dryfly, Fishing in Ireland, salmon fishing, sea angling, trolling, trout fishing, wetfly

Random photos

My computer is full of photos taken when fishing, most of which will never see the light of day, so here are a few random pics for you to enjoy.

My boat in Pike Bay, Lough Conn

a boat in Pike Bay, Lough Conn

This one has obviously been idle for some time!

A Beltra Springer

A Beltra Springer

Favouite lures for Pike trolling in the winter months

Favouite lures for Pike trolling in the winter months

The view across Lough Mask from Cahir Pier. Mamtrasna is in the distance

The view across Lough Mask from Cahir Pier. Mamtrasna is in the distance

A small,coloured grilse about to go back

A small,coloured grilse about to go back

Ben with a nice, fresh 6 pounder off Carrowmore Lake a couple of years ago

Ben with a nice, fresh 6 pounder off Carrowmore Lake a couple of years ago

An audience

An audience

Rising tide, Ballyness bay, Donegal

Rising tide, Ballyness Bay, Donegal

Moorhall Bay, Lough Carra

Moorhall Bay, Lough Carra

While working in Oxfordshire some years ago I tried my hand at Carp fishing

While working in Oxfordshire some years ago I tried my hand at Carp fishing

A big wild Brown trout form the River Robe

A big wild Brown trout form the River Robe

Bridge over the Robe

Bridge over the Robe

The usual suspects on a boat fishing trip

The usual suspects on a boat fishing trip

Fly caught Mackerel from a few years ago

Fly caught Mackerel from a few years ago

The weather is settled and dry so salmon fishing is dead slow here. Trout angling is patchy but there are still some good fish being caught on Lough Mask. Expect things to pick up with the next spell of wet and windy weather. Planning an all-nighter off the shore this week!

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dryfly, Fishing in Ireland, salmon fishing, trolling

Quiet day on Conn

Addergoole Cemetry

Out for a few hours on Conn today but the lake was extremely quiet. No signs of any salmon and very few trout moving to a small hatch of mayfly.

Chocolate CDC sedge

Chocolate CDC sedge

I trolled for a bit to start with as there was very little wind. One fish gave the rod a heafty thump but didn’t hang around. I suspect it was a large trout rather than a salmon. Then set up the fly rod and tied on a mayfly emerger and  chocolate CDC sedge. On the second drift I had a small trout on the sedge. This is pretty common towards the end of the mayfly, smallish brown sedges hatch out the the fish can sometimes be easier to fool on a sedge than a mayfly.

Mayfly emerger

The trout showing were all small again, no signs of good fish. At least it was a lovely day to be out with a steady breeze eventually settling over the lake and a bit of warmth for a change.

Clouds over nephin

Clouds over nephin

I motored up to the mouth of the Addergoole River which seems to be an area where a few salmon are hanging around at the moment and fished the fly for them for a few drifts, alas without success.

looking out from the Addergoole

looking out from the Addergoole

The river itself is small and very overgrown but the salmon use it for spawning.

Addergoole River

Addergoole River

The day was wearing on now and the number of boats had increased alarmingly. Looking down to Massbrook it had the appearance of a Spithead review! Time to call it a day and leave the lake to those who can put up with the crowds. So the lesson for today was remember to have some small dark sedges in your box at this time of year. I will make a few more up this evening!

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

Conn tricks – catching trout on ham sandwiches

The word on the street was that there were salmon being caught in Lough Conn so I decided to head out today and give it an auld lash. My boat is on Cullin so it meant driving it across Cullin, under the bridge at Pontoon and motoring half way up lough Conn. The journey was uneventful and I was fishing an hour after leaving Healy’s Bay.

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Fellow trollers on Lough Conn today

I had a couple of trolling rods set up and with the engine turning over slowly I set about following the contours of the Massbrook shoreline in the company of a few other like minded souls.  Two hours later and there had been no action at all, not even a salmon jumping in the distance. However, the mayfly had been hatching in ever increasing numbers and the trout decided to put in an appearance. The air was full of swallows, martins and swifts chasing the unfortunate greendrakes and now the brown trout started to hammer them from below. Time for me to set up a fly rod, so I pulled into the shore.

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The first line of attack was a team of three wets. A good, rolling wave and a brisk westerly wind coupled with an overcast sky seemed to point towards the wet fly and sure enough I started to catch a few trout on a yellow hackled Green Peter, one of my own patterns which I especially like for Conn.

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My yellow hackled Green Peter

Trout were showing all over the lake now and takes were coming thick and fast. The only problem was the size of the fish, they were all between 12 and 14 ounces. This took me back a few years to when Conn produced great fishing for trout of this size. Later the average size increased dramatically but the fish were much more scarce. Maybe nature is reverting back to the old days. Anyway, I decided to change to the dry fly as the trout were obviously taking the duns as the sat on the surface drying their wings. I changed the cast and tied on a couple of dries. When I reached into my bag for floatant I came up empty-handed – no Gink! OK, I would try fishing the heavily hackles flies without waterproofing. I flicked out a short cast with untreated lies and the Yellow Wulff was snapped up immediately by a lively three-quarter-pounder. The Wulff was a bedraggled mess by the time I had freed the tout and popped it back into the lake. I needed to find some floatant urgently.

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Ham sandwiches, that staple of the anglers lunchbox came to my rescue. I had a couple of rather sorry looking examples of porcine slices ‘twixt granary bread lurking in a box. The bits of pig were not my focus of attention, it was the butter which fired my imagination. Surely a dab of butter worked into the dressing of the flies would aid them to float? I had never tried it before but lacking any other suitable material it was worth a bash. I scraped some butter from a sandwich and rubbed into a Wulff. At first it looked to be a disaster but when the butter melted it soaked into the yellow fly and seemed to be OK. Feeling rather pleased with myself I set off on the next drift.

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A Yellow Wulff lathered in butter!

There was a good wave now and the flies would sometimes disappear from view behind a wave. After only a few casts the Wulff disappeared OK but in the middle of an impressive swirl. I tightened into the fish and played him out but the fly came out of him mouth at the side of the boat. No matter, it was only a small lad. The question was was the fly still going to float? You bet it did! It fairly bobbed about on the surface and tempted another half-a-dozen trout before I called it a day.

As I was tidying the boat to prepare for the long run home to Healy’s Bay I noticed a large, brownish fly on one of the seats. The first Murrough of the year.

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A Murrough that thought he was a mayfly

OK, so I didn’t catch a salmon and the trout I boated were of humble proportions. But still it was a great day to be out between wind and wave (just where Admiral Lord Nelson liked his grape shot to arrive). I will be dropping into Frank Baynes tackle shop for some Gink before I venture out again though!

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A very out of focus pic of a trout with my Green Peter in its mouth

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Muddler headed Golden Olive

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Nephin cloaked in mist

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Fishing in Ireland, trout fishing

Hail, drains and trees

The weather is all over the place. After a couple of days of unseasonably warm, dry weather the rains came back yesterday evening. Temperatures dropped overnight and today dawned cool and breezy. Showers, some of them of hail, added to the feeling that winter was sneaking back again and I had to push myself to go down to the Robe for a few casts. The gear was chucked into the car and I headed south by east to my ‘new’ spot.

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This is a very deceptive photo – it was bloody freezing!

My plan was to run down the pools below the bridge quickly with the wet fly then switch to the dry and fish back upstream again before prospecting above the bridge for the last hour or so. As it turned out I stuck fairly closely to this plan but it could have worked out better I think.

The most notable feature of the day was the very strong, gusting wind. At its worst the near gale force wind ripped and tugged at everything and fired hail at me like shotgun pellets. The cold during the squalls was intense and it really felt more like February than mid-April. This did not deter the Large Dark Olives from hatching and they appeared in good numbers for the 3 hours I was fishing. The trout showed their appreciation by rising occasionally to the duns. I can’t say it was a good rise today but it was the best surface action I have witnessed so far this season. If we had not suffered the cold wind I suspect today could have been a wonderful day’s fishing.

I gowned up at the car and decided that a fleece hat was called for in the conditions instead of my usual baseball cap. I was glad that I sacrificed sartorial elegance for warmth as the hail showers came frequently and each one seemed to be more severe than its predecessor.  At times my hands were frozen and I had to break from fishing to rubs some warmth back into them. Ah, the joys of spring fishing!

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squally

In between the hail showers

I cut off the old leader which was on my line and built a new one with only one dropper instead of my normal two on a wet fly cast. The wild conditions would be challenging enough without the added problems of trying to stop 3 flies tangling. As it was, a number of flies became victims of bankside vegetation with around a dozen meeting their end on the far bank due to the gusting wind. I opted for a copper beaded PT on the tail and my experimental Iron Blue Dun on the bob, but Partridge and Olive Spiders, Beaded Endrick Spiders and P&O all made cameo appearances during the afternoon.

The first pool below the bridge gave me a flavour of just how difficult this session was going to be. After  dozen cast the line was whipped into the far bank by a big gust of wind and the flies lost on a branch. A new cast was tied up and a hail shower chucked frozen water down on me. I could see olives on the surface so I figured it was still worth the effort, so I fished down the pool. Sure enough, I started to rise fish but hooking them was a problem. I checked the hooks – all OK. I altered my casting so I was fishing more squarely to the current but that didn’t seem to make any difference. I swapped the tiny size 18 IBD and put an Olive Partridge Spider size 14 on the bob (thinking the small hook was maybe not getting a good hold). That still didn’t make a difference. Time to try another piece of water.

The pool broke into a fast, shallow run and off the far bank there was a rock under the surface. This chunk of limestone pushed the flow out and created a likely looking lie. The gale was proving to be tedious to fish in and more flies were left in reeds before I eventually got things together and made a good cast just ahead of the rocky lie. I wish I could say there was a powerful take and I struck it perfectly but the truth is the trout just ‘appeared’ on the end of the line. He fought well in the fast water and I was relieved to bring him to hand, a handsome fish of around a pound. The PT was wedged in his scissors. Leader and flies were checked and after a few more casts I rose, hooked and landed another fish of the same size.

around the pound

First fish of the day

By now the hatch was well under way and some fish were showing on the top of the water. I fished the wets down the river casting into likely spots and keeping moving the whole time. By the time I reached the bottom of the fishable water I had taken 5 trout, all between three-quarters and a pound. I was feeling pretty pleased with myself because the conditions were challenging. I switched to the dry fly as I had planned and fished my way back up the river. If fishing wet had been hard trying to fish the dry fly in the windy conditions proved to be next to impossible. Admittedly I did rise a few trout but none of them were hooked due to the large loop in the line between the rod and the fly caused by the wind. I regained the bridge and paused to consider the options.

Standing on the bridge the view upstream didn’t look overly impressive. The right bank was steep and topped with a barbed wire fence. Getting as far as the bank looked daunting as there was a big drop over the side of the bridge on that bank. The water looked deep and slow as far as the bend, far from ideal. On the left bank a large drain came in about 50 yards above the bridge.

drain

Your average Irish drain

Ireland is criss-crossed with drains like this. Without them much of the agricultural land would be bog, so I can see why they are so necessary. I do have misgivings about draining every square inch of land though and these drains funnel large volumes of water into river systems, creating problems further downstream. From an anglers point of view drains are a royal pain. While some of them have been bridged the vast majority have to be navigated by wading or in the case of the smaller ones, jumping. Some drains are death traps; deep and with soft, silty bottoms. This one would have been very hard to cross but luckily there was a good bridge over it so I decided to fish the left bank for an hour.

I negotiated some wire and electric fences and got into the water in a large, slow moving pool. I would have prefered to fish it from the throat of the pool but trees on my bank prevented access. I had changed back to the wet fly and was quickly into a lovely trout of better than a pound. A second one followed and then a third, the last one being a bit smaller.

nice one

The smallest of the three

I turned to face upstream and fished upstream wet for a while, landing 3 more fish in truly deplorable conditions of gusting wind and hail showers. Timing the strike fishing upstream is something I find hard to get used to this early in the season. Practice is the only answer to this deficiency and it is worth the effort as the upstream wet fly is so deadly.

The trees were getting closer and closer together and it got to the point where is simply wasn’t possible to fish the fly any more from the left bank.

my bank

Now how do you cast in this little lot?

It was now obvious I had made a wrong move by electing to fish from the left bank. The trees lined this bank as far as I could see while the right bank was open and clear. Worse still was the sight of some lovely fly water just up river, water which was completely unfishable from the bank I was on. By now it was nearly 3pm and the hatch was slackening off, so hiking back to the bridge then up the far bank would be a lot of effort for little reward. Better to leave it for another day.

upriver

Can’t wait to try this stretch out

I went back to the deep pool and tied on a dry fly again. With still one or two trout showing I thought I could maybe winkle out a brace but it wasn’t to be. I rose a couple but the same old issue of slack line due to the wind beat me. Fishing wets meant I could tighten up on the flies once they were in the water and drag was not an issue. Fishing dry removed the option of tightening the line as it caused the fly to drag. I wound up and trudged back to the car. Eleven landed and a lot more trout risen, pricked or lost. Not too bad for 3 hours of hail, drains and trees I think.

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Fishing in Ireland, fly tying

Scratching a dry itch

The fickle March weather has turned cold and wet again. The balmy few days we had last week have been swept away by mean winds that seek out every opening to send a chill through me as if to remind me of my advancing years. Looking back over the season so far the rod has bent into a few nice trout already but I need more. That old itch to catch trout on the dry fly needs to be scratched. Like an addict missing a fix I prowl the house these days wishing for a break in the weather so I can sally forth with the dry line and actually see the fish swallow the fly.

Adams

The Adams, my favourite for the spring time

I managed to fool one trout on the dry last week and the feeling of satisfaction when he rose to the fly and I tightened into him remained as strong as ever. The process of spotting the rise, matching the natural, casting to the fish and finally setting the hook is surely one of the highlights of the fly fishing experience. The wet fly can be extremely effective and nymphing is an art unto itself, but the dry fly remains for me the most exciting branch of our sport. That visual element makes all the difference and engaging that sense turns an already absorbing pastime into something very special.

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For dry fly fishing in these parts I use either my 10 foot, no. 5 Orvis or a 7 footer which is rated for a no. 3 line. I accept that the Orvis is over gunned in most situations but I have landed tout up to nearly 5 pounds on the Robe and lost bigger fish, so the longer rod has its uses. The seven footer is lovely to fish with but struggles badly with anything over a couple of pounds in weight. I use a heavy butt section on my leader set up to give me some assistance when trying to push a fly into the inevitable wind. I then steeply taper down to a tippet of between 2 and 4 pounds, depending on the situation.

Dry patterns are centered around the ever popular Klinkhammer design and the more traditional spider and upright winged flies. I like wings on some patterns as they help me to spot them in turbulent water.

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A winged GRHE on a size 14 hook

Adams and GRHE tend to be the ones I gravitate to in the springtime. These are general patterns rather than specific imitations and they provide me with sufficient sport to encourage a high level of faith in them. I mess around a bit with both patterns so they can be found in my fly box as conventionally winged, spider, klinkhammer and even Irresistible versions to cover a wide range of situations.

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Irresistible Adams, a high floater for rough water or a windy day

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My Adams variant with an olive hares fur body

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Adams/GRHE/klinkhammer thingy (it works too!)

Outside the trees are bent in the blustery westerly and the rain is hammering down. but by the weekend conditions should have improved sufficiently for me to dust down the dry fly box and give these lads a go. I am not looking for a cure to this particular itch, I just need to scratch it some more.

Tight lines!

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