Go Deep or go Home!

I had heard a few times that the western Lough’s can fish well at the end of the season to daphnia feeding fish in the deeps. There can also be a chance of dry fly fishing with sedges and daddies.

With this in mind I contacted my pal and Corrib boatman Tom Doc Sullivan to see if a trip would be worthwhile. Tom really knows his stuff and he told me to make the journey. However I wouldn’t be fishing any of the drifts I had fished on previous trips. It seemed like – go deep or go home!

I was joined by my mate Dave who has also fished the lake before but never at this time of year. Preparation had gone well and I was armed with a Mackenzie FX1 10ft #6 and #7wt. Tom had recommended tying up some bright daphnia patterns to pull on an Airflo Fast Intermediate line. As usual he was spot on.

We didn’t know what to expect but followed Tom’s advice and with good conditions we had great sport catching beautiful wild Irish trout in a fantastic location. 24 trout landed in 2.5days fishing is awesome.

We learned a lot about fishing the lake at this time of year and it was brilliant to have several nice trout take our dry flies.

There is still a month left and the great thing was there wasn’t as many boats out compared to mayfly time. The weather was much milder than some of our early season duckfly and olive fishing trips too.

We will definitely be contacting Tom around this time next year and if prospects are good we will be back.

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Lough Corrib 2018

This year a pal and I delayed our visit to Lough Corrib until late April due to the abnormally cold spring. It proved to be a good move as the weather was horrible all March. We knew we had missed the duckfly hatch but were hoping for Olives and large buzzer. Once again we stayed at Grasshopper cottage Cornamona near Clonbur.

We hired a boat and engine from our good pal and top guide Tom Doc Sullivan. Unfortunately we were too early for Olives this time. Our approach was to fish the conditions as there was no significant hatch. On the morning s the Lough was calm and the sun was high although it was cool enough with a Northeast wind.

In these conditions we fished buzzers. I was really impressed with my Mackenzie FX1 10ft 6wt for this method. Luckily we managed to boat some nice trout with the largest 58cm and in prime condition.

In the mid afternoon the wind picked up and we tried pulling traditional wet flies and dabblers on intermediate lines. This was productive especially around shallow areas. We had a mixture of small trout with some better fish to just over 2lbs and quite a few missed takes also.

Overall we had a great weekend and are really looking forward to next year already.

October Bass

There has been some fantastic bass fishing along the copper coast this September and October.  Good numbers of fish have been caught and the average size has been great with quite a number of fish over 70cm reported.  All methods have worked but I have concentrated on fly and lure fishing with my clients.  Our best fish came on fly at night.  Unfortunately we were unable to get a good quality picture of the beast but even so the photo we did get shows the with of the fish before we swiftly released it back into the sea.

Successful flies included wake flies, sandeel imitations and the ever reliable Dahlberg Diver.

The usual lures produced the goods with Black Minnows being very successful especially at low tide in the deeper channels.

Over shallower rough ground Komomos and soft plastic worms fished well as always.  It never ceases to amaze me how bass absolutely love these things.

Another lure that has been working well is the hard needlefish type lures.  Bass Bullets, Line-thru lures and Westin Kongetobis all performed well at long range.  My new “favourite” are some custom made lures I ordered from the UK.  They fly out like bullets and the bass just hammered them.

If the water temperatures stay high then fishing may continue well into November.  What effects ex-hurricane Ophelia will have on the fishing I cannot say but a lot of coastal areas in the south east have taken a real bashing.  Tight lines!

The Year Ahead – Cautious Optimism!

First off, it’s been a while since I have had blogged about anything fishy but I decided to take a little break after a fairly hectic end to the 2016 season.  I didn’t do a whole lot over the closed season except tie a few flies including some intruder style flies for my pal Ned for his trips to Canada.  One of these years I will join up with them as the whole experience seems mega.

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September 2016 was a bit of a scramble with the river trout and salmon seasons coming to an end combined with some fantastic bass fishing tides!  The weather was good and the bass fishing continued to provide decent sport right through November.

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I didn’t do anything like as much winter reservoir fishing as I have done in previous seasons and 2017 kind of crept up on me and before I knew it I was off to Dublin for the Ireland Angling Expo in February.  This is always a great event and this year was no exception although if anything there was more for the predator (bass/pike) angler to see than some previous years.  There was still a lot there for the trout and salmon angler too with top brands like Simms, Redington, Mackenzie, Airflo, Nautilus, Hardy/Greys etc etc all on display.  The attendance at my talks each day was brilliant and as always it was epic to meet up with the Mackenzie Pros and all of the various people who make the show tick in one way or another.  I always say this show is much much more than just tackle sales.

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March is now upon us and things are already starting to get busy.  I have been out giving tuition and guiding and later this month I have two stillwater courses running, a Match the Hatch course in Wicklow with Ken Whelan and a Stillwater Tactics course at Ardaire Springs in Mooncoin.  In the meantime I am putting a lot of effort into testing the absolutely awesome prototype for the new 10ft 6wt Mackenzie FX1 Graphene single handed rod.  So far the results have been superb.  It casts really well and everyone who tried it at the show in Dublin gave great feedback.  Trials have indicated that this will be a great buzzer/nymph rod that can also be used for some dry fly and small lure fishing if needs be.  I am enjoying the testing so much with this weapon that it will take another while before Scott will be getting it back!!!!

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So everything is looking great so far for 2017.  While some salmon rivers in Ireland had a disastrous start the Munster Blackwater seems to be performing quite well.  The quality of trout in Ardaire and the Waterford Reservoirs is excellent.  Initial reports on the river trout fishing in the Blackwater and surrounding rivers that are already open suggest that fish are in excellent condition.  With lots more courses running during the year including our new Saltwater Fishing Course in June and the North West Angling Fair in Strabane in April not too far away it is difficult not to be positive.

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However, in spite of this optimism it is still early in the year to get carried away as to what the salmon season here will produce.  The same can be said as regards sea bass. It will be interesting to see the effect of current conservation measures over a long period of time. Many rivers in Ireland are now classed as ‘closed’.  This seems to be causing great confusion as to whether an angler can still fish them for brown trout and indeed sea trout under 40cm.  Factor in the complete confusion as to what the rules are about fishing for sea trout in saltwater and you have something of a Gordian Knot.  More on this to follow in my next blog (not to be missed)!!!!

Stillwater Trout Fishing

The first of our 2017 beginners and improvers courses will take place this March.  Ken Whelan and I start everything off with a Stillwater Match the Hatch course at some Private Ponds in Wicklow on March 19th. This is a very comprehensive stillwater course covering an entomology of all the major insects and likely hatches during the fishing season.  Learn how to select and fish imitative flies successfully.   Fee €80

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Following on from the match the hatch course I am running my annual Stillwater Trout Fly Fishing Tactics course at Ardaire Springs, Mooncoin, Kilkenny on March 25th 2017.  This course focuses on the various techniques and tactics that can be used throughout the year and is an ideal follow up to the match the hatch course.  One of the most frequent questions I am asked at demos, shows and on the water is how to select the correct tackle for specific tactics.  Learn how to tackle up and fish wet flies, nymphs, lures, buzzers, dries, indicators, boobies, blobs, mops, bloodworms and more. Fee €65

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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!!!!!