Monday, 14 April 2014

Salmon Fishing Ireland 2014



The water was at full load with one sill open and this was topping up the height and speed of the river, i fished with a 25gr black / silver flying c just to get depth so that i could get under the very fast top current to properly cover the salmon lies. Most anglers just do the 80 % and forget about the other 20 % that can be the difference between catching  fish or not catching fish. I will definitely be putting up a video on youtube soon on the proper casting and spinning techniques needed to increase ones chances of catching salmon, including how to achieve proper depth and speed control while spinning in fast high water using the upstream spinning method. A lot of anglers turn up at a river and really cannot read the water, they don't know where the salmon lies are in low, medium or high water so they spend either a very long time in one area or they shoot through the beats hoping to cover as much water as possible in an attempt to catch fish. Proper intelligence on a river is important so doing your homework on gaining information from expert anglers or gillies etc., on the holding pools and salmon lies is probably the best thing that a novice angler can do, even watching other anglers cover certain parts of the river will give one an idea where to cast to increase ones chances.

The salmon hit the spinner twice, bumping it on the first attempt and then nailing it on the second hit as the spinner was coming down the pool. I hit the fish really hard because of the strong heavy water as sometimes they are very lightly hooked when the spinner comes at them so fast and with a few head shakes they are free. Even when playing the salmon i could see that it was lightly hooked and this was great because i was releasing the fish and the less damage to the fish the better. I was holding the salmon with one hand reviving it and  with the other hand i was setting up the camera for some underwater shots when the fish decided it was time to go and knocked over my underwater camera but luckily i got the shot of the fish swimming away safely and strong. It is very hard catching, playing, filming, landing fish with only two hands and as i hold a camera in one hand as i play the salmon to get the best shots some people think that i'm mad but it adds to the drama and excitment of the fight, so next time you watch one of my videos see if you can play a strong fish out with one hand while trying to get some good steady footage with the other, trust me it will definitely add excitement to your salmon fishing and if you really want to show off wear a blindfold....

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Salmon Fishing Ireland 2014.


  Having started my evening session at beat 4 i was just about to take a cast with my 6wt switch fly rod when i noticed that the sand bar that i was standing on was steadily disappearing and then i realised that the water was coming on. Moving up to beat 1 i changed over to my spinning outfit and due to the speed of the water put up a 25gr black and gold flying c, i find the gold blade works very well in low light conditions especially when there is a slight tint to the water colour. Casting far upstream i was able to then cover the lies at the proper depth and getting down below the top current i was able to slow down the pace of the spinner which increased my chances of a hook up. The salmon hit the spinner hard and took off downstream at a rate of knots but i quickly turned it and brought it back up to where it suited me to play the fish. I allowed the fish to run in circles and once or twice it rolled over on the line trying to shake off the spinner but i quickly regained the upper hand and landed it in no time. A fine  fresh 12lb sea liced hatchery salmon which had just arrived in no more than 24 hours from salt water. The only pity was that it wasn't on the fly but that will come soon, once the rain eases off and the water levels get back to normal i can then get back to my fly fishing and as i have tied up some new patterns i can't wait to try them out on fresh fish. Having taken the measurements of my salmon i checked to see if the weight calculator would be close to the weight that i had estimated and at a girth of 39cm and a lenght of over 79 cm it was just under 12lbs so i wasn't far off the mark with 12lbs. A good idea for the future just take the measurements of your salmon ( girth and lenght to v of the tail ) and put it into one of the fish calculators that are on the web and you will have a fairly exact weight for your fish especially if releasing the salmon.

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Spinning " The Monkey on your Back / Shoulder ".

Having fished for most of my life one gets used to knocks and falls while fishing, be it either falling down a bank or in a slippery river bed due to lack of traction we all get the odd knock or injury but casting a spinning rod or fly rod can cause other issues. Repeative strain injury comes from constantly casting and putting stress on ones shoulder muscles ( deltoids ) and also fishing in very cold weather or in my case pushing the distance out by hammering my fishing rod to achieve maximum distance. In tennis they have tennis elbow and in fishing we have anglers shoulder, to see if you have this issue all you have to do is raise your casting hand straight up in the air and if you get a slight pull in the shoulder then you have the starting signs of anglers shoulder. The more predominant signs are not being able to put ones casting hand as far up behind ones back as ones non casting hand or in bad cases having shoulder pain after an hour or so of fishing. There are three main areas that one can suffer pain from, one is the front deltoid the second is the side deltoid and the third is the area in your upper back between or around  the shoulder blade. This injury in my estimation was caused the previous season and over the winter months has shortened the range of muscle movement of the casting arm and as we all start fishing in the cold weather we are only irritating an already shortened muscle which tears and thus creating more shortening and damage. If you think of it as an angler i spend all day casting and in my case really pushing my rod to its limit so it is similar to an athlete throwing a javelin but in my case about 1,200 throws a day, i'd like to see the state of the athlete that can throw that many javelins.

To combat this issue one has to warm up ones shoulder muscles prior to fishing similar to any athlete before a race etc., but the best advice is that when one finishes fishing at the end of the season one should visit a massage therapist or physiotherapist and get one or two good rub down sessions to get rid of the knots or scar tissue that has built up over the fishing season and thus stopping the injury from developing any further. Having many years of weight training and martial arts under my belt i have a few exercises that strenghten and stretch the shoulder muscles but with using both fast and slow twitch muscle fibres while casting to the extreme one still needs a good manipulation session by a physiotherapist on those muscles to avoid further damage and the worst thing is i'm not getting any younger so injuries like those take longer to heal and my philosophy of life is prevention is a lot better and cheaper than cure.

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Salmon Fishing Ireland 2014. " Off the Mark ".

                       My First Spring Salmon of the 2014 Salmon Season.

Fishing from beat 1 to beat 4 with my 6wt switch fly rod i covered every lie but failed to see or meet any salmon. The water was very low but clear so it was easy to see every rock in all the pools on the way down to beat 4 and i must admit that they were all vacant, no fish at home. Heading back up to beat 1 i heard the siren so i knew that heavy water was on the way, back to spinning. The dam opened three sills which  generate a height load of about 3ft over normal levels, ideal for both fly or spinner. Having fly fished all morning i changed over to my spinning outfit and put on a size 3 black and silver flying c because water levels weren,t high enough to use a size 4 and using the larger spinner would only mean getting constantly stuck on the bottom.

The salmon hit the spinner and started rolling and spinning in the water so i knew from the start that something was wrong and at one stage thought that i had hooked a very good pike but then the fish erupted into the air and then i knew that we were off to the races. The fish tried to wrap itself around several large rocks but with the non stretch quality of braid i was able to turn the salmon away from the rocks and not allow it to get back down into the deep water. I always play my salmon out on top of the water as it tires them out faster and allows me to return them in good condition but this salmon fought differently and even at one stage i thought that it would fall off, looking back i think that it was just nerves at possibly losing my first fish of the 2014 season. On landing the salmon i noticed that the hooks were stuck in both the upper and lower jaw and in my experience that makes the salmon go wild and fight very eratically. I took the salmon because of the damage to its mouth and luckily it was a hatchery fish weighing about 15lbs with fresh sea lice. Normally i return the first salmon but the damage done to the fish would not have allowed it to survive if i had released it back into the river. Well i'm  off to a good start and hopefully a good 2014 season. Best thing about fishing in cold wet weather is staying dry and having good gear keeps one dry and warm, having issues with other waders last year i am enjoying fishing this season in my new Sonik SK4 waders that i bought from Ned at Ardaire Springs Fishery, they are so comfortable that you'd hardly know that you had them on.

Friday, 21 February 2014

Salmon Fishing Ireland 2014. Blackwater River.

Driving on the motorway i passed over the Blackwater river and noticed that there was a very large frothline going down the centre of the river, that didn't look good because the colour of the froth was cream and not white meaning badly coloured water. On arriving at the Lodge i met Ian and he had fresh information conserning the water clarity upstream which was only about 18 inches and also that the water had come up. Hearing that they had caught and released a fresh 6lb salmon on Wednesday and that there was also one lost upstream made me feel a bit more optimistic. In reality the water was very coloured with only 12 inches of visibility at Lower Kilmurray with a strong downstream gale blowing that made it very hard to slow down the spinner and gain proper depth. Starting off on a Black/Silver flying c and then moving over to Red/Gold and then finishing up on a Yellow/Gold i covered the lies as best i could with my upstream spinning method then changing over to a 28gr White/ Silver Toby i fished back downstream and hooked into a fish but it didn't stay long enough as it was more of a bump fumble and drop not giving me much time to tell if it was a kelt or a fresh fish and very understandable considering water clarity and Tobys. Unfortunately when fishing with Tobys they have such a great action that sometimes the hook-ups aren't great and you can lose fish, even when using a double split ring to move the hooks even further away from the spoon fish will still come off. Here are some photo's of Upper and Lower Kilmurray showing water heights and clarity.

                                          Water up to the top of the ladder in lower Kilmurray

                                          Water clarity only 12 to 18 inches early morning

                                         Heavy squall with sleet  / rain moving through
                                          A brief moment of sunshine

                                          Casting platform needs a bit of spot welding

                                          Upper Kilmurray

                                          The winds at upper Ballyhooley

                                          Lower Ballyhooley

Finishing up at lower Ballyhooley the water clarity was much better at over 2 ft and there was definitely a drop in water height so if it keeps dropping away like this and the water clarity improves there should be some more fish caught over the weekend. The water clarity was over four feet and there was a nice upstream wind when the fish were met on Wednesday, i didn't get the temperature but it had to be a lot warmer than today because it definitely dropped to less than 3 degrees in the showers and biting winds.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Salmon Fishing Ireland 2014 Blackwater River.

Having a few hours to spare and with the weather being quite mild, no wind and very little rain i decided to give Ballyhooley Bridge a cast. Arriving at the bridge i met Ian from Blackwater lodge and we both laughed on seeing the height of the river, it was higher than the opening day. There must be  some difference between the gauges because i thought that the river had dropped slightly on paper but seeing it up close and personal it had risen by at least 10 inches. Having a lot of small rivers and streams flowing into a main river can make a huge difference to water height downstream so people should take great care when approaching swollen flooded rivers. The banks can be very unstable and in some cases undercut, just standing on the bank can cause it to fall in so again great care must be observed when walking near rivers at this time of year. There must be beavers upstream near Mallow because of the amount of trees passing me down during my fishing session and that in it self can be another hazzard especially if you hook one by mistake..... I covered the beat well and fished upstream spinning with Flying "C"'s and downstream with heavy Toby's but to no avail, no fish seen, met ot taken. The water clarity was only about 8 - 10 inches as can be seen from one of my photo's, so the spinner would have had to bump the fish on the head first before i could catch it. Here are some photo's of the Ballyhooley Bridge beat in extra high water.

                                           Top of Ballyhooley Bridge beat looking upstream

                                          Looking downstream to the bridge
                                          Water clarity was only 8 - 10 inches
                                          Ballyhooley Bridge at high tide..........

I will wait till the water drops down to below 2m on the gauge before my next session on the Blackwater river but looking at the weather forecast for Friday evening and into the weekend i would say that the river will definitely be unfishable for most of next week. As most anglers can appreciate after a hard day spent spinning or fly fishing in very high water one sometimes feels that they have a monkey on their back, well today i had an oversized silver back gorilla.

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Opening Day on the Blackwater River / Lake 2014

Ok its official i need to get myself evaluated, anybody that goes out with the intention of going fishing on a day like today with serious storm force 10 warnings on a river that one cannot find due to the fact that it is so badly flooded one cannot see or find the banks, needs to be locked up for their own safety and the safety of others. To my credit after talking to Ian at the Blackwater Lodge Fishery who did try to talk some sense into me by telling me to go home and leave the river to the surfers ( due to the size of some of the waves coming down the lake / river ) i said that i would have one look at Ballyhooly Bridge on the way home and maybe have a cast .... So here are some of the photo's of the river from Ballyduff bribge up to Ballyhooly bridge, we had to be very careful while stopping to take photo's due to the conditions and narrow road so its only a small sample of the floods trust me it was a lot worse the photo's don't do the conditions justice. In some areas it looked like Lough Corrib on a very rough stormy day with big waves.

                                          view from the Blackwater Lodge Fishery
                                          looking downstream from Ballyduff Bridge
                                           upstream view from Ballyduff Bridge

The next few photo's were taken just above Ballyduff village showing the fields because you can't see the river or banks but they are there.

                                          The Funshion river looking upstream 1 of 2

                                         The Funshion River looking downstream 1of 2
                                           Ballyhooly Bridge looking downstream 1 of 3
                                          Ballyhooley Bridge looking upstream 1 of 2
                                         Fermoy Bridge looking downstream 1 of 3
                                          Fermoy Bridge looking upstream 1 of 3

The water was just starting to drop off as we were leaving and it had reached almost 3 meters on the guage so the photo's give you an idea what this level of water can do to the river. Just incase anybody was going to make a phone call or send an email to some medical / psychiatric services with my interests at heart there is no need, i didn't take the fishing rods out and i did get home safe and reasonably sound. I might be slightly mad at times and that has to do with having the proper fishing gear for the conditions but i'm not stupid and know my limits and today was the limit, too dangerious for fishing.