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.”

Masterclass!

Yesterday I traveled up to Cavan with Ken Whelan to deliver our trout match the hatch course on the River Annalee.  On arrival we were met by a very enthusiastic bunch of participants, mostly members from the Bunnoe and Cavan Angling Clubs.

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In the morning classroom session Ken gave a presentation on the insects likely to be encountered in the river and how to identify them.

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I delivered the next session which was choosing suitable imitations and also tackle set up for fishing them.

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After a bite to eat we went to the river and the course participants kick-sampled the river. A fantastic selection of trout food was discovered including cased caddis, caseless caddis, stone clingers, mayfly nymphs, water worms and more! I then demonstrated various fishing techniques and caught a few nice wild trout on nymphs.

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The participants fished the river for a while and put what they learned into practice, catching some nice fish in the process.  It was a superb day on a cracking river spent with some great people.  We will be organising another match the hatch river course for a few weeks time.  In the meantime I have a salmon fishing course organised for the Munster Blackwater on May 17th.  There are still three spaces left on that one.

“Spoiled for Choice” – South East Lakes Fishing Well

I finally got around to fishing Knockaderry for the first time on St Patrick’s morning. This lake is one of my favourite fisheries and I was really looking forward to wetting a line there.  The day itself started out cool but the day got warmer and by mid morning there was a great midge hatch. The sun shone and the breeze was gentle giving a lovely slow drift, ideal for buzzer fishing.

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By lunchtime my car was covered in small midge.  The big hatch really got the large rainbows moving and quite a number were rising and feeding on natural fly.  Fishing small buzzers through the layers was the effective tactic.

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There are some serious trout in this lake and the average size of the rainbows was 5 to 6lbs.

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These fish will take you to the backing and I was glad I decided to fish with a 10ft 7wt and not a lighter outfit.

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Ned Maher told me that Ardaire Springs also enjoyed a bumper day with the rise in temperatures.  The last time I called over there I managed a fantastic 18lbs rainbow.

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Looks like we are spoiled for choice for quality stocked fisheries here in the south east at the moment!

 

 

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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Dutch Gold

Fished Ardaire Springs yesterday with three Dutch anglers who were new to stillwater trout fishing.  Two of the guys were visiting their friend who lives locally and had never fly fished before.  We arrived at Ardaire around 11.30am but Ned was expecting us and had three Mackenzie single handed demo rods ready and waiting for the guys.

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There were a lot of anglers fishing the lake but I noticed a few spots available outside the fishing lodge.  The guys were keen to make a start so I got them all casting with different fishing methods and before I could pop back out to the car to put on my wellies Pieter was into a good fish.  It turned out to be a cracking brown trout.  What a start!  A beautiful fish with a lovely golden hue to it.

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The weather started to deteriorate with the wind getting stronger and rain looked imminent.  Nevertheless the guys fished on and landed some nice rainbow trout on dries.  Local angler Adriano managed to land a 14lb rainbow on a lure while we were there.  The wind got really strong but even so the lads were casting well.  Eventually the weather got very wet and cold so the guys decided to call it a day.  I heard that another big rainbow approaching 20lbs was landed afterwards.

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Overall it was a good day and I managed to get 10minutes casting in with the Mackenzie 7/8 Switch rod and Compact Switch line.  What an awesome piece of kit!  I left it on the rod rack and a few of the other anglers had a cast with it.  Ned told me afterwards that they were really really impressed with it.  No surprise there though.

First Wild Brown Trout of 2015

My pal Kuba and I decided to try for some wild Munster Blackwater River brown trout.  I knew from a contact of mine that the river was in good order with just a slight stain.  Our venue was the absolutely beautiful although short Flower Hill Beat below Ballyduff.

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This is always a good early season trout beat and has some really nice streamer water.  I fished with an 11ft 5/6 Mackenzie Switch rod as the extra length might prove advantageous on this stretch at this time of year.

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When we arrived at the Beat Kuba was delighted to see that we had only a very short walk from the car to the riverbank.  We started at the top of the beat and worked our way down along the bank, wading one short part which has a lovely gravel bottom.  We even spotted a salmon break the surface as we walked along.

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The trout seemed to be holding in the slower water and I managed to get a few hits before managing to hook up and lose a fish or two. I changed fly and this worked a treat as the next three trout all stayed on.  No monsters but they were very welcome.

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Unfortunately a lot of debris started to float down the river, probably due to a rise in water height.  This was making fishing a little awkward and as we had enjoyed the session enough we decided to finish up and come back another day for a proper try.

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It was good fun and although Kuba didn’t fish much he enjoyed photographing the beat (including this awesome fallen tree) and I know he is really keen to get back there to fish for these trout.

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Full House

We had a full house today for our Stillwater Trout Tactics course at Ardaire Springs.  Eight hardy souls were at the fishery bright and early this morning and we set about going through various techniques in theory in the tackle lodge.  Before lunch I demonstrated a number of fishing techniques using the 9ft 6wt, 10ft 7wt and 11ft 5/6 Mackenzie Rods.  I managed to catch 4 nice rainbows during the demonstration session which was very pleasing.  The day turned cooler but we were not deterred as Ned had prepared burgers and sausages.  After lunch the participants tackled up and tried out some of the techniques they had learned.

Some cracking fish were caught on dries:

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Bloodworms:

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Wets:

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And Lures:

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A massive well done to all.  I hadn’t even made it home and I had received positive feedback by text from some participants which really made my day.  Our next course is our River Trout course on March 8th.

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Imitative Approach

Last Sunday I traveled to Courtlough Fishery in Dublin to tutor the Match the Hatch Course with Ken Whelan.  We had 14 participants on the course and Garrett the fishery manager and the staff at Courtlough were very welcoming to everyone.  In the morning Ken went through a PowerPoint presentation on the various important species likely to be living in the lake.

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We then headed down to the water to for a kick sampling session.  Everyone took part and Ken provided the required equipment for the session.

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It was great to see all the insect life collected and identified and it proved to be a real ‘eye opener’ for the participants who really enjoyed this aspect of the course, despite the very cold weather.

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Next it was time for lunch and we headed back to the bar (yes bar!) for soup and sandwiches.  The hot soup was very welcome and again Courtlough set the standard by providing additional sandwiches tea/coffee and biscuits.  With full tummies it was time for the afternoon session.  This was where I took over and showed everyone a series of imitative fly patterns designed to look and/or move like the insects we found in the lake.

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We headed back down to the water and I demonstrated a few fishing techniques for replicating the movement of the naturals.  The guys then had time to do some fishing themselves and try to put what they learned into practice.  I used two Mackenzie DTX single handed rods for my demo and the boys were keen to get their hands on them.  Ken had a go with the 10ft 7wt with a fast intermediate line and a damsel imitation.  Within the first few casts he was into a lovely rainbow.

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Everyone was very impressed with these rods. A few more fish were caught and as the sun and temperatures dropped it was time to call it a day.  The feedback afterwards was really positive and this was most satisfying for Ken and I.

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Our next Match the Hatch course will take place in Ratchon Fishery on March 1st.  In the meantime I am taking bookings for a Stillwater Tactics course at Ardaire Springs fishery in Mooncoin.  For more info click here.  As I have recently been appointed to the Mackenzie Pro Team for Ireland I will have a range of single handed rods with me for these courses.

Savage Fishing

The local reservoirs have been fishing well lately.  Today was another great example when Wayne who has returned to Ireland from Australia had a super session on Carrigavantry.  The fishing was quiet in the morning but fish were moving.  I suggested a few tactical changes and after lunch he was just slamming the resident bows on dries.

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Fish on

These were not easy fish to fool but when they did hit the takes were just SAVAGE!

A quality bow.

A quality bow.

We even managed a few double hook ups which came as a surprise to Wayne as earlier in the day a lot of these fish were not interested in his offerings.

One each safely in the net

One each safely in the net

It was very pleasing to see that Wayne is a fan of catch and release.  He rarely ever keeps a trout.  One trout that we spooned was his bag limit for the day.

CPR (Catch Photo Release)

CPR (Catch Photo Release)

 

Crafty Flies for Bass

Tied up a batch of sea bass flies for a friend the other day.  I started with some deceiver type flies like the one below.

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Then I tied a few larger flies along the lines of the hollow semper.  The thing with most saltwater flies is they never really look like baitfish when they are dry.  But try running the tap on them for a few moments and then look at them when wet.  The transformation can be astounding and this is when these flies come to life.

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Many saltwater flies like those above are tied with bucktail.  This is a great material but you can tie some with softer materials too.  I also tied my friend a few flies using Craft Fur.  Despite appearances, there is nothing overly complicated in tying any of these saltwater flies.

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It is always a good idea to have some bright coloured flies for different light and water conditions.  Try something like the fire orange craft fur fly below!

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