Fishing in Ireland, salmon fishing, trolling, trout fishing

Still quiet on Conn

Conn (again) today. Like some sort of a piscatorial junkie I had to go back there again to get another ‘fix’. Previous disappointments were pushed to the dark recesses of my memory and I packed tons of gear and even more optimism before setting off.

Hazy day on Lough Conn

Let me get this off my chest straight away – I failed to catch anything of any consequence today. Conditions were good and the weather was kind for a change so I don’t really have any excuses. I tried hard and used all my knowledge of the lough but still came up short. My hopes were initially pinned on the first of the years salmon showing up but there was no sign of them today. After trolling and fly fishing over a couple of normally productive lies I pulled into the shore to swap over to a cast of trout flies.

a very full boat!

I met a pair of experienced fishers from the midlands who were on the last day of a three day trip to the Conn. They had not caught a fish during their stay! A few mayfly were hatching out so I decided to drift the edges of Castlehill Bay. A number of other boats had the same idea, making for a busy day on the oars to keep clear of everyone else.

boats on Lough Conn

With a steady breeze behind me I drifted right across the bay, then repeated the exercise for good measure. Two small trout nipped at the flies and I saw only three natural rises in the distance during those lengthy drifts. Maybe some of the other boats saw some action but I didn’t see anyone bending a rod into a fish. The few mays which were hatching seemed to thin out and the hatch stopped altogether. Time to move on!

On the move

I set up the trolling rods again and turned into the wind, the engine pushing me slowly southwards. A Toby on one line and a nice copper ABU Salar on the other, it was time to hunker down as the mist rolled in.

mist coming down over Nephin

mist coming down over Nephin

The long haul down the Massbrook shore was fishless and the return journey equally unproductive. No trout rose and no salmon jumped clear of the water. In these conditions it was hard to believe this was Lough Conn. the only action came in the shape of a tiny 8 inch trout which grabbed a 12 gram Toby. Luckily. the wee fella was lightly hooked and soon returned.

mayfly

an out of focus mayfly!

Mayfly shuck

Mayfly shuck

With the mayfly hatch finally underway there must be hopes the lough will start to fish soon. I will probably back next weekend to mainline on the Conn!

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

More news from nowhere

Boat fully loaded and ready to go

Boat fully loaded and ready to go

Sunday. The weather is promised to get fine again later in the day so I decided to try my luck on Lough Conn for a few hours. The word on the street is that a small number of salmon and grilse has been running the Moy and a few have been landed all the way from the Ridge Pool up to the East Mayo Anglers water. I am hoping that at least some of these fish have turned into Lough Conn.

I load the car with engine, petrol tank and gear then head up the road. Nick Cave and the Badseeds are blasting out ‘more news from nowhere’ on the CD player. I love the juxtaposition of Nick’s tale of Greek mythology and the seedy video which accompanies it with my innocent journey through the glorious Mayo countryside. I am off down quiet country roads and winding lanes to Pike Bay where my boat is safely moored.

I get the boat ready but the wind is set North-North-East and the far horizon is shimmering blue already. Hopes of a decent day’s are fading before I even pull the cord and the old Johnson outboard splutters into life. Ah well, I am here anyway so I will give it a lash. Motoring up into Castlehill Bay there is no sign of fly life and the swallows are absent. I set up a team of wet flies for a start and drift across the bay a couple of times without stirring anything. No flies, no rising fish and no offers and by 11am the sun is burning in the sky and the wind is dropping. It is going to be a hard day out here!

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A cup of coffee and couple of tomato sandwiches are consumed as I set up a pair of trolling rods and head off down towards Massbrook. Something small grabs a bait soon after I get going but it quickly shakes the hooks (no mean feat considering the trebles on a Rapala). I’m constantly scanning the surface for any signs of fly life but the lough looks and feels absolutely dead. The light is now brassy and these conditions are very difficult for the trout angler on the western lakes. Of course I could break out the fast sinking lines and head out into the deeps to search for small trout feeding on daphnia but I am no lover of that type of fishing.

At the entrance to Pike Bay the rod with a small silver Toby on it jerks into life. I reel in a small fish and am surprised to see a small sea trout has taken the bait. Just as I reach out to land it the hooks fly out and the fish swims off none the worse for its adventure. Sea trout are not common in Lough Conn, despite good numbers being present down at the mouth of the River Moy. This one was only a small lad, less than a pound in weight by the look of it.

I double back and am heading down Cornakillew when the Rapala is taken again. Any hopes of Salar are quickly dashed and a brownie is boated. This one has swallowed the bait and so he gets a tap on the head and into the bag for my dinner tonight. He will be about a pound and a quarter in weight and is a well-shaped fish.

I take the opportunity to change the link swivel (which looks a bit suspect to me) and the bait. Since the Rapala is interesting small fish I think I will stick to them but go for a jointed version with a bit more wiggle to it in an effort to arouse the salmon.

Still no fly life. A solitary mayfly lands in the boat with me but that’s it. The heat is building and the sun burns down on me. Time to head home I think. One last turn around the pin yields a firm knock which turns out to be a Perch.

It seems I can catch anything today except the salmon I am really after! Back in Pike Bay I unload the boat and chuck everything into the back of the car, it’s too hot to take much care now and I just want to get back home in time to cut the grass.

Alder

Alder

Lessons from today? The Rapala is certainly worth more time on the end of the line. Not only did it lure some (admittedly small) fish but it is easy to use in the weedy conditions which are with us now until the end of the season. The floating models are a joy to use on the troll and they pop up to the top if you have to stop to play a fish on the other rod.

trolling outside of Pike Bay, Lough Conn

trolling outside of Pike Bay, Lough Conn

The lack of fly life during the day is not unusual on Conn at this time of year and the heat today suggests it is time to think about evening fishing. I might try the rivers again this week, Blue Winged Olives should be on the menu in the evenings and sedges in the darkness could elicit the attention of the bigger trout.

Back in the car I swing the wheel and slowly head down the narrow winding track back towards civilisation. So that’s it for now, I have no more news from nowhwere …………

Update: The trout made a fabulous dinner. When I was cleaning it I discovered that I had inadvertently been ‘matching the hatch’ by using the Rapala – the fish was stuffed with perch fry.

Link to the salubriously sleazy ‘more news from nowhere’ video:

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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.

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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.

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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

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