Archive for April, 2011

Fly Fishing in Co. Wicklow, Ireland. Evening on Lough Dan.

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

Easing away from the beach around 16.30pm a strong north easterly breeze was blowing down the lake producing a nice wave. Heading towards the boathouse shore, Gary and I aimed to work a drift close to the tree line on the assumption that terrestrial flies would be blown onto the water. Gary fished a wet cell three with a Bibio on the top dropper followed by a Connamara Black and an Alexandra on the point, whereas I fished a floating line with a Bibio on the top followed by a Watsons and a Wicklow Killer on the point.

Casting a line, evening on Lough Dan, Co. Wicklow, Ireland.

Lough Dan is home to free rising wild mountain trout averaging 6 – 8 ozs, plump and dark they fight well above their weight. Closest to the bank, about ten meters out, I connected with the first trout who took the Watsons. Sprightly and game on that first drift I landed four trout to Gary’s one. We both rose a number of fish and close to a rock at the end of the drift I brought up one of the Lough’s biggies but failed to set the hook. Motoring up for the second drift it became apparent that the breeze was easing.

A brace of Lough Dan trout.

This time around roles were reversed with Gary landing four trout to my one. Again plenty of trout rose to the flies, some head and tailing which was great fun to watch. On connecting the trout would jump clear, tail walk, and bore deep, great sport the action was non stop that is until the wind died. It took a while, we managed to eke out another drift, but by 19.00pm the lake was mirror calm and the trout lost interest. As the sun disappeared behind the mountains it got decidedly chilly so we called it a day. Twelve trout to the boat and plenty of rises, a typical Lough Dan foray.

Fishing in Ireland, St Mullins, Co. Carlow.

Wednesday, April 20th, 2011

A heat wave grips Ireland and a spring tide beckons from St Mullins, the 20th April is still a little early for shad but the advance guard of anglers is already in situe. Des Fraser of Southside Angling has made the journey along with Declan Roberts from Kilkenny. A few other hardy souls line the bank on a fabulous April morning all casting their pirkens and tasmanian devils. At 09.00am on full tide Declan Roberts nets a 1.30kg specimen shad. Weighed and returned to perform the nuptials, a good start to the day.

Declan Roberts from Kilkenny with a specimen 1.30kg St Mullins, Co. Carlow, shad.

Having driven down with Carlow Coarse Angling Supplies Gerry McStraw to fish bream we were not disappointed. They did show but not in the numbers of recent trips. The tide was all wrong and the hot (reaching 22 degrees) cloudless day no doubt did not help. On the plus side Paul McLaughlin had made the trip down with his wife Jackie and we made acquaintance with Sergej a native of Siberia, who new to the sport of angling was enjoying the wonderful location that is St Mullins.

An early morning St Mullins bream.

Initially sport was slow then as the tide started to fall my rod signaled a purposeful bite from a heavy fish which stayed deep on striking. A bream for sure and one of two landed within the space of a minute as Paul simultaneously connected with a fish of similar size. So a pattern developed over the next hour with short slack periods interspersed with bites from trout, dace, hybrids, and bream.

Paul McLaughlin about to net a St Mullins, Co. Carlow, bream.

Joined by Dave Treacy to witness why St Mullins is a mecca for anglers at this time of year, we fished on until the early afternoon. As the tide dropped so the water became very clear and the air sultry. Activity tailed off and we decided to call it a day. The fishing had been successful with five species landed to include shad, trout, bream, hybrids, and dace. St Mullins is a brilliant unique fishery set in a gorgeous location. It’s a journey that I never tire of.

Paul McLaughlin with a fine St Mullins, bream.

For further reading click on: A Bream Day on the Barrow.

Coarse Fishing in Ireland, A Bream Day on the Barrow.

Monday, April 18th, 2011

It’s great when it all comes together, a scorching Sunday afternoon and the bream oblige. Making up a ground bait mix from horse feed, full of grains and mollases, I hit St Mullins around mid afternoon with high tide scheduled for seven pm. Setting up a pitch downstream of the platforms I fished a 30 gram round cage feeder with a two foot tail, cast about two thirds of the way across. Using treble red maggot bites commenced after about 15 minutes. Not frequent but steady, mainly from dace, trout, smolts, and small flounder.

A cracking River Barrow bream from the tidal stretch at St Mullins, Co. Carlow, Ireland.

The feeder would trundle slightly with the current then come to rest, bites occurred only when the bait was stationary. The green feathery weed was still present. Striking into a lift bite everything went solid, then the bottom kicked, a fish and a heavy one. Using its broad flank in the current the bream stayed deep and worked downstream. Using side strain the fish swam up along the bank still staying deep. Taking my time letting the fish kick away I eventually lowered the net and she slid over, a fine bronze bream. Landing another of a similar size along with some good dace and hybrids, bites came to a halt over the top of the tide. These fish are special, a night session is definitely on the cards.

Coarse Fishing in Ireland, River Barrow, St Mullins.

Saturday, April 16th, 2011

With all those bream being caught last weekend a trip to St Mullins was definitely on the cards. Picking up maggots and some bits and pieces of tackle from Gerry McStraw in Carlow town, I proceeded to drive through the south Carlow countryside on what was a beautiful spring day. On the way I passed through Leighlinbridge, Borris, and Graiguenamanagh, small towns along the Barrow that are synonymous with good fishing. Stopping briefly to take the generic Failte Ireland shot of Clashganny weir, I was in St Mullins for one o’clock.

Clashganny Weir on the River Barrow below Borris, Co. Carlow, Ireland.

Driving along the tow path I chose my swim and started to set up. The tide was making, due in around 17.00pm, which helps to slow down the river flow so making fishing easier, a feature of this stretch being green stringy weed carried by the current which tends to wrap around your line. Casting to a point about half way across I started building up the swim. Bites came quickly from trout and smolts. Some of the trout topped half a pound which was nice, the coarse fish however were slower to oblige.

Paul McLaughlin with a nice St Mullins roach.

Joined a while later by Paul McLaughlin who I had met a earlier in Gerry’s, he brought news of a few bream landed further down stream. Setting up and feeder fishing a line closer in then I Paul proceeded to catch dace, roach, hybrids, and trout. We agreed that night fishing was possibly better when targeting bream, and correspondingly as the evening drew in bites became more frequent. Over the top of the tide and as the river started to fall I began to land a few hybrids and roach to treble maggot.

A brace of hybrids for yours truly, St Mullins, Co. Carlow, Ireland.

It never ceases to amaze me how quick these fish can suck a maggot and not get hooked, you have to be lightening fast on the strike. As per usual when answering a call of nature the rod bucked over hard before straightening up. Reeling in my snood had snapped off, a good trout or a bream no less. Fishing on till seven I said my goodbyes to Paul, who was staying over night to give the bream a good crack. With bait left over I may return Sunday evening, the tide will be later and who knows the slimy lads might be in my swim.

Tinahely Riding Club Hunter Trials, Coolboy, Co. Wicklow.

Wednesday, April 13th, 2011

The TRC held a hunter trials at their Coolboy showgrounds last Sunday 10th  April, 2011. The sun was splitting the stones with afternoon temperatures hitting 20 degrees, all preparations had been made and the crowds came out in force. One hundred and fifty five entries competed over various categories and a good day was had by all.

Early entries at the TRC Hunter Trials, Coolboy, Co. Wicklow.

Proceedings were kept moving nicely throughout the day with singles and pairs competitions.

Competing at the TRC Hunter Trials, Coolboy, Co. Wicklow, Ireland.

Privately owned, the TRC have developed a wonderful facility that includes a full cross country course, sand arena with floodlights, dressage arenas, and a warm up area. There is plenty of room for parking, local catering enterprises supply coffee, teas, soft drinks, burgers, chips, and snacks, while the Little Moon Public House (The official TRC club house) is a two minute walk away.

TRC Hunter Trials, Coolboy, Co. Wicklow, Ireland.

A real family day out the kids were having a ball.

Who needs a horse, quads go faster, but they can't jump.

Overseeing proceedings was progressive TRC chairperson Mandy Hayden.

TRC chairperson Mandy Hayden riding Dixie, Coolboy, Co. Wicklow.

The TRC facility at Coolboy is a great benefit to the community providing a social outlet enjoyed by everybody. A natural parkland that on event days explodes with life and colour.

Leading the team, TRC Hunter Trials, Coolboy, Co. Wicklow, Ireland.

For information on future events or becoming a member why not visit the TRC website,

Coarse Fishing In Ireland, River Barrow Bream.

Tuesday, April 12th, 2011

Deciding to go fishing at the last minute, especially on a Sunday morning, does not always work out. Contacting Gerry McStraw of Carlow Coarse Angling Supplies for bait and getting no reply established one thing, he’s gone fishing. The assumption proved right as Waterford and District Coarse Angling Club in conjunction with Waterways Ireland were holding a competition on a famous stretch of the  River Barrow, in which Gerry and the Carlow Club members were competing.

A brace of River Barrow bream, Co. Carlow, Ireland.

The sun was splitting the stones, and with air temperatures touching 20 degrees one would have assumed that fishing was going to be tough. For some members it was, but depending on the peg drawn some quality fishing did materialise. Bream were in evidence up to and over four pounds weight. On its day and even better at night this particular stretch can shine, last Sunday the 10th April was no exception with 50.lbs needed to win the event.

Carlow Coarse Angling Supplies Gerry McStraw with a fine River Barrow, Ireland, bream.

The pictures say it all and there is no doubt that later in the week I will be giving Gerry a call for some red maggots and the recipe to his special ground bait mix. The south east of Ireland can produce coarse fishing equal to any in the country, and there are no better ambassadors then the progressive committee and members of Carlow Coarse Angling Club. Keep up the good work….

Images courtesy of Gerry McStraw and Miroslav Svajlenin.

Coarse Fishing in Ireland, River Barrow, Athy, Co. Kildare.

Thursday, April 7th, 2011

They are called red letter days, when all the preparation, experience, and knowledge comes together to produce a memorable fishing session. In conversation with Gary a few evenings previous we had agreed to coarse fish the River Barrow close to Athy. Arriving at the chosen venue shortly before 10.00am a change of location was agreed, primarily because the main river was in perfect condition, slightly coloured with an even flow. We took a chance that fish would have ventured out of the backwaters and decided to fish a swim close to Athy town centre, an inspired hunch? You could say so.

Casting the feeder, River Barrow, Athy, Co. Kildare.

Having fished the marina recently due to the river in flood, we learned that fish shelter out of the main current in heavy flows. Once levels drop back they venture out again to where the feeding is better. Our guess was that the vast shoals that inhabit the marina wouldn’t stray too far from the haven, our assessment proved correct. Having chosen a swim on the right hand bank we set up and proceeded to feed Gary’s particle mix at sixty second intervals until bites commenced, which they did almost immediately.

Gary Robinson with a smashing hybrid, River Barrow, Athy, Co. Kildare.

Plugging the feeder with particle mix and filling the centre with casters we lobbed to a line about a third of the way across and touch ledgered. From the get go bites occurred within one or two minutes, good heavy knocks which produced a string of hybrids. A feature were slack line bites from the larger fish which lifted the feeder causing the tip to straighten quickly. Lighter but equally purposeful knocks resulted in prime roach some reaching a pound+. Interspersed were the lightening machine gun rattle of dace, which even using a size 14 hook are hard to connect with. I would say that one in three bites resulted in a hook up, I’m no match man but then again we were pleasure fishing, the action was constant with every recast suppling extra feed to the swim.

A cracking perch, River Barrow, Athy, Co. Kildare.

Noted for its big perch one heavy slack line bite resulted in a nice perch around a pound. Beautifully striped and in great condition prior to spawning they can reach 3 pounds+ in this area, here’s hoping. Its broad dorsal fin raised in the current and never day die attitude contributed to a memorable scrap. On that note include hybrids, the larger fish in the two pound plus bracket ran a merry dance also before sliding over the net. Fishing leisurely we had an idea that at days end the keep net might hold a substantial catch.

Gary Robinson with a forty pound mixed bag, River Barrow, Athy, Co. Kildare.

As the angelus bell rang out we lifted the net. Throughout the afternoon bites had been constant with numerous shoals of fish entering our swim. Stopping every so often for photos and lunch upset the pattern of ground baiting resulting in lulls, but once the feeder (30 gram) was reintroduced bites recommenced fairly quickly afterwards. Six species made up the haul which topped forty pounds, roach, silver bream, dace, perch, roach/bream hybrid, and rudd/bream hybrid. The bait was two red maggot presented on a two foot snood incorporating a fluorocarbon tippet. This was wild coarse fishing at its best. The River Barrow is a superb fishery, and with the sterling work and initiatives being implemented by both Athy and Carlow coarse angling clubs, can only go from strength to strength. Gary and I had a great day in the early April sunshine, we’ll be back….

Further reading: Barrow Boys.

Further reading: Coarse Fishing, Athy Marina, Co. Kildare.