October Bass on Lure and Fly

I recently spent a few days guiding Ken, Brendan and Lee for sea bass along the Copper Coast and around Dungarvan.  We had some of the best bass fishing in a long time.  It wasn’t just about the numbers of fish but the average size too.  We had some seriously well conditioned bass.

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One of our best hard lures was the ever reliable IMA Komomo (sf125, slim 130 and Komomo II).  It really does do the business over shallow rough ground.  It casts well and works great on a slow retrieve.  The IMA Sasuke 120 is another similar and reliable lure.

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I can’t explain the delight when Brendan caught his first bass in over 40 years!! He seems to be a natural when fishing weighted soft plastics like the Fiiish Black Minnow and HTO Artic Eel.

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Ken was keeping up with brother and nailed some really good fish.

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When everyone had caught the boys were very generous  and said I could fly fish for a while.  I didn’t need to be asked twice because normally I never get to have a cast when guiding and if there’s one thing I love to do it’s catching bass on fly.  I tie my own bass flies but also use some tied by friends of mine who are commercial tyers of predator flies.  Andy and Paula of Chasing Silver Flies tie some awesome  proven bass patterns.  My pal Dougie from Scotland also ties stunning predator flies.

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We caught bass just about everywhere we fished, shallow rough ground – deep channels – clean sand bars and beaches.  Tactics were altered to suit the conditions – jigging soft plastics, weightless/weedless stick worms, shallow diving and surface lures.  Changing colours for different light conditions.  There is a lot to learn but what a way to do it!

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The Copper Coast was just on fire and it one of the nicest places to pursue this hard fighting wild fish.

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Of course when you are catching good numbers large fish it is important to practice catch and release.  Bass are a very slow growing species.

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There are still good opportunities to fish for bass right through October and into November.  I’m looking forward to some more good sessions and I know the boys are itching to get back out there.

Autumn Gold (and Silver!)

Guiding was really busy all summer and of course family time is very important too, especially when you have two young kids. Anyway, there was little time to sit down and write blogs about the fishing. To be fair, salmon fishing slowed down towards the end of summer this year. As always September is a mad hectic month for me as customers are keen to finish off the freshwater season with a salmon, trout or seatrout. Saltwater anglers know that some of the best bass tides of the year fall in September too. There was a lack of fresh salmon in most rivers and a few days on the lower Munster Blackwater with clients resulted in three salmon landed, two lost and a few seatrout in the mix. The water was very high then dropping nicely and clearing then rising fast all in the space of a few days! All but one of the fish the guys landed and lost were red. The high coloured water meant fishing from the bank rather than wading so we had to use the landing net and place the fish up on the grass for a quick photo before release.

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My clients exercised their discretion to tag and keep a fresh salmon for the table. I rarely keep a fish anymore but at the end of the day it was up to them.
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For me the seabass is one of the best game fish in our waters.  I just love fishing for them.  The September tides always produce some crackers and with some settled weather things looked really promising.  I guided during the spring tides with Lee, Paul and Daire on alternate days and we had several superb fish with the best measuring 74cm.  Belter!!

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We had fish on soft plastics, surface lures and hard lures.  One of my favourite shallow divers is the Feed Shallow but this year I have really taken to the IMA Komomo and Komomo II.  These are excellent lures and fish well on a slow retrieve.

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As often happens you can get a day or two when the sea conditions make bass fishing a less than promising option.  However, the great thing about Dungarvan is that there are other good fishing options available, such as salmon or trout.  So when the water got really discoloured Paul agreed to do some fly fishing over at Ardaire Springs in Mooncoin.  I lost count of the amount of quality trout he landed on dries!

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So we the rivers closing at the end of September there is still lots of opportunity to bass fish.  Keep an eye out for my next blog on some awesome fly and lure fishing for large bass along the copper coast!!!!!

 

 

 

All about the bass, about the bass!

Been very busy with guiding and tuition since I got back from the Northwest Angling Fair in Tyrone. At the Clancy festival in Carrick on Suir I did some casting demonstrations and tuition on the local Carrick on Suir Club waters.  This is a super club who are very interested in promoting fly fishing and have worked hard to provide fantastic facilities of members and day permit holders.  They have a really impressive stretch of water along the River Suir.

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The daytime trout fishing has been tough in the bright warm conditions but we still had lots of fish on nymphs and dries but no really big ones.  Having said that wild brown trout certainly don’t have to be big to be pretty fish.  Just look at the beauty we had from a local stream the other day.  Remarkable colours.

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On the other hand the bass fishing along the copper coast and into Tramore has been awesome over the last set of spring tides.  There were large numbers of fish caught in the Tramore area during night sessions.  When the weather is very warm and sea is calm night fishing over shallow sandy surf beaches can be very productive indeed.  However, as a fishing guide a lot of my clients either cannot or just do not want to fish during those hours so I am faced with trying to get them onto fish in daylight during the same conditions.  This means trying a lot of tactics but the big tides do help quite a bit and we had some fantastic bass recently, with several over 70cm and one over 80cm.

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Adapting to the fishing situation is important and we had fish on surface lures, shallow divers and in particularly the soft plastics.  Senko worms are really doing the business along with some paddle tails.

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The next spring tides are not far away so I’m really looking forward to getting out there.  Remember the be familiar with the bass angling regulations and practice catch and release.

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All in the Hands!

On many of our stillwaters at this time of year the fish are well acclimatized residents used to natural feeding and the water temperature is dropping steadily.  In other words the fishing often gets that bit tougher.  In recent weeks I have noticed rod catches dropping on our local reservoirs even though fishing continues to be good and the quality of trout is excellent.

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The obvious question is why are anglers that were doing so well in the summer suddenly not catching.  A few things come to mind:

  • are they using the wrong flies/not matching what the fish are feeding on?
  • are they concentrating on the wrong areas?
  • are they presenting the right flies at the wrong depth or speed?
Shrimp and hoglouse should be on the menu

Shrimp and hoglouse should be on the menu

To my mind most anglers now know the various food sources fish are likely to feeding on at various times of year.  They also have a good grasp of where the fish are  in their local lake.  That just leaves the third possibility – they are not presenting their flies correctly.  Quite often when I am guiding beginners they think that presentation is only important for dry fly fishing – MISTAKE, BIG MISTAKE!  Presentation is ALWAYS important.

At this time of year resident browns often switch to feeding on snails

At this time of year resident browns often switch to feeding on snails

To cut to the chase, as the water temperature drops and hatches slow down fish are more likely to be feeding deeper in the water on slow moving creatures, e.g. shrimp, hoglouse, snails.  This all seems fairly obvious but time and time again I see anglers ripping back every fly (buzzer, nymph, shrimp, etc) just as if it was a wet fly or lure.  Even when I say “slow down the retrieve” it often only goes from super fast to very fast!

A slow retrieve fooled this brown trout in cold conditions

A slow retrieve fooled this brown trout in cold conditions

So concentrate on your retrieve, try to incorporate slow short pulls, lots of pauses and of course the lethal slow figure of eight or static retrieve (just keep in touch with the flies as they drift).  Remember – it’s all in the hands! Enjoy your winter fishing.

 

Exceptional Salmon Course

On May 17 we held our salmon fishing course on the beautiful Ballincurrig beat of the Ballyduff Salmon Fisheries.  I was joined by Maurice Cahill (Mackenzie Pro) and Denis O’Toole (Pro Fly Tyer).  Our regular top photographer came along to take more amazing photos for my blogs! We met up with the participants at the village of Ballyhooly and then headed over to beat.  We got our waders on and headed off down to the river.

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In the morning I explained some different fishing outfits to the guys, including: spey, switch, skagit and shooting head.  The approach was to simplify the range of available tackle into matching outfits for different fishing situations.

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After this I demonstrated 4 useful spey casts: single spey, double spey, snap-T and snake roll. Maurice explained some likely holding lies and we had a great informal discussion about fly selection and leader set up.  Denis showed the lads different styles of salmon fly and talked about how they would behave in the water – really useful stuff.

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We took a break for lunch and held a raffle for the free Mackenzie Perflex rod which was sponsored by Scott Mackenzie.  The lucky winner was Cal from Bandon.

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Denis did a fly tying demo and tied some cracking intruder flies on tubes.  Then he gave everyone on the course some of his amazing flies to use for the evening. What a nice chap!

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The guys then worked on their casting and everyone saw a good improvement in what they were doing.  A few useful tips and a little confidence made a significant difference.  They fished on and Frank from Dundalk had a short take not long after Damien had seen a fresh fish enter the pool below.

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The course came to a close but it was great to see lots of happy anglers and get some fantastic feedback.  I received several messages after the course which were all very positive.  One participant wrote that: “It was a really great day, exceptional in every detail.  I think the course content, the simple and effective delivery, having the opportunity to get coached on how to cast a double hander and the fly tying demonstration from Denis made the day great value for money. For myself it gave me a greater understanding of what I need to do to enjoy fishing the fly for salmon.”

Match the Hatch – Rivers & Small Streams

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Delighted to be able to announce details of this course with Ken Whelan.  It is going to be really informative for those of you who river fish for wild brown trout.  Are you interested on what these fish are feeding on, and how to imitate these food sources with artificial fly?  If so, then this is the course for you.  It is being held on the River Annalee (in association with the Cavan Anglers Club), Ballyhaise, Co.Cavan on Sunday April 26th. Places are limited so get in touch ASAP if you want to participate.

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Lessons Learned

Last Sunday I held our River Trout Fishing Course on the Blackwater River.  I was joined on this course by fellow Mackenzie Pro Team member Maurice Cahill and our ace photographer Kuba Standera.  On the day we met up at Ballyhooly village with all 11 participants for the course.  From there we traveled over to the Ballincurrig beat which was our venue for the course.  Access to the beat was a short walk from where we parked.

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This is one of the nicest stretches of the river I have fished over the years.

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I started off the course with a chat about tackle choice for different fishing techniques and also what might be suitable for small and large rivers in Ireland.  We had a range of Mackenzie rods to use for demonstration from 9ft 5wt to 11ft3 7/8 switch rods.  Maurice did a demo on dry fly fishing and another on wet fly fishing to a captivated audience!  As it was still very early in the season there was little chance of anything on dries but he did get a pull on the wets.

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After this I went through various nymphing tactics from short lining with heavy nymphs to long lining and using French leaders.  Kuba showed everyone a range of “genuine” Polish nymphs and many gasped at the size and weight of some of the flies on display.  I demonstrated some nymphing at medium range but it was obvious that this was not going to be productive with the high cold water.  So I changed over to short line with heavier nymphs.  Everyone was happy to see how the leader was constructed and fished.

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I used an indicator and had a take within a few casts that everyone managed to see.  It was a small trout but it showed how a change in tactics can produce a trout from a spot that appeared fishless shortly before this.

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Once the nymph fishing was explained I then did a demo on streamer fishing.  I used a 10ft 7wt Mackenzie and streamer line for this.  This is an awesome rod that I often use for big lures at stillwaters so fishing a large streamer on a specialist streamer line was no problem.

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One of the things that often happens with streamer fishing is that some really good locations do not allow room for a good backcast so double hauling a large streamer is out of the question.  Roll casting streamers on fast sinking shooting heads is not so easy either!  So I also showed everyone where a switch rod with a compact switch line with a sinking head is really useful here.  I simply spey cast the streamer across using this Kit and the evidence was there for all to see.

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I had one hook up on the streamer during the demo but mentioned to the participants that there was a really good piece of streamer water further up that I was leaving unfished for later.  Cal headed up there after lunch with the Mackenzie outfit and sure enough he had his first ever streamer caught wild brown trout.  Result.  Everyone fished different techniques for the evening and there were hook ups, lost fish and one or two landed on nymphs and wets.

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The weather on the day had started cold but the sun shone for the afternoon and everyone seemed to have a great time.  We took a little group photo in the evening and there were lots of smiling faces.  Our next course on the Blackwater will be a salmon fishing course in May.  There will be tips on casting and fishing, and we also have a top Irish Pro Fly Tyer to tie a few fish catchers!

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