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.
Thursday, 1 May 2014
Three salmon landed and released and a further two salmon lost by short takes not a bad evenings fishing even by my standards. The only downside was that rather than keep the big fish out for a few photo's i put it back so that it wouldn't exhaust itself and for that it beat me up before leaving in a burst of pure power. Starting at the top of beat 1 woodside i fished my way down towards the end of the beat covering every inch of water and every salmon lie while i had the chance as over the past few times that i have been out it has been very busy akin to combat fishing. Even when i could cover some of the lies there was always someone about with a question etc., and this eats into my fishing time and as anyone that knows me will tell you i like the odd chat but i pay for my ticket like everybody else and i like to concentrate on my fishing and test my skill without interuption. I have built up a vast knowledge of this part of the river over the past few years and knowing the hydrodynamics of the water i know where most of the fish will be at any given time in most water levels. I covered a short lie between two rocks and got a slight bump and knowing someone was at home gave it a rest for a few minutes, casting back a long the same line a few minutes later i hooked into the 16lb fish and it took off downstream in a flurry of cartwheels but i stopped it and brought the fish in close to me and allowed it to wallow for a few moments and then i ran it in circles until it was ready for landing. The Landing Area is so small and with some large rocks, under water weeds and tree stumps its strewn with hazards an easy place to lose a good fish but with 3 to 4 ft of water outside you there is nowhere else to land the fish. I brought the fish in close guided it past the weeds and rocks, landed it, removed the spinner that was only slightly hooked in its mouth and released it back into the river.
The second fish took halfway down the beat and with a very short fight i landed it fast and released it, it just shot back so fast that it was stronger going back than it was for the entire fight probably gassed out from the hard journey up from the tide in high water. The big fish took me in mid river ran straight over to the wall cartwheeled twice screamed downriver with my reel drag heating up i stopped the fish in mid burst just then Marc came up from the lower beat to see the action and i asked him to film the fight on my small camera as i played out the fish. The fight was over in under five minutes as i gave little or no ground to the fish bullying it to swim in ever decreasing circles until i was ready to guide it past the obstacles into my small landing area where i removed the spinner and after being beaten up by the fish it was a very quick release. Having released big fish before it is always better to let the fish do what it wants to as trying to stop it will either hurt it or you as they are very powerful and with this fish being very green i just wanted the hooks out so that it could be on its way. I always bully fish in fast so that they are in great shape to swim away, sometimes i see anglers play out a fish within an inch of its life and then expect it to swim away and survive, if you want to release fish always bring it in fast as it doesn't get a build up of lactic acid and it will survive better than one that has been played to exhaustion as they will certainly die.
Saturday, 19 April 2014
Having fished for a few minutes with my switch fly rod the water level rose quite rapidly by over six feet in just 15 minutes so i had to change over to my spinning rod to deal with the very fast water, that is the problem associated with fishing below a Hydro Electric Dam. It can also have a very favourable side in that it can bring fresh fish in very fast from tide some distance downstream and when other rivers are in full spate with a chocolate brown colour the dam controls this river and most high water levels are almost clear or there abouts. There were a few anglers fishing earlier and they had no luck with both spinner or fly but as the water levels had increased i expexcted to see some fresh fish moving up from downstream, the lower river has seen some fish caught recently but not as many as in past seasons. I covered a few of the known salmon lies and there seems to be a change in the areas that the salmon are now lying, maybe due to the extra volume and speed of the water as i am now meeting fish in different areas than i have met them in past years. The salmon hit the spinner with a thump and there was a lot of rolling and rubbing on the line in the earlier part of the fight and when i got the fish in close i could see that there was only one hook in its mouth ideal for a fast release. The fish gave a good account of itself with a number of jumps and cartwheels before i was able to bring it under control but still a great fight for a small fish of about 7lbs with fresh sea lice. The area that i was fishing has very little safe bank so i had to put the camera down while i landed the salmon as there was nowhere to beach it, with plenty of rocks and underwater stumps just waiting to snag my line i quickly tailed and released the fish. I'm still waiting for a chance to fish the fly properly through all the beats but i cannot complain when being interupted by the rising water as i am catching fish even though its only on spinner.