Fishing in Ireland, trout fishing, wetfly

Robe trout

I wanted a break for salmon fishing so today I took myself off to the Robe near Hollymount to try for a few wild brownies. With no rain to speak of lately I knew that water levels would be low and so I avoided the streamier sections of the river.

Parking up, I strode over to the bridge to take a peek at the river. Sure enough, I was confronted with a shrunken stream. Rafts of weed decorated the pools and thick slimy algae encroached from both banks. Recent higher temperatures have caused this explosion of vegetation and my hope was that the warmth would also encourage the flies to hatch. By mid-May we should be seeing a wide range of flies hatching but the cream of the fishing is often when the blue-wing olives make an appearance.

I set up the gear and tied up a new leader. Three small wets were added, a size 16 Greenwell on the bob, a size 18 black spider in the middle and size 16 PT on the tail. I don’t use Greenwell’s too often but when I do it often produces a good fish for me. My plan was simple, work my way down the left bank casting into all the likely spots. A harsh, gusty upstream wind rippled the surface of the pools and the excellent drying conditions would assist any newly hatched flies to dry their wings and escape the surface. The wind was cold and this might make the session difficult.

I commenced operations in the bridge pool and was quickly into a small trout. A second soon followed and both were released. The next pool down seemed to be quiet but as I worked my way down the line tightened and a good fish splashed on the top of the water. This was a much better class of trout but after a few darts and more rolling on the top the hook pulled out and my prize swam off no doubt wondering what that was all about. I checked the hooks but they were fine, just bad luck in not getting a good hold. As that fish was on the top a lot I got a good look at him and I estimate it would have gone close to two pounds.

Some flies were hatching but not in any great numbers. I saw an occasional trout rise but to be honest not enough to encourage me to switch to the dry fly. Each pool I came to received the same treatment, start at the neck with short casts then fan out longer casts through the main body of the pool and down to the tail. Frequent stops were needed to clear weed from the flies.

There is a Greenwell somewhere in the middle of that snot!

Fish came to hand steadily but the bigger fish continued to elude me. The hatch was poor and never really got going. Could that cold wind have been the cause? It did warm up a bit after midday but the fly life seemed to reduce rather than increase after lunchtime.

By now I had gone to the end of the section I had planned to fish and with less and less action I turned back and started to head back to the bridge and the waiting car. I barely noticed while fishing my down river just how many electric fences I had crossed but the return trip seemed to be a succession of crossings, either hopping over at low spots on some electric fences or rolling under the higher ones.

One brand new style has been added for this season, a smart green affair which replaces a horrible partly fallen dry stone wall and cluster of barbed wire. This is a huge improvement and it would be great to see more of these styles on the Robe. Access is a big problem on the river, especially for those (like me) who are not as young as they used to be!

the new style, simple yet effective

I ended up catching eight trout, none of them any great size but it was an enjoyable few hours on the riverbank. A shot of rain is need to put a bit more life into the rivers around here but the forecast is for dry, sunny weather this week. It’s maybe as well that I will be away in Europe on business until Thursday!

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Fishing in Ireland, salmon fishing

De stressing

Sometimes its just nice to be out on the river even if the fish don’t show up.

Nice light on the Moy

Yesterday evening I badly needed a couple of hours on thee river Moy. Three hours of Monthly Management Meeting earlier that day had drained me and my batteries needed a charge of fresh air and flowing water. I knew the water levels were low and catches had tailed off to virtually nil on the beat but hey, sometimes it’s not all about the fish.

Ballylaghan bridge

As you can see from the photos, it was a lovely evening to be out and about. I did not see a salmon all evening, not so much as a splash in the distance or a swirl in one of the lies. Nothing.

the second groin

I fished on, diligently working my way down river one cast per step. With nobody else on my bank I could linger at the best spots, an unusual luxury.

I stayed until the sun dipped below the western horizon then walked back to the car which was parked at the bridge. No fish but somehow that didn’t matter. With the low water I had not expected to meet a salmon, I just wanted some quiet time to myself. In this hectic, pressure cooker environment we in western society exit in the need for simply pleasures like an hour on a river bank are all too easily overlooked.

looking up river

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Fishing in Ireland, salmon fishing, trout fishing

Boat launch

Later than normal, we dropped my boat off at Pike Bay on lough Conn this morning. It is usually some time in late March or early April that my old grey boat is unearthed from the depths of the shed and dragged up to the Conn, but this year the gods conspired against me and here we are in the month of May before the boat got launched. I was away last weekend so the planned date had to be pushed back and as a further complication there is a big charity race on in Castlebar today. That meant a reasonably early start was required so we did all our bits before the roads were closed off.

A beautiful morning with only high, thin clouds in an otherwise azure sky meant there would be no fishing today. I have spent too many long, fishless hours under a blazing sun to want to repeat that exercise, so this morning was confined to the launch only. The road up through the green countryside was a pleasure. Ireland is looking well in the late spring sunshine. We turned off at Healy’s, taking the road to Crossmolina. This piece of road badly needs some attention from the local council, potholes and bumps abound, making the driving unpleasant and tricky, especially when towing a boat trailer. The boreen down to the lake was even worse but we arrived safely and took in our surroundings before beginning the task in hand. With no rain lately the level of the lough has dropped back. The water is still cold though.

The place I tie up the boat was still vacant and there are only a handful of other boats in the bay yet. It will fill quickly now that the first mayfly are hatching though as anglers gather from around the globe to try their luck. Here’s hoping this season will be more productive than last year!

There is a gently sloping gravel bank where it is easy to slip the boat into the water only a few yards from the place she would be berthed, so we set about our jobs and got the boat ready for the water. I donned a pair of chest waders and once the boat was in the lough I hopped in and rowed her around. It felt good just to be back on the oars again.

ready for launch

A shiny new chain was used to secure the boat to a thick tree trunk and she was safely tied up. Gone are the days when a a boat and engine could simply be left on the shore, safe in the knowledge that nobody would touch them. Now there are criminal gangs who target fishing boats and do huge damage to boats to remove any engine which has been left attached. There are stories of the gangs using chain saws to chop the end off a boat to get the engine.

Soon it was time to head back home but there is great comfort knowing the boat is in a safe place and ready for use at any time. With work taking so much of my time these days I only have short sessions available to me. Now the boat is on the lake I can pop up there after work and spend a couple of hours with rod and line.

Conn has produced a couple of salmon so far this season and I hear the trout fishing, while not spectacular, has yielded some nice fish. I’m itching to get out and try it for myself.

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Fishing in Ireland, salmon fishing

New toy

So I bought this gadget for make neat loops in pieces of wire. The idea is that I will be able to salvage some old Flying C lures which have been lying around for years simply by replacing the wire and the latex skirts.

This lot have seen better days…………

The tool itself is easy enough to use once you have watched a Youtube video on it a few times. A little manual dexterity is necessary but nothing beyond a basic level of competence. the results are fine and certainly capable of fooling a salmon.

the wire forming tool

To repair a damaged Flying C I started by snipping the wire and sliding all the parts off. If the treble is still good I reuse it otherwise a look out a hook the right size. Form  ‘type B’ loop in one end of a new piece of wire (watch that video!). The hook is added to the wire and both ends are slid up the hole of the lead once a new skirt has been pushed on.

some pre-cut 6mm black tubing

From the other end slide on the bead(s) and the clevis which holds the blade. Now form a ‘type 1’ bend and snip off the waste end of the wire. Voila!

completed lure

The tool and all the bits and bobs you may require are readily available so even if you need blades or other parts you can lay your hands on them via online retailers.

latex skirts in different colours

I’ll put the tool away for now but come next winter I will be busy with it repairing lures for the 2020 season.

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Fishing in Ireland, fly tying, wetfly

Bibio Dabbler

There can’t be many Irish lough fishers who don’t have this fly or something very like it in their fly box. Perhaps one of the earliest variations on the Dabbler theme, this one is a good early season pattern for trout.

Use black tying silk, an 8/0 for preference. Hook sizes vary depending on what you will be fishing for and I go all the way from teensy-weensy 14’s right up to gigantic size 4’s for use on Lough Beltra. Tied on a size 8 or 10 it is a great pattern for the salmon in Carrowmore lake.

Start the silk near the eye of the hook and catch in a black cock hackle. Now run the silk to the bend in touching turns.

hackle(s) tied in

Make the tail out of a few fibres of nice dark bronze mallard. Tie them in so the tails are about the same length as the hook shank. This is important as short tails will upset the balance of the fly and makes it look odd. I you feel like adding a bit of bling then a couple of strands of pearl flash can be added to tail at this stage.

Tie in a length of oval silver tinsel which will be used for the rib and dub the tying silk with seals fur a similar rough fur. Begin with black at the tail end, then a band of red in the middle and finally black near the head.. Leave plenty of space at the head.

Palmer the black cock hackle down the body and tie it in with the oval silver tinsel. Wind the rib up through the hackle, carefully binding it down in open turns.

palmered black hackle is secured with open turns of tinsel

I like to add a couple of turns of a long fibred hen hackle dyed red under the wings but you may decide not to bother with this refinement.

The wings are your normal bronze mallard tied in cloak style around the hook. Finish off my making a neat head with the silk and applying your favourite cement or varnish.

The real beauty of this fly is adaptability. It can occupy any position on the cast and can be fished with confidence on a floater of sinking line. It’s well worth tying a few up if you are doing some fishing in Ireland or Scotland.

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salmon fishing

Up and running

I took a couple of days off work, initially to fish the Burke competition down in Clonbur but when that was cancelled I switched to salmon fishing and headed for the Moy and lough Beltra.

The Moy at Ballylaghen

Despite good conditions Tuesday was fishless for me and Ben. Micksy Clarke landed a sea liced springer for the EMAA water but we saw or touched nothing on the same stretch. Beltra was similarly dour despite a nice wind and great overhead conditions.

Wednesday morning and we decided to repeat the same choices as yesterday. Off we went to the EMAA waters and commenced operations just before 10am. By noon we had seen no signs of fish but my confidence was high as the river was in excellent order for spinning (but too high for the fly) and there were one or two salmon around.

Ben was fishing opposite me while I spun through the good lies below the bridge. A fish grabbed the Flying C and the battle started! He headed off down the river and I had to apply a huge amount of pressure to turn him before walking him back up in the pool and safety. He tried one more time to exit the tail of the pool but I was able to apply side strain and put him off balance. The old ABU rod was bent over and the drag on the reel was wound down to keep in control. Ben made his way over to me and after some more short runs the fish tired and came to the net without too much fuss.

The fish was very fresh but there were no sea lice present. It tipped the scales at exactly 10 pounds. As you can see from the photo, he was a very handsome fish with broad shoulders. He took a 20 gram black flying C

Other anglers appeared and so we called it a day on the Moy and headed to Beltra where we fished hard in the afternoon but without rising any salmon. Ben rose a few small brownies and I landed a small, thin seatrout kelt before I called it a day and packed in. To be honest, my heart was not in it after landing the salmon earlier in the day. Anyway, I had a few things to do in town so I made my excuses and departed in the middle of the afternoon. At least I am up and running for the 2019 season!

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