North West Angling Fair

On Friday evening I made the long journey from Waterford up to Strabane, Co. Tyrone to the North West Angling Fair.  This was a new event on the Irish fishing fairs calendar so I wasn’t sure what to expect but I knew there were some really good people involved in the organising of it so I was quietly confident it would be a good one.  It was late enough when I arrived and got checked in to the Fir Trees Hotel where I was joined by my good friend Dr. Ken Whelan who was going to be giving a series of talks with me at the fair.  On Saturday morning Ken and I went down early to the Melvin Complex which was the venue for the show.

NWAngS Melvin Sports Complex

Everyone was busy setting up their stands and it was great to meet a few familiar faces on fly tyers row and the trade stands.

NWANG Show 2

My good friend Shane Rodgers from Rodgers Tackle was there with his fly tying materials and Brendan Winters has a fantastic range of fishing tackle.  Declan Tuffy, Stevie Moates, Roy Christie, Brian Finaly, Peter O’Reilly and many more were tying all sorts of wonderful flies.

NWANG Show 1

NWANG Show 5

I also saw some very informative stands manned by the Loughs Agency people.Outside there was lots of free tuition for beginners and especially youngsters.

NWANG Show 3

The river was only a stones throw (and I mean this!!) from the venue and there were casters giving demonstrations down there including my good pals from Mackenzie, namely Scott Mackenzie and Andrew Toft.  It was great to catch up with these guys at the fair.

NWAngS Scott and Jason  3

The atmosphere at the fair was great with lots going on including the talks in the lecture room.  Ken and I gave talks on Saturday on Seatrout fishing which were really well attended and we had lots of interest at our stand area in our courses and people were getting Ken to sign his book Nomads of the Tides.

NWANG Show 4

NWANG Show 6 NWANG Show 7

After the fair closed, I nipped down to the river with Brian and Ken and spotted some nice wild browns rising.  I tackled up with a dry olive pattern of mine and waded out.  I managed to land 7 lovely trout in less than an hour and lost a few more including two about 1.5lbs.  It was somewhat inevitable when I was trying to get them back across the current to the guys on the shore to get a photo.  We did manage one nice video clip of a fish approximately .75lbs going back.

NWAngS Mourne Rusty NWAngS Mourne Trout NWAngS Mourne Trout 2 NWAngS Mourne Trout 3

On Saturday night we had an excellent dinner at the hotel and chatted with some of the other contributors to the show over a pint of beer.  It was clear that they really enjoyed the fair and were keen to see it continue into the future.  It was more of the same on Sunday and again our salmon talks went really well.  We were followed in lecture room by Stevie Munn who was talking about Dollaghan fishing.  I didn’t mind the journey back on Sunday evening because the buzz of the fair was still there and the weather was great.  This fair has great potential into the future and the organisers did a fantastic job for their first attempt.  They deserve all the credit that goes their way.

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.


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.


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.




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.



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.



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.


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.

Matching the Hatch – 2015 Course

I am very pleased to announce that I will be teaming up with Ken Whelan for a unique ‘match the hatch’ type course for those who fly fish small lakes and reservoirs.  The course will take place 18th January at Courtlough Fishery in Balbriggan Dublin and will include insect identification and how to fish matching imitative flies successfully.  If you are interested in participating on this course just get in touch with me by email at: or by phone at 087-2965712.  Enrolling someone on this course would also make for a very timely Christmas present at this time of year.  Course fee includes a light lunch and places are limited. For further course information click on the link below:

Matching the Hatch Course

A Day on the Water with Ken Whelan

I was privileged to spend a day on Carrigavantry Reservoir with renowned fisheries scientist Dr Ken Whelan. This was Ken’s first visit to the Waterford Reservoir but I doubt it will be his last. It was a very enjoyable and rewarding experience to spend some time with Ken who has such an in depth knowledge of fisheries related matters. Ken had his aquatic insect collecting kit with him and we tried several areas of the lake to see what food sources were available for the trout.


Ken was very impressed with the rich diet of food available for the trout at this lake and it was no surprise to him that the fish are always in such excellent condition. We found olive nymphs, bloodworms, buzzers, various caddis, damsel nymphs, dragonflies, beetles, shrimps, water boatment etc in the lake.

Dragonfly Nymph

Dragonfly Nymph

Water Boatman (moulting)

Water Boatman (moulting)

After the “science bit” I took Ken out fishing on the lake for a while. We caught a few overwintered rainbows that were feeding subsurface.

Rainbow CV April 2014

I suggested to Ken we change tactics and try for some of the larger brown trout present in the fishery. Conditions were good and I was confident as to where the fish might be. After a little searching Ken hooked into into something very large. After a superb fight I netted a MONSTER brown trout for him. He measured the length (64cm) and girth (40cm) of the fish which we estimated at 7.5lbs to 8lbs weight. He then released the magnificent fish for some lucky angler to catch another day.

Brown 2  April 2014

The wind picked up and we tried one last drift before I had to leave and as it seemed to be our lucky day as Ken managed another fine brown trout of around 5.5lbs.

Brown 3 small  April 2014

A fantastic end to a fantastic day. Once again the Waterford reservoirs lived up to their excellent reputation. Looking forward to some more fishing adventures with Ken later in the season.