Fishing in Ireland, salmon fishing, trolling, trout fishing, wetfly

Mixed fortunes on Lough Conn

The big southerly wind we were promised on the forecast didn’t really materialise after all. A steady force 5 brought mild, damp air up over Ireland and a good day for fishing. I had semi-packed the gear the night before so it was just some last minute additions that had to be slung into the VW before heading off for Pike Bay. Mayo was verdant and lush around me as I wound along the Lahardaun road with Conn on my right. The car park at Brown’s Bay was busy and lots of boats were already hard at it along the Massbrook shore.

Parked up close to the boat, I donned my gear in a heavy shower. This would be the pattern for the day, steady winds and occasional heavy showers. I trolled my way out of the bay and turned left into Castlehill, scanning the surface for any activity as I progressed deep into the shallow waters. No signs of life that I could see but some boats were covering drifts at the extreme edge of the bay close to the reeds beyond the mouth of the Addergoole river. I joined the queue but still can’t figure out why they were combing the water there – not a sign of fly or fish was to be seen! I gave it a couple of drifts then headed out of Castlehill and trolled down towards Massbrook. I saw my first mayfly of the day a few yards from the start of the Cornekillew shore, quickly followed by the first rise too. I pushed on down the shore a bit further before stowing the trolling rod and  setting up for a drift to take me back over the spot where I had seen the rise.

coming out of Castlehill bay

The wind was difficult as I was alone in the boat and with my weight at one end and just fresh air at the other she tended to dig in by the stern and slip sideways on the wind. I like to use this to my advantage when wet fly fishing on my own and ‘hang’ the bob fly for a long time as each cast fishes out. The wind forms a sag in the line as I am crossing it, giving the fish that extra few seconds to grab the flies. That tactic worked a treat today with browns nabbing a Green Peter on the the bob fly and hooking themselves in the scissors. A couple of smallish lads were quickly hussled to the boat before a better fish made a mistake and walloped the size 12 Connemara Black in the middle. I was thoroughly enjoying myself up until now, but then my good fortune deserted me.

a well proportioned brown

a bit thin but still a good trout

I had reached the end of the drift and wound in. Pulling the starter cord on the old Evenrude elicited only a cough and a splutter. I repeated the pull, the engine gave me a similar reply. Hmm, maybe she is cold and needs some choke? Nope, that didn’t work and by now I am well out in the deep water, a few hundred yards from shore. Maybe swearing at the inanimate object might help? Surprisingly, this had absolutely no effect what so ever! Nothing else for it, so I grabbed the oars and bent my back into turning the boat into the wind and rowing hard into the stiff breeze. Some fellow anglers from the midlands who had watched my antics came to congratulate me on my sterling efforts and to see if they could help in any way. I declined the offer as there were fish moving and those lads should be covering trout not ripping an engine apart. Being the owner of old engines I habitually carry spares and tools so I had the Evinrude’s spark plugs out in a jiffy (thinking that she had possibly oiled the plugs). The spark plugs looked good so I decided to call it a day and head back home. It was 2.30pm and I figured I was not going to lose much by that time of the day. Driving home I had time to think about the problem and a duff coil would seem to be the likely culprit today.

a few minutes after this photo was taken the old girl packed in

While it was a shame the day was cut short by mechanical failure I still enjoyed my time on the lough. Mayfly are still scarce but a few are fluttering around now. I will get the engine repaired during the week and be ready to hit the lough again next weekend.

even the Perch were taking the fly today

The lough is fishing well so if any of you are contemplating a wee trip to Conn the next couple of weeks should be good.

 

Late update: I hear the Castlebar Anglers club held a competition on Conn today. 18 anglers caught 7 trout between them.

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Fishing in Ireland, salmon fishing, trolling, wetfly

All quiet on the western lakes

Sunday was a fishing day. Thick clouds scurried across the sky, driven by a strong south-westerly. The air was warm and moist. There had been rain last week and the ground was still damp. Yes, Sunday was most definitely a fishing day. The only trouble is that nobody had explained this to the fish.

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Clouds on Nephin

 

We rendezvoused at 9.30am and I tossed the gear into the back of the van, glad to be out in the fresh air again after a long period separated from the fishing by work and other commitments. I used to always manage to make time for fishing but this year that ability has deserted me, leaving me wistfully imagining days on the river or lake but never actually making to the bank or boat. The mayfly season has come and gone without me being able to cast a fly and the spring salmon were spared my dodgy casting and poor fly choices this year. So the drive out to Lough Cullin was an enjoyable catch up of all the local fishing news, who caught what and where.  The plan was simple, move my boat from Cullin, drive it under the bridge at Pontoon and relocate her in Brown’s Bay on the Conn. From there we would head up the lake to cover the usual salmon lies with the fly and the trolling rods were taken along in case we lost the wind.

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The move was accomplished easily enough and Ben saw three salmon showing on Cullin as he motored up. The area these fish were occupying was covered in weed, making any thoughts of casting to them redundant. They were to be the only salmon we saw all day! A new berth was found in the bay and we loaded the gear before setting off in confident mood. The wind had slackened but there was just enough of a wave to give us hope. And so we started, rhythmically casting an retrieving, deft strokes on the oar keeping us on or close the contours of the bottom. Weed beds had spread in some parts of the drift and a new reed bed is growing rapidly some distance out into the lake now where once it was open water.

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Notice how calm the lake had become

A small brownie leaped two feet into the air close to the stern as we drifted but of the silver lads there was not a trace. After a few drifts the wind dropped to a mere zephyr so we opted for dragging the ironmongery around. Tobies were the obvious choice so 10 and 18 gram models were given a swim. On dark days like this I like to use a copper spoon, but on Sunday it failed to elicit any response. A silver Toby was given its chance to shine but was similarly ignored. This was hard going!

18gr Copper Toby, most effective on dark days in my opinion

Agreement was reached that it was time for a bite to eat. We pulled into the shore and brewed up, dissecting the intricacies of our demise. Very few other boats  were on the water, a sure indication that fish were in short supply. Salmon were coming into the Moy system of which Lough Conn is a part, but in small numbers for the time of year. It looked like very few of these fish were running in Conn. Sandwiches were munched and tea slurped but there was no urgency to return to the water. Ben changed his cast while I took some photos, all at a snail’s pace. Funny how enthusiasm wanes in the face of blank sessions. As experienced fishers we know that any cast can bring a fish but today we expected to at least see some salmon showing and the emptiness of the lake was hard to face. Lunch over we returned to the fray but our hearts just were not in it.

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A rather damp Connemara Black

By mid-afternoon we decided to call it a day. Conditions had been good but with few fish in the lake we were always going to be up against it. At least the boat had been moved and we had caught up on the fishing gossip. Maybe next time…………….

 

 

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Fishing in Ireland, fly tying, salmon fishing

Some flies for Lough fishing

I spent a few minutes at the vice this evening to tie some size 8’s for lough fishing. Not that was any great need to tie even more flies, I just wanted to enjoy making some old favourites. I know that I cart around an ridiculous amount of patterns but it is simply the price us fly tyers pay for enjoying both the fishing and the making of the lures. Most of them will sadly never even be tied on to the line, let alone catch a fish, but the sheer enjoyment of sitting at the bench and creating a fly from a bare hook and some feathers is just too much to ignore.

Tonight I kicked off with some Connemara Blacks tied for salmon. What’s the difference? Well, I like to add a bit of colour under the tail so I make a tag from two turns of Opal tinsel and then wind on some Glo.brite no. 5 floss. I rib the black body with flat silver tinsel to give it some extra flash too. I also make an underwing from a bunch of GP tippet fibres. This adds strength and a bit more colour when the fly is wet.

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Connemara Black

Next up was a few of my own version of the Raymond. With this one I add a small tag of Glo-brite no.4 but keep the usual body of golden olive fur and double body hackles of red and golden olive. The normal wing of paired hen pheasant secondarys are followed by a long fibred guinea fowl hackle.

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Raymond

I made up some small Green Peters too. Much more delicately dressed, these were busked on a size 12 hook. I can’t say there is too much different about this fly except that it is very lightly dressed by Irish standards. 3 or 4 turns of body hackle are all that is required.

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A lightly dressed Green Peter

Finally, I wanted some heavy Green Peters for the tail of the cast when lough fishing for salmon so I made this next pattern up on those lovely Loop heavyweight doubles. I used a size 10 and made the wing from the ‘bad’ side of a bucktail dyed green.

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Heavy Green Peter

So that was it for the evening, more flies to confuse me and the fish!

 

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Fishing in Ireland, salmon fishing, sea trout fishing

Successful flies for Carrowmore lake

Here are some patterns which have worked for me and my boat partner over the years on Carrowmore lake, Co. Mayo.

Claret Bumble, blue head

Claret Bumble, blue head

Claret head

Claret head

Claret bumble is the first choice on a dark day with low cloud. The standard dressings works just fine but I like mine to have a Muddler head in either claret or blue.

Clan Chief

Clan Chief

The Clan Chief would probably be the fly most likely to be on my cast on any given day on Carrowmore. It seems to be able to produce fish under any conditions and you really must have some in your box if you are fishing the lake.

Goats Toe

Goats Toe

I personally love a Goat’s Toe with a black muddler head on it.

Golden Olive Shrimp

Golden Olive Shrimp

The Golden Olive shrimp has taken many salmon over the past few seasons and the orange tail looks great in the water.

Connamara Black

Connemara Black

The Connemara Black is a good dark fly for the tail position

Magenta Bumble

Magenta Bumble

I confess that I have never caught a salmon on a Magenta Bumble but I have been in the boat when it has succeeded. One for a bright day in my mind.

Claret Dabbler

Claret Dabbler

Always worth a try, the Claret Dabbler is an ever present on the cast of many who fish Carrowmore.

Bruiser Bumble

Bruiser Bumble

A deep blue hackle is needed for this pattern, much darker than the colour on a teal blue and silver.

Silver Doctor

Silver Doctor

I prefer a hairwing version of the Doctor, it is tougher than the original feather winged fly.

Silver Stoat variant

Silver Stoat variant

The silver stoat with an orange hackle does good work. I like it on a heavy hook and fish it on the tail off a sinking line.

Green winged Green Peter

Green winged Green Peter

And a Green Peter of course………………this one with a green squirrel tail wing.

As you can see, I prefer Black and Claret flies in general. If pressed I would be happy to fish with a Goat’s Toe on the bob, a Green Peter in the middle and a Claret Bumble on the tail.

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