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.