Friday, 17 October 2014
Having been lucky i got a chance to fish the last day of the extended salmon season on the Blackwater river, the weather in the morning was very cold and foggy with the heavy fog covering the river, it took till about 12 o clock for it to burn off and then we got this beautiful sunshine. The water level was low and i was surprised as i had expected it to be running a lot higher due to some of the reports that i had read recently but as always you have to physically see it for yourself. Well the fat lady was singing as i fished down the beat but being optimistic i was expecting to meet a fish even in this extremely bright sunshine and i did but with a shake of its head the barbless single hook came out and i was left enjoying the view so i took a photo to share with you. You cannot be disappointed when you are standing in an area of such extreme beauty on one of the nicest days of the season, as most anglers will say catching isn't everything.... but it helps. All in all it was a quiet salmon season for me, not because of the lack of salmon but the lack of water. The rain stopped in May and didn't come back till the end of September just as the season was coming to a close ( typical ), the river Lee was the lowest and dirtiest that i have ever see it and i was surprised that water wasn't released by the dam to clean it out and bring some fish up even though we had floods in other rivers at the same time. The majority of salmon were held up below the Kingsley weir and there were quite a few fish out in the harbour waiting for the water to run but it never came, the upside is that there should be more fish spawning this year as the amount of salmon caught was low.
My best day this season was in May when i caught three salmon ,( 12lb, 16lb and a big fish of over 23lb all in high water and on the spinner, i would have preferred on the fly but that's the way it goes (the video can be viewed on my youtube channel http://youtu.be/dPlRipCZ8Kk?list=UUGAIWufjLx0343nUNnQoarg .). Well all i can do now is put away my salmon gear till next season and hope that it will be an improvement on this year
Monday, 18 August 2014
Due to the fact that there had been very low water conditions at the Inniscarra Dam fishery over the past two months i haven't been fishing there at all but i decided to give it a couple of hours late into the evening. The weed growth and water quality were fairly bad and one had to constantly keep cleaning the fly as there was a lot of slime weed on the rocks etc., i fished both banks but started on the Woodside at beat 4 where i caught and released two salmon in the first half hour on a size 15 double salar Allys shrimp fly. I was using my 6wt switch fly rod with a floating line and a blue Rio sinking tip which has a 5inch per second sink rate. The plan was to fish all the beats fast and see if there were any fresh salmon about, by using the fast sink tip i was able to get down to the fish causing them to either take the fly or move out of the way. The water clarity was bad and only visible to a depth of about two feet so the fly had to be down deep for the fish to see it and fishing this way you can move through the beats quite fast and if there are fresh salmon about you can have fast hook ups but sadly i didn't see any fresh salmon but a lot of very coloured fish holding in the deeper pools or just in front of the fish pass. Surprisingly there were quite a few anglers fishing there but all had the same story no fresh fish seen and only the odd coloured fish being caught. I had a look at the Kingsley weir and saw only a few fresh salmon but there were many coloured fish holding back from the weir, what we really need is a good flood to clean out the river and allow those fish to move upstream and hopefully bring some fresh fish up to the Dam fishery.
Tuesday, 22 July 2014
Just in case anybody thought that i had vanished off the face of the planet due to the lack of my salmon fishing reports and videos etc.,this is mainly due to the lack of water and salmon in the river at the moment but i am still fishing for sea trout at night on the fly. Anybody that has fished at night will understand the buzz one gets from the rod nearly being wrenched out of ones hands and the explosion of water that follows when a big sea trout hits the fly, not being able to see in the dark really magnifies the sensation and trust me if you haven't done this before try it. There are a few simple rules to night fishing, (1). recce the area that you are about to fish in daylight so you can understand water depth and problematic areas like low trees, deep holes and bank structure. (2) make sure that it isn't tidal as you don't want to be swamped by water in the dark. (3) bring a friend or two just for safety on your first few sessions but i recommend that unless you are very confident in your night fishing skills you should always fish with a buddy. (3) lay out your flies and casts in advance so as to minimize searching for them in the dark and always check that the eyes of every fly are clear of varnish etc as trying to thread line through the eye of a fly at night is hard enough without having that issue. (4) Lights, you can't have enough lights, one small hat light for changing flies, second bigger light for walking back to the car because trust me you wouldn't believe the number of anglers that i have seen falling over due to bad visibility. (5) Bank etiquette, don't flash lights onto the river and don't walk right up to other anglers that are fishing asking questions etc unless you know them, they are fishing and not out there for a chat so let them fish in peace. (6) Salmon licence, you are going to need a state salmon licence and if fishing private or club waters a permit or permission.(7) clothing remains the same as you will need a jacket and waders etc, but wear clear glasses as you won't be able to see the flies when you are casting and the last thing you need is a fly sticking out of an eye in the dark, not only that i met a guy one night who had a lucky escape when a branch that he didn't see in the dark got stuck just above his eye socket and embedded itself there luckily it missed the eye but he fishes with clear safety glasses now at night.(8) a good long landing net to save you leaning too far into the river. I will be going into much more detail about fly rods / lines and flies in the future with a very simple and effective strategy on how to fly fish for sea trout at night but have a look at my sea trout fly fishing video on my mrkingfisher3 youtube channel before you venture out into the darkness. Most of the rivers have a good number of sea trout in them at the moment but it will get better in the coming weeks.
Sunday, 8 June 2014
During the last two weeks the water levels were very low and only the odd fresh fish was being seen at the Dam fishery but as soon as the water was released fish started to arrive but unfortunately many were coloured, these fish having entered the river weeks earlier had stayed in the lower beats till the water levels allowed them to run. The fish were only nipping at the spinners as they had been fished over by many anglers down stream before arriving at the dam so they knew the game very well and probably could even tell you where your spinners were made. There were a few large fish throwing and i estimated that some were definitely over 20 lbs but they were very dark and heading upstream above the dam. I hooked the fish in midwater because the spinner didn't have time to get down under the very fast current and with a few head shakes the games were on. A very strong salmon of about 11lbs short but very stocky and these are the best fighting fish as they are very dogged and fight deep and as you can see in the video it tore line off the clutch with ease. The fish was just in off the tide as it had sea lice on it and the scales were still soft and falling off in my hands, a sure sign of tide fish. Removing the size 4 black and silver flying C i released a very strong fish back into the river. There were a few grilse seen down river so hopefully we should see some arriving at the dam soon but last year they were few and far between with mainly the larger salmon being caught. When the main pods of fish arrive at the Kingsley Weir they either wait for high water or the odd few run the side wall or fish pass and head up river but then they split up either going up the Shournagh River or the Bride and the rest then heading to the upper reaches of the Lee with a few eventually heading up above the Dam itself. The earlier fish usually travel the most so these fish are always going above the Dam but as the season progresses the later fish are destined for down river or one of the two main tributaries so as i have said before the Dam doesn't really get a back end or September run but it does get a small summer salmon run just after the grilse run peters out in mid to late July. Hopefully we will get a chance to put a fly over some grilse in the coming weeks as they are a great fighting fish and great sport on a small fly rod.
Monday, 26 May 2014
Seeing a fresh salmon head and tail at the end of the croy i was quick to cast a line and cover it, the beat had been hammered by anglers all day long using a variety of different methods and i had only seen a few coloured fish throwing so when i spotted the fresh fish i moved into stealth mode. On the third cast i knew that i was in the right area and feeling the loop leave my grip i slowly raised the rod and lifted into the fish, the battle was on . The salmon began rolling underwater and i noticed that i was losing control especially when trying to turn the fish so i knew that it was after wrapping itself up in the leader so i let it run downstream to unwrap itself but to no avail. Putting a lot of side strain i turned the fish upstream and keeping good side pressure on it moved it in to shallow water, running the fish in circles i beached it on a shallow sandbar but it didn't like that and shot back out to deeper water. Running the salmon once again into shallow water i quickly beached the fish and unravelled the leader from its pectoral fin, then i took out my size 15 Allys shrimp fly and released the salmon back into the river. As you can see from the video the salmon was still very green and bursting with energy when i put it back and thats the best way to release fish. There is no need to play a fish to within an inch of its life, just apply plenty of side strain on the fish with the fly rod and let the rod absorb all the fish's power especially when the fish is above you as it will be fighting the current and you at the same time and this will allow you to beach it faster. The sink tip i was using was a Rio 6ft Salmon versileader 3.9 ins per second sink rate in 24lb breaking strain and the fly was my old but updated favourite Hot Orange Allys shrimp in size 15 salar double on a 12lb flurocarbon tippet.
Wednesday, 14 May 2014
Having fished through the beats i had met a few salmon on the fly but most of the fish were just pulling at the tail not really interested in taking it, normally that would be the actions of some playfull grilse but the real answer is that they were burned obviously having been fished over hard by other anglers. The water was in fine flow even though it was at low summer level but you could see the signs that it was starting to colour up with algae even though they are running the left sill to oxyginate it there is only visibility upto 2ft and dropping. I had just got my new Airflo 40 plus extreme fly line and i wanted to test it out against the conditions and also against its predecessor my old origional and now semi retired 40 plus. They have improved the transition between running line and head and that is good news as the transition in the old line was a bulbus affair and pulled at all the eyes on the way out and on retrieving, but i fear that the new running line is a bit thick and this slows down the speed of the head compromising longer casts especially under arm and water bourne casts. The line wasn,t looped so i had to weld my own and to be honest it doesn,t take rocket science to know that the loop on the running line is always going to be fixed so why not include it in the line in the first place and to add another touch maybe a braided loop in the box for the front loop would be a really good idea as then one could fish away from scratch.
The salmon hit the fly twice but didn't stay so i took the line out of the water and gave it a rest for a few minutes talking to Dean i explained that i was going to run the next fly down past the lie fast and see if the salmon would respond aggressively and it did by taking the size 15 double salar ahilles shrimp fly well down and heading downstream like a bullet. Turning the fish i brought the fight to me and ran the fish in circles allowing my 6 wt switch rod to take all the sting out of the fish and cushion the line finishing the fight in under three and a half minutes. Getting the salmon back green helps them to survive better after release and with using size 15 salar hooks there is little or no damage to the fish. The new 40 plus line did its job well but with a few tweaks it could be a great line especially for switch rods and with me heading out to sea for seatrout in salt water soon it will be put to further use and i will let you know how i get on.
Saturday, 3 May 2014
Having recovered from my previous days fishing session i decided to give the Dam a cast for a few hours and unfortunately the water being at full load it was back to heavy spinning as usual. There were a few anglers fishing there and one salmon of about 7lb was taken earlier in the evening, i had just bumped a fish so i decided to give it a rest for a few minutes and having just cast back on the lie the salmon hit very hard and came screaming in towards the bank and then doubled back out but caught up on a submerged tree stump. Thinking very fast on my feet i opened the bail arm and let the fish have plenty of slack line so that it might travel back down stream and thus releasing itself from the stump but to no avail. I could see the fish flashing outside me opposite the tree stump so i knew that it was well caught up and i would have to go in and release it. Dave reacted faster and just hopped into the water and pushed the line back around the stump and with that the salmon was off at high speed across the river luckily still attached to my spinner, only for Dave's intervention the fish would have most definitely snapped the line on the stump. Playing the fish back towards me i beached the fish fast because the fight had gone on too long and i wanted to release it back without taking too much out of the salmon. Luckily it was lightly hooked in the mouth and the spinner came out without too much trouble, it was a very fresh sea liced wild salmon of about 11lbs a stocky deep bodied fish which are the best fighting of all the salmon. Holding the fish for a few seconds it was fighting to get back so i released it back into the river none the worse for the encounter. Over the past few days i have been lucky to have some met great salmon all well over the 10lb mark and with one over 22lbs being my best for the last five years, even though it broke the top ring of my Hardy Sirrus spinning rod it was definitely worth it, even my spinning reel is groaning a bit after that hard battle but not to worry its all part of of the sport we call angling.