Sunday, 16 October 2016

End of Season 2016.

The sun has set on another salmon season and to be honest it wasn't a great season due to the fact that the Inniscarra dam was under going maintenance work until July and the water was very low for most of that time. When we finally got some high water the salmon ran straight through and only if you were lucky to be fishing then did you have the chance of meeting some fish. Towards the end of the season i spent the second last week fishing down stream and had caught and lost some salmon but most of the fish were stale / coloured and had been in the system for some time. I was unable to fish the last week of the salmon season because i was representing Ireland in the Five Nations Fly Fishing Championships in Killarney and was lucky to be on the winning team that won gold. Hopefully next season we will see a return to normal water levels on the River Lee and some good salmon fishing.

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Salmon on the Fly.


Salmon on the Fly.

I have only fished a few hours here and there during the past few weeks not really putting in the time due to the low water conditions and I must admit it is the first year that I have not put in a full day's fishing for salmon. The water was up by about two feet and had plenty of pace to it so i decided to use a 3.9 ins per second sink tip and a small tungsten tube just to get the fly down into the mid layers. The  7/8 wt switch rod isn't really meant to cast heavy sink tips and tubes but it dealt with the weight very well and had very good turn over and great presentation. Moving down the pool I spotted a small salmon head and tail so i placed the fly well above the fish mending a few times which allowed the fly to get down a bit deeper and straight away the line was pulled out of my hand and i was into a fish. The salmon jumped and headed upstream against the current so i put plenty of side strain on the fish bringing it into shallow water so i could see it and straight away i noticed it was a small grilse but with the strong flow it was able to hold in mid river making it harder for me to bully the fish. I allowed the fish to move downstream with the current and then ran it back up stream just above me which gave me a better angle to fight the salmon, running it in circles i was able to beach the fish on top of some weeds and after a few minutes of resting the fish it was released.

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Grilse on the fly in low water.


Having fished the Inniscarra Salmon fishery for many years now i must admit i have never seen it so low and even worse with little or no flow through most of the beats. One can cross the river in almost every beat and not see a fish, even dropping down to tapered leaders doesn't improve the action or movement of the fly. I was using my 7/8 wt switch fly rod,  floating line, a short 6 ft Rio intermediate tip and 6 ft of 10 lb flurocarbon tippet with a size 15 double Ally's silver / orange shrimp fly. Hitting the edge of the seam i was only getting a few seconds of movement on the fly and then i had to retrieve and recast, even a slow long pull or figure of eight retrieve was not getting any  reaction from the salmon.
The salmon have either pulled back to the deeper water in beat 4 or gone right up under the dam where some can be seen pitching into the water coming over the sill. Moving down through the beat i was shallow casting, basically covering the only moving water in a short arc thus keeping the fly out in front of the tip and line. I see a lot of anglers fly fishing and allowing the fly line or tip to move ahead of the fly and especially in low clear water conditions that is a no no. If you are not turning over the fly line you are going to get a situation that allows the fly to fall back behind the sink tip or even the fly line and you might as well not be fishing as the salmon will see the line well before the fly. Just as i was about to retrieve the line at the end of the arc i got a short pull and immediately lifted into the fish, straight away i knew it was a grilse due to the lack of weight on the line and decided to play the fish hard and fast but there is one thing about grilse they have great heart and fight hard well above their weight. Even though i brought the fish into shallow water it was still powering out and giving me a good fight, landing the fish i could see it was chrome bright and just up from the early tide. Removing the fly i quickly released the fish and fished down through the rest of the pool, noticing a small gravel bar in mid stream i then realized why the fish were lying in such an unusual location. When the water gets so low and clear we can see much more of the structures that were well covered in high water and this gives the angler more information on where and why the salmon were lying in these areas. I fished through the beat and just as it got dark a cold breeze started up and i was about to call it a day when the line was taken from my hand and another small grilse of about 4 lbs was on. Quickly landing and removing the fly i noticed it was covered in sea lice and as soon as i released it's tail the fish shot off like a bullet. Hopefully there will be some rain soon as i have heard that there are some big fish in the harbour waiting for fresh water.

Thursday, 9 June 2016

Salmon on the fly.

Walking through the beats i noticed that there were a few fresh salmon moving up river and ever so often they could be seen cleaning themselves on the bottom, they do this to rid themselves of sea lice which can be very annoying probably the same as a human having fleas. The salmon were moving slowly from pool to pool so i decided to set up shop at beat 1 and wait for them to arrive a gamble that paid off but sometimes they will just sit further back down in the deeper water, wait till darkness and then run very quickly to the dam wall where they rest up for the night.
I was fishing a floating line with a 3.9 ips sink tip on my 7/8 wt switch fly rod and an Ally's size 15 double shrimp fly in bright yellow because there was still a slight tinge to the water, the yellow colour stood out better and with the longer tail had much more movement in the slow water. Slowly stripping the fly line to give life to the fly it suddenly tightened up and with a strong pull it was off down the pool but on feeling the tension the salmon ran up river against me and straight away it started rolling on itself and then running in between the rocks in an attempt to break the line. Having watched the fish pass me i had seen it was a big broad salmon so i knew it was going to be a hard and dirty fight and unfortunately the 7/8 switch fly rod was for once completely under gunned for this fight. When the fish wanted to run i had to let him and normally i can bully them upstream but this salmon hadn't read the rule book yet and kept turning back downstream in strong bursts that were impossible to stop. I can honestly say that i was taken to the cleaners for the first time in my fishing life, this fish thought me a few tricks that i hadn't seen and doubt haven't been written in any of the angling books yet. The fight was just a long surge of powerful runs followed by rolling and then diving in and around every rock in the river to shake the small size 15 fly but the trick is to give them just enough line to run and them shorten each run by decreasing the size of the circle and it worked. The salmon finally gave up and i was able to beach it 90 yards down river from where i first hooked the fish, the salmon was hooked under the tongue and on removing the hook it started to bleed out so i took the fish knowing it wouldn't survive the release. Even in very low water conditions it was amazing such a big fish had traveled so far in such a short time, it had sea lice and the scales were falling off so i reckon it had just come in on the early morning tide. The salmon weighed just over 18 lbs, my biggest so far on a switch fly rod using only 10 lb flurocarbon.

Sunday, 15 May 2016

Salmon Fishing Ireland 2016.

                    The water levels have been very up and down over the last few weeks with the dam only releasing water over the sills, this can be unproductive for salmon fishing as the fish have a tendency to move straight through very fast rather than hold up in the normal lies due to the confused water. Having only fished a few evening sessions over the past couple of months i decided to head up to beat 1 and fly fish it down with my switch rod but seeing the speed and height of the water i decided to change over to my spinning gear instead.

I fished down beat 1 and normally in this height of water i would use a size 3 flying " C " but with the extra speed and turbulence created by the water coming over the sills i had to use a size 4 instead just to hold bottom, thus giving the salmon time to see and take the spinner. The fish took hard and came upriver very fast moving in under my feet and trying to wrap itself up in the weed. I had to play the fish hard by putting loads of side strain on it  keeping its head up so it couldn't get down into the weed, running the salmon in short circles i was able to bring it in close and this allowed me to tail the fish. Holding the salmon in the water i realized that the fish was barely hooked and that was ideal for a good release with little or no damage to it's mouth. The salmon was a wild fish of about 12 lbs and had been in the system for over a week due to the fact that it wasn't as chrome bright as a fresh tide fish. Hopefully i can give it a full day over the coming week and with a bit of luck catch another but this time on the fly.

Thursday, 28 April 2016

Salmon on the Switch fly rod 2016.


Having only fished the Inniscarra Salmon fishery a couple of evenings since the opening day i was pleasantly surprised to find that the water was low and clear compared to the higher levels it has been running at over the last few weeks. It was time to clean the cobwebs off the Switch rod and head down to beat 4 , on arriving at the river i noticed that the water had a bit of pace to it and it was running clear. At about a foot over low summer levels it was ideal for the 3.9 ins per second sink tip and due to the clarity i put on a 10 lb breaking strain flurocarbon tippet with my favorite size 15 Ally's shrimp fly. I fished through the pool and noticed a slight boil in the water near where my fly was fishing but no pull so i flicked the fly back to my hand to check that it wasn't knotted up and also to give the fish a few seconds to return to it's lie before recasting.

It's so important to make sure that your fly is fishing perfectly when covering known salmon lies as you will only get one chance at this time of year so everything has to be perfect, it's the small things that can make the difference between a bad day or a great day. Casting the fly back into the same area i mended the line and just as i was composing myself the fish took catching me slightly off guard as it came upriver at high speed then changed direction and tried to get in behind the rocks on the far bank. I put a lot of side strain on the fish with my switch rod and was able to turn the fish upstream and away from the rocks, between cartwheels and rolling the fish really fought very hard so i knew it was a good fresh fish and then seeing that unmistakable blue flash pass me it was confirmed... we have a springer. Playing the salmon hard and fast i quickly brought it into shallow water and beached the fish, it was a perfectly conditioned and proportioned fish with that blue sheen that only fresh sealiced springers have and at around 11 lbs a beautiful fish to catch on a switch rod. The fly was nicely positioned just inside the mouth and easily removed, holding the fish for a few seconds i was allowing it to recover but it had other ideas and shot back out into the river with a few powerful flicks from it's tail.If you want to practice catch and release you should play a fish hard and fast and it will  return strong as it doesn't expend too much energy in the fight but if you play it slow and long more than likely the fish will be too exhausted to survive.