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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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!

Advertisements
Standard
Fishing in Ireland, salmon fishing, trolling

Conn this afternoon

It is bitterly cold again today but the call of the lough was just too strong so I gave Conn a lash after lunch. A bright morning had given way to dull and breezy afternoon as I set off, the back of the car jammed full of all manner of gear.

How much gear do I need!

I heaved my prehistoric 9.9 out of the car and on to the boat. Hooking up the petrol tank I pulled the starter cord – nothing! Every year I suffer the same ritual with this old motor. I try to start it and it refuses to budge for about 20 minutes and then, without warning on the hundredth pull it flickers into life. Clipping a couple of Toby’s on to the rods I headed out into the lough. The North-Easter was bloody freezing and the waves topped the side of the boat a few times, requiring some swift bucket action to keep my gear relatively dry. Three lads were worming from the bank, huffing and puffing as they tried to keep warm. Not a method of fishing I subscribe too but it is a tradition in these parts and people who never normally come near the loughs drown earthworms for a few days each Spring.

p4010025.jpg

I trolled for a while but to be honest I was more intent on seeing the engine in action and looking for any signs of life on the water. The prolonged cold weather has set nature back and there is still no sign of the trees and shrubs greening up with new foliage. Disappointingly, I saw no fly life or any signs of fish while out today.

Motoring up into Castlehill bay I could see a boat in the distance. Thinking at first they were trout fishers I headed in their direction, hoping to ask if they had any sport today. As I got closer it became clear the boat contained 4 Pike anglers. It became even more obvious that they were moored exactly over the lie I hoped to troll over! All four were busily hurling gigantic swim baits towards a reed bed so I left them to it and turned back for home.

Not even the Pike were biting this afternoon

Headin’ home

It was always going to be an uphill battle to find a salmon today. There are fish in the system, between 20 and 30 have been landed so far in total. Most of those have come from the Ballina area but a couple have been caught at Pontoon Bridge so there is a chance one or two have penetrated further into the lough.

Just being out in the fresh air was a tonic. We anglers spend large chunks of each year dreaming of being out on the water with rod and line so we need to make the best of every opportunity that arises. On the plus side for me today the old engine ran perfectly once we had overcome the initial starting problems. I feel much more confident in my lures after the big clear out over the winter and the replacements which now fill my tackle bag. All we need now is for the weather to warm up a bit.

Toby ‘T’

Standard
Fishing in Ireland, salmon fishing, trolling

A day for sunbathing

Tried Lough Conn today but the conditions were hopeless. Flat calm and brilliant sunshine are the nadir to all Irish fishers and that was exactly what the weather Gods provided for us today. No signs of fly life beyond a solitary olive. No mayfly at all to be seen. A few very small trout rose in Pike bay and again off Massbrook but of the salmon there was no sign. Here are a few pics:

looking out across Conn from Pike Bay

A fellow fisher coming in after a fruitless session

Blue skies

With such terrible conditions we were forced to troll to have any chance of contacting a salmon. The sun burned and the wind remained resolutely meagre. Castlehill and Massbrook received our fondest attentions but to no avail.

Trolling rod out

An ancient Toby which got a swim today

A bit of dressing on the treble to give it some extra ‘bling’

We tried Toby spoons, Rapalas (9 and 5cm) and some other spoons from the bottom of the box but other than one suicidal 10 inch brownie we touched nothing all day.

The bottom

The bottom clearly seen in about 6 feet of water

A well earned mug of Cinnamon tea

With no fly life, very low water and settled weather forecast for the rest of this week I will hang up my waders until the rains come.

Standard
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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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.

Standard
Fishing in Ireland, Pike, trolling

October Piking

I snuck off for an afternoon’s piking today. The weather was so mild it seemed a pity to spend it indoors so I gathered up some gear and borrowed a boat for a few hours. It always amazes me how much gear I require for even just a short outing. Engine, fuel tank, tackle boxes and all the rest of it adds up to a mountain of stuff to be packed into the car, unpacked at the river and then loaded into the boat only for the whole damn process to be reversed once the fishing is over.

  The boat was moored across a field from where I parked the car and the normally empty field had a couple of inhabitants today in the shape of fairly sturdy cattle who couldn’t resist a close inspection of my portable mountain of gear.

I tackled up and headed upstream trailing two baits 20 yards behind the boat. A jointed plug adorned one rod and a big copper spoon was on the other. It was the spoon which did most of the damage today and the plug was replaced with a green and gold Toby at some point. Three pike were boated pretty quickly before it all went quiet and I was left to motor through the deep channel in perfect peace.

The unseasonably warm weather was tempered by an awkward wind which made handling the boat in the narrow river a bit tricky. One tiny jack took the spoon up near  the top part of the river but apart from that it was quiet, time to turn around and head back to where I had started. First I pulled into the side to stretch my legs and have a bite to eat.

Back on the water again the fish seemed to have woken up as I meandered downstream. Hits came fast and furious as Pike up to 7 pounds smash into the big copper spoon. Most of them are smaller lads of only a couple of pounds but it is great sport.

I called it a day after boating the tenth fish of the afternoon and moored up just before 4pm. Driving home I reflected on the day and in particular on the distribution of the pike. All bar one tiny Jack had been taken on the lower part of the river. was this an indication the Pike were dropping down towards the lake?

This calm spell of weather can’t last much longer so today may have been my last fishing trip for a while. If it is, at least I can say the rod was well bent!

Standard
salmon fishing, trolling

Trolling, the gentle art of doing not much at all

Trolling, the not so fine art of dragging spinning and wobbling lures behind a moving boat is not everyone’s cup of tea. If my fishing was confined solely to days spent trolling I would long ago have sold the rods and taken up computer gaming or amature dramatics instead. As it is though, I indulge in the occasional outing when conditions or specific situations arise based on the premise the some fishing is definitely better than no fishing at all.

Each season a few of us troll the lower section of one of the local rivers for salmon. This particular piece of water is deep and slow-moving with high banks intersected by large and deep agricultural drains. On top of these already formidable obstacles the river is a bit remote and hard to get near to by car. So to fish it from the bank would entail a long tramp in to fish a very short section, then a walk out back to the car, drive down some more lanes, park up and repeat the process. Instead of that messing around we troll the river from a small boat, thus negating the problems of access.

pulling awayTrolling in my opinion is best performed by two in a boat. Handling the boat and the rods on your own does have its own satisfaction but the hours of not much happening are easier to bear when there is another living being in reasonably close proximity. And that is the thing with trolling, there tends to be a lot of nothing happening. As an exercise in getting some fresh air into your lungs and taking time to see the local wildlife it is very good but do not expect hectic sport.

Anyway, my mate and I launched the boat, fired up the engine and motored up to the starting point. The water level was high but clarity was pretty good with only a tinge of brown on the day. Rods were armed with suitable spoons and they were trailed some 20 to 30 yards behind us as we made our way upriver at a sedate pace. The rod tips dipped and nodded in response to the action of the spoons and there were occasional moments of action when one or other of the baits snagged on a sunken tree or other such impediment. Regarding baits we use things like Tobies, Swinford spoons, Rapalas and that sort of thing.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Typical baits for trolling

Bites were at a premium shall we say (ie non-existent) so once we had covered the water up as far as the confluence of a tributary we pulled into the back for a spot of lunch.

article-1074149-0503CFC60000044D-944_634x414

Here we are looking for somewhere to pull in

Out of the cold wind the air was pleasantly warm and springlike. Herein lies the attraction of a trolling session for me, it forces you to slow down. All actions until a fish strikes are unhurried and deliberate. Lunch was a leisurely affair of soup, sandwiches, coffee and chat. Different baits were tied on but to be honest neither of us thought the new ones were any better than the ones we had taken off. Then we pushed off back into the steady flow and continued upstream once again.

heading downstreamAn unassuming straight stretch, no different from miles of similar water yielded a small pike to my rod and I had so sooner got that in the boat than a second, larger pike grabbed the other bait. This river is full of pike and it had been a surprise not to meet any before now. Before the day was out half a dozen small pike would be boated. I know some anglers love pike fishing but I fail to see the attraction. I have seen videos of fishermen in epic battles with pike but to me they are usually just a dead weight on the end of the line and an awkward customer to unhook without being bitten.

the castle

We pressed on up to the furthest extremity of the fishable water near a ruined castle then turned around and started heading downstream again. The afternoon was wearing on now so we motored down through some of the less likely looking water and then fished through areas where fish have been taken, lost or at the very least observed in the past. The baits wobbled seductively enough but no salmon were in the mood for seduction that afternoon. The wind was strengthening and growing perceptively colder so it was with some relief we gained the mooring point and called it a day.

one pike

It was hardly a day of frantic sport but it was nice to be out on an afternoon in March, seeing the willows beginning to bud and feeling the push of the river under the keel once more. Springers are a rare commodity these days and there is a high probability we did not even cover a fish all day. Rumour has it that one was caught down near the estuary earlier in the week but disinformation is a fine art in angling circles so a large dose of sodium chloride needs to be taken with such reports. Unless I hear that salmon have been seen or landed in the system I will return to trouting next week.

spoon

Standard