Fly Fishing for Pike

Having very recently received a new Mackenzie 9ft / 9wt I was really keen to put it through its paces  but saltwater fly fishing for sea bass is not likely to kick off for another few weeks.

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I was delighted to get an invitation from The K Club (www.kclub.ie) Fishery Manager, John O Neill, to visit with my friend Ken and to fly fish for pike, both along the River Liffey and in the wonderfully productive lakes on the estate.

Our trip to County Kildare also offered us the opportunity to assess a number of potential venues for our first Fly Fishing for Pike Course planned for this October. Little did I realise what an awesome venue this hidden treasure of a fishery would turn out to be!! It has first class facilities and seriously high quality fish: massive rainbows and browns, and excellent pike. During our all too brief fishing session I witnessed a number of large pike harassing and smashing relentlessly into shoals of silvery roach.  The pike proved choosey at first but once I launched a large whistler fly, tied by Dougie Loughridge (Scotland), in among the swirls the pike just couldn’t resist!

A massively powerful fish engulfed the fly and after a challenging 10 to 12 minute battle amongst the luscious marginal weeds, John landed my PB pike – a 103cm fish of over 20lbs.

It just doesn’t get any better! The Mackenzie rod handled the big predator exceptionally well. I’m so impressed and can’t wait to try it out on some feisty Copper Coast bass in May.

For details of fishing at The K Club contact John on: fishing@kclub.ie or ring him for a chat on:  +353 871361689

If you would like more details on our Pike course (Saturday, 19th October) contact myself (joriordan0@gmail.com) or Ken (ken@kenwhelan.info).

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.

Blackwater salmon

Recent guided sessions produced some nice spring salmon from the Munster Blackwater river. This season the water levels have been quite high on our local rivers and fly fishing opportunities have been fairly limited. Luckily the weather has been improving and the rivers reached a better if not ideal fly fishing height, particularly in the upper stretches. As a consequence we managed a few very nice salmon.

My guests were using two outfits, one was a 13’7 Mackenzie Atlas rod matched with a Mackenzie Phased Density Shooting Head in Float/Sink 2 and a short leader to a White Francis fly.

The other client used a 15ft Mackenzie FX1 GRAPHENE Rod matched with a Mackenzie Float/S1 shooting head and attached to the business end was a local shrimp fly pattern called Hick’s Bug. The guys were blown away by this kit and when good fish came the were even more impressed.

So some very happy anglers and a nice tackle test was a great result. The river is coming into good order again after the latest flood so fingers crossed for some more action. Tight lines!

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.