It’s not often that one encounters great aptitude for fly-fishing. Most new comers to the sport take a while to pat their heads and rub their bellies as the sport demands. The ability to cast a line with a fly rod requires that you consider multiple issues at once. Devon came to me with a rudimentary understanding of the casting principles which he picked up watching you tube. I put him through his paces with a casting lesson and within half an hour he was casting as if born to it. We approached the river from the back of the riffle and upstream nymphed the first half of the day with a standard 2 nymph set-up sporting a hare’s ear on point and a pheasant tail on the dropper and let me point out, without the benefit of an indicator. After 10 minutes of explaining how to nymph fish and what signs to look for that indicates a take, he was off. Minutes later Devon was into his first fish. On 2 occasions he managed the illusive double-up, catching a fish on each nymph simultaneously. The second half of the day, after a lunch of wine, pates and cold meats chased with a swift coffee, we occupied ourselves with the intricacies of the puritanical dry fly and again Devon performed like a pro presenting his faux flies with the lightness of a butterfly kiss. Golden bodies surged again and again from the dark shadows under the trees and turned willingly onto the fly. The end tally, and let me remind you that Devon is a novice, was 32 fish.
Due to incidents and accidents, the day started at 9:30. I met Charles and his wife Beatrice at their apartment at Castle Hamilton in Kileshandra. A quick meet and greet and we were off. Charles wanted me to show him the best fly fishing spots for the first half of the day and I was more than happy to oblige. We started of at Butlers bridge, renowned for it multi fishing opportunities offering pike and coarse in the deep slow waters and trout angling in the faster waters upstream to the Deragara Inn. We then head of to Ballyhaise for a gander at what's on offer. Ballyhaise has a strong population of trout varying from 6'' to specimen size 15''+. A brief history lesson on the old manor house, now a college and we were of to Balinacargy bridge. By 13:00 we had a lovely lunch at the well known Stray Sod restaurant just past the Laragh river. Once again we jumped into Charles' trusty rental and headed of to Cootehill before returning to Bunoe where we bought an annual membership (only €20) to fish the Bunoe beat.
After donning our waders and assembling our weapons of choice, we descended the stone stile built into the 300 year old bridge and moved to the tail water and fished upstream dry flies. As we moved into the river we noticed some movement in the gravel. Closer inspection revealed brook lamprey building a nest. A rare spectacle and testimony to the health of the river. Every overturned rock reveal nymphs of various type as well as cased caddis.
Yellow mays and BWOs were on the rise and it didn't take long before Charles was into his first fish. Charles managed 2 trout before they became spookish and we moved on. Unfortunately the river upstream of us was just fished by another angler and the fish were suspicious of every offering made, scrutinising each faux fly with Scotland yard precision. Time and time again, trout would rise to the fly only to turn at the last. Frustrated, Charles gave me the rod and I managed to bring the final fish to the net. We ended the day at 5:30 and headed back home.
For some, 6am is an early start. For others it’s even earlier.
The day started at 9am. Christophe and Gerome, 2 young lads from France, had just finished their breakfast when I rolled in. A quick how do you do and a breakdown of what, where, when and we were off.
The wild garlic fragranced the air as we drove down the long back road onto the Ballinagh rd passing hunting dogs and tractors. Fifteen minutes later and we were admiring the Annalee River at Ballyhaise, my standard starting point for most of my trips. At the car we discussed what flies and techniques to use and ten minutes later we were thigh deep in paradise. Starting at the tail end of a lovely riffle run, we fished up stream nymphs high sticking as we went along. In the first ten minutes, Christophe was into his first fish. Beaming from ear to ear, he held up his pretty, hard fought, six inch roach. Not the start we wanted but a start none the less. Gerome took a bit longer to catch his first but when he did, they came fast after. Ten meters up from the start and already they had six fish between them. We fished up to where the river splits and I had Gerome fish the right hand stream while Christophe fished the left till they met at the weir at the three hundred year old Ballyhaise Bridge. At the weir the two lads picked up another five a piece. At this stage I suggested a lunch break. We walked back to the cars where we had a quick lunch. Allan and his lovely wife Audrey kindly packed the lads a light lunch to get them through the day. Soon, tales long and tall were being told of varying size fish with various methods at as many venues. A quick change of tactics and we were off again. This time I had Gerome fish from the riffle tail up stream with a French leader and Christophe I had far upstream fishing across and down with a PTN on point and a soft hackle on the dropper. Gerome hooked into a few fish and loss a thirteen incher. Remarkable as it was Gerome first attempt with this method. Christophe did very well and caught most of his fish on the PTN at the bottom of the swing. Having exhausted that stretch of the river we moved onto the Cavan River which runs through the town of Cavan for a spot of urban fishing. Unfortunately we had limited success and decided to move onto the next part of the day. Back onto the Annalee River, down at a stretch called Deradus. This is a mixed fishery area with Trout, Perch, Roach and Pike in the large pool. Unfortunately the water was a bit too high for this part and no fish were caught. At this stage the lads were exhausted and starving for the dinner Audrey prepared. The sun was painting the sky crimson and orange as we made our fond fare wells and went home tired but well satisfied with a day spent in pursuit of those elusive speckled gold bars of joy.
Ever had one of those days? Those days where it feels as if the very gods have conspired against you. One of those days you think 'why did I ever bother lifting my head of the pillow?' Today I had the pleasure of guiding Brian and Darryl of Fishing Matters (fishingmatters.biz) up the wandering water ways of my Lady Annalee. I make it my business to put people into fish when I guide so i took them to all the areas that I knew would produce fish. We started the day at 10am with greetings, introductions and a swift shot of whiskey to lubricate old joints. (Whiskey kindly supplied by Darryl) By 12:00 3 fish were caught one of which was a trout and Darryl followed closely with two roach. We moved back to the car where we medicated our sorrows with another shot of whiskey. By 13:00 we were at the second beat at Balnacargy starting at the tail waters fishing upstream nymphs. An hour of water flogging and nothing. Eventually we got to the bridge and Brian targeted a rising brownie with a Grey Wulf. What a pleasure to see a pro at work. He beautifully placed the fly 5 foot above the fish and 3 seconds later she came up and took the fly positively. 3 Minutes later and a stunning, full fin fighting fit brownie lay in his net. Bragging rights go to Brian on that beastie but unfortunately that was the last fish caught. We tried Balinallen as well starting at Brady's farm moving upstream toward the bridge but not a nibble was got.
EXCUSES: Ridiculously bright day and a prolific amount of roach spawning.
On a by note, to add insult to injury. After the disastrous excursion, I popped in at my mate Brian Webber in his tackle shop in town and retold the woe that befell me. Oh!, says he, you should have taken young Kalem (11years old) with you, he would have shown you how its done. Oh? says I. What you mean? Brian whips in the back and a minute later produces a shopping bag with 8 fish with 2 in the 2 pound range.
I hung my head, turned around and went home.
Took my boy Sebastian (7) fly fishing for the first time. My boy became a (fisher) man today when he caught his first trout with a fly. Kaloo kalay. (I'm sure there is some Tahitian culture that does the same) A beautiful 6 inch brownie. he caught 2 more after for a gran total of 3. He now wants to be a fireman, pilot, super hero and a fisherman. We need juniors in this sport. I suggest always taking your sons/daughters with you. It great way to spend quality time with them and in a pinch, you can send them up a tree to recover your precious, home tied killer fly.
The day was fine, the good Lady Annalee sang her siren song and I felt compelled to answer. I am but a man and my will is weak, so I bid my adieus and grabbed my kit on my way out the door. The sun shimmered silver on the water and the melodious play of the riffle shushed my mind to calm. Living bars of slithey gold beckoned and teased as they made brazenly for the nymph and turn at the last. Like a French lover, I relish the challenge and try a different approach. The nymph is presented with pinpoint accuracy, it touches the water like an infants kiss and dives immediately down at the insistence of the tungsten bead. She bumps and tumbles over the rocks, enticingly resplendent in her squirrel and peacock boa. Irresistible, the trout takes up the offering. The sacrificial lamb bounces forward screaming 'Strike...Strike'. The hook is set and the game afoot. She runs and dives, hither and thither trying to throw this invisible force that demands a landward sway. Her strength is a dwindling reservoir but she finds enough for one last long, deep run. At last, she succums to the insistent will of the rod and comes to the net exhausted. I wet my hands and reverently pick her up casting my shadow over her to protect her eyes from the glaring sun. gently I remove the offending liar from her lip and ever so gently return her to her home. She turns to the deep and twice, thrice waves her tail and is gone. The willows sway gently in the lazy breeze and the Lady Annalee sings softly her siren song.
Had a fishing date with a friend who has not fly fished before. After basic instruction in how not to hook yourself in the neck and more importantly, not to hook me, we set about flogging water. Demonstrating in the water, I hooked into a lovely juvenile brownie approx 6". This was promptly followed by another few. Finian, unfortunately, did not catch anything but got, as he says, a few sniffs.
Fin headed home after about 2 hours on the river and I continued. By end of day, 5pm, I had caught 15 fish. The smallest was an astounding 1 1/2" with a size 16 fly. Greedy little beggar. The biggest was a respectable 13". Grabbed some wild garlic while I was there. Looking forward to some great nom-noms tomorrow. PS. Ephemera are on the up and some fish on the rise. Promising start.
So it was a lovely Sunday and Gretha, she who must be obeyed, decided she wants to have a BBQ and I was commanded to go out and bring forth trout. Not being a man to hesitate at an opportunity to go fish, I briskly saluted, about turned and head out the door grabbing my water flogging accouterments with me. Not wanting to devoid the river of all its trout, I decided that the 13" brownie would do nicely (and it did together with wild garlic harvested from the river bank and salt and pepper harvested from the local supermarket.). After having gone for an inconvenient splash about in the river, I can assure you that the river is indeed wet and most certainly cold. Parts of my anatomy are only now recovering.
Thank the good Lord, open day has arrived. Went out to the river bright and breezy with worpal rod in hand. Down at Ballyhaise I went down the recently made stairs at the bridge and entered the pool gingerly. My weapon of choice on the day was a bead heap PTN and a micro pheasant tail. 3 casts later I was into my first trout. This was shortly followed by another. At the end of day, I picked up 12 fish of which 7 were trout (1 of 13") and 5 salmon parr. The majority ranged between 4 to 8 ". A good start to a, I hope, brilliant season.
This is the first of hopefully many blogs. I'll try and keep this updated as much as possible. So, the Great Deities have decided in their infinite wisdom to drag out my annual torture with an additional day. The misery. So the lead year extends the lovely month of February, which we recognise and love for its 28 days, to 29 days. An additional 24hrs to an already unbearable 5 months. Seriously???? First day had better be a doozy.