Where has the season gone? Work has been frenetic and I’ve covered many hard miles criss-crossing the island between Mayo and Kildare since mid-August with little time left to pick up a rod. Now here we are near the end of September and the season is almost over. Looking back there have been scant opportunities to fish but I did manage a couple of hours on a river which was new to me.
August was a difficult month for us flyfishers in Ireland. The weather was often changeable and ranged from baking heat and bright sunshine right through to thundery downpours and high winds. It all combined to create challenging conditions.
This past August work brought me to the lush agricultural lands in south County Kildare. Work days are long and challenging with minimal free time in the evenings. As I drove from work at the end of the first day of the assignment I crossed the small River Griese. Up here in Kildare the Griese is tiny but it drains a fair old chunk of Kildare and Carlow before it joins the Barrow, growing steadily as it meanders between fields of ripening cereals. Importantly, small though it is, it has something of a reputation as a brown trout fishery. I decided that I would make time to give it a lash some evening.
A little research with the assistance if Google brought me to the website of the River Griese Trout and Salmon Association. A veritable cornucopia of information, maps and photos of the upper Griese was available, including online booking for permits. All good so far but was the price of a day ticket going to be prohibitive? A fist full of Euros or your first-born child perhaps? I need not have worried, you can fish the Griese for the princely sum of €5 per day on one of the beats or €20 for a season. Come on now folks, have you ever seen a better piscatorial bargain? The association water is divided into a number of beats, the upper ones can be accessed by visitors on a day permit while the lower beats are reserved for season ticket holders. My first week at work was demanding so I would have to wait a little while longer to cast a line on this little gem. Over the weekend while back at home I consulted my angling books to glean some more detailed information about the river. I gathered up some gear and chucked it in the back of the car, all ready for a few hours chasing small trout on the Griese the next week.
Ballitore is a pretty little village and the Griese gurgles and glides through it, as clear as expensive gin. The ruins of an old mill sit next to the stream just outside the village and I parked up here to tackle up and access beat. Upstream the river flowed in a fairly straight line through a field with only one or two trees for cover. Downstream was more varied with a weir and some weed beds on a sharp bend. I leaned over the bridge (as you do) and peered into the water. Lo and behold! Fish were rising! Now not big fish you understand, just wee fellas sipping tiny midges but they were never the less fish. I tied on a suitable copy and started to cast – nothing. I changed fly, no joy. I changed again, this time to a teensy-weensy gnat which has often done the business for me – nope, they didn’t want that either. To cut a long story short I blanked. A small sedge rose plenty as the darkness fell but none of them stuck. Non-plussed I retired to lick my wounds.
The following week I was back on the Griese but this time on a lovely section further downs river where it flows through a golf course in the grounds of a hotel. I spent most of the evening just wandering along the banks spotting fish in the clear water but I at last settled into some proper fishing as the sun dipped below the horizon and the wee trout began to show themselves. I rose a huge number of fish but landed none of them. As our transatlantic cousins say – I skunked! They really are very fussy fellas in this river. My striking seemed to be too slow and I tried to adjust it to keep up with the pace of the trout but they were only laughing at my feeble attempts. I need a pattern they are more confident in and take their time to swallow. I will be back soon to give a couple of other patterns a try. Until then here are some photos of my recent dismal failures: