Posts Tagged ‘Wild Brown Trout’

August Evening at Roundwood

Thursday, August 8th, 2013

Formally opened in 1863, the south lake at Roundwood created by damming the Vartry River, was commissioned by The Dublin Water Works Committee to supply clean water to the city of Dublin. A second embankment (Dam) was completed in 1923 so forming the upper reservoir. Both the upper (north) and lower (south) lakes are first class mature wild trout fisheries which have a reputation for being dour, however the fishery rewards effort so don’t be afraid to put the time in.

Evening scene, lower lake Roundwood, Co. Wicklow.

Popping up for a couple of hours after tea I was greeted by a mirror calm water upon which a small hatch of silverhorns and an odd plump sedge were dancing in the margins. Here and there mostly out of range one could observe an odd slashy rise. Fishing a dry silverhorn I missed the only rise to my fly while momentarily taking in the view.

August evening on the south lake Roundwood, Co. Wicklow.

A nice breeze from the south or west would have made a difference creating a wave and pushing terrestrials out on the water. Yesterday evening though was about being there waist deep in the stillness, quietly waiting to intercept a rising trout with a carefully placed imitation. The revery remained unbroken…..

See also: http: Last Day on Roundwood.

Bountiful Barrow

Sunday, May 5th, 2013

May sunshine, a gentle breeze, a rising tide, camaraderie craic and banter, and nature finally throwing off its winter blanket. Yesterday the River  Barrow came to life, not firing on all cylinders but showing enough to fashion a wonderful afternoons fishing in that magical south County Carlow location where freshwater merges with salt, so creating a unique mixed fishery which every May explodes with abundance.

Duncan Cole with a wild River Barrow brown trout caught and released.

It being the May weekend a number of specimen hunters lined the tow path, casting the preferred blue/silver Tazmanian Devil towards the far bank hoping to connect with an early shad. Again having traveled with bream in mind, I set up at my chosen swim shortly before the rising tide cleared the “scar” a quarter of a mile downstream. Casting out a 40 gram feeder at regular sixty second intervals bites came on within five minutes, however the pattern settled into slow/steady as against constant.

Ashley Hayden with a brace of River Barrow hybrids taken on red maggot.

Initially a few plump roach showed interest followed by a small trout and a dace or two. Close to high tide proceedings slowed, the water torpid and glass like. In unison with the ebb kicking off however my swim came to life, a bream and three hybrids taking my bait with confident abandon, wrap around bites being the order of the day.

Waterford angler Paul Millea with a River Barrow bream.

At this point I have to extend thanks to Waterford angler Paul Millea who kindly gave me some ground bait mix, enough for an extra hours fishing, which made all the difference. That’s the beauty of angling, you meet people for the first time and the connection through the shared hobby does the rest. Setting up a tent close by, Paul and his friend Alastair were down after bream and hybrids, and even if the fishing was slow they were still having the craic.

South African angler Alastair Leong sports a nice River Barrow hybrid.

Preparing to leave around five pm a commotion downstream had me running for my camera. Regular visitor from the north of Ireland Duncan Cole, while spinning for shad, had connected with a very sizable wild brownie. Netted after a spirited tussle, the four pound trout more than made up for the absence of Duncan’s primary target shad. “There’s always the next tide“, he quipped. I couldn’t agree more…….

See also: Persistence Pays Down Barrow Way.

Threadlines and Trout

Friday, April 5th, 2013

Took a spin down to a local stream today, literally. With snow still lying on high ground, interminable easterlies delaying the onset of summer, and water temperatures below normal for April, having fly fished on a number of occasions lately with mixed results I decided to call into action my trusty light spinning rig with a view to fishing some deep pots and slow sections. Flicking a size 1 Mepps into likely holes and runs is a method of fishing that I used a lot back in the day on Wicklow streams such as the Vartry. Cast upstream or down, into pots, worked under low lying branches close to the bank, or in channels between banks of weed, small bar spoons can prove irresistible to both brown and sea trout.

Size 1 copper Mepps, an ideal lure for taking trout and sea trout.

Utilizing a 7 foot, 5 – 18 gram casting weight, rod matched to a spinning reel loaded with b/s line, I attached a 1/0 tear drop copper Mepps sporting red spots, a favourite lure of mine. The biting wind necessitated woolly hat, scarf, and gloves, a far cry from the 20 degree heat experienced towards the end of March early April 2012. Making my way downstream I found a nice shallow run flowing off a bend into a deep hole. Casting a long line at about 30 degrees down and across the lure plopped into the stream close to the far bank. Caught by the current a rhythmic pulse transmitted through my taught line signaling that the blade’s working ok. Swinging across, now working deep and slow, guided between two banks of ranunculus, bang, a nice half pounder.

Working a copper Mepps through a likely swim.

A little later while prospecting the far side of a long wide pool, towards the tail a good take pulls my rod tip over, definitely a better fish. On light tackle the trout fights well, guiding it quickly towards my hand, close to three quarters of a pound, good for this river. Nicely spotted, yellow bellied and quite plump, quick photo for posterity and away.

A plump early season Wicklow trout.

With not a hatch in sight come three pm everything went quiet, and also very cold due to the wind chill. Next week the weather is predicted to turn southerly, it can’t come soon enough, a bit of warmth and the river will blossom. Roll on the evening rise……

Further reading: Blustery Day on the Derreen.


A Masterclass in Dry Fly Fishing

Monday, March 18th, 2013

Sometimes you just have to step back and admire, a skill honed over many years can, when presented by a master, look easy. I’ve gotten to know Liam Stenson, like many other fly anglers, through his blog Irish Fly With a shared interest in both fly fishing and blogging our paths were bound to cross at some stage. A friendship has developed over the last few years, and not having met since last season it was nice to catch up while casting a St Patrick’s Day line on the River Liffey downstream of Ballymore Eustace.

A well conditioned River Liffey brownie taken on an Olive Klinkhammer.

Enjoying a fine day on the Liffey commencing around eleven thirty am, finishing around three thirty pm, a stand out few moments of the session has to be retold. Even colder than the day before, I found myself upstream of Liam fish less until a good trout took in a back eddy close to the far bank. Head shaking and sullen it sat in the current thrashing before cutting loose. Well that was it, cold and pissed off I walked down towards Liam who, as I approached, looked up from perusing his various fly boxes.

Irish Fly Fisher Liam Stenson nets a nice River Liffey Brownie.

“I’ve had a few trout Ash to a particular dark olive pattern that I tie for this section of river, unfortunately I appear to have none left”. Liam had given me a few flies before setting out, and not having used them all, maybe he could be lucky. “Here, look in the box you gave me this morning”. On cue the particular tying called out to Liam before quickly becoming attached to his 1.7 lb b/s tippet. That’s when proceedings got interesting.

Playing a half pound River Liffey brownie.

A narrow gut ran fast into a dog leg pool deflecting off a high bank so creating a back eddy on the inside. The current then flowed off fast under some low lying branches where most of the trout were resident. Occasional dark olives, swept into this run were being picked off by these fish who were sitting either side of the fast water, a heavy boil and plop signaling a particular trout’s presence on cue as I looked across. Liam dipped his fly in floatant then placed it in the water so removing any excess oil which could create a trout scaring slick. Wading through the pool he took up position ready to cast towards the rising fish.

A well conditioned Liffey half pounder for Liam Stenson.

Lengthening his cast Liam delicately placed his fly in the flow just upstream of the low branches. Feeding a half yard of line to prevent the klinkhammer skating he moved his rod tip in unison with the visible imitation. Ker plop, Liam’s left hand pulls line down in conjunction with right hand sharply raising rod top, the trout bores left and deep out of the current. A few dashes here and there and it’s in the net, a plump, yellow bellied Liffey half pounder in great nick for the time of year. Congratulations proffered, we discussed the years of passion and interest that went into developing the skills I had just witnessed. “It all boils down to being regularly on the water Ash”, I couldn’t disagree while equally admiring Liam’s humility, one of fishing’s gentlemen…….


Spring Chill on a Favourite Stream

Monday, March 18th, 2013

This morning she has the look of an English chalk stream, running clear, the first vestiges of ranunculus (a curse later in the season) waving in the current. A sharp, cold south easterly breeze blows upstream, not a rise to be seen, the trout are keeping their neb’s down and who would blame them. In the distance snow lies on Lugnaquilla, Leinster’s highest mountain, like a dome shaped Mount Fuji, standing sentinel over the surrounding countryside.

A rain fed trout stream flowing off the Wicklow mountains, Ireland.

Making my way down to a get in point below the bridge I slip into the water, cold seeping through my waders, fishing just might be slow. Set up with a four weight rig, kill devil spider on point, greenwells spider covering center, with a partridge and orange taking up the rear, I cast at a 45 degree angle towards the far bank, throwing a mend before letting the flies swing around. Lengthening the line, third cast a pull, splash, and hop, diving and skittering towards my hand, a beautifully spotted 10 inch trout.

Early season fly fishing on a rain fed Irish trout stream.

Spring regularly finds me on this river, flowing off Wicklow granite she first runs across bleak  moorland before dropping quickly onto a rich agricultural hinterland where she meanders gently, eventually linking with her parent River Slaney. With a river bed comprising coarse sand and gravel ideally suited for constructing redds, this stream enjoys a run of salmon and it is not unheard of for early season trout fishers to unexpectedly connect with the king of fish. My five minutes in the sun occuring a few years ago while fishing a 1/0 copper Mepps with trout in mind, four pound b/s line being no match for a spring salmon when it decides to get its head down.

Early season wild brownie from a rain fed Irish stream.

Back to the present, after my initial success things went quite, a couple more pulls signaled interest but nothing definite ensued. Flattering to deceive the day looked glorious, blue skies and fluffy clouds creating an impression of spring warmth when in reality it was Baltic. Time to go down, replacing the kill devil with a weighted nymph, instant success, of a similar 10 inch size, the trout shook itself free after thirty seconds.

Wet flies for a favourite stream.

Persevering down stream with no more joy I changed over to a dry fly set up tying on a dark olive klinkhammer, working a few runs on my way back towards the car seemed like a plan. With still not a rise in sight and fishing water more in hope then design I signed off, it being well past the witching mid day hours so important to fly fishing in early March. Tomorrow is another day with the Liffey, Mr Irish Fly Fisher Liam Stenson, and a master class in fishing the dry fly beckoning, bring it on…….

First Day on the River

Saturday, March 9th, 2013

Grey clouds press down on the surrounding hills, a sharp variable easterly breeze cuts, and the threat of rain is never too far away. Only die hards fly fish County Wicklow’s mountain streams in March, trout, spent after spawning are only beginning to return to the runs and glides, with fly life, especially today marked absent. Like a magnet though our red spotted friends beckon, the rushing waters call, and before we know it a cast is unfurling, placing a weighted nymph into a likely gut.

Early season fly fishing high up in the Wicklow hills.

Peat stained water runs clear and surprisingly low given the amount of rain that has fallen since what seems like last April. At below summer level, without doubt finding a fish is going to be hard. It’s nice to be out though, pulling on the waders, sharing fishy tales, while pondering about life and fishing. Accompanying me on this first trip to the river is Mitchell Josh, an avid angler from Oregan on the USA’s west coast, visiting Dublin with his wife he fancied a day out in the country, striking a balance between sight seeing the Book of Kells and The Guinness Hop Store.

A little beauty, still thin after spawning, this trout will plump up over the coming weeks.

A deer bounds across the moor, tail up, flashing it’s white behind, a farmer spreads slurry on a nearby field, in the distance artilliary fires, quite surreal, and best of all we have the river to ourselves. Working runs downstream, a partridge and orange on the dropper partnered by a weighted nymph on the point, our day is punctuated by a few tentative pulls and one sprightly trout. It’s called fishing not catching, or so runs the cliche, I’d say it’s about being there, wouldn’t you agree?


Fly Fishing in Wicklow, After the Flood

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

The river ran peat stained but clear, prone to spates evidence of a recent deluge was littered everywhere along the banks where mats of  broken twigs and branches lay among the fast growing bracken. The flood must have been a big one for this flotsam lay in one instance ten feet above the rivers normal height and on lower stretches 20 meters from the now babbling stream, a wolf in sheep’s clothing. How the trout survive is beyond me but they do, down stream my leader swung around, feeding a yard the line pulls sideways and I set into an eight inch brownie.

Downstream wet fly fishing on a Wicklow mountain stream, southern Ireland.

Taking a bead head pheasant tail on the point my first trout of the afternoon dips and dives in the current as I work it towards my hand. Quickly released the brownie scoots off towards a suitable lie while I continue to wade downstream. The air is humid and midges make me itch, a breeze develops from the south west giving relief from the little beggars and the sun shines brightly. Farmers shear sheep in an adjacent field, good idea as it’s too hot for a jumper.

A small well marked Wicklow mountain trout.

The trout are not giving themselves up today although enough snatch and pull to make my wade interesting. By now it’s very bright and hot. Doubling back I cast my bead head upstream searching the seams, every so often a forward movement or stop of the fly line is met with a simultaneous left hand pull and right hand lift of the rod, actually more a twist of the wrist, end result being a miss, a rock, or a trout. In jig time afternoon rolls into evening, eight or nine of the smaller brethren is my lot, wild and beautifully marked, on a four weight set up, magic…..

Dry Fly Fishing the River Liffey, Lessons from Liam

Tuesday, June 5th, 2012

The River Liffey is a prolific trout fishery its source high up in the Wicklow Mountains above Sally Gap, it flows down youthful past the Coronation Forest and Manor Kilbride whence it meets the vast expanse of Blessington Reservoir, before re-emerging as a young adult and entering the rich agricultural plains of Kildare, where she sweeps in a great arc through villages and towns such as Ballymore Eustace, Kilcullen, Newbridge, and Clane, then in her maturity pushes on for suburbia, Dublin city, and the sea. Providing a wealth of fly fishing opportunities from rushing mountain stream to glassy flats, north country spiders to a delicately placed dry black gnat, Co. Kildare holds the cream and June is a great month to taste it.

Liam Stenson lives for fly fishing and his home patch is the river Liffey, however his passion takes him to various waters around the country from the River Suir to the great western lakes and numerous fisheries in between. This love of fly fishing is documented in a fantastic website, which Liam updates regularly. June bank holiday Monday was shaping up to be a belter of a day and with the river calling I gave Liam a quick tinkle and we arranged to meet around eleven. On arrival the Liffey looked in superb condition running clear with that peaty tinge, the bank side vegetation now in full summer bloom. The sun shone down from a blue sky and although a light warm north westerly breeze kept temperatures down a notch, it was still shirt sleeve weather.

Liam Stenson, Irish Fly Fisher, on the River Liffey, Co. Kildare.

On the water clouds of black gnat danced and resident trout were making hay, not everywhere but certainly in pockets right along the stretch that we intended to fish. Alongside the gnats were various olives and an occasional mayfly, but it was the little black fellas that were to provide the key to a wonderful afternoons fishing or should I say fishing lesson. They say that opportunity comes from adversity, and when you leave your dry fly fishing clobber behind when making a trip to the Liffey you are most definitely on the back foot. However being in the company of not only a top notch fly angler but a gentleman to boot, I not only got to cast a fly or two but came away a wiser angler courtesy of a true craftsman.

Liam Stenson playing a lively River Liffey brownie which came to a dry black gnat.

Using flies of his own creation Liam worked the runs and flats predominantly with a polystyrene foam based black gnat design. Casting upstream with an eight foot four weight set up, using a relatively short line and a longish leader to a two pound tippet, Liam controlled the fly beautifully as it drifted back towards him regularly connecting with hard fighting black and red spotted brownies in the 6 – 8 ounce bracket. They weren’t giving themselves up and being lightening fast many got one up on Mr. Irish Fly Fisher himself, but even so at days end Liam had a tally of eleven up to well over a pound in weight.

A beautifully spotted River Liffey brownie.

Having fished wets with not much success in the faster runs and contented myself with taking photos and learning, in the mid afternoon Liam set me up with a light leader and a black gnat which enabled me to fish the back end of the hatch whereupon I tempted two trout and rose another before everything went quite. Walking back to the cars we reflected on what a great fishery the Liffey is and also the wonderful afternoon we shared. A trout rose close to the bank and we marked its spot, next time Mr trout as dinner calls and I’ve a long drive home, thank you Liam again for a great day……

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.