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
salmon fishing

Toby, Sinky and the net

Not really about fishing at all, but I thought this tale of modern life was worth the telling……….

ABU Toby, this one is the copper K version

eBay is great, isn’t it! Any old tat turns up on it and if you are like me then simply trolling through the various categories is entertaining enough without even making a purchase. There are bargains galore and rip offs in equal quantity. While I have personally never made any large purchases on eBay, I do enjoy perusing it for old lures. Not your collectable stuff now (way too expensive for a poverty-stricken angler like me), just old fashioned work-a-day lures that I have used for all my angling life.

I have this theory which may or may not hold water. Old ABU lures are better at catching fish than the new ones (sorry ABU Garcia). The exact reasoning for my long and dearly held suspicions lacks any scientific basis, so this remains very firmly in the realm of theoretical hypothesis. The modern lures don’t feel right to me somehow. They appear to me to be manufactured from cheap alloys and their action in the water does not seem to me to be so energetic. I am not alone is this view and I know other anglers who share my ill-defined beliefs when it comes to comparing Scandinavian and far eastern metalwork. Of course, a happy hunting ground on the net for original Swedish ABU lures is eBay. That is where this modern day tale starts………

18gm Gold Toby in good condition. I don’t like the silver hook though so I will change that

I was at it again you see. In a hotel room after work with time on my hands and a good internet connection. eBay beckoned and I started clicking through the fishing lures on offer. Rare! Vintage! Very Scarce!!! All the usual sales techniques were being fully deployed to ensnare the unwary. Toby’s which on closer inspection turned out to be Shanny’s (a copy made in the Far East for Woolworths), ‘Vintage’ devons at eye-watering prices which you can still buy new online for a few bob,  Rapalas with wonky diving vanes and a host of boxes containing varying amounts of angling rubbish. In amongst this piscatorial flotsam and jetsam there were some gems and I latched on to a box of old lures which were reasonably priced. A few clicks with the mouse and I was done. I would have forgotten about the old box I had bid on but eBay kindly sends you reminders to keep old duffers like me to keep me on the ball. To cut to the chase, I won the auction!

My prize consisted of a grand total of 16 old ABU spoons contained in a neat little bronze coloured plastic box with a clear lid and internal divisions. Most were Toby’s but there were also a couple of old ‘Salar’ spoons too. I must confess that I was pretty chuffed at acquiring this bargain, even if a couple of the spoons were ones I already had in my box. For whatever reason there is a glut of Zebra coloured Toby’s out there and I have enough of that pattern to last me several lifetimes. Then again, that grand old angler, George Gordon swore by an 18 gram Zebra Toby and did great execution with it back in the day on the Mugiemoss beat of the Don. Here is a photo of George with his best ever salmon, a whopping great 35 pounder!

And here is where this everyday tale of modern shopping takes a funny turn. When paying for my newly purchased trove I noticed the name of the seller ‘denisthefish’ and his address – Aberdeen. A couple of emails soon established the truth, ‘denisthefish’ was none other than Sinky Sinclair! Long, long ago I used to work and fish with Denis ‘Sinky’ Sinclair. I left Aberdeen in my twenties, never to return and lost touch with most of my friends and workmates up there. Yet, after all these years here I was, back in touch with the bold Sinky. Denis, now in his seventies, still fishes the lower Don but he tells me the fishing is but a shadow of what it used to be. He only managed to catch two salmon last season on beats where we would have previously classed two fish in a day as a reasonable outing.

The lower beats of the river Don in Aberdeenshire have waxed and wained as salmon fisheries over the years. The waters of the Don were harnessed to provide power and process water for a large number of mills, leaving the river scarred and altered to meet the needs of the industrialists. The salmon dwindled in numbers to the point where the only way fish could survive was to run through the lower beats during high water. The river became little more than an open sewer for many years. Yet, somehow the fish kept returning to spawn and by the seventies new environmental legislation began to force the mills and utilities to add better waste treatment plants. Amazingly, the river healed itself, spates scoured the filth accumulated over centuries from the bottom. Weed growth returned and with it the invertebrate life to support trout and young salmon. Salmon numbers surged and the seventies saw some spectacular angling on the lower beats. As I worked in the papermills during that time I had access to a couple of beats which produced memorable days fishing. One of those beats was at the back of Donside, where Sinky and I searched the depths of the pools with minnows and spoons. The mills have gone now, replaced with smart new houses. All just a memory now.

The Millionair’s pool on the Mugiemoss beat

The Saugh pool with Mugiemoss mills on the opposite bank

The wee bronze coloured box and its contents duly arrived. I was delighted with them but even more pleased to have been in touch with Sinky again. It just shows how interconnected we in the western world are to each other. You can bet that when I tie on one of those spoons and drag it through the waters of Lough Conn this season my thoughts will drift back to those halcyon days when me and Sinky used to fish at the back of the mill.

Nether Don and St. Macher's cathedral

Nether Don and St. Macher’s cathedral

Standard