Archive for April, 2012

Fly Fishing In Wicklow, Blustery Day on the Derreen

Saturday, April 28th, 2012

Wind angled off my left shoulder as the weight forward number four line snaked out at a forty five degree angle to the current. Fishing a long line the twelve foot leader uncoiled depositing the kill devil point fly and its spidery team mates in the still water beyond the gut close under the far bank. Feeding a foot of line to sink the flies, entering the seam a boil followed by a heavy tug and a tight line, the fish bored deep and my reel screeched, zzzzzzzzzzz a good trout.

Casting a long line while keeping low, River Derreen, Co. Wicklow, Ireland.

Twisting and turning the brownie gave a good account of itself, running towards a bed of ranunculus I applied side strain, the fish turned, a few hops more and it was in the net. Between a half and three quarters, a fine fish for the Derreen, two plump trout in three casts from the same deep run, the God’s are smiling. Ten minutes earlier a riffle further upstream had delivered three fish, all flies had scored from the kill devil to the greenwells but the partridge and orange had its nose in front and was to keep it there.

A River Derreen trout fooled by a partridge and orange.

Although bright and sunny a stiff north east breeze blew and with snow lying on Lugnaquilla, the highest mountain in Leinster, it was chilly to say the least. Gusts ruffled the surface and although a few terrestrials were flying about there was no hatch as such, that said a few trout were rising. The Derreen flows down off Lug’ crossing the border into Co. Carlow then flowing past Hacketstown before meandering through rich farmland towards Tullow. The river bed is gravely well suited to spawning salmon which run up from its parent River Slaney. Today however the target was trout and although not giving themselves up they were on occasions obliging.

A plump River Derreen trout.

My tactics given the strong downstream wind were to keep low and cast a long line down and across keeping false casts to a minimum. The wind helped in this matter by ruffling the surface so breaking up the trouts field of vision. By combining the broken riffled water, where the trout would be positioned along the seams with the disturbed still water while keeping low I could get close and cover potential fishy lies. The system worked, it’s great when it does, with at least a half dozen wild brownies to the rod for a short two hour session. Later in the month as the weather warms up evening dry fly, in particular to the black gnat, should come into its own. I’ll be back…..

Click on: Guided Fly Fishing for Wild Trout.

Fly Fishing in County Wicklow, Calm Before the Storm

Thursday, April 26th, 2012

With boats taking precedence over the last few weeks it was nice to get out on the river again. Recent falls of rain had both freshened the water and raised levels slightly. Pushing along nicely and running clear albeit with a tinge of dark tea, the river screamed fish and I was not disappointed.

Casting a short line in Co. Wicklow.

Setting up an eight foot, four weight rod I made my way upstream to work a team of wets back down. Overcast, a cool north easterly blew down the valley making it impossible to upstream fish, besides other than spotting and photographing what I am certain was a mayfly there was no hatch of any description. Nymphing may have been an option but even that would have proved difficult. So putting up a beaded pheasant tail on the point and a greenwells spider on the dropper I commenced working the runs and pots.

What I believe is a mayfly, unusual for the Wicklow river that I was fishing.

Very quickly I connected with a nice 10 inch fish to the greenwells, closely followed by a similar trout on the pheasant tail. The first held station along a seam on the far bank, slashing at my flies as they swung across, the second fish took deep in the run tail, both giving a good account on my light rod. So a taking pattern developed criss crossing between the pheasant tail and the greenwells with at days end the greenwells just shading it.

A nice plump early season wild brownie from a mountain stream, Co. Wicklow, Ireland.

An interesting aspect of fishing this particular stream is how it changes from visit to visit, no two days being the same. Given its rain fed almost spate like nature the water rises and falls all the time, steady flow maintained to a degree by the bog higher up, however in long dry spells like Ireland has just experienced the sponge drys up with subsequent dramatic effects on the river below. Today however it had come alive and tomorrow it will flow in a torrent a resultant of the forecast heavy rain.

Rolling and tumbling, a mountain stream, Co. Wicklow, Ireland.

Trout had moved out of the deep slacks and positioned themselves in ambush points behind rocks, along seams and guts, in fact just about everywhere you might expect them to be. Two fish in quick succession here, one trout there, head and tail rises, pulls, the day went in a blur, only my gnawing stomach told me it might be time to go home. At least a dozen trout caught and released with as many more slashing, pulling, and cavorting. This river is special and I never tire of it, the trout are not big, but they are beautiful, big spotted and yellow bellied providing wonderful sport in a breathtaking location.

Further reading: In the Footsteps of A.A. Luce.

Dixie Foals, Eventually

Monday, April 16th, 2012

Well a process that started with Dixie, a working hunter, meeting very briefly with Howard and Alan Woods Grade A show jumping Connemara stallion Kingstown Cavalier of Tally Ho House Connemara’s, ended nearly 12 months later with a text book delivery at 02.20am on the morning of 16th April 2012. Nearly four weeks late and causing sleepless nights as her every move was watched through what became termed “Capail Cam”, an in house monitoring device, Dixie finally got into gear and did the business.

Dixie foaling, being helped by Howard Woods.

Mandy would like very much to thank Howard Woods for making himself available to attend the birth at short notice, and also for all the advice and encouragement proffered by Elsie, Alan, and Howard over the last number of years, however much as the little foal benefited, washing up liquid enemas will not become a regular feature up in Ballythomas.

Dixie connecting with her new born foal.

It was interesting and exciting to witness such an event for the first time, and very reassuring to have such real knowledge and experience locally to tap into. Dixie did a trojan job and bonded immediately with her newborn colt whose name still has to be decided, but it is most definitely not going to be Angus, of the AC/DC variety and not the Aberdeen.

Dixie cleaning her new colt.

After about an hour the young colt gingerly found his feet and through the morning has been getting stronger by the hour as he suckles with his mum.

Standing up in the morning.

Well Jen, that’s one down and one to go. Nature is a wonderful thing.

Out in the air.

Out in the air, Dixie’s new foal is presented to the world, thank’s Syl for the help in getting him outside, Dixie is very protective.

Fly Fishing on Roundwood Reservoir, Co. Wicklow, Ireland

Monday, April 16th, 2012

What started as an idea over 18 months ago finally become a reality when the Jean Anne made its first drift before a stiff northerly breeze across Roundwood south lake. It has always been my belief that Ireland’s natural resources, utilised and managed correctly, can help alleviate some of our economic problems by generating real long term jobs, and in the process contributing financially on a local and national basis. Having joined the unemployed ranks over 18 months ago and seen an opportunity to create an international standard tourist fly fishing product, yesterday was the first baby step on the road to what will hopefully be a success for both east Co. Wicklow and yours truly.

Irish Fly Fisher, Liam Stenson cradles a Roundwood brownie.

Accompanying me for the day was Mr. Irish Fly Fisher himself Liam Stenson, creator of a wonderful fly fishing blog and dab hand at fishing north country spiders on the mountain streams of Co. Wicklow, today we swished our 5 weight rods, casting ahead of the boat while stripping lines fast and slow, absorbed by the peace and quite of this wonderful location. Early morning showers of icy rain accompanied by strong gusts eased in the afternoon to variable breezes, which ruffled the surface away from the lee shores creating ideal conditions to work a team of flies.

It was great to meet unexpectedly my daughter Emma Claire and her partner Gary out enjoying the lake, making their own way in the world having vacated the nest long ago, unplanned shore side lunches of home made roast pork and stuffing rolls with your siblings taste all the better. Boiling up water in the Kelly kettle to make chicken soup, teas, and coffees, along with all the other bits and bobs we had, sure where would you get it, the rat race completely forgotten.

Saying our goodbyes Liam and I approached the second half with renewed vigour. Having rose a trout just before lunch and with conditions improving it was not long before action commenced. Fishing a sinking line while stripping at a medium pace my silver dabbler on the point was taken by a sprightly half pounder. Liam fishing a floating line was next in, again on the dabbler. Over the next hour three more fish to a little over half a pound came to the boat, all hard fighting wild fish.

Playing a good trout on Roundwood south lake, Co. Wicklow, Ireland.

Allied to numerous rises and turns it had been a productive and most enjoyable afternoon. A highlight being giving a heads up to a new CWA member as to a particularly productive drift, result a beautifully spotted pound fish and one happy angler. With the season just kicking in as the weather warms up, on the strength of yesterday afternoon things look bright.

Please note: “Due to circumstances which in time will become apparent the service outlined above has been suspended indefinitely. I am sorry for any confusion.”

Ashley Hayden

Note: Roundwood is a fly only water, An Irish Angler’s World secured permission to run a boat fly fishing operation on the lake from the owners Dublin City Council. Unfortunately and not surprisingly, after all this is Ireland, certain local people in word and deed made it very clear that the operation was not welcome creating an atmosphere which was not conducive to inviting tourists. On a positive note day tickets to fish the shoreline are available from Dublin City Council and can be purchased at the Vartry Waterworks beside the Dam on the south lake.


Willie Redmond, Boat Builder

Sunday, April 8th, 2012

My memories of Grandad (Willie) Redmond are of a jolly person well liked and respected within the community of Greystones, Co. Wicklow. Holding station at the end of the lane beside Killian’s Hall, “How are you old man” his stock greeting, Willie was always interested in what was going on in your life and the wider world. Prematurely struck down with motor neuron disease, Grandfather even in his wheel chair was a big character and a major influence. Early memories include Grandad playing the bag pipes, pint bottles of Guinness in the house when he would come to visit us in England, and his boat shed, all wood shavings, the sound of a circular saw (which frightened the bejaysus out of me), the smell of cut timber, copper nails, and a boat, always a boat at some stage of construction.

Joe Redmond (left of picture) and Grandfather Willie Redmond, Greystones, Co. Wicklow, Ireland.

I learned to row and caught my first fish in the Jean Anne, a clinker design 16 foot boat built by Grandfather and named after my mother. Wide in the beam, deep with a high free board, designed with short east coast seas in mind, powered in the early days by seagull engines supplemented with long, strong, heavy oars, you always felt safe as these boats were well constructed. How many did he build? I do not know, but the last one would appear to have been around 1968. Which makes the following narrative all the more remarkable.

A 17' clinker boat designed and built by William Redmond, Greystones, Co. Wicklow, Ireland.

I am indebted to Barry Cantwell for contacting me about a boat his father bought many years ago which was built by grandad. Life works in mysterious ways, enquiring with restoration in mind and what contacts I might have, there is one thing for certain the conclusion of this story is going to be open ended and very positive. Curious to see the boat, Barry and I arranged to meet with a view to moving the craft from where it was stored to his house. On first viewing I was gobsmacked at its condition, while not quite ready for the sea she’s not a million miles away. This boat was well looked after and given her age of plus forty four years a testament to Grandads skills as a carpenter.

Bow shot of a clinker design boat constructed by William Redmond, Boat Builder, Greystones, Co. Wicklow.

Barry and I discussed its history and possible avenues we could take in getting the boat ready for the sea again, for there is no doubt she will ride the waves at some point during the summer to come. It is hard to not feel that some how Grandad had a part to play in both Barry and I meeting. When you consider that Barry’s wife is named Jean Anne the story takes on even greater significance, synchronicity is a word that has been used. Six degrees of separation, I don’t know, but one thing is for sure, often I have wondered whether any of Willie’s boats survived. Now I have my answer, I’ll be always grateful Barry and thank you.

Plaque below the stern seat.

A simple plaque below the stern seat is testament to the boats creator. She was built to go to sea and her wish will be granted. Life has its moments, God bless you Grandad….

Our Ocean Wealth, An Irish Angler’s World’s Submission

Friday, April 6th, 2012

March 31st marked the deadline for submissions to “Our Ocean Wealth” Towards an Integrated Marine Plan for Ireland. A welcome development but one which this soldier did not for reasons which will become clear participate in. Having made submissions on previous occasions, emailed politicians, briefly worked in fisheries on a short term contract, and handed personally on June 8th last year a letter to our current fisheries Minister Coveney (reproduced below) asking for a major shift in fisheries policy to include the recreational angling and tourism sector, his subsequent response last December re increasing the Celtic Sea commercial cod quota by 77% based on the first strong year class since 2000 on an already depleted stock told me all that I needed to know.

Letter to Minister Coveney, 08/06/2011

Dear Minister Coveney,

The historical and present tradition is that the marine commercial fishing industry, politicians, and Eurocrats decide how Ireland’s inshore and oceanic waters are managed. To date their record is appalling, and banner headlines on page two of last Saturday’s Irish Times dated June 4th 2011 do not inspire confidence that you in your role as Minister are going to tread anything but the same well worn and disastrous path as your predecessors. How can you forecast the creation of 158 seafood sector jobs when upwards of 50% of the 56 already commercially targeted fish in Irish waters are dangerously over exploited with the status of many others uncertain?Until such time as the brief is widened to include all interested parties around the table and the marine is looked at from a position whose terms are based on restoration, strict management which may have to include entry restrictions to the industry, and a wider socio economic input to include recreational angling and other tourism interests, then unfortunately Ireland is going to further squander and destroy the one resource that really can turn around our ailing economy.It is possible for recreational sea angling and commercial sea fishing to co-exist; they did in the recent past before we sold our territorial waters to the then Common Market. When one considers just one statistic it puts a lot in perspective. The pelagic fleet is the flagship of Ireland’s commercial sea fishing sector probably responsible for most onshore processing jobs. In 2009 the Irish pelagic catch (predominantly herring, mackerel, blue whiting) was 155,000 tonnes worth approximately €112million. In 2010 the volume landed was marginally up but the value stayed the same. It is reasonable to assume that the margins were down and the costs were up in 2010.155,000 tonnes is an extraordinary figure for one nation to remove from the sea. Contrary to what the industry says mackerel as a resource are being hammered, the dramatically reduced shoals off north Co. Wicklow compared to 20 years ago and the preponderance of joeys (juvenile mackerel) within the catch prove this. Also when one considers that blue whiting end up as fish food for the aquaculture industry at a weight conversion ratio of 4:1( four kilos of blue whiting makes one kilo of farmed salmon) the whole exercise just does not make economic or environmental sense.Contrast those figures with recreational sea angling whose understated contribution to the economy is €33million. This is a totally underdeveloped industry reliant on a decimated resource which hinders its growth just as it does for the commercial sector. If restoration policies were implemented Ireland could develop a destination sea angling market the envy of Europe and the web of benefits filtering out into the accommodation, restaurant, pub, general leisure industry, and artisan fishmongers from what is accepted as a sustainable industry has to date not even been quantified.Having lost my job a year ago and presently developing a recreational angling business in Co. Wicklow, I have plenty of experience, vision, and a desire to add to the creative mix necessary to further the development of our marine based industries. Minister Coveney, you really have an opportunity to change the way Ireland manages and develops its marine resource. Like our economy it is in a parlous state but has the fundamentals for recovery. Please use vision and widen the brief away from just the political and commercial seafood sector to include all interested parties. Failure to do this, besides being undemocratic, will retain a status quo which in a few short years if left to its own devices, will render one of Ireland’s few natural resources with sustainable long term potential unviable.

Yours sincerely,

Now one could argue that the Minister through the “Our Ocean Wealth” initiative has listened to my request, however maybe close on four years of atrocious fiscal management and poor governance of this nation of ours exemplified by the latest “Household Charge” debacle has brought out the cynic in me. That said, my views on marine conservation along with possible solutions are in the ether through this blog site, and I am most certainly willing to get my hands dirty for the greater good. So Minister Coveney and Taoiseach take note, the marine conservation element of this website plus any relevant articles and posts contained is my submission, they all interlink. My contact details are available through the site, I look forward to hearing from you….