Posts Tagged ‘Kill Devil Spider’

A Passion For Sea Trout.

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011

It takes a Yorkshireman who lives and works in Holland to come to Ireland with the purpose of writing what will most certainly be the definitive book on Irish Sea Trout. Chris McCully lives and breaths this wonderful, mysterious, sporting, and ultimately fascinating species, and it is with real pleasure that I say, “thank you Chris for the last couple of days spent in your company. Your passion for white trout  has reinvigorated within me the reason why I took up fly fishing, and I look forward to exploring my local rivers and streams, on a regular and more diligent basis, with a view to hopefully encountering this most magical of fish”.

Chris McCully (on right) deep in conversation with Irish fly caught sea trout record holder Denis O'Toole.

Chris has spent three years on the project, visiting and fishing over sixty fisheries across the length and breadth of Ireland, north and south, meeting local characters, anglers, and clubs, garnering knowledge and making many new friends, the final draft will be worth waiting for. Until then I will visit the optician with a view to improving my night vision, and cast a line into that deep shadowy pool after midnight, letting it swing around before slowly figure of eighting that surface lure in the hope of, BANG, the stuff of dreams.

Thank you Chris, and best of luck with the book.

River Slaney, Evening Sea Trout.

Friday, July 8th, 2011

Fished the Slaney yesterday evening for sea trout below Scarawalsh old bridge accompanied by visiting angler David Balsdon. A native of Devon who fishes the famous River Torridge, David was looking forward to casting a line on this equally famous Irish river. Conditions were not great, with a cool south easterly wind blowing upstream driving a constant mist of rain before it. Perseverance though did pay off, with David netting a three quarter pound sea trout tempted by a Kill Devil Spider as dusk closed in.

David Balsdon with a hard won River Slaney sea trout tempted by a Kill Devil Spider.

In good condition, fat and beautifully spotted, the sea trout took with a bang giving a good account of itself before being netted, photographed, and returned. David fished on until close to mid night catching parr and small brownies, along with a few tentative plucks from their migratory cousins, however the brace alluded him. Conditions were tough it has to be said, the upstream wind in particular making life difficult, but hey that’s fishing. David appreciated the experience, and if the opportunity arises would most definitely make a return visit.

Fly Fishing in Wexford, Slaney Sea Trout.

Saturday, June 4th, 2011

In Ireland we call them white trout, in Wales they are termed sewin, colloquial names for a migratory species much loved and revered by game fishers world wide, the sea trout. In the week that a new local record for the species was set with a 5.oz fish on Lough Currane, Co. Kerry, I made my first of many evening forays to the River Slaney. Sea trout run the river from mid June to mid August but with reports of sea trout in the system below Enniscorthy an early visit was hard to resist.

A three quarter pound River Slaney, Co. Wexford, fresh run sea trout tempted by a butcher.

The Slaney is showing its bones but there is certainly enough water to allow sea trout make their way up. For sixteen consecutive years I have fished my chosen stretch and seen the catches diminish to the point where two years back I didn’t cast a line once. With the nets off returns hopefully are on the way back, time will tell. This evening is perfect if a little bright, I rig up a floating line with a butcher (size 10) on the point and a kill devil spider (size 12) on the dropper. My rod is a favourite 9′ 6” Daiwa Whisker Fly (the original two piece) taking a six weight line. Walking downstream to a wide gravel bar which pushes the current to the right hand bank creating a deep steady gut I position myself and wait for the sun to set.

Butcher and Kill Devil Spider.

Large olives and sedges fill the air and four swans keep me company, small trout slash at flies and I am itching to cast. However I wait, it’s dusk now and my surroundings visually lose their natural sharpness while my senses become more acute. A silver bar clears the water not fifty metres from me, they are here. I commence fishing extending my line to cover the water. A few small brownies and parr take the kill devil as I work the seam. “On the dangle” I start to strip and bang the rod arches over and a bright, fresh sea trout spends the next thirty seconds more out of the water than in. Running to and fro, upstream and down, after a couple of minutes and still full of life I grasp the fish in my hand. Three quarters of a pound and smelling of the sea, sweet…..

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.

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.

Slaney Evening

Sunday, June 13th, 2010

It is June and the seatrout are starting their annual run. On the Slaney this will take place from about mid June until mid August, peaking in mid July. Late evening into the dark, initially fishing a floating line or a sink tip depending on conditions, then changing to an intermediate for deeper work into the night.


Flies that work well are the Kill Devil Spider, Butcher, and Alexandra, the Kill Devil being particularly good at dusk especially on the point. Working the flies close to the bank under overhanging branches can result in spectacular explosive takes, which can feel savage the darker it gets.

Kill Devil Spider and Butcher

An early visit to the Slaney saw the river running low but with a slight tinge of colour brought on by a couple of showers during the day. There were plenty of parr taking the flies but that evening no seatrout, only a half pound brownie which slashed at the butcher.

River Slaney above Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford

It was a beautiful evening to be on the river though with a family of swans out for an evening swim, and as dusk drew in the air came alive with a olives and sedges. Parr and small trout signaled their presence with dimpled and slashing rises to this aeriel feast, and a lone salmon exited the water 100 meters downstream, splash landing before continuing its long journey upstream.

Slaney Swans