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!

Advertisements

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.

ned-flies

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.

img_2507

20160916_214631

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.

lures jim-c

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!!!!

fx

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.

NWANG Show 2

NWAngS Scott and Jason  3

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)!!!!

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.

received_10206834768049215

received_10206835482827084

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.
20160911_161205

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!!

20160916_214631

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.

20160916_180335

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!

20160914_190315 20160914_190242

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!!!!!

 

 

 

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.

P5170072

P5170085

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.

P5170227

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.

P5170136

P5170165

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.

P5170336

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!

P5170172

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.

P5170174

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.”

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.

DSC00174

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

DSC00289

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.

DSC00322

DSC00376s

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.

DSC00292

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.

DSC00428

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.

DSC00465

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.

DSC00461

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.

DSC00542

DSC00527

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!

DSC00565s - Copy

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.

DSC09375s

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.

DSC09372s

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.

DSC09350s

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.

DSC09303sDSC09314sDSC09319s

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.

DSC09268s

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.

DSC09263s - Copy

River Trout Fishing Course (March 8th)

Preparing for the Season Ahead

All roads lead to the Munster Blackwater River, Ballyduff Fishery, Ballyduff Upper, Waterford on Sunday March 8th for our River Trout Fishing Course which focuses on preparing for the coming season.

IMGP0190-1

Wild brown trout in the river environment can be challenging and very rewarding to fish for.  On this course we cover:

– tackle selection: rods, reels, lines, accessories

DSC08080s (2)–  river dry fly fishing: tackle set up, leader construction, matching the hatch, fishing demonstration

IMGP7866–  river wet fly fishing: tackle set up, leader construction, fly selection, fishing demonstration

DSC08231s– river nymph fishing: tackle set up, leader construction, short line nymphing, long line nymphing, duo or dry/dropper method, fishing with indicators, fishing demonstrations

pupa rach

– streamer fishing: tackle set up, streamer lines, leader construction, fly selection, fishing demonstration

Releasing John's brute

I will be joined on this course by fellow Mackenzie Ireland Pro Team Member Maurice Cahill, an experienced guide on the river.

IMGP0153A light lunch of tea/coffee & sandwiches will be included as part of the day.  Course participants can fish for the afternoon for trout on a catch and release basis – a chance to put what you learned into practice!

Facebook-20140514-115731This is a very popular course with a Fee of just €60.  In fact some people have already pre-booked their place.  If you are interested in attending you can contact me:

by e-mail: gamefishingireland@gmail.com

by phone: 087-2965712