Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Spring Coneheads

Well not long now at all to the new season and with more rivers open on January 1st hopefully a few fish will be caught, water permitting. The river Bandon is open thankfully, just waiting to see if it will be open for spring fishing as for the past few years the river has been catch and release from February 15th until May 12th. With a quota of 1,162 fish for the year there is a good chance it will be open, we shall wait and see.

Having tied a few coneheads for coloured water, it was time to tie a couple for clear water.

All tubes above are 15mm brass tubes with brass coneheads. No fear they'll get down nice and deep. Bound to get some cold weather this winter yet so fishing deep will be a necessity. Looking back at the photos now should have wet the silver doctor a tad, looking well fluffy! Can't wait to fish it though, hopefully it will do the job and it is very much a proven pattern. 
Lately I have also been toying around with bodyless coneheads. These are composed of feather and fur materials tied on a small length of plastic and a cone put in front.

As the tube is so small and not wide enough to fit a hook into I'll use the swing tube at the back.

As you can see here it is simple to change the appearance of the swing tube by adding any material to it you like. This in itself gives the conehead a body and hopefully with the quick movement of the swing tube, the glint of silver, pearl, green, etc will act as another trigger point for the onlooking fish. Very much looking forward to seeing the movement this set up will achieve. Another advantage it will give is that it will be useful to carry if you happen to be fishing for trout and come across a salmon, especially during spring. These are light enough to cast on a trout fly rod but heavy enough to achieve some depth.
Lastly, 3 patterns tied on bottle tubes which will be useful in slower water.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Some sea trout flies and salmon farming

Below are 3 sea trout flies that I could never be without. Rarely have they ever let me down.

I find them very versatile and be they on the point, dropper or fished solo sea trout cannot resist them. Brown trout are also fond of them and for some reason the Executioner seems to winkle out some of the better brownies. 
Another fly I tied lately, and will be the last conehead for coloured water that I'll tie in a while, is the Calvin's Conehead. Cannot wait to try it!

Went for a walk along the river yesterday and in less then a 500m stretch I counted 4 trees out in the middle of the river. The last big flood seems to have caused some damage and one of the trees was ripped from bank, leaving it very unstable. On a bright note I did see some redds so spawning is well underway! To have the chance of seeing salmon spawning live, click here. It is an underwater camera situated on the Suldalslagen River in SW Norway.
One change I've made to the blog is the addition of the new camera in Bandon town. This is a live feed and is very useful to check out the level of the river before venturing out! You can see it on the left hand side of the page.
Lately there has been a lot of talk of the current proposal of salmon farms on the west coast of Ireland and along the south west also. The proposed farm in Galway Bay is to produce 15,000 tonnes of salmon which is huge. Another farm is proposed for Bantry Bay and if these get the nod many more are in the pipeline. We are currently trying our best to stop it from going ahead as the sea lice associated with these farms will have disastrous consequences for migrating salmon smolts and coastal roaming sea trout. Basically, our current population of both wild salmon and sea trout will collapse.

 A protest is being held on main street Carrigaline on the 15th of this month outside of Minister Coveney's office. If you can make it and show your support brilliant, it will give Mr. Coveney something to think about while eating his Christmas turkey! A petition is also online here, do please sign it. To read more on the subject a website has also been set up,
If you would like to submit an appeal, send your submission off to Closing date is December 12th.
Do please show your support as everyone's say on the matter can make a difference.

Monday, 26 November 2012

First 10

Tied these up for the salmon fishing forum's monthly fly swap. First 10 of any pattern I've tied up, very good practice. If you don't recognize the pattern its because I made it up. The swaps theme was 'James Bond' so I opted for tying a fly to replicate one of the more mature, classier actresses rather than any of the young one's! Here it is, the Dusty Dench.

Tag: 4 turns of silver oval tinsel.
Tail: Pink antron.
Butt: Peacock herl.
Body: Rear silver UNI Axxel and front black UNI Axxel.
Rib: Silver oval tinsel.
Wing: Grey arctic fox, few strands of silver ice wing, topped off by black arctic fox.
Underwing: Teal feather. 
Head: Black.

Looking forward to seeing the other flies I get in return now!

Monday, 19 November 2012

More coneheads...

Just a few more which will do for high coloured water. If last summers weather is a sign of things to come than I could be using these a lot more often!

And lastly a comparison between little and large; a 15mm brass tube and large conehead beside a size 14 double.

And for anyone who's into their bass fishing, watch out for this festival next summer.
Its run by the lads up at Absolute Fishing in Tramore, Co. Waterford and was held last summer for the first time. Dates for 2013 are 5th-7th of July. To read more about the 250 fish which were caught and the 80cm bass which won the last festival, click here.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Cigarette lighters and super glue...

So I gave the oul conehead tube flies a lash...not quite as simple as a bit of thread and hair on a hook! I must admit to being totally frustrated at the start, with a rotating tube every now and again totally undoing my good work and the thing coming to pieces. Overcoming this obstacle the challenge is to then finish the fly off with a decent head so as to get my size small conehead over it without having any of the thread showing, leaving a neat finish. Well, the first attempt left a lot to be desired so needless to say saved my camera the battery power. However by the 2nd attempt I managed to get the hang of it and with a lot of patience I managed to tie up this green butt park shrimp.

Tube: 15mm brass tube (gold with green butt)
Tail: 1st layer short orange finn raccoon, 2nd layer long yellow finn raccoon, 3rd layer orange finn raccoon and some hot orange ice wing.
Body: Gold uni axxel followed by black mohair.
Rib: Small pearl tinsel.
Wing: Black arctic fox.
Cheeks: JC
Hackle: Yellow and Orange cock hackles.
Cone: Hot orange (large).

I can see this fly doing some damage when the water is well up with some colour. Bought some medium pearl tinsel also and may use this next time to bring it out some more.

A great concept associated with these tubes is the swing tube. Sometimes the hook holding tube at the butt end of the tube can come off and totally put off the movement of the fly. This can waste a lot of fishing time with fiddling about trying to put it back on. The swing tube eliminates this problem.

The public consultation period is currently underway for salmon and sea trout on Irish rivers for 2013. Cork river's are as follows:

Owenacurra 71 Open
Lower Lee 1,830 Open
Bandon 1,162 Open
Ilen 628 Open
Mealagh 192 Open
Coomhola 185 Open
Upper Lee 0 Closed
Glengarriff 127 Open
Argideen 0 Catch and Release
Owvane 399 Open
Adrigole 0 Catch and Release

One encouraging sign is that none of the rivers, bar the upper Lee for special reasons, are closed. Personally I cannot see any benefit to totally closing rivers as it only opens them up to poaching. Anglers are the eyes and ears on the bank and having them there on a C&R basis or keeping one or two for the table is way more beneficial for the river and its fish. 
Bye laws are yet to come out and will come out in due course. This may mean the Bandon being C&R from Feb. 15th until May 12th. We'll wait and see. 

Other river's status and quotas can be seen here. Submissions and appeals can be sent up to the 8th of December. 

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Out and about

For the last week now, as autumn turns to winter, you can feel the northerly winds beginning to kick in proper. When out and about you just have to wrap up warm if you want to enjoy the beautiful sights!
Here are some photos of recent outings.

River Bandon estuary at full tide.

Stretches of river upstream of Bandon town.

Not my favourite bird but a cormorant above shot in monochrome. Deep and dark photo, love this mode of shooting with bare tree branches in the background... gives a bit of a halloween feeling! And well, the look in that heron's eye is just plain scary!

A fresh grilse holding station, just off a boulder. As i was looking at a pool he just came into the tail of it, so good timing!

Have been out bass fishing a few times lately, but to no avail. Trying lures to cover all depths of water, one in particular that I have been trying which I bought from Absolute Fishing is the Savage Gear Sandeel. Concentrating on beaches with moderate surf and bouncing them along gullies and beside likely looking areas behind rocks, I'm confident of catching on them soon. The northerly winds are making fishing a bit difficult at the moment as I always feel it just puts fish of any kind off the take. Persistence, and bundles of experience, pays off though, as has proved to be the case for the lads at Absolute Fishing. Picking up 1 or 2 during the northerlies, sport picked up more when the wind switched, including the catch of 1 whopper at 11lbs. For the past week they have also had Henry Gilbey over and you can check out his blog of events along the copper coast here. 
I'll be resuming my fly tying soon, next up will be some conehead tube flies. 

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Colourful Autumn

It's a great time of year to be walking down by the river, especially with the weather of the last couple of days. Leaves are changing colour and falling, fish are jumping everywhere and the perfect water makes me want to grab the fly rod again! Its good though to keep a check on the river during the close season rather than totally abandoning it. Since the water has gone down after the most recent flood the Bandon has looked absolutely brilliant. Over the last couple of days I've seen a couple of fresh and plenty coloured fish jumping, especially cock fish as they begin to get aggressive before spawning. Today I watched on as a big cock fish jumped twice in quick succession at the head of a pool, showing its advanced tartan colours, followed straight away by a lilac coloured hen fish in the same spot. Might there be some early spawning this year when we get the next frost? Whats also amazing though is to see the same fish in the same lies on the lower river, especially since some of them have been there over a month now and 3 floods have since passed! Encouraging to see was a pair of fresh sea trout at the end of a pool, a nice size to for the time of year going on for 2lbs. Although I've seen fresh sea trout at Christmas time before, I thought most would have gone up with the summer floods already, but they're still running.

I've always wanted to try and capture a salmon jumping over the weir in Bandon on a camera and I got lucky last week. Not many were showing while I was there, mostly trout, but I did manage 1 good snap of a fish on its upward migration. In the foreground is the fish pass which is monitored by CCTV. However, especially in high flow conditions, most of the salmon leap over the main weir itself, as can be seen here. The fish counter records a couple of thousand fish every year, but it is no true reflection of the total number of fish which pass the weir every year.


Sequence shots of a brown trout failing in its attempts to traverse the weir. There were loads trying and all failing, some of them not looking much bigger than fry/parr.

Fly tying has been slow lately but I did experiment with some new materials to conjur up a Park Shrimp of my own recipe.

For the tail I used finn raccoon body rather than arctic runner. The finn raccoon is also a very mobile material and a good sub for the runner. I have seen the pattern tied with a gold/black body and gold ribbing but I must get the pearl tinsel and incorporate that into a few of these flies also.Flies with pearl incorporated into them do very well for trout on the Bandon, the same might go for salar also!

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Traditionals and Flamethrowers

Having waited for my junglecock capes to arrive I stuck to tying up some tried and trusted patterns, the Hairy Mary and Stoat's Tail. These are a pair of old favourites the world over for their catching powers of both salmon and sea trout.

For the Hair Mary I stuck to the usual materials for tying it up on a size 10 VMC silver hook. Looking through dressings there isn't much difference between a Hairy Mary and a Blue Charm. For my fly I stuck to natural squirrel tail, preferring its look over brown bucktail, brown arctic fox or dyed squirrel tail. For me, I have had most success with it during the spring months for the last 2 hours of light when in search of a spring sea trout. I have great confidence that at the end of a flood in clear water at the tail of a pool at dusk, if a sea trout is there it will swallow this fly down.
The Stoat's Tail is my favourite point fly for sea trout. This fella is tied with black arctic fox in the wing. For the body, instead of usuing the usual black floss, I tried UNI Axxel. To me it looks great and adds another, subtle dimension to the fly. Whether it makes any difference who knows but adding a little something to a favourite fly does no harm!

These next 2 flies I tied up last night after receiving the JC capes. Neither I had tried tying up before but I'm pleased enough with first efforts. I've read great reports of the Calvin's Shrimp so wanted to tie up something similar to it. With my attempt I've basically used the same colours, but in a flamethrower style as I haven't got arctic runner.
I know very little about the Tay Flamethrower but like the look of it so decided to throw one together. Not sure if its a clear or coloured water fly, but its definately something to try if previous offerings fail. The original has a red seal fur dubbed body and the head is finished off with pearl krystal flash. My tyings for each are as follows:

Calvins Shrimp Flamethrower
Hook: VMC Gold 10
Rear hackle: Red cock
Wing: Long red arctic fox, orange next and then pink, tying each one in shorter than the next with some gold krystal flash.
Body: UNI Axxel gold
Rib: Gold wire
Hackles: Orange cock with hot pink metz in front.
Eyes: JC
Thread: Red

Tay Flamethrower
Hook: VMC Gold 10
Rear hackle: Yellow cock
Wing: Long yellow bucktail, orange next and then kingfisher blue bucktail, tying each one in shorter than the next with some gold and blue krystal flash.
Body: UNI Axxel gold
Rib: Gold wire
Hackles: Orange cock with kingfisher blue metz in front.
Eyes: JC
Thread: Red

On the fishing front, not a lot has been happening lately. Have been out for a bass a couple of times but more when the opportunity arises rather than timing it based on weather, tides, swell, etc. Efforts have proved fruitless, bar a few pollock on soft plastics around the pound mark that I never thought to take a photo of. Partly didn't think to take a photo as my reel seized up before fishing and then one of the pollock made off with one of my more expensive hard lures! Ah well thats fishing...

Lastly some nature, a heron joining me on the lookout for a salmon and a moorhen just pottering about doing its business.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Willie Gunn and Dee Sheep

2 flies I tied up over the last couple of days that I've never given a go. A traditional and a modern pattern.

The Willie Gunn is one of the most famous flies to ever be tied on the end of a leader. Invented in Scotland, it was meant as a variation of another fly, the Thunder and Lightning. It was tied by a tackle shop owner in Sutherland who invited his friend, Willie Gunn, to pick from a group of 20 flies 1 which he thought looked best. The fly was picked and it caught 6 fish that day and 4 the next. It accounts for most of its fish in the spring and summer months and thousands have been caught since that first day of 6. It is also a very good fly on the Bandon, accounting for Kilcolemans 1st spring fish the season just past.
Heralding from more northern latitudes, the Dee Sheep is a fly I cannot wait to give a go. It is a huge hit up in Iceland and since being introduced to anglers in the British Isles it has seduced many more salmon. Aimed as a fly to be used in late spring/ early summer, I can see it as a fly I am going to try on the days after the initial flood when the colour has cleared and the water is falling with fresh fish in off the tide. In years past, a weighted 1 and a half inch blue and silver was "the" lure for spring fish on the Bandon, especially for late angler and blacksmith Billy O'Connell who used to fish in Innishannon.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Disappointing end to season...

Well this isn't going to be one of my more exciting posts. Sport for the last month of the season on the river Bandon was slow to say the least. This being said, it seems a lot of other rivers experienced a similar September, possibly due to the wetter than average summer. Since missing the fish at the start of the month I contacted one more fresh fish and it was off as soon it was on. We experienced no lift in the water like other rivers up the country did but if we did we would have seen good sport no doubt. Fish were there but with low water they showed no interest at all. I met no other angler with a fish and Kilcoleman Fishery had just one fish on the 26th. Higher tides towards the end of the month encouraged more fresh fish to run which you would think would take a fly more readily but even these weren't playing ball.
The one continuous, bright note on the river front was the sea trout. Didn't catch any whoppers by any stretch of the imagination but you can only catch whats there. The biggest I managed was around a pound and a quarter with a few more around the pound weight but as the month went on the fish got smaller, as is usually the case for the time of year. Regardless, sport was very welcome and I wasn't expecting the night time sport at all. Even on nights with the moon shining bright, perseverence paid off and I managed only one blank night. My favourite set up was a sink tip line in conjunction with 2 flies, the bigger of the flies on the point. The leader was short to get the full use of the sink tip and keep the flies down. Stoats tails in original and silver, executioner, alexandra, butcher, bibio and dunkeld all did the business tied from alluminium tubes down to size 10 singles.
Another highlight of the month for me was taking one of the lads out on the river. It was Usna's 1st time out on the river and it consisted of much casting, walking and banter throughout the day! Usna is into his bass fishing but likes all aspects of the sport. We went out for a sea trout that night and he was delighted to catch his first ever sea trout on the fly at night time on his first attempt. It was only small but gave him a great scrap and he was ecstatic with his success.
Now the Bandon is closed my attention will turn to walking the river banks, some bass fishing, a night on the Argideen hopefully, possibly a trip to the Mourne up north, practising and sharpening up on my fly tying and last but not least passing my driving test!

Some photos from the last couple of weeks. Up top is Usna getting to grips with his fly casting. All day he was getting better and hopefully next year he gets the chance to catch more sea trout and hopefully a salmon.
The next 2 are of 2 flies I tied myself, the first being a Ponoi Gold and the next a Flamethrower incorporating autumnal colours orange, red and black with a holographic gold body, bit like a Phatagorva Flamethrower style fly.
Bandon Anglers bottom beat Ms. Lones is showing its bones, first time all season. I like taking good photographs but reducing the shutter speed for the evening light is tough when your relying on being steady with the hands so I think a tripod is now on the shopping list...
A seal in the tide chasing fish about has been a right pain for the whole month, although it is some sight, and lastly a pair of immature dippers are waiting for their mother to bring some food back. Luckily numbers of these are on the rise again due to a decrease in mink numbers.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Good Weekend

Looking up the tides for the weekend they looked perfect for a cast for a bass. I recently purchased some new gear from Absolute Fishing in Tramore and couldn't wait to test it out. The gear included a new rod, the Graphiteleader Argento RV, 8.5ft rated 6-28g, aswell as a few new shiney lures. For a review on the rod click here.
Geared up I headed for the rocks on an incoming tide, 2 hours before the full. Checking out a few spots and concentrating my efforts on the most likely looking to produce a bass, an hour and a half had elapsed without as much as a sniff. Time was ticking now and reflecting on the terrain I had fished over I went back to the most likely looking of the lot and thought I'd spend the last push of the tide here. Clipping on a Megabass Zonk Gataride 120, I hurled it out into the fizz and on the 6th cast as it was coming by a rock out to the left of me I was smashed! Lifting into the fish the rod immediately keeled over as the fish made a dash for the rocks. Applying pressure and keeping the rod high I managed to steer her away and after a few seering runs for the open sea I managed to gain control and glide her onto the rocks behind.


After a couple of quick snaps I brought her over to a filling rock pool to let her recuperate. I was delighted to have caught my first big fish of the year. It made it all the sweeter that I had never seriously fished this place for a bass before and to have a result on the first outing was brilliant. Tides and date noted!
On the river Bandon fishing front, salmon have been very slow. Not many are being caught at all, especially with the dearth of fresh fish that seem to be running. Looking at the tide one evening for half an hour 3 is all I counted in the 6/7lb range. On another tide, it was 3 seals...
Sea trout however have been great for the time of year. Dropping river levels made night time fishing easier and I had good sport with sea trout to just over a pound weight, all fresh. Sink tip lines and big flies made it seem more like fishing in April or May, especially with the cold nights! Best time to be out was from the end of dusk to 11 at the latest as after this time it just got too cold and put the fish down. I couldn't tell any real difference between the effectiveness of dark or bright flies as I caught on flies form Alexandras to Stoats Tail's. I also caught on a self tied Executioner fly, which gave me great satisfaction and confidence in my fly tying. I haven't been fly tying for all that long but practise makes perfect! One thing to note was the amount of fish I lost, one night the tally being 9 after catching 3. Looking back the first 3 I hooked I landed, the rest were a matter of grabbing the fly, slashing at the surface and gone. The only reason I could put this down to was as the night was getting colder the fish seemed less reluctant to give chase, plus fresh sea trout means soft mouths. Great to have some night time sport again!