latter than the former I am afraid). I tend towards tying old reliables or my variations of them and like using natural materials instead of synthetics, but that is just my choice.

sharing some flies with Pat

sharing some flies with Pat

I fish with a small number of friends or simply wander off on my own with rod and line. At my age (the wrong side of 60) and physical limitations (plagued with arthritis in my feet and ankles) I have to leave the more adventurous fishing venues to the younger lads and I dearly miss scrambling down to distant rock marks or deep wading fast rivers. For me, a day on the lough in a boat or messing around on a spate river chasing grilse is about my stretch.

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I fish all over Mayo and rather than specialising in any one method or concentrating on one target species I cast a line for anything. You will see fly fishing, trolling and beachcasting all cropping up here, with a sprinkling of boat fishing in the sea, depending on the time of year and my general inclination at the time. Oh, and I have taken up coarse fishing too.

I will post as and when I have something which I think may be of interest to others, which is basically my way of saying when I can be bothered. If I don’t post for a while that will probably indicate that work is getting in the way of my fishing. Please feel free to get in contact, I like to think I am approachable and tend towards helpfulness as a rule. Enjoy!

4 pounder

43 thoughts on “About me

      • donal raftery says:

        I just signed up 2 ur site great blogs about the fishing in the west im heading 2 conn 4 a fishing weekend on the 28 of april i have fished it a few times i have a few flies that i depend on that work every year like a gold bead bibio cathal rush wetmay fly olive bumble and dabbler claret wet mayfly is there any other wet or dry flies i should try i tye all my own flies adding different colours and materials would appreciate any tips u might have 4 me thanks donal

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      • OK, around that time we will have olives hatching and the very first of the mayfly will be hatching if the weather is kind. The patterns you mention will all work but I would add a small (size 12) Connemara Black with an orange fl. tag. Adding a touch of Globrite no. 4 floss as a rib or a tag seems to make a difference to many patterns on Lough Conn. yellow and olive mayfly emergers do well if the mayfly is up. Anything claret on a dull/wet day.

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  1. donalraftery says:

    Thanks for the email I wil tye up a few Connemara black flies 4 that weekend what about some olive patterns I seem 2 get stuck when it comes 2 the olive hatches wet or dry thanks

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    • olives often cause difficulties. you can see fish rise they refuse everything you throw at them! When all else fails I fish a cast of size 12 wets with a Green Peter on the leader somewhere.

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      • William Angulu Amiru says:

        Hello,
        I’m William from Kenya would like to have some fishing flies business with you. We have professional and experienced tiers that ensure high quality flies are produced and can be tested internationally through real samples or photos when needed at a competitive price all the time
        Here are some flies we supply,
        nymphs, wets, dries, streamers 1doz@1.80 salmons 1doz@4.00 salt waters 1doz@6.00 bass and pikes flies 1doz@9.00usd
        Kindly let me hear from you soon

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  2. Hi, i have also been “Blown In” from Scotland, Stirlingshire. I have started doing a lot of sea trout fishing around the Belmullet area. I just started last season and have had a good few trout this season. If your ever down this way, would be good to meet up and cast a few rods together??

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  3. Peter Ross says:

    The sutherland specials caught my eye, I used them myself all over the ADAA waters when I was a young lad, the flash back photo of the mugiemoss social club, I think with Davie MacKay (I think from memory) holding the fishing trophies from the mill angling section. Great fishing at the back of the mill many a fine fish caught in the 1970-80. regards Pete Ross,

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  4. Hi Peter, there are a few weel kent faces in that old photo from the Mugiemoss social club! You are right, Davie McKay is there along with Ally Skinner, George Gauld, Brian Ord, Stanley Angus etc. Great days and some brilliant fishing.

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  5. DONALD R MACLEOD says:

    Very interesting reading about your “apprenticeship” on the Ythan. I used to fish the estuary with my pal Tommy who lives near Parkhill. I still have an ample supply of Sutherland Specials and was lucky enough to catch some decent sea-trout there. Now, sadly, the fishery is being run in a way of which I disapprove and Tommy and I never go back. Nowadays I fish in South Uist where the Kate Maclaren muddler and Claret Bumble usually feature on my cast for sea-trout. I tie all my own flies too, and for a while now I have been unsettled by the usual dressing for the Goat’s Toe. I noticed one day how much the peacock ilen feather hackle “collapsed” in the water and thought that it could not be playing properly. I have decided to tie some more using blue sparkle organza as an under-hackle to support the peacock. No idea whether this will work but I would be interested to read your thoughts. I am writing this here in Edinburgh at 5.45 a.m. having been wakened by the storm which is raging round the house, so I am off back to bed now to dream of days ahead on Fada and Roag! In conclusion, may I say how much I concur with your “make-do and mend” attitude. It’s fishing after all, not rocket science! Tight lines, and keep showing us your dabblers, please.
    Donald

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  6. Hi Donald, The same storm battered the West of Ireland yesterday. I heard about the changes at Newburgh and like you am disappointed in the changes for the worse there. I have not tried organza but there is no reason it would not work. I’m convinced a mudddler head improves the Goat’s Toe! Never managed to get over to South Uist, it looks fantastic. I fished in Orkney a few times and loved the trout fishing there and imagine Uist would have a similar feel to it.

    Thanks for taking the time to write, sometimes I wonder if I’m mad to keep posting on the blog so it is nice to know there are other like-minded anglers who read and enjoy my ramblings. Look out for more Dabbler patterns coming soon.

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  7. Richie Casey says:

    Thanks for putting so much effort into your blog.I have just spent the last few hours reading through it and found it a most enjoyable way to nurse a post Paddy’s day hangover.I fished the Robe while on holidays about 6 years ago around the crossboyne area with varying degrees of success although it was an enjoyable few hours.I’ll be in enniscrone for a week in mid April and I think a trip to the Robe will be on the cards after reading about here.Have you ever fished for sea trout at the end of Enniscrone beach?.I am thinking about maybe giving that a lash with the spinning rod also.Thanks again and keep up the good work.

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  8. Hi Ritchie, glad you are enjoying the blog. Some days it is a joy to write and the words come easy and flow in to the page, then other days it is little short if torture to scribble even a few lines. It’s nice to know others are getting enjoyment from my posts. Afraid I have not fiched the pier at Enniscrone but I have heard tales if sea trout being caught there on smallish silver spinners. The lads on the Killala side if the bay swear by natural sandeels so it might be worth acquiring some if them for your trip. Let me know how you get on.

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  9. Greenpeter says:

    I read your recent blog where you commented on how poor Lough Conn was last year. I have to agree I find it has really changed in the past 4 or 5 years. There seems to be an awful lot of very small fish and only the rare 12 inch fish. The water is much clearer than in the past and the place seems to be packed with roach. It would be good to hear other people’s experiences. I have been fishing Conn for over 40 years and this past 4 or 5 years have presented the most difficult and challenging fishing I’ve ever experienced.

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    • Greenpeter,
      The last few sesons have been exceedingly poor on Conn and Cullin but I ws speaking to a local angler last week and he had good fishing with 14 in the boat to two rods the previous weekend. That is more than I caught all season last year! Maybe there is a glimmer of hope that this year will see a return to better fishing on these loughs.

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  10. Mark Rodger says:

    I enjoyed your article about the kynochs killer,I moulded these from the original mould up until I left the factory about years ago.I can assure you the mould is still going,but in very small numbers!.

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  11. Andrew Joynson says:

    Hi. I am enjoying your blog. I’m staying in Mayo and have been fishing the Robe with my teenage son. It’s been quite murky and no bites so far but we are enjoying ourselves. If you have any comments they would be welcomed.

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    • Hi Andrew, great to hear you and your son are trying the river Robe. it should begin to fish anytime now so stick at it! There are usually some trout to be caught in the Hollymount area at this time of the season. I have been busy chasing salmon on the Moy but will try to get out to the Robe over the coming weekend. might bump into you then.

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      • Rugbymere says:

        Sorry didn’t get to finish the message. We take the ferry on Saturday but we will be back maybe in the summer. Wednesday tomorrow we are being taken out on lough mask if our guide is ok he wasn’t well today. My son tried hollymount yesterday.

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  12. Mark Wilson says:

    would you know any loughs near conn or Corrib with some pike sport in September I am taking my son down I know the area well but not for pike. I have been told levally is now empty of pike. Very much enjoy your reports as I know a lot of the places and you seem to give an honest report. thanks

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    • Hi Mark, I.m not a great expert on Pike but here goes with my thoughts……….. Bilberry Lake between Castlebar an Westport is packed with pike in the 3 – 12 pound range and it fished well in the Autumn. best to hire a boat locally and troll for them. Lough Annagh is just along the road towards Castlebar and it fished well for Pike too but this time from the shore. Deadbaiting works well here. If there has been rain and the water levels are high enough to cover the weeds then Lough Cullin is good around the inflow from Conn. Expect Pike to 20 pounds from this part of the lough. Fancy trying for a monster? Head for Lough Carra and troll in the deep water. Some seriously big Pike live in that lake! Hope that helps. I will post more about Pike fishing later in the year. Thanks for getting in touch and for your nice words of support.

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  13. Keith Woodside says:

    Hi Donald,
    I entirely agree with you concerning the Abu 423 9′ spinning rod, it would have been the mother of spinning rods had it been made at 10′. I married a girl From Achill Island in 1968 and visited Achill for the first time in 69. Being a beachcasting Bass fisherman in North Wales i got hooked on all the locations around the island, but try as i might i never caught any Bass.In those days two weeks holiday was the norm so each year i eagerly waited for the end of July to come around.Locals used to fish with a thin piece of black rubber (like bicycle inner tube) tied onto a piece of string and thrown out, it worked pretty good too. I decided to go to the Local store which was Sweeney’s at the Sound to have a look at their spinning rods. In I went for a browse around at their large selection of angling stock, i decided to purchase an Abu 423 9ft spinning rod and i have cherished this rod still to this day, catching Pollack, Coalfish and Mackerel using a German Sprat, i went every year to Achill with my family who are now grown up (one of them lives in Achill now). The best lure i found (as you stated) was the Toby 18g blue and silver which i used fishing off the beach for Sea Trout, it was a lovely lure to cast out with and i caught some nice trout with it. I have really enjoyed hours and hours of fishing from the beach at Dugort and around the island over the years. I also have a 403S 9ft speedlock rod and only brought it back to the UK last year but i don’t use it now with my 6500C Abu. If i had known that you lived so near Achill i would have given it to you. I am getting on too and find i cannot clamber down to fish off the rocks anymore – what a pity, i really miss it.
    Regards Keith Woodside …….. PS my mother was an Aberdonian too.

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  14. Hi Keith, We have a lot in common! I love to still fish with the 423 and I have a real soft spot for the 443S. That’s the mustard coloured one with the speedlock grip. I had wanted one for years and finally bought one on eBay. It has had a hard life and carries many scars but it is lovely to fish with and I adore the through action. I landed a 20 pound pike on it earlier this year so it is still going strong. Talking of still going strong,
    Sweeneys shop at Achill sound is still trading but they had a tough year what with no visitors due to the pandemic. There have been so many changes on the island since I moved to Mayo back in ’97. I used to fish off the rocks at Dugort but never tried the beach. It is usually so busy with tourists these days. Like you, I have yet to catch a bass in Mayo. They are there but only rarely fall to anglers lures. Kerry is a much safer bet for them. Hope you enjoy the blog and thank you for taking the time to get in touch. Isn’t that amazing that your mother came from Aberdeen! Colin

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  15. Gerry says:

    Hi, great articles on the spate tactics! Curious to know if you rate the Bunowen and if so what months and tactics/ flies might you recommend? Is it still a viable sea trout fishery ( i caught my first there 30+ years ago) or mainly just grilse these days? Hoping to get down a bit this summer …

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    • Hi Gerry, I had some fabulous grilse fishing on the Bunowen back around 2009/2010 but the river has been pretty poor since then. I know guys who fish it regularly and they are getting around 2 or 3 fish for the season (and these are very good anglers). One or two spring fish come in on any spate in April or May but it really fishes June – September for salmon. Sea trout numbers are still low but they run from July to the end of the season. It has been years since I saw a sea trout of more than a pound from the river. You know the river so I don’t need to tell you the fishing depends on getting a flood. It is a lovely river to fish and it is worth a try in good conditions. Who knows, it may come good again this year! Colin

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  16. Hi Shane, glad you enjoy my ramblings. I love fishing Conn (as you will have gathered), there is just something about it which I find relaxing and enjoyable. Fingers crossed we will all be out on the lough sometime soon. Stay safe mate, Colin

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