Archive for September, 2010

Wild trout fishing in Ireland, last day on Roundwood.

Monday, September 27th, 2010

The south lake is low, testament to the hot and dry summer Ireland has just experienced allied to Dublin’s voracious demand for water. The boats at Knockatemple have followed the retreating tide line close on thirty metres and I would estimate 10-12 feet in depth from the winter high. Still a long way from showing its bones, of benefit to the angler is the exposure of trout holding features which can be explored the following season.

Low water levels at knockatemple, Roundwood reservoir, Co. Wicklow, Ireland.

An early Sunday morning phone call from Kevin had us on the water by lunchtime. A light variable breeze from the southeast  created barely a ripple.  Mill pond calm conditions, a few sedges on the water, occasional lone fish announcing their presence only by the spreading rings left behind after their sipping rises, conditions were tough. That said, we were on the water most likely for the last time this season and what better place to be.

Wild brown trout lured by a watsons fancy, Roundwood reservoir, Co. Wicklow, Ireland.

As expected fishing was slow with only two fish boated for the afternoon. Putting up a fast sinking line teamed with a wickhams, watsons, and a daddy, shortly into the first drift over the point at knockatemple a positive take resulted in a nice pound plus trout. Staying deep the brownie was netted after a lively fight, golden olive in colour with large black spots, a typical plump Roundwood fish lured by the watsons. Subsequently we tried hard covering various shores, the reward for our efforts just one smaller fish to Kevin. With a chill in the air at six bells we called it a day. 2010 has been a good season on the lake with some fine fish taken and many good memories to sustain us through the winter.

For more information click on: End of  season cracker on Roundwood.

Fly fishing in Ireland, end of season cracker on Roundwood.

Saturday, September 25th, 2010

A warm dry summer, the first in four years, a feature of which was that prevailing winds returned to a more  normal south westerly pattern provided plenty of opportunities to cast a line. Sea angling this last few months had taken precedence over fly fishing, but with less then a week to go of what has been by all accounts a good trout season, having finally purchased an electric outboard it was time for its maiden run on Roundwood. Meeting Gary at Knockatemple around mid afternoon, we loaded the boat and set off up the south lake which was well down on normal.

Large male trout, end of season at Roundwood, Co. Wicklow.

Gary correctly chose to use a wet cell 2 sinking line armed with a peter ross on the point, daddy on the middle dropper, and a silver dabbler on the top. Yours truly went for a floating line, tying a silver invicta on the point, watsons on the middle, and a daddy on the top. Picking a parallel drift along a shore pushed ever so slowly by a weakening northerly breeze we cast our lines. There was little wave action, more a ruffling of the surface and no hatch, possibly due to the chilly evening. The sun is a lot lower in the sky now, disappearing behind the mountains around seven pm. We drift keeping a line about twenty metres offshore. Approaching a point where there is a sharp curve into another bay Gary casts, waits a few seconds to let the line sink, and on pulling his rod immediately locks over into a strong fish.

Into a good trout, late season at Roundwood, Co. Wicklow.

Staying deep the trout proceeded to swim in a wide arc to the right before doubling back around the bow of the boat. Keeping a tight line Gary played the fish for a couple of minutes before it tired, splashed on the surface a few times, and made one dart away from the net before being successfully landed. A fine male fish, although lean it made 12.ozs when weighed back at the clubhouse. The best of four trout Gary rose during the session, three of which went for the peter ross with a single on the daddy. Fry form a big part of the diet on the south lake and daddies are common in September, Gary’s choice of flies and tactics were spot on. 12.oz wild brown trout, Roundwood, Co. Wicklow, Ireland.

A good fish for the lake and one destined for the pot, it made us realise what a fine wild trout fishery Roundwood is. The local club and Inland Fisheries Ireland have to be congratulated for the work that they have put in over the years, enabling this wonderful facility to be one of the best wild trout waters in the country. The fish do not give themselves up easy, but on a good day, well the pictures say it all.

For more information click on: Last day on Roundwood.

Wild Trout Fishing in Ireland, Lough Dan, Co. Wicklow.

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010

Lough Dan, the largest natural lake in Co. Wicklow, situated in a spectacular location close to the village of Roundwood is absolutely stuffed with free rising wild trout. With the average size knocking six – eight ounces, one in a dozen will head towards a pound+, with over the years an occasional monster up to five pounds in weight being recorded. Dark in colouration, these trout hit the fly like a steam train, fight well above their weight, and on a four weight rod provide wonderful sport.

Wild brownie tempted by a daddy long legs, Lough Dan, Co. Wicklow, Ireland.

Access to Lough Dan is limited due to most of the surrounding land being in private ownership, a feature which helps to preserve the fishing and contribute to a very unique and productive water. Having recently purchased an electric outboard motor and due its maiden voyage,  Gary had suggested Lough Dan and not having fished the lake this summer, it seemed like a good plan.

Lough Dan, Co. Wicklow, looking north towards the Cloghoge river valley.

Lough Dan is situated in a glacial valley, part of a ribbon lake system that includes Lough Tay to the north. Linked by the Cloghoge River, overlooked by Knocknacloghogue mountain, and source of the Avonmore River, the lake once was home to a strain of arctic char. I say once only because the last recorded specimen was captured in 1988. Given that these fish normally live at depth, and that the lake is lightly fished using top surface fly fishing methods, there is a possibility that the species still frequents the Lough. Peregrine falcons nest in the steep cliffs surrounding the lake, and broad leaf oak woodland extends upwards from the shoreline, painting a picture of what the Irish landscape might have looked like at the time of the first settlers.

Gary casting a team of wet flies, Lough Dan, Co. Wicklow.

The day was warm with a steady southerly breeze blowing up the lake providing ideal conditions to drift the eastern shore. Putting up a team of wet flies to include a Wicklow Killer on the point, Daddy Long Legs on the middle dropper, and a Bibio on the top, Gary fished with a Peter Ross on the point, a daddy in the middle, and a small Silver Dabbler on the top. Choosing a drift starting at the mouth of the Avonmore we were pushed north at a fair clip by the breeze. Adjusting the line of drift by occasional reverse or forward touches on the engine we contacted fish immediately setting a pattern which lasted all day.

Wild trout, Lough Dan, Co. Wicklow, Ireland.

Casting long and stripping fast trout rose to the flies in spectacular fashion, head and tailing, sub surface boils, and mini explosions of water. They took the point fly on the strip, the top dropper on the dibble, even snatched at flies as they were being raised to recast. On hooking the fish felt twice their weight, plump and strong, Gary and I lost count of how many we caught. Top flies on the day were the daddy long legs and the silver dabbler indicating a September diet of fry and terrestrials. At five pm with the skies clouding over we called it a day. Wild trout fishing is not always about big fish. The great western lakes of Corrib and Mask may steal all the glory in terms of large trout and mayfly hatches, but for rapid fire bread and butter wild trout fishing in a glorious location Lough Dan, Co. Wicklow is hard to beat.

Click on: Hailstones and Trout.

Coarse Fishing in Ireland. Lough Muckno, Co. Monaghan.

Monday, September 13th, 2010

I had the pleasure in assisting eighteen Dutch anglers who travelled to Castleblaney, Co. Monaghan, specifically to fish Lough Muckno. Based in the Glencarn Hotel for eight bed nights, the group brought together through the initiative of Mr. Christiaan Kooloos, a freelance coarse angling journalist, planned to fish a series of matches along the Concra Wood and White Island shorelines.

Pegged for the match, Lough Ross, Co. Monaghan.

Fully equipped down to the last maggot the groups collective heart sank when they heard that Muckno was unfishable due to recent heavy rains and high water levels. However, thanks to the combined efforts of local tackle dealer Les Harris, Geoff Quinn, Dick Caplice, and the Castleblaney Coarse Angling Club, a variety of  alternative options were pursued to retrieve a difficult situation and get the dutch men fishing.

In the face of adversity, success on the Church Hill shoreline, Lough Muckno, Co. Monaghan.

A small area of the church hill shoreline split in two sections was capable of accommodating the visitors. Pegging sections on Saturday morning the match kicked off at midday and ended at five pm. Feeder fishing it was apparent that the anglers present could cut the mustard. Within twenty minutes fish started appearing, mainly roach with a smattering of hybrids and one or two bream. Double red maggot coupled with a dark (almost black) feeder mix containing amongst other ingredients, sweetcorn, hemp, and castors, was the successful combination, with those using worm attracting the few bream landed.

A happy angler with what looks like a bream and hybrid double, Lough Muckno, Co. Monaghan, Ireland.

At the end of Saturdays match Willem Van Der Helm was the clear winner with 11.40 kgs of mainly roach. A regular visitor to Ireland Willem’s bag given the conditions was a credit to his skill. The church hill shore was shallow necessitating casts of up to fifty metres, that and an onshore north westerly pushing intermittent heavy showers made conditions difficult for the anglers.

Trip organiser Christiaan Kooloos shows off his catch, Lough Muckno, Co. Monaghan, Ireland.

Sunday provided similar weather and lake conditions with the result that a friendly match between local anglers and the dutch group was held on the same shoreline and a section of Lough Ross. Twenty seven anglers fished, again the feeder prevailed with trip organiser Christiaan Kooloos coming out on top with a nice bag of roach, bream, and hybrids, for 9.10 kgs. Interestingly he was pegged where Willem had been the previous day.

Landing the catch, Lough Muckno, Co. Monaghan, Ireland.

Lough Muckno is arguably the best natural coarse match angling venue in Europe. It holds tonnes of roach, bream, and hybrids, and properly developed with vehicular access and permanent pegs would attract anglers from far and wide, Shorelines such as White Island, Concra Wood, Black Island, and Toome provide excellent fishing on the feeder, whip, waggler, or pole. Combined with the large pike, up to thirty pounds, that inhabit the lake it is a dream venue in a beautiful setting.

For more information on Lough Muckno click here: Lough Muckno, Castleblaney, Co. Monaghan.

Fly Fishing in Ireland. River Slaney, Glen of Imaal, Co. Wicklow.

Friday, September 10th, 2010

The River Slaney rises on the slopes of Lugnaquilla, the highest mountain in County Wicklow, flows westward down through the saucer shaped Glen of Imaal before breaking out and heading south to eventually meet the tide at Wexford harbour. Primarily a salmon river, the headwaters down to Aghade bridge below Tullow can produce some quality wild brown trout fishing. Although not big running six to eight ounces, fish to over a pound+ show up from time to time.

Wild brown trout tempted by a partridge and orange, River Slaney, Glen of Imaal, Co. Wicklow, Ireland.

The Glen of Imaal although close to Dublin is a place apart. Home to 1798 rebel hero Michael Dwyer, the cottage where he outwitted the redcoats still stands today, the Glen is also of great importance to the military, a large section of moorland being utilised as a firing range and training area. Flat and wide the central area is quite fertile, with the Slaney meandering over a sandy soil past villages with names like Seskin, Knockanarrigan, and Davidstown. Enclosed by willow, mountain ash, and sycamore along certain sections there are enough open areas to make fly fishing interesting.

Bend of the river, near Knockanarrigan, Glen of Imaal, Co. Wicklow.

Driving past the shop at Knockanarrigan I took a right turn into a lane about a mile past the village. Continuing on for a few hundred meters eventually the youthful Slaney came into view as it flowed under a hump backed bridge. Putting up a team of spider patterns to include a kill devil on the point, a partridge and orange on the middle dropper, and a greenwells spider on the top dropper, I hopped over a dry stone wall and headed up stream. The sun was shining and apart from an occasional south westerly breeze the air was still.

Wild brown trout, River Slaney, Glen of Imaal, Co. Wicklow.

Fishing the tale of a run which flowed into a wide pool dominated by a large willow, small trout and parr came to the flies. Increasing the line and staying low I let the team sweep around into the shade  under the low branches, a solid take gave hint of a larger fish. Played carefully due to the strong current a beautifully spotted brownie, taken on the kill devil, was soon on the bank. Continuing downstream towards the bridge other than parr no more fish showed.

River Slaney looking downstream from Seskin bridge, Glen of Imaal, Co. Wicklow.

Although peat tinged the water was crystal clear with the gravel bottom clearly visible. Salmon spawn here in the winter high up in the Wicklow mountains, having swam upstream easily eighty miles from the sea. Working my way down below the bridge a long straight run ends in a dog leg left, undercutting the bank so creating a back eddy. Working the flies along the seam a flash/splash take results in a spirited fight. Moving on I fish where two channels divided by a gravel bar meet. With a long line out the surface bulges simultaneous with the pull. I strike, feel the fish and see the broad tail break the surface as it turns, then nothing. The best fish of the day, I cover the lie for five minutes to no avail. Another time.

Slaney flies, L-R: Greenwells Spider, Kill Devil Spider, Partridge and Orange.

And so the day progressed, a spot of lunch and a pint of stout in a local pub, then out again for a few more casts. As the afternoon wore on the air got warm and still, small trout rose to the flies but nothing more substantial. However there is no doubt that most pools hold a good fish as angling pressure is light. Hidden away, the River Slaney as it flows through the Glen of Imaal is a little gem. For the angler who likes to search out new wild waters this is the place, combining moor and  farmland and totally under fished. In the shadow of Wicklow’s highest mountain, the upper Slaney brownies offer great sport in a very picturesque location. Practice catch and release.