Archive for July, 2010

Fly Fishing in Ireland, Roundwood Lakes, Co. Wicklow

Thursday, July 29th, 2010

A request to help take a group of visiting Finnish anglers out on Roundwood lakes resulted in a fine days sport in good company. With the lakes low, the day dull, and a warm south west breeze creating a nice wave, conditions looked promising. Driving to the Knockatemple shore we loaded the boats with what seemed to be a mountain of gear and set off.

Roundwood, Co. Wicklow, brownie.

My guest for the day was named Essa and we hit it off straight away, a salmon angler back in Finland, he wanted to experience traditional Irish lough fishing. Choosing a drift across a shallow point, first cast a trout snatched at my bob fly, a bibio. Two casts later stripping fast a plump brownie took the watsons on the middle dropper with a bang. Launching itself into the air a spirited fight ensued, golden brown and well spotted, a great start to the day.

Happy anglers on a Roundwood, Co. Wicklow shore.

Mid afternoon we all met up for lunch. The kelly kettles were fired up, plenty of hot tea, wine, nips of Jameson, and the grub of course. Lots of banter and getting to know each other, how the fishing was going, what flies were working, which drifts, an hour flew by. Back on the water fishing was slow. Adjusting traces and changing flies brought no joy. The surroundings made up for the lack of sport and conversation flowed. In jig time dusk was upon us, the day had just disappeared.

Roundwood brownie nailed by a Wicklow Killer.

Suddenly the lake surface came alive as trout were head and tailing all around us. A hatch of small silverhorn sedges had got the fish moving. Just prior to this activity I had replaced a Peter Ross on the point with a Wicklow Killer. Bang it was nailed and a couple of minutes later another fine brownie graced the boards.

Wicklow Killer.

Essa and I fished on, trout were snatching at our flies, diving at the bob which was great fun to see. Essa had a fish on only for the hook to be thrown. Earlier in the day he had been broken by a take, losing his point fly. Finally in the midst of this great hatch Essa landed his first Irish brownie. By now it was dark, the hatch petered out, so we headed tired but also exhilarated by what we had witnessed to the mooring.

Kimo, with a fine catch of wild Roundwood trout.

Tying up the boats and packing away the gear we exchanged stories of the day. A few nice trout had been kept, mainly encountered during the evening rise of silverhorns. Tales of fish lost at the net, now of course twice the size they really were. But that is what it is all about. A great day in good company, memories to cherish.

Click on: Guided Lough Fly Fishing in Co. Wicklow.

Conger Capers

Monday, July 26th, 2010

David Murphy likes fishing for congers from a local pier. At night the beasts leave their lair and snoop around looking for tasty morsels. A recent night time foray proved eventful with a fine fish landed and a mystery visitor providing some speedy fireworks.

Strapping young lad with a very large conger

Using mackerel for bait it was not long before a short run and hook up resulted in a tug of war with a conger in the 15lb plus bracket. On landing Dave noticed not one but three hooks in the fishes mouth, legacies of previous encounters. Shortly afterwards another run developed which on striking kicked into turbo boost. The fish tore off into the harbour at a rate of knots, unstoppable Dave leaned into what he presumed was a seal. Something had to give which proved to be the wire trace, bitten through above the hook. With no more runs developing that was it for the night, fun and games for sure.

Burry Port Open 2010, South Wales

Monday, July 26th, 2010

Took the ferry over to Burry Port, Llanelli, South Wales, to fish the 22nd annual Burry Port Open Fishing Festival ran by the local yacht club. A boat competition with a prize value in excess of £2500, this year it attracted over 120 entries. A guest of Alan Duthie, chairman of SWWASAC (South West Wales Association of Angling Clubs), other than the weather a good time was had by all.

Adam Davies with a fine Carmarthen Bay Hound

Fished in Carmarthen Bay over a nine hour period due to the tidal range, the inner bay dries out at low water, it is a marathon event. Species to expect are bass, black bream, smooth hound, various ray, sole, dab, plaice, gurnard, and dogfish. First prize goes to the angler who catches the best species as a percentage of the specimen weight. A small boat competition, last year the weather was glorious and we were able to get to the outer grounds giving access to a wide range of species. This year due to the inclement weather we were confined to the estuary thus limiting our options.

Rough day at the office, Burry Port Open 2010

Fishing the inner bay with Dennis Davies and his grandson Adam we had a grand day catching smooth hounds to around seven pounds. Crab and lugworm were the key baits and in the shallow water, less than twenty foot deep, they took off like tope. Mackerel were scarce but we found a few, also adding gurnard, school bass, and dogfish to the species haul. It was apparent that due to the shallow water uptiding the inner marks is a far better method then trotting downtide, the noise of the boat definitely putting the fish off feeding.

Playing a hound, Burry Port Open 2010

The rough weather limited the catch throughout the entries, however bass to seven pound plus and black bream topping two pounds were weighed in along with a couple of decent ray. On return a grand feed of chicken curry awaited, prepared by the yacht club, which along with a few beers was much needed and appreciated after being thrown around and rained on for nine hours. My second year fishing the event, 2009 was windless and we were bathed in sunshine, putting the outer grounds in reach. The welcome though and the spirit of the competitors won out over the weather, and all things being equal I will be back next year for what is an enjoyable and well run event.

Fly Fishing in Ireland, Aughrim River, Co. Wicklow

Monday, July 19th, 2010

The Aughrim River is alive again, down to its bones with the summer drought, yesterday it was fresh and fizzing, having levelled off after the recent rains and running clear with that tea coloured peaty tinge. Parking in the village of Aughrim outside Lawless’s Hotel, closed for renovation after a fire gutted part of the building, I walk down the ramp to fish the weir pool below the bridge. A showery warm day in mid July with a good head of water in the system, sea trout must be running. Up went a Kill Devil Spider (size 14) on the point accompanied by a Butcher (size 10), it might be unorthodox fishing for sea trout in daylight, but for the sake of research why not.

The weir above the bridge at Aughrim, Co. Wicklow

Trout lie in the fast oxygenated water below the weir. There is a pocket on the near side that usually holds a good fish. Wading and positioning a rod length upstream I crouch and cast the flies working the seams either side of the main run. The line twitches, a parr, recast it twitches again, this time a small rainbow. Dibbling the flies once more on a short line the rod kicks over to a sprightly half pound brownie that feels twice the weight in the fast water. Staying deep while swimming backwards and forwards along the face of the weir, I eventually manage to unceremoniously lift the trout up and over the falling water, my only option due to leaving the landing net at home. Golden olive flanked with black and red spots rimmed with white, a nice fish for this river tempted by the Kill Devil.

The Stonecutter restaurant, Aughrim, Co. Wicklow

A couple more smaller fish then a move to the deep run below the larger weir upstream of the bridge, constructed to supply water to the mill race which is now used by the local fish farm as a source of water. Good trout definitely reside here unfortunately a large branch is caught in the middle of the run causing an obstruction, it will have to wait until the next flood. On to the Stonecutter for a bowl of homemade tomato soup and brown bread. Ken and Louise run a fine restaurant and coffee shop, all fresh ingredients cooked and served to a very high standard.

Small rainbow trout, Aughrim River, Co. Wicklow, Ireland

Mid afternoon working a favourite pool that always holds a pod of white trout in season, I feel a pluck. Recasting the fly swings a round and bang the rod heels over and locks, sea trout. Hooked on the dangle the fish swims deep in the pool before being coaxed towards me. A flash of a silver flank in the fast water, “how I need a net now”, the trout kicks and it’s gone. Further casts produce no interest, “I’ll work the pool again later”.

Lower weir, Aughrim, Co. Wicklow

At Woodenbridge the Aughrim meets the Avoca river putting life into the dead water that runs past the old mine workings upstream. Salmon and seatrout hang a left here on their journey to the redds. It’s six pm now and I have to leave the river. No more white trout showed, activity confined to small brownies and a solitary rainbow. However with heavy rain forecast giving the promise of more fish entering the system, a dusk session is pencilled in for the coming week.

Sea Fishing in Ireland, Wicklow Style

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

A four meter evening tide coupled with a warm southerly puts fish onto my local marks. Having stored away a couple of dozen lugworm from the Wexford trip, I ventured down to put a couple of hours in up to dark. On arrival the sea was perfect, rolling in but falling as the wind decreased and backed around to the south west. The water although coloured carried little floating weed. Using one rod I doubled up the lug on a two hook paternoster and lobbed the rig fifty meters into the lively sea.

School bass from a County Wicklow beach

A double knock and a quick strike led to a spirited tussle from a stocky little schoolie bass returned to fight another day. “Go and get your mother”. Ten minutes later a shake of the rod tip followed by a purposeful lunge indicated just one species, smooth hound. Pulling the beach caster into its fighting curve the hound tore off to the left towards a weed bank. Applying pressure it turned on a sixpence and scooted to the right. Now swimming up the shingle bank within the wave wash the hound ran this way and that before being beached. Turbo charged fighters smooth hound really are a worthy quarry, great fun on light gear.

Smooth hound caught surf casting from a County Wicklow strand

A short but productive session due to the small amount of bait but worth the journey. This mark always produces, not many fish, however they are usually of a good stamp. Dab, flounder, codling, gurnard, bass, smooth hound, dogfish, number the species to date. Roll on the next set of tides.

By Hook or by Cullenstown?

Wednesday, July 14th, 2010

Fishing unfamiliar marks is a challenge that broadens our knowledge and improves our skill as anglers. New places, fishing conditions, and people, contribute to the fun of the sport, making the effort and preperation worthwhile even if we do not always catch fish on the first visit.

Bass fishing, the bar at Cullenstown, Co. Wexford

The estuary mouth bar at Cullenstown looks a dangerous enough mark to fish at the best of times. The volume of water flowing out through the approximately eighty meter gap is phenomenal. On arriving yesterday I spied a lone angler a hundred metres off the main beach, fronted by crashing grey waves and completely surrounded by moving water. An hour off low tide, reasoning that he was local and knew the form, I waded out. Mainly hard sand with occasional patches of shifting gravel, the water although never more than calf deep had such a force that I could not help feeling uneasy. One slip here and you are gone. Exchanging greetings we talked fishing. Paddy Deveraux has shore fished Cullenstown all his life. He has had bass to off the bar, always uses lugworm, and even fishes the mark at night, retreating to the main beach just before the tide turns. Not for the feint hearted, I’ll stick to the beach and fish the incoming tide thank you.

Hook Head, Co. Wexford, Ireland

The previous evening an exploratory trip to Hook Head after pollack using jelly worms resulted in a string of small fish. The biggest pollack, in the three pound bracket, seemed to prefer 60 gram barrel leads as against the lure. Twice in full view this fish came up from below hammering the lead, pulling the rod tip over, before diving back into the kelp. Hook Head is flat and the rock platforms, numbered for competitions, are stepped making them ideal for fishing. The water offshore is not deep, I counted to no more then ten before the lead hit bottom.

Beach fishing along the Hook peninsula, Co. Wexford

Later that evening Davy and I surf fished a likely bay at the base of the Hook peninsula close to the village of Fethard. Using lug for bait and on a falling tide to be honest we were not overly optimistic. With rocks at either end of the strand we knew that bass were present but would they show. A flounder and a schoolie bass later our hopes were raised only to be dashed by a blanket of weed washed across with the ebbing tide from a far corner of the strand. Calling it a night further investigation revealed that an incoming tide coupled with a southerly breeze will bring bass onto this strand. Outside of that lure fishing the rocks can be productive with fish to double figures, however there is no pattern with the result that fishing can be hit and miss.

Bream Fishing in Co. Monaghan

Thursday, July 8th, 2010

A planned trip to fish for bream in Co. Monaghan proved successful but not in the way that was originally envisaged. Peadar and I agreed on a small venue that had produced bream for some English clients of his last year, and also been kind to him in club matches. On arriving the lake looked ideal, reed fringed and well catered for with fishing stands, the water ruffled by the breeze had a lovely colour to it. Peadar chose two adjacent stands located in a quite corner giving access to a drop off thirty metres offshore.  A sunny, humid day, with a strong south westerly breeze blowing, fishing without prebaiting we still felt confident.

Peadar O'Brien with a fine County Monaghan, Ireland bream.

Feeder fishing casters and sweetcorn while baiting up with four red maggot or a maggot sweetcorn combo, both aiming at a tree on the far shore we built up a swim over a narrow area thirty metres out. Quickly I started to catch very small skimmers, a good sign, Peadar hooking small perch. After an hour Peadar’s rod took on a nice bend, “I’m in and it’s a good fish”. Whoever said bream come in like a wet sack didn’t tell this fellow. The lily pads were favourite to win on a few occasions as the fish stayed deep and swam towards them. Eventually the fish was netted, a fine bream running four pounds+.

Peadar O' Brien playing a large bream, County Monaghan, Ireland.

So the pattern continued throughout the day, Peadar caught perch and every hour or so hooked, played, and landed another lunker bream. I on the other hand must have been casting my feeder into the creche for all I could tempt was the babies and a few perch. We were fishing within feet of each other. Peadar, a seasoned coarse fisher and ex Irish International was adamant that I was fishing correctly, “it was just the day that was in it”, or maybe Peadar’s aftershave? With the World Cup semi between Germany and Spain beckoning we upped sticks at five o’clock.

Angling guide Peadar O' Brien with a fine catch of County Monaghan, Ireland, bream.

The day had been a success, with no prebaiting Peadar had landed four quality bream in five hours fishing. Prebaiting combined with an earlier start could certainly enable a competent coarse angler to amass a hundred pound bag here. With that in mind plans are afoot to do just that, hopefully the creche will be on summer holidays by then.

Summer Codling

Saturday, July 3rd, 2010

The long settled spell has come to an end, Atlantic weather systems have taken hold, the wind is blowing from the south west, and much needed rain has fallen. A walk along Ballinoulart strand revealed a beautiful surf ideal for bass. With the sea area forecast favourable a quick trip to Rosslare provided enough lugworm for a couple of evenings fishing.

Digging lugworm, Burrow shore, Rosslare Strand

On the beach by eight pm, a south/south west 4/5 was pushing a nice sea. The evening, dull, warm, and muggy, felt perfect for bass, a friend had four here to 5.5lbs a few nights previous. First casts, both lines become festooned with strands of green weed. Casting in close or out far results in washing lines of the stuff. A mate on Tinnebearna is facing similar conditions. Best laid plans etc, no fishing tonight.

End of the rainbow

The following evening at a more sheltered location away from the main run of tide fishing is possible. The wind, now south force 6 is due to back south west and decrease, which it does. An initially strong surf flattens out through the session. Grey, warm, and close, the heavens open on occasions resulting in a number of rainbows on the horizon. Conditions like this have produced bass and smooth hounds for me here topping six pounds, so I am hopeful.

Summer codling surf casting from a Wicklow beach

Coming dark a double knock produced the only bite of the session, however it was a welcome sight to see a codling emerge from the surf. Not big by any means, but one of a number of codling caught from this mark over the last couple of weeks. Safely returned to grow bigger, it will be three pounds+ next year should it survive, fingers crossed.