Sunday, 15 November 2015

Sea Trout on the Fly at Night.


Here are some nice sea trout that i caught while fly fishing during a full moon, most anglers seem to think that the  sea trout turn off or are hard to catch during such events but i find that some of the larger fish will travel on these big tides and using the right flies and tactics can be caught. Even though the moon brightens up the river there is plenty of tree cover around and using dark bodied flies rather than the normal bright patterns you present the perfect silhouette for the trout to see the fly. Even this tactic of waiting for the bats to show or until its very, very dark never mattered to me as i have caught them just as the light is going up till dawn and even into daybreak. Certain pools will fish when its dark but there are plenty of areas that will fish well just as light is going and are better at this time because just as the darkness comes these trout move up or down river so the pool you were fishing in low light might not have any trout in it in the dark. I have fished down many pools with the fly after other anglers that were using either fly or bait had moved on and caught trout from the off so people saying that starting early ruins the pool or puts the trout down has never mattered to me. I think that you need to experiment with a river to get to know what works, how it works and when it works so just leaving it till a certain time because some people say so is a waste of good fishing time. Having fished for large trout i was told that they didn't exist to monster proportions but after studying many rivers in different heights and light levels i found that they could be caught and were there in good numbers and in some cases in very large sizes. You have to experiment for yourself, when fishing for sea trout a pool can have good numbers of fish in it in daylight but as soon as the light changes to darkness these trout will move out and in the same instance these trout will move back just as its getting brighter because they feel comfortable or protected there. I feel that sea trout are confined and restricted in their movements during the daytime and even though you will see the odd flash or body scraping activity ( rubbing their sides off the river bed to shed parasites i.e. sea lice )going on during the daytime they are normally subdued, but at night time they come out to play. Even when fishing many rivers i have noticed that when the small trout stop jumping and pitching it goes quiet for a while and then the big boys come into their own and you will have one start down river and then another and the jumping will work its way up every pool and i think the big trout are communicating to each other because its so well orchestrated and confined to just the bigger fish. This lets me know where they are and then i can target them, every pool will have one or maybe two large trout in residence and the moment you hit the smaller fish these guys shut down and you will find it hard to catch them, not impossible but hard. Again another theory about using sinking lines later on in the night when things go quiet, i have fished with many anglers that changed over to sinking lines and competed against them using only my floating line and still took more fish than they did while i was using the same tactics but changing to flies tied on heavier trout hooks and flurocarbon leader rather than my normal copolymer leader. If the pool is not deeper than eight feet the floating line will work every time, the biggest issue i find with anglers that night fish is simple.... its turn over. They can't cast their flies properly, you have to make sure that the point fly is the furthest away from you at all times and not in a ball, behind the fly line or knotted up but when night fishing i see this happen all too often. Secondly retrieve, they are stripping line so fast its amazing that they are meeting any trout at all, slow down only a figure of eight retrieve works and sometimes no retrieve at all just a natural drift and then a figure of eight retrieve at the end of the drift just to bring enough line in for a recast. Again flies are the one thing that separates the catchers from the anglers, stick to the normal patterns but make sure that you are using the bigger hook size on the point and the smaller size for the dropper, this will definitely give good turn over and also fish at different water levels where the heavier point fly will fish deeper in the water column and the smaller dropper will be higher up the level giving two point of attack..... some nights smaller flies work better and sometimes the larger patterns will pull fish so using both sizes on a cast improves your chances of a hook up. The way things are going its probably time for me to write the up dated sea trout book because i have so much more information that i can't fit it into this blog, try and experiment next time your going out night fishing for sea trout with starting earlier, using different retrieves and fly sizes and see if your catch rate improves but remember releasing them will give someone else a chance to enjoy the sport in the future.

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Irish Fly Fair and Angling Show 2015.

I went up to Galway over the weekend to visit the annual fly fair in the Galway Bay Hotel, the weather was dismal to say the least with heavy driving rain and gale force winds not ideal for the fly casting demo's. The fly tying section was excellent with some amazing fly patterns on display, the fly tying experts were very helpful and friendly demonstrating the art of fly tying with all the new materials on show. All the tackle suppliers and dealers were there to cater for the good number of anglers that turned up and braved the bad weather. I wanted to try out some of the switch lines and rods and the guys from AM angling were very helpful showing me some of their new lines and  switch rods even in the pouring rain, sadly they haven't got a floating version of what i'm looking for but their short float / intermediate line looks good, ideal for low water conditions and grilse. Glenda Powell was on form giving a good casting demo even in the driving rain and gale force winds and also Hywel Morgan  and Charles Jardine were very entertaining demonstrating all the tips and tricks of casting again in bad weather conditions. Having tried some more rods and lines i was very surprised that all the casting was on grass and to be honest i'm not an expert on grass ( only water ) as it doesn't give a realistic feel or resistance to the line. In reality i'd say that a lot of anglers were put off by this and it definitely didn't show the rods and lines to their true potential. I must admit i have been using switch rods for many years and i'm still confused as to why rod makers are supplying dedicated lines for their rods that really don't do the job, my Oracle switch is a 7/8 and the dedicated line was very lack lustre in trying to turn over even the 2.6 ins rio sinking tips and when i asked about this at the stand i was told to use the 8/9 as it was heavier and would probably do the job. Really..... i now know why there is so much confusion with switch rods, the dedicated line is ok for casting tapered leaders but use a sink tip and all bets are off. I have a video that i'm finishing soon and hopefully this will help all switch rod fly fishing anglers, there are two lines for switch rods ... ( 1 ) Rio switch chucker as it will  spey cast most rio sink tips in tight areas that you have to cover during your salmon / trout fishing needs and ( 2 ) the Forty plus which will cover tapered leaders and intermediate tips with  single over head casting and a bit of spey casting thrown in. The Rio switch chucker line isn't for over head casting but it will put out and turn over sink tips and heavy flies in tight areas with little or no effort when spey / underarm casting and then to cover the trout fishing or single over head casting the Forty plus will do the job well just get the 8 wt line for your 7/8 switch and with this line you can use tapered leaders or even intermediate tips and it will spey / underarm cast them as well. Remember the switch rod is exactly that SWITCH it means you can under arm / spey cast and SINGLE  hand over head cast. It's great to be able to see and try out all the new tackle / lines etc., and really only for the fly fair that wouldn't be possible, so hopefully it will continue for years to come.

Friday, 2 October 2015

End of Season 2015.

Well another season comes to an end with the last few days bringing lovely sunshine and the ideal weather to go fishing and enjoy all the autumn colours but with all the heavy rain and floods in mid September it definitely put paid to any decent back end fishing. I  had caught a couple of dark fish on the Lee but was trying to organize the closing day on one of the prime fisheries with a few lads but like everything else planning and doing are too different things. I ended up on the Lee for the last day and even though it was a beautiful autumn day it was fairly uneventful except for the odd coloured salmon plucking at the fly more in curiosity than anger. I must admit that i had fished on the Monday evening prior to the closing day and had just started fly fishing down beat 1 with my switch fly rod when i got a good pull at the fly but the fish didn't stay, checking the fly to make sure it was fishing well i then recast exactly on the same line as the take and straight away the fish took the loop and moved off very slowly downstream. Having very little strain on the line i automatically thought it was a grilse and started filming the fight but then things changed dramatically and the line started heading upstream with a few strong head shakes and suddenly the fish grew in size from a grilse to a fresh 17 / 18 lb bar of silver jumping and cartwheeling across the river. It was a great short fight with a very abrupt end when the fish buried itself in heavy weed and left my size 15 White shrimp fly in a clump of dirty weed. Luckily i got the fly back but while playing the fish a few thoughts ran through my head, having seen this beautiful bar of silver i thought this will make a great end of season video and secondly i might take it home..........well as they say don't count your chickens until they hatch rang no screamed through my mind when the fish dropped the fly and a few colourful words thrown in for good measure. But in all honesty it would have gone back to full fill its journey, as long as i can remember i have never killed a fish in the last month of the season never mind on the last day but it would have made a great video with all the beautiful autumn colours but instead all i have are some nice photo's to end this piece, but if you want to see the fish i will put up the few seconds of spectacular jumps it made soon at the end of this piece. For all those interested in sea trout fishing at night i have two video's coming out soon with some great specimens caught at night on the fly, also there will be two video's on how to improve your salmon fly fishing with my Scandi and Switch rod techniques which will only be available to my subscribers on youtube and followers on this blog... so follow the blog.


Here is a photo of the Lee in mid September in full brown flood, this heavy water pulled most of the fish up and above the dam leaving very little residents to fish for.

Here is the Hero to Zero video of me hooking and losing a big salmon during the last days of the salmon season.


Monday, 31 August 2015

Salmon on the Fly.


The water had just dropped off but there was still a fair bit of colour due to the recent floods and visibility was down to only two feet or less. I started at beat 1 and fished it slowly using a floating line and a 6 ft five inches per second sink tip just to get down to the fish because the fly being down at their depth would give them a chance to see it and maybe induce a take. Fishing around the stones i retrieved the line slowly so that it would move the fly and keep it just off bottom but also to add a bit more life to the Hot orange ally's shrimp. The salmon hit hard taking 10 yards of line from the reel and started kart wheeling down river, quickly recovering line i noticed that it was a coloured fish and put pressure on the salmon cutting down the angles so that it would tire out fast allowing me to land and release it quickly, but as all anglers know coloured salmon are great fighters and know the river well so it took me a bit longer to get this fish under control. It was in great condition nice and solid with little or no damage so she will definitely survive through the spawning cycle, sadly some of the fresh salmon and grilse this year were lean and will find it hard to survive after spawning. I will have to look around at some of the other rivers for a fresh salmon due to the fact that the Inniscarra salmon fishery on the Lee doesn't really get a back end run of fresh fish. For all the subscribers to this blog and my youtube channel i will be sending them a link for a bonus private video that i am making on tactics and tackle tips for salmon fly fishing with  double and single hand rods which will only be available to them.

Friday, 14 August 2015

Salmon on the Fly.


Having recovered from a shoulder injury i started back salmon fishing with my new Shakespeare 11 ft Switch 7/8 wt fly rod, i had bought the rod a few weeks ago but with my injury couldn't use the rod and as all anglers was disappointed not being able to try out my new toy. The line i was using was a 6/7 wt shooting head trout fly line with a short front taper but it was able to cast a Rio 3.9 ins per second sink tip and salmon fly with ease, having just started salmon fishing the water had come up by at least 3 ft due to the dam releasing water so the fly was now fishing just under the surface due to the speed of the water where as it had been fishing at about 2 ft down prior to this. I had two fish pitch over the fly as i fished it through the pool so i quickly changed over to a small Scierra bullet type tube fly that i had tied up for high fast water, doing a few experimental casts i was surprised that the line and rod were quite capable of throwing this combination with a bit of effort and tweaking on my behalf.
On moving back over these fish i hit a good salmon of about 12 lbs which shot off down river at a rate of knots but then doubled back on itself and came back towards me keeping up with the fish it then made a second good run and then the line went slack.... every anglers nightmare, on checking the fly i realized that one of the hooks was slightly blunt bad observation on my behalf while tying up the fly i should have checked this but in the excitement of having seen fish come at my fly it was obviously overlooked. That's the difference between catching and fishing just a fraction of a mm can make a good day or a bad day. Changing the hooks i started back through the pool and found that the tube fly was fishing nicely well over a foot down in the fast high water, i felt a short bump followed by a very aggressive take and i was into a nice grilse cartwheeling into the air and zigzagging across the river, it put up a great fight and i quickly beached and released it and the new rod was now christened. A few minutes later a second grilse succumbed to my new tube fly and this was also quickly landed and released, both fish were extremely fresh and had just arrived off tide due to the heavy water bringing them up over the Kingsley weir. The fly line i was using is only an outbound shooting head trout line but even though it was light for the rod i was still able to cover the whole river with a 3.9 ins per second sink tip and a heavy tube fly, i can imagine matching up the rod with a proper line like the Rio Switch fly line or even the Shakespeare Switch line what the rod will be able to do. If i was to make a few changes to the rod i would definitely make it (1) four piece instead of six, (2) shorten it to 10 ft and put an extendable double hand butt on it which would bring it up to a 10 ft 6" rod  when opened then you would have the perfect Switch rod, but for the price it's a good Switch rod. When i can afford the Rio Switch line i will do a video on what to look for in a proper Switch rod / line as there seems to be a lot of issues there considering the number of views i get on my Switch rod post.

Monday, 8 June 2015

Salmon on the Fly.


Having fished the pool earlier in higher water conditions i hooked and lost a good fish while stripping the fly so i decided to rest the pool and come back to try it in lower water. When the dam releases water is quickly picks up pace and fills up to about 6 feet above low level but when it drops back down it takes about 45 minutes to catch up with it self and until then it is like a canal with little or no flow. So when fishing in those conditions i normally strip the fly to give it life and this can sometimes initiate an aggressive take as it did in this instance. As the water had started to gain normal speed i went back in and fished the beat and on the third cast in between the two stones i hooked the salmon that i had lost earlier in the evening. The fish threw a few times and then tried to get back between the stones but i played it upstream and away from what would have been a bad situation if it had got tangled up on any one of the big boulders.
Putting loads of side strain on the salmon i allowed the switch fly rod to absorb all the power from the fish and i kept turning it in circles quickly tiring it out and and bringing it in to shallow water. Beaching the salmon i noticed that it was a very fresh hatchery salmon of about 15 to 16 lbs very broad and thick across the back, as the fish was in great condition i quickly released it back into the river. Just as i was putting the camera away a Buzzard hovered above for a few seconds and i was lucky enough to catch this on camera. It's amazing the amount of wildlife that one can get up close and personal to when fishing.

Monday, 25 May 2015

Salmon on the Fly 2015.



Knowing that the water was going to be off i decided to try an evening session on the fly at the Dam fishery, starting at beat 1 i noticed that the water clarity was low maybe only two feet or even less and the flow was   very slow around the salmon lies. I spent much of my time retrieving line in a slow strip just to add speed to the fly otherwise there would be little or no movement in the fly as it fished through the pool. I was constantly having to bring the shooting head inside the top eye of the rod and this didn't make re-casting easy but the end justifies the means as i hooked into a nice fresh sea liced salmon on that slow strip causing the salmon to take the loop out of my hand and head off down river in a near perfect take allowing me time to lift into the fish as it was heading away from me. After the salmon felt pressure it then headed upstream towards the dam and there i was able to control the fish with ease and beach it in shallow water, i noticed that the fly had been well taken down by the fish and in fact it was completely swallowed, having difficulty retrieving the fly i quickly despatched the fish knowing that it would never have survived  being returned back to the river. The salmon was about 10lbs covered in sea lice and a hatchery fish. Seeing another salmon head and tail i noticed that it was lying in shallow water only two feet deep so i changed over to a tapered leader to avoid getting caught up in the bottom and also to allow the fly to fish more freely.

When fishing shallow or slow water i use tapered leaders for better turnover of the fly but there is also another benefit, if you want to stay higher up in the water column use a mono tapered leader but if you need a bit of depth a flurocarbon tapered leader can be used either way both tapered leaders will give more movement to the fly and that's important in slow water. Having a longer tail on a small fly dressed very lightly will always give plenty of movement and this in conjunction with the tapered leader and slow retrieve can induce a take from fresh salmon. The second fish hit hard and fast and threw a number of times before i could gain control of the fish but as has happened a lot recently some anglers bear down on me to either view the fish or get a sneak view of my fly and this moves the salmon out causing me to stop filming and having to tell them to move back away from the fish . I landed the fish in the shallows and after a few minutes of resting up the fish released it back into the river.  When i'm fishing i never run up on another angler playing a salmon or even come within casting range of them but for some reason these days a lot of people feel the need to walk right up to where your trying to land a fish and this is bad bank etiquette putting pressure on the angler and fish. I must definitely do a post on proper bank etiquette  because this might help young anglers understand proper bank manners but in saying that most of the people encroaching on me recently  and getting in the way of me making videos are middle aged and should know better.