Fishing in Ireland, salmon fishing, trolling

Sunday

It looks increasingly likely that my planned time off work will come to a shuddering halt way too early so I have been packing in some fishing over the past two days. Last Sunday I did some trolling for salmon.

It started of grey. Very grey. A thick mist had turned the world silvery and damp as I waited to be picked up. At least the daffodils are blooming. We were dropping a boat off on the river and had agreed to fish during the morning. These simple plans were predicated on the rise on water levels due to recent rainfall. Salmon have been nosing into the Moy system in small numbers for a couple of weeks now so there seemed to be a chance they had penetrated far enough upstream for us to intercept them. With dry, settled weather forecast for the coming week Sunday looked like the best opportunity to catch a fresh springer.

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We launched the boat and tackled up. The river looked perfect, high but dropping and clarity was even better than we had anticipated. Confidence high, we motored off upstream to cover the best lies. The winter spent re-equipping my trolling gear now stood me in good stead, new rod, line and lures were all at hand and ready for action. Unfortunately nobody had informed the fish that we were properly armed. The stillness of the weather was perfectly reflected by the comatose fish.

Tried a sliver Salmo first………………

Next I tied on a Zebra Toby

And finally a gold Toby Smash got a swim

The early mist lifted to leave a lovely Spring day. The trees and shrubs are still a long way behind where they should be but with the increase in air temperatures there should be a spurt in growth over the next few days. Now is wonderful time to be out and about in the Irish countryside. New life will blossom very quickly as winter finally retreats. The swallows will return this week after their arduous journeys from Africa and the trout will start to feed on the newly hatched flies. That dread coldness which has haunted the country since last October will lift and warmth from Europe will envelope us in Ireland. Optimism is returning along with new plans and ideas. It is amazing what benefits some good weather can bring!

On the troll

Even the improved climatic conditions failed to liven the salmon for us this morning though and we returned to the launching site near the bridge empty-handed. This is not unusual for the river these days as the runs of salmon grow smaller and smaller each year. By noon we were bumping along the road home.

This is not the most taxing way to fish but on days like Sunday it gives you an opportunity to sit back and take in the wonders of the natural world around you. A kingfisher flashed past us at one point, a blur of petrol blue and burnt orange. Larks were high above the fields and a huge cock pheasant broke cover close by us on the bank. Some days it is about more than  just catching a fish.

audience

The afternoon was spent doing family stuff then off for a walk along the beach out at Mulranney. Tired, I went to bed early. I planned to fish the River Robe on Monday., maybe the trout would be more responsive!

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Fishing in Ireland, salmon fishing, trolling

Hopes of a salmon

Today there is an air of excitement around the town as the Mayo GAA team are in semi-final action against Tipperary this afternoon. Cars bedecked with green and red flags are heading across the country to watch the game in Dublin, full of hope and anticipation. I on the other hand, am off to try my luck on the Cashel River. Recent rain has pushed water levels up in the Moy system and I hope to intercept some late running grilse.

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On the Cashel

Later…………….

OK, so that didn’t quite go to plan. The weather was perfect and the fiver was dropping after a small flood. All in all the conditions could not have been better for salmon fishing. Pulse suitably quickened, the boat was emptied of water in double quick time and the gear safely stowed before motoring upstream to troll over the likely lies. I clipped on an orange and gold Rapala to start with and trailed it 30 yards behind the boat. Soon enough the rod gave a rattle but it was only a small Perch. More of these followed throughout the session.

Ben got off the mark with a tiny Pike followed by  couple of reasonably big perch which I claimed for supper. Not many people eat perch but they are very good and I would encourage you to try them. I don’t know what stocks are like elsewhere but in these parts there are large shoals of these lovely fish, so one or two for the pot won’t cause too much of a problem.

The fishing was a bit slow so i decided to give a small copper Toby a swim. We have a great fondness for the old original Tobies, the ones which were made in SWEDEN by ABU. The newer ones just don’t seem to be as effective and I would have a tarnished old original before a bright new copy any day of the week. Unfortunately the fish shunned this theory and the copper Toby was substituted later on for another Rapala.

An original Toby

The rain started around noon and with the wind grew stronger. By then we had turned right at the meetings of the waters and were trying our luck on the Clydagh River. Again, our hopes of meeting salar were dashed and in the gathering gloom we about-turned and headed back down river. There seem to be very few salmon around this season, a very worrying trend indeed. I’m going trout fishing the next time I am out.

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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, Pike, salmon fishing, sea trout fishing

How to fix a sticking net

A quick wee post that might be of some use to you……………

Ben’s extending salmon net was stuck fast, no amount of pulling would free it so I volunteered to try and fix it for him. I was confident I could do it as I have done the same before with my own nets over the years.

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The sliding collar

I took the net home and used clamps to move the collar up to the end of the shank. The expansion bolt was unscrewed and kept safe before forcing the frame off the shank. As suspected, the soft insert in the collar had deformed and was in need of re-profiling with a fine file. The temptation is always to take off too much so care is required and some restraint with the file. just smooth off any ridges and try to get back to the square shape. Offer up the frame to the shank again – it should just go on but still be tight. Now for the magic.

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The man on the black horse

Apply a very light coating of olive oil to the shank.I never use any other oil release agents like WD-40. And don’t try to put on too much oil, it will only cover anything it comes in contact with and attarct dirt.

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The insert after it was filed

Put it all back together and you are done. To maintain smooth operation simply apply a fine coat of olive oil once or twice a year or when there is the first sign of sticking.

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Fishing in Ireland, Pike, salmon fishing, trolling

Spring but no Springers

 

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Rain over the bank holiday weekend has pushed up water levels a bit so we decided to try for a springer today. Waiting for Ben outside the house in warm sunshine it really felt like spring was here at last. The trees were filled with chirping birds amid the early blossoms.

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Lovely spring morning, for a start at least

I caught up on all Ben’s news on the short journey out to the river  (he had a 10 pounder off Lagduff on the Owenduff on Saturday) and we assessed the chances for today. The river had risen over a foot but was now dropping back . Word was that a couple of salmon had been caught on the Moy system recently, one at Pontoon bridge and another at Foxford. All of this sounded good and we were pretty hopeful there was going to be a fish or two in the river today. Peering over the bridge the water was tinged, but not too coloured. Gear was hastily stowed on the boat and we motored up river in good spirits.

An hour later and we were beginning to flag. No signs of fish at all and the warmth of the morning was disipating as clouds rolled in from the south west. A thin drizzle began to fall, washing our confidence away. Conversation died and we sat hunched in the boat, each  of us lost in our own thoughts. ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ, off went Ben’s rod as something fishy grabbed his Kynoch. After the first run everything went dead and we both knew what that meant – PIKE.

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Note how the Kynoch has slid up the line and out of harm’s way

This lad headed for the weeds and had to be bullied back out into open water before he could be boated.

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Coming to hand

By the time we pulled in to have a bit of lunch we had 3 pike between us, all between 4 and 5 pounds in weight. Of the silvery salmon there was no sign. After a soggy lunch, consumed behind a brier in a cold and wetting mist, we met some fellow anglers who were bait fishing with similar results as ourselves. And so we turned for home and headed back the way we had come. Another pike and then 2 trout were boated as we retraced our steps. Both trout were, just like the ones we had on Friday, in perfect condition, deep bodied and well fed. I suspect these are fish from Lough Cullin which came up the river to spawn and have hung around due to the good food supply.

 

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trailing some weed, another Pike comes to the boat

We called it a day when we got back below the bridge and tackled down at a leasurely pace. Salmon fishing is a numbers game, the more often you fish the more salmon you will catch. Today was not our turn but that wont stop us from trying again soon.

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Get out of those weeds!

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Snow on Nephin today

With work beckoning tomorrow and the forecast of cool, wet weather for the whole week I am now resigned to no more fishing until next weekend.

 

 

 

 

 

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Fishing in Ireland, Pike, salmon fishing, trolling

Good Friday

How did you spend Good Friday? I had a busy day on and around the water here in Mayo and this is a short summary of a typical day for me when I am not working.

Ben called in this morning and asked for help launching his boat on Lough Beltra. We agreed that the day was going to be too stormy for fishing the lough but it would be good to have the boat ready for action next week. He had already loaded the boat on to a trailer and so we ate a leisurely breakfast in Cafe Rua before hauling the boat out the Newport  Road and into Glenisland.

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Pulled up at the car park

When we arrived at the car park there were a couple of cars there, indicating at least one boat was fishing. The wind was from the South West and beginning to gust strongly with the promise of a much harder blow as the day wore on.

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The harbour

We launched the boat but made a bit of a mess of it in the wind and she slewed badly as we pushed her in.We had to scramble to free the boat, Ben getting into the water to wrestle the boat off the trailer. We managed OK and Ben led the boat into the harbour on the long line. it was only now that he noticed the prow had worked loose and would require repair.

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Leading the boat in to the harbour

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Almost there

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The damaged prow

While we were messing about in the harbour a boat which had been out fishing came in to the shore. It turned out to be Eamonn Kennedy  with two Dublin fishers. They had been on the receiving end of a battering by the wind and had decided to switch to the other end of the lake in a an effort to get some respite.

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Eamonn Kennedy on the engine in a big wave

Once ashore we had a chat with Eamonn about the fishing. We all agreed that a little bit more water would be good but that the unsettled weather forecast for the coming week should give us a chance of some sport.

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Ben and Eamonn chewing the fat

With Ben’s boat now safely moored we had to decide what to do for the rest of the day. The weather was deteriorating by the minute and so so we plumped for a couple of hours trolling on the Cashel river. Back in town we rounded up some gear, made up a flask and headed out the Pontoon road. The boat was in need of a small amount of baling but we were soon motoring up the river in search of silver salmon.

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An hour passed, then two and still no action to either rod. Ben’s rod finally bent into a fish but despite it’s obvious weight we could quickly see it was going to be a pike and not the hoped for salmon.

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In to a fish at last………………………….

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Only a Pike though

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Nearly there

A fish of about 7 pounds, and I quickly followed with a smaller lad of about 4 pounds. By now we were fishing in what felt like a typhoon and one of my casts was caught by the wind and my lovely copper spoon was deposited high in the branches of a willow tree! Some comic capers ensued as I recovered my tackle from the clutches of the bankside vegetation and fishing was resumed. Ben boated the last Pike of the day and we turned for home.

My rod registered a bite and I found myself playing a small fish. I thought it was a Perch at first but no, I had hooked a lovely Brownie of just under a pound. Not to be outdone, Ben repeated the feat with another trout slightly smaller in size. Both trout were in excellent condition.

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Ben’s trout just before I slipped it back

By now it was after 5pm so we called it a day and motored home. Maybe we didn’t catch much and failed to even set eyes on a salmon, but it was great to be out on the water this Good Friday.

 

 

 

 

 

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Fishing in Ireland, Pike, salmon fishing, trolling

And we’re off!

A text from Ben asking for help to launch the first boat actually took me by surprise. I have been so busy at work lately that the thought of going fishing had not slipped into my awareness. That text changed all of that and I bundled some gear into the car and headed off to hitch up the boat trailer. A few minutes work and then we were off down the Pontoon Road with a 17 footer bobbing along merrily behind. The mild weather of yesterday continued today and the job of launching the boat was performed amid a backdrop of lovely spring vistas across the flat lands edging Lough Cullin. In no time at all the boat was afloat and our tackle loaded for a couple of exploratory hours.

We soon settled into the normal rhythm of this type of day and we caught up on all the gossip and fishing related stories and news. Ben’s rod was first to  bend into a fish but some head-shaking quickly loosened the Toby and the fish escaped. the scenery slipped by and the changes to the river after the winter floods were apparent with a lot of small trees either washed away or flattened on the bank.

It was my turn next when a solid thump converted into a dour struggle, obviously just a Pike. In this case a fish of around 6 pounds which had taken a fancy to a 24gm copper spoon. On up the river we pushed, past willows now covered with catkins and the first buds of the year.

My next take was initially encouraging as the fish hit hard and took line immediately, but it soon thrashed on the surface and was clearly just another Pike. This was a slightly better fish of around 10 pounds or so.

After that one we turned and began to head back down stream. We had not gone too far when Ben’s reel let out a screech and he was fast to something a bit better. The Pike ran into a drowned tree and it took some strong arm tactics to drag it back out into open water where it was subdued and landed, a fish of 14 pounds and as fat as a butchers dog. That was enough for one day and we motored back, well pleased with our opening session of 2016.

 

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