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.

NWANG Show 2

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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)!!!!

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FANTASTIC FLY FISHING

The other day I was guiding Kyle from the USA.  We were planning on a days salmon fishing but due to all the recent rain the river was out so we switched to plan B – lake trout on the Waterford Reservoirs.  The forecast was simply dreadful.  Strong north east winds and persistent heavy rain.  However, I was undeterred as after years of experience I knew we would have shelter from the wind in Knockaderry lake and there had been a good buzzer hatch there lately.  So off we went in search of some hard fighting trout.  Despite the weather we had a good start with Kyle nailing a decent rainbow early on.  The fight from that rainbow was exceptional, even on the powerful 10ft 7wt Mackenzie rod.

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It was nice to hear Kyle comment on the fantastic quality of the trout as he has fished in many places.  Next on the list was to try catch a brown and the one Kyle caught was a lovely fully finned fish too.

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We searched around the lake and had some more really good rainbows.

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The rain was so bad at times that it made taking good photos out of the question but I just had to get a shot of this belter.

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Kyle finished his day having caught and released eight trout, although not all of them were monsters.

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“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!

 

 

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)

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Mighty Mike

Mike from Clonmel joined the Waterford Fly Fishing Club for this year and while he had been catching some quality trout he was keen to learn the nuances of buzzer fishing, particularly with the large browns that were moving in the lakes already this season. So we arranged to meet up at Carrigavantry on a day with a nice light southerly wind. Conditions were looking good for some buzzer fishing and there was a reasonable amount of small buzzer hatching too. Once we were on the lake I was showing Mike how I fish buzzers on these lakes when WHAM! I was into a serious trout. It turned out to be a superb brownie. Just what we were after.

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After a quick photo the trout was released back into the lake. A great start but now to get Mike into them! It took a little while and a few missed takes and then Mike nailed one. It was as pretty a brown as you could hope to catch in the lake and it was really big too.

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Mike continued to catch and release a few more smaller fish.

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And he finished off his session with another large brown. Needless to say he was a happy angler at the end of the session.

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Waterford Lakes

The Waterford lakes have been fishing well of late.  When the temperature is up and the winds light there has been a great midge hatch.  Emergers have been working well for the large browns averaging 5lbs.

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Dabblers and bumbles are always good at this time of year.  Be sure to use strong tippet for the hard hitting Knockaderry bows.  Some of these are 4lbs plus!

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When conditions are suitable Carrigavantry is a super buzzer lake.  If the midge are hatching keep an eye out for rising trout sheltered areas.

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The big bows put up an awesome scrap on a 5wt.

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These lakes are well worth a try in the coming weeks. Details on permits etc are available on the club website. Www.waterfordflyfishing.com