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The 2015 Challenge

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Well what can I say, 2015 has been a great year in many respects but a very difficult fishing season for anglers of all disciplines let alone a guide who makes a living from it. For the past 5 weeks the weather has for not the first time this year refused to cooperate which brought me thinking of my options to wet a line.

Somewhere where I have been meaning to fish for years now but for many reasons I simply didn’t get around to fishing is Adaire Springs trout fishery near Mooncoin Co.Kilkenny.  I have been there a number of times over the past few weeks and have had some superb fishing on the fly with three double figure fish two rainbows and one brown amongst a good stamp of smaller fish but still quality fish.

Ned has set up what I believe to be a superb fishery for many reasons, I wont get into why it is such a fantastic fishery but I will simply say that it is unlike any other such facility available and go fish it, Its being built and run properly with attention to detail  and quality fish you simply don’t get elsewhere.

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Happy Christmas to all and tight lines for 2016!

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Big Trout!

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Fly Fishing Wexford

Last week I had the pleasure of welcoming Inland Fisheries Ireland staff and associated visiting anglers/journalists to Wexford for the second year in a row with only one thing on our minds, catching Bass on the fly.

Forecast for the week looked tough with moderate to strong Easterly based air flows predicted along with extremely bright sunshine dominating each day of fishing. Fishing bass on the fly is by no means easy even under ideal conditions but it was clear from early on in the trip that the bass were going to be hard caught.

 

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8 and 9 WT single handed rods were loaded with various floating and intermediate shooting lines, cameras prepared, glasses cleaned and sun cream put on in anticipation for the fishing ahead. Fishing was focused in estuary’s early in the week which showed signs of life with fish spotted in waves, some smaller fish landed and the odd ‘bump’ as flies swung in the ebb tide, it was not however productive enough so we moved much further South to mixed ground covering miles of coastline in search of ‘holding fish’ so to speak.

 

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Despite the challenging conditions there was some fish landed on various fly’s from Lefty’s Deceiver’s, Hollow fly’s and small baitfish imitations but more often than not fish simply followed or ‘plucked’ at even the most sparsely tied patterns retrieved at various speeds.

Not easy! and it seemed we were not the only anglers struggling as some other visiting lure anglers some of whom we knew from previous excursions were also struggling, they a group of 5 were covering huge areas of water each day for what seemed like minimal return for lure angling.

 

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Massive thanks must go to Markus, Shane, Rudy, Mario and Christin for making the week so enjoyable in what were at times quite challenging conditions for fly fishing, not that it seemed to deter you folks from fishing at every given opportunity! Working with such professional people (and top class fly anglers I must add) is a pleasure, lets hope we can chuck some flies again in the near future.

 

 

 

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Right Place, Right Time….

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Scale Magazine

Scale Magazine

 

The above image taken from the latest issue of the fantastic web magazine from Scale which is now out and available to view by clicking here or at the below link. It includes an article on page 172 onwards entitled ‘High Moon’ which looks back on a press trip that took place earlier this year along the South Wexford coastline. Also in the Guides Quarterly section from page 218 onwards there is a short piece from myself highlighting three flies used on a regular basis when guiding and fishing along the Irish coast.

 

All in all Scale Magazine is well worth following, the creative content and especially the image quality is simply superb !

http://scale-magazine.com/current/index.html#/2

 

 

 

 

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The Challenge

Jim travelled down from the midlands during the week to participate in a bespoke workshop with one thing on his mind, to become a proficient saltwater fly angler.

In the afternoon we discussed the ‘need to know’ information required to successfully target Bass, Sea Trout and Pollack on the fly then moved on to some casting and fishing techniques in a quiet and peaceful estuary. Despite having limited fly casting experience Jim promptly advanced his casting and fishing skills. The challenge begins ….

 

Fly Casting

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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South West Silver

With the winds blowing predominantly from the east for many weeks resulting in challenging fishing and a degree of frustration at times it was a huge relief to finally have some South West winds this week combining with a new moon cycle which provided some fantastic opportunities to catch some silver.

 

Bass

 

Fish were caught on the lure and fly with a chartreuse over white deceiver pattern proving its worth along with some small surf candy’s tied sparse to represent sandeel’s.

 

fly caught bass

 

The vast majority of fish caught this year by myself and clients have been off the top with the lucky craft Gunfish being especially productive in provoking fish into attacking. Fishing surface lures and fly’s is my own personal prefered tactic as the visual aspect is superb.

 

Lucky craft gunnish

 

Many fish were caught throughout the week with the biggest being about seven pounds. Fish at this time of year are generally in superb condition feeding hard before water temperatures drop and the mass of bait fish currently available decreases. I have been taking more scale samples this week for the National Bass Programme, If you would like to assist simply contact Inland Fisheries Ireland for a pack by clicking HERE.

 

September Sunrise      Bass caught in Wexford

 

 

Lets hope the weather remains mild and the fish keep biting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Wexford Bass

As some of you may know after much planning and preparations I spent all last week working closely with Inland Fisheries Ireland liaising and guiding media personnel to promote the local fishing and all that Wexford as a tourist location can offer.

Wexford and the surrounding areas offer superb fishing for many species of fish with plenty of quality accommodation and local amenities to avail of. Angling in Wexford and indeed throughout Ireland is a very important and valuable resource enjoyed by many from near and far.

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Forecast in advance of the trip was far from ideal with ongoing Easterly based winds showing no sign of swinging to the preferred warmer air flow of Southerly or South-West winds. As always in advance of arrival the forecast was explained to the guys and its implications from a fishing point of view was understood.

Managing realistic expectations from day to day is a difficult thing for a guide to do but when working with such professional anglers who realize the influences and limitations of the fishery and importantly adjust expectations accordingly makes for a positive attitude to begin with.

.Casting on the Wexford coast    Surf

Bass fishing is not easy especially fishing using only the fly which was our chosen method for most of the week. Using a lure rod you can cover a large volume of water in a short period of time but with the fly your limited to short casts often made challenging because of wind or wave action.

With the huge amounts of bait fish present recently catching fish on the fly was even made more difficult as fish cruised around with full stomachs often following our selected fly’s or gently plucking them being much more selective about there feeding than normal.

Fishing rods of 9 feet in length anything from a #7 – #10 with intermediate and floating weight forward lines we managed to catch some well conditioned fish up to 60cm in length throughout the week but it was a challenge!

Irish bass

.DSC_0047      Fly caught Wexford Bass

We fished hard all week to produce fish covering many miles in stunning locations with some superb visuals. Overall it seemed small to medium flies tied sparse seemed to receive the most interest but some big flies were fished in one locality to represent bigger bait fish and joey mackerel resulted in a good fish attacking Andy’s superbly tied fly, I will perhaps leave Andy to tell that story from what we appropriately named as ‘Rocky Hollow’…..

Sunrise over Wexford

Although a challenging week it was thoroughly enjoyable meeting many new faces, visiting special places creating memory’s to last a lifetime. Thanks again guys!

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Fishing Hard

I have teamed up with some experienced visiting anglers this week for some media work targeting Bass on the fly. It is a challenge fishing the fly but we are fishing hard and will continue to do so to boost catch rate as the week goes on. 

Full report at a later stage. 

Fly Caught Bass

 

 

 

 

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Bass Fishing Workshop – Lure & Fly

Three dedicated river anglers visited for a workshop this week with a view of developing new skills, specifically bass fishing techniques using lure and fly. The transition from fresh to saltwater can be a daunting experience but Tom, Peter and Peter Jnr adapted well to the challenging saltwater environment especially Peter Jnr who was saltwater fly fishing for the first time casting nine inch flatwings on a #8 rod in strong tidal flows no problem.
saltwater fly fishing workshop

 

 

 

bass fishing workshop

 

Tuition both on and off the water ensured that by the end of the workshop day they were fully equipped with all the relevant skills and information required to successfully target bass and and salty sea trout too. Thanks again lads and tight lines.

 

rays fly variant rods and reels Walk the dog lure, heddon spook jnr

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

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Saltwater Fly Fishing – Equipment Basics

In this blog post we discuss the basics about SWFF equipment. Fly fishing in saltwater is tough even to the most patient of anglers. Success does not come easy, it takes time and effort but is rewarding when it all goes according to plan.

 

Stripping Basket

 

Rods.

When buying your first saltwater fly rod for bass fishing in Ireland consider buying an 8 or 9 weight rod. Manufacturers rate there rods by AFTM number so match your reel and lines accordingly.

A slower actioned rod is often a good choice for a fly casting beginner as it generates slower line speed therefore being a little more forgiving. To put it very simply a slow action rod bends more during a cast than a medium or fast actioned rod. Whatever your budget is for a swff setup it would be fair to say Invest the majority of your available funds on the rod and line firstly.

Echo edge swff rod

The Reels.

Reels must be balanced on the rod and be large enough to hold sufficient 20lb backing and a full flyline. You can waste money rather quickly on a reel that will seize up in the saltwater environment. Choose a reel that has been proven to last in the salt. Its main objective is only to hold line, chances are you will not see the end of the spool too often in Irish waters.

Vision Koma reel & Echo edge rod

Lines.

Weight forward (WF) lines or shooting heads are often used to combat the challenging marine environment. Floating and intermediate lines would be first choices. Choosing the correct rod and line to suit your needs is very important so for example a nine weight rod requires a nine weight line in order to load it correctly.

Rio, Guideline and Scientific Anglers make good quality lines amongst others. As an example If you need to purchase a number eight weight forward floating line you will see WF8F on the box. Check to see of your line has a loop on the end, If your fly line is not provided with a welded loop you will need to either create one or purchase some braided leaders.

 

Saltwater Fly Fishing

 

Leaders.

Tapered leaders are not essential but do aid turnover. Tapered leaders can be made yourself at little cost or purchased in store ready to go. If you choose to use a leader ring this will prolong the use of a leader greatly as you only ever need to replace the tippet or point section. Polyleaders can also be used, polyleaders are and extension to your fly line to which you attach a tippet, they come in various density’s to cover many presentations.

saltwater fly fishing leaders

Flies.
One or two medium sized fly boxes filled with a varied selection of flies from the below list will be more than enough to get you started. Fish with flies you are comfortable casting given the conditions on the day. Lefty’s deceivers are a great all round fly for many species, the go to pattern for many anglers.

  • Deceivers.
  • Clousers.
  • Flatwings.
  • Rays flies.
  • Gurglers/poppers.

 

Clousers and deceivers

Other items:

Line Tray .

Wading Staff.

Line nips & hook removal tools.

Spare leaders, tippet & braided loops.

Lightweight Waders & Jacket.

I hope this brief overview was of assistance to you. If you have any further questions send a email or alternatively you can take part in a SWFF workshop.

 

 

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‘Get Out There’

Conditions today were challenging but rewarding as the photo below shows a nice rainbow trout which weighed in at 6 lbs. All too often the anglers who ‘get out there’ in such conditions are duly rewarded. Once there is a reasonable chance of catching a fish in a safe environment its well worth a go, often the best fishing is had when no other anglers are about.

 

6lb rainbow trout

The fly that caught the above fish Is a Damsel variation which I tied up last week which has caught a lot of fish since, a combination of several successful patterns which worked over time I combined to create a fly that is working pretty well so far!

The fish above amongst others landed fought superbly on #5 weight tackle but by increasing leader strength slightly to 8lbs it means you can land the fish that bit faster to keep its stress to a minimum to aid recovery. A lovely fish that has certainly been in this water a few winters growing naturally. Some quick pictures and off it went to fight another day.

If you would like to learn how to fly fish or indeed further develop your existing skills get in touch to create your bespoke workshop. Location can be arranged to suit your needs, any queries will be answered promptly.

 

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Stocked Trout

Long bright evenings are slowly approaching with the water temperatures rising also the fish are becoming much more active. Air temperatures are below average for the time of year which made for some very enjoyable early morning and late evening sessions recently.

Stocked stillwater fisheries make for some exciting sport all year round and are readily available throughout the country. Many of these fisheries are spring fed or have some source of natural water flowing into them so as a result they also might hold native fish.

 

rainbow trout

 

Where possible fishing light tackle is the route I generally choose regardless of target species. Fishing a 3/4 weight or 4/5 weight rod in stocked fisheries might seem too light to many people but I find such equipment a pleasure to fish with and perfectly practical for most fisheries.

The # 4/5 Airflo setup was utilised greatly on recent sessions with floating or slow sinking weight forward lines, 6 lbs leader with fly choice being a variety of small beaded nymphs all tied to represent each areas natural available food life. Short fan casts covering all areas retrieved using a slow figure of eight worked in most cases with fish taking furiously and fighting extremely hard all the way to the net. Mostly well built rainbows with some nice browns landed for good measure ensured we were busy and quite content anglers.

 

brown trout

 

Taking great notice of surrounding activity and putting observations into action can improve your results greatly. If you are struggling but do manage to catch a fish and intend keeping it perhaps use a marrow spoon to inspect what the fish was feeding on prior to taking your fly.

 

brownie

 

If you would like to learn more about this type of fishing by taking part in a Workshop get in touch using the contact page to arrange your bespoke package at a location and time to suit your needs.

 

 

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Hollow Semper Fly

Bob Popovic’s famous Semper fly and the Hollow fly tying methods combined to create the below pattern which will be used later in the season for Bass. Gives the impression of bulk but casts with ease shedding water on the back cast.

Hollow semper fly

Materials:

  • Hook:     Sakuma 410 – (2/0)
  • Thread:  UTC 140.
  • Saddle:   Metz #2 silver badger.
  • Flash:     Funky krystal / flashabou
  • Bucktail: Grey / White.
  • Eyes:     Jungle Cock.

Rainbows And Browns

With last weekends forecast looking poor due to high winds it was decided that myself and Jay would take advantage of the reasonable day that was forecast midweek. A stocked fishery was chosen that can produce some good sized hard fighting rainbow and brown trout.

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On arrival the conditions looked fair with high hopes to have a good days angling ahead. Fly and light lure rods were set up and before no time we were fishing. Most fisheries (rightly so) will not openly allow or advertise any form of lure fishing but if you ask fishery owners kindly explaining the use of light guage, single barbless hooks and great care taken there is often no problem. Fishing in a responsible manner with the correct equipment it places no extra stress on the fish than alternative methods.

Brown Trout

I started fishing the fly rod with sinking line, short leader down to a olive damsel on the point. Jay geared up his Tiro 1-12gm lure rod with a 4gm Hansen lure and was the first into a small brownie after ten minutes. Some fish were showing interest but it was decided a move was in order to a different area of the lake. We caught browns and rainbows on a regular basis to about 2lbs on lure and fly breaking for lunch with perhaps thirty fish including a first fish on the fly for Jay.

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During lunch tactics were discussed and I decided to pack away the fly rod to fish lures for the afternoon. The remainder of the day produced fish almost every cast to the point where we stopped fishing several times. Typically fish took on the drop or during a pause in the retrieve. Effective lures on the day were as follows:

Metals:  Ima Gun, Hansen Stripper,  Small Wedges & Mepps (all modified before use)

Soft lures: Tronix HTO shads, Ecogear minnows, Daiwa dfin shads all on 3gm jig heads.

Quick hooking along with barbless hooks ensured fish were landed and returned in seconds without handling the fish at all. We estimated that we caught 100+ fish for our efforts, Not bad fishing for January.

Rainbow Trout

There is a large number of stocked fisheries in all parts of the country that offer good angling from boat and shore so get out there and enjoy what they have to offer. If you would like to learn the skills necessary to successfully target rainbow trout or brown trout using lure or fly get in touch.  All equipment can be provided if required.

 

Rainbow, Cropped

Sea Trout

To me there is something special about catching Trout in Saltwater. Sea trout spend a significant amount of time in saltwater but are more commonly targeted in freshwater. Sea trout go to sea after roughly 2/3 years in freshwater returning at a later stage to spawn. Food is in much greater availability in saltwater allowing the trout to be in great condition ready for spawning. The sea trout is often overlooked with many anglers waiting for the bass to arrive in greater numbers in a few months time before dusting off the rods. The potential fishing is not to be missed by sport anglers in my opinion.

A saltwater caught trout

Targeting sea trout can be approached in many ways with lure and fly the preferred option. A medium light lure rod is ideal to use with ultra light rods similar to rods suited for light rock fishing also practical in some situations. Hard lures or metals ranging from 40mm to 120mm are used according to the time of year, smaller lures early in the year moving on to bigger lures as the season progresses. Sea trout will attack a big lure no problem, I have hooked trout to 8lbs weight on lures as big as 145mm so do not be afraid to fish using a bigger lure.

 

Bucktail blend A 7 or 8 weight fly rod casting a floating or intermediate line would be a fair choice  to combat windy coastal conditions with small sparse flies effective early season  moving on to mini flatwings or deceivers during peak season. A good option is to  fish a team of flies often a rays fly on a dropper with a slightly bigger fly on the  point.

 

You can also successfully target them using methods such as popped up fish baits or free lining sandeels. Bombarda floats can also be used to present flys.

Sea Trout

To give yourself the best opportunity of catching place yourself in a location where sea trout are more concentrated such as the lower reaches of estuary’s fishing either side of low water will increase your chances of catching because the fish will drop back into holding pools with the tide. Locations to focus on for sea trout include:

Open shore (perhaps between estuary’s – moving fish)

Estuary’s or Harbours (often brackish waters).

Tidal Rips.

Sheltered bays or inlets.

Estuary sun

As with all fish it is crucial you take care when landing, unhooking and returning sea trout. Reducing the number of hooks on lures and crushing barbs on all hooks is very important. Do not play fish for long periods of time but equally do not bully fish to the bank. Carrying a landing net and the correct unhooking tools place less stress on the fish.

Guided days and Workshops for Sea Trout are available however it must be noted that some areas are not open for fishing until mid march. A state licence is required when targeting salmon or sea trout.