Archive for March, 2012

Coarse Fishing in Ireland, Bream Bonanza

Friday, March 30th, 2012

Like a mini depth charge the stuffed feeder hits the water thirty meters out, a measured distance guaranteed by the main line locked to the reel spool and guided to its mark by the designated tree cast towards on the far bank. Crumb, casters, red maggot, corn, and various soaked grains filter through the cage settling on the muddy bottom, their scent and the rhythmic splash which preceded signaling interest  from the resident bream shoal. Vanilla scent fills the damp chill morning air as the rod tip curves to the current, a slack line followed by a purposeful wrap around bite, fish on and it’s heavy, kiting in the rivers flow, bream or large hybrid for sure and a good one.

A haul of River Barrow bream for delighted anglers Graham Pepper and Keith Marsella.

Taking his time while letting the fish have its head there is no need to hurry, the size 14 kamazan has a firm hold in the rubbery lips and with rod straining a bronze slab is guided safely into the net. Disgorger to hand, hook deftly removed, quick photo for posterity, deep, slimy, heavy scaled bronze coloured flank, a cracking fish the first of many, then into the keep net. Whoops echo around the valley, hands are shook, congratulations offered, all the planning and effort has been worth while, a first bream for Keith Marsella and what a way to break your duck.

Keith Marsella with one of many River Barrow bream taken on a glorious spring day.

Regularly throwing balls of ground bait into the swim fish homed in, hung about, and hoovered. It needs a lot of bait to keep a bream shoal interested and Keith along with his friend Graham Pepper had plenty and used it well. Things had been slow for an hour with only a roach showing then the big boys moved in to hold station. From then on for a period of two hours things got hectic with regular bites for both anglers, dream fishing, you couldn’t make it up. Having decided to target bream, the boys hit pay dirt first time out. Being at hand with a camera was a privilege, and to share the occasion, well that’s what angling is all about.

Graham Pepper with the first of many Barrow bream.

Spring has come early to Ireland and everything is out of kilter, rivers are flowing at summer levels, and fish are one month ahead of schedule. Word had filtered up from Carlow that the bream were in situe so Gary and I made plans, we couldn’t have chosen a better morning to make our first trip. Blue skies, a chilly start, then as the sun rose shirt sleeves and wide brim hats. On arrival at our chosen venue Keith and Graham were already pitched and working away. Exchanging introductions the camaraderie of angling took over, helped no end by the fabulous fishing we experienced. Equipment shared, advice, jokes, more congratulations as fish hit the bank, you would think we had known each other all our lives.

Gary Robinson with one of three Barrow bream on a sunny spring day.

To cap it all Carlow Coarse Angling Club stalwart Gerry McStraw arrived, bream having a magnetic pull which is hard to resist. Banter flowed and as the afternoon wore on bites eased, probably due to the heat as much as anything. Calling it a day at 17.00pm  by lines up six species had been caught, bream, hybrids, roach, dace, trout, and smolts, what a prolific river the Barrow is. Graham and Keith’s bream haul bottomed out at 60.lbs which was fantastic, while Gary and I had 6 bream between us with Gary catching the largest at 12.oz. It was a wonderful day made all the more by meeting with and sharing in the boys dream catch. Why do I fish…?

Further information, click on: Barrow Boys.

Fly Fishing in County Wicklow, Sunny Day on the River

Sunday, March 25th, 2012

County Wicklow was bathed in unseasonal March sunshine, temperatures reached sixteen degrees, moss dried on bleached granite boulders due to the crystal clear water flowing at summer levels, and the trout stayed deep, indifferent to a fly but not uninterested. Conditions would have tested the best, however William Hayes on holidays from Chicago and I were in a special place, there were trout in those lies so why not rise to the challenge.

Soft hackle fly fishing in Co. Wicklow, Ireland.

A brisk warm downstream breeze dictated our approach, in the main we crouched low using the bank and boulders for cover searching out seams and pots where a fish might hold station. Commencing with spiders it became apparent that a bit of depth was required, enter William’s bead head pheasant tail with a cul de canard hackle.

Using cover, fly fishing in Co. Wicklow, Ireland.

Flies swing around and start to rise, in unison a splash/tug and a trout swims strong across the current. Not large but welcome, one of four hard won between us. Occasional tentative pulls kept the interest up and time flew, in a flash the road beckoned, a wonderful day on the river ends….

Media Day at Annamoe Trout Fishery

Saturday, March 24th, 2012

Enjoyed a great day fishing the annual media competition organised by Derek Evans, angling correspondent with the Irish Times, at Brian Nally’s well appointed Annamoe Trout Fishery located close to Glendalough in Co. Wicklow. A warm day punctuated by a brisk variable south/south east breeze, the resident rainbows were obliging, at least in the morning, and all 16 participants landed some cracking fish.

Rob Love with one of six Annamoe rainbows lured to his rod.

“What’s catching Brian?”, I asked eyeing the selection of flies and lures available within Annamoe’s club house, a spacious log cabin where anglers can relax before, during, and after fishing. Today at half time we were to enjoy a slap up hot buffet meal courtesy of Annamoe Trout Fishery and plenty of teas, coffees, and biccies in between, “you spoiled us Brian and thank you”. “Try that red bead head zonker lure, it was working very well last week”, replied Brian, so I did and it still worked as I was to find out.

Yours truly with one of four Annamoe rainbows I landed during the media event.

Three casts in my rod locked and the first of four rainbows lured by that red strip of fluff powered off. All giving a good account of themselves, they took a while to get to the net. Fishing an intermediate line to a 15 foot leader with a six pound tippet, slow long draws of the line worked for me. Using barbless hooks I lost two more fish which threw the iron after spectacular jumps, that while witnessing Killarney fly fishing machine John Buckley take 21 fish in the morning session. John blanked in the afternoon, as I did, but he still did enough to retain the trophy with Dave McBride of South Side Angling coming second. Thank you to Brian for your hospitality, Derek for inviting me, and to all the participants that I know and the new people I met, Ed, Remy, Chris, and Rob, see you on the water and tight lines….

Fly Fishing in Wicklow, Trout Under Fire.

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

The rumble of artillery rolled across the hills as shell after shell thudded into the boggy landscape, interspersed with heavy machine gun fire I now have an idea what the poor unfortunates dug into their trenches in Flanders fields had to endure close on 100 years ago. Carried by a south east wind from nearby Glen of Imaal where the army were on manouvers, the noise on occasions was very loud and the air shook, God knows what it was like for those living in the vicinity. A weak sun shone through the haze and it was bloody cold, my chosen stream was decidedly low now due to the current dry spell, in short fishing was tough.

Casting for Wicklow mountain trout in drought conditions.

On the other hand it couldn’t escape me that I was out and about in the heart of the Wicklow Mountains, glaciated dome shaped granite covered by a green, russet, and purple blanket. Coconut scented gorse flowering, lambs everywhere, farmers going about their business, the river snaking through, and me, 20 miles from O’Connell St alone with the trout. Walking upstream to fish wets back down, it being fruitless to dry fly due to the sharp east wind blowing in my face, I chose a run flowing out of a boulder field into a long flat and commenced.

Flies for a mountain stream, kill devil spider, greenwells spider, and a coachman.

Immediately a head and tail rise followed by a tug, instinctively setting I missed but continued the movement recasting to the same spot. The trout came again and this time took the kill devil on the point, diving and darting in the swift current, silver with black and red spots it could have been a sea trout, unusual. Returned, I connected with another standard coloured fish from this lie before moving on.

A yellow bellied Wicklow mountain trout averaging six ounces.

Shrunk due to the lack of rain, clear with that reddish tinge, if I was a trout the deep holes and flats is where I would be. The strong wind made upstream fishing practically impossible so I persevered on down. At days end my rod took five wild fish averaging six ounces, with a number of rises and tugs to keep interest. The kill devil, coachman, and greenwells all scored, and other than a couple of stone flies and a lone sedge I saw no fly life. Happy with my lot and heading for the car I considered the different personalities of the stream, all connected with one unifying strand, rain…

Fly Fishing in Wicklow, Dabbling in Roundwood

Friday, March 16th, 2012

A grey heaviness enveloped Roundwood as, pushed by a warmish southerly breeze, we drifted down the annexe. Lines swished rhythmically and casts, ahead of the moving boat, uncoiled across the surface, sinking a foot before being stripped back at a pace. Top dropper dibbled for a few seconds creating a wake, then lifted for the procedure to start again. Yes, I’ve got one, my fishing partners rod bends to a nice fish which takes to leaping and hopping before diving down so pulling the tip over hard.

The annexe dam at Roundwood reservoir, Co.Wicklow, Ireland.

Played, brought to hand plump and in great condition, a little over half a pound the trout was quickly photographed then gently released to fight another day. The first of three trout and a couple of rises all to a silver dabbler, my card was marked. Swapping a wicklow killer point fly for a size 10 dabbler I recast. Instantly a pull coupled with a surface bulge, recasting, stripping, dibbling, another hard pull. Lifting, recasting, stripping fast my line locks, a trouty splash, fish on. Boring deep but soon in my hand, another half pounder to you’ve got it, the dabbler.

Trout on the dabbler.

Later my rod took another similar fish this time to the wicklow killer, in position now on the middle dropper. With himself landing four and both of us rising numerous fish it had been a busy three hours. Six fish to the boat and it not St.Patrick’s day yet, what has happened to the world. Roundwood they say is a dour lake not prone to giving up its inhabitants easy, it does though as you have learned have its good days, and as for large bushy flies, sacred heart sure what would you be wanting to use them for….

Fly Fishing in Co. Wicklow, In the Footsteps of A.A.Luce

Tuesday, March 13th, 2012

There are day’s when you are reminded why you chose to go fishing, spring starts to show its face, the air is warm with just a little zephyr of a breeze, a hazy brightness fills the landscape, and trout dance with your flies, pulling and cavorting as you work down the runs. Low,almost to the bones my chosen stream diverted and sluiced between the boulders, trout sat in the back eddies waiting for morsels to drift by, and my spiders twitched irresistibly enough to lure a fish at regular intervals, a man couldn’t wish for more.

Downstream wet fly fishing in County Wicklow, Ireland.

In his 1959 published treatise on angling “Fishing and Thinking” Dr. A. A. Luce, Professor of Moral Philosophy at Trinity College Dublin wrote of his best day on the river. Casting a line on the same stream almost 73 years to the day I couldn’t but feel a sense of deja vu. Commencing fishing around noon after having walked a step upstream I felt confident as my initial cast snaked across the stream, throwing a mend the flies worked along a seam whence simultaneously a boil and a tug signaled my first trout of the afternoon.

A six ounce Wicklow mountain trout taken on a Greenwells spider.

A little six ounce brownie, perfectly formed, yellow bellied, and brightly spotted, taken on a Greenwells spider it tricked and darted in the swift current not out gunned by my four weight wand, a nice start. Carefully wading down stream I placed my flies in runs between rocks, into back eddies, and through likely pockets searching out ambush points where a wily trout might lie up, the pool head runs being very productive.

Trout heaven in Co. Wicklow.

Newly born lambs suckled and gamboled in the fields and the smell of coconut drifted from gorse bushes high up on the bank, other than the chatter of the stream there was complete silence. An hour or two had flown by and noticeably rises to my flies had slowed down. Taking advice from Dr.Luce I switched the point fly for a Coachman his successful pattern from 63 years ago and bingo a gut produced three trout on the bounce.

A half pound Wicklow trout as the sun was setting.

Making my way around a long meander I came across a nice riffle with a constant depth, casting my flies towards the far bank at a forty five degree angle, as they swung around BANG my best trout of the session took the coachman. At half a pound and in great condition the cake had been well and truly iced, time to call it a day. Eleven trout all returned along with numerous rises, a busy afternoon for sure. County Wicklow has some wonderful trout fishing in beautiful locations, the best of it found in the most out of the way places. You have to work for what you catch, but the rewards, a picture paints a thousand words….

Click on: Guided Fly Fishing for Wild Trout.

Fly Fishing in Ireland, River Liffey, Co. Kildare

Saturday, March 3rd, 2012

Enjoyed a great first day of the season fly fishing with Mr Irish Fly Fisher himself Liam Stenson and his good friend Ray Bradley on the River Liffey somewhere in Co. Kildare. The sun shone, however a stiff south east breeze put a chill in the air keeping fly hatches to a minimum, that said a few dark olives did show and trout were rising in the more sheltered runs.

Liam Stenson (Irish Fly Fisher) fishing down stream wet on the River Liffey, Co. Kildare, Ireland.

Fishing a team of wets to include a kill devil spider on the point, a greenwells spider on the middle dropper, and a partridge and orange on the top I proceeded to fish a likely run endorsed by Liam, “he hooked and lost a fish estimated at 5.lbs in it last season, the hook straightened”. The upstream breeze made fishing wet difficult so I quickly reverted to dry and put up a small olive klinkhammer pattern. With no trout showing I fished likely seams to little effect.

Second of the season, a nice half pounder.

Liam on the other hand found a sheltered back water with a nice streamy run pushing close to a half sunk tree. Placing his fly in the suds he winkled out a 10 inch trout to break his duck for the year. Two more fish rose but were too quick for him, these Liffey brownies are lightening fast.

A nice dry fly stretch on the River Liffey, Co. Kildare, Ireland.

Moving upstream I found a run sheltered from the wind by a high bank. Heavily lined with willow trees, there were enough gaps to enable fishing if one used unorthodox casting methods. Switching over to wets my luck changed and I rose a number of trout landing three to close on half a pound. Beautifully spotted but a little lean, in a few weeks they will be plump and full of fight.

A Liffey brownie takes a partridge and orange.

By now the sun was waning and a chill started to fill the air, we had forgotten but it was only March 3rd. Close on four bells three tired but happy anglers walked back to the cars, the Liffey had been good to us Liam also netting a few nice trout and the day most certainly augured well for the season to come….

Ali and Sarah’s Wedding

Friday, March 2nd, 2012

Romances start on the internet and end up in Gretna Green on the 29th of February, well all the best ones do anyway. Ali and Sarah leaped into their new and happy life together witnessed and enjoyed by close family and friends, a wonderful occasion.

Getting ready for her big day.

I love your dress.

A proud mum.

The boys.

That's our girl.

Are we there yet.

All done and dusted in the Smithy.

Confetti time.