Sunday, 25 August 2013

Short Lived Action on the Fly

A nice little rise in river levels on the Bandon last weekend offered up the opportunity to take the fly rod out once again. I fished the fly less during low water as fish seemed a lot more reluctant to rise to a fly. It seems this is a trend for this time of year, with their noses seemingly stuck into the gravel at times. Many fish are now stale and past their best but a lift in the water brings them on the take as well as enabling fresh fish to run.
Saturday morning I spent a bit of time tying up a suitable fly to fish for the weekend. I opted for a Park Shrimp as lately all I had been using was a Green Butt Cascade.

In essence, this Park Shrimp isn't really a true Park Shrimp as I didn't use arctic runner. Mine uses the same colour scheme but uses a small pinch of bucktail at the base and more finn raccoon in the tail, tied very sparsely in this instance with plenty of fiery orange ice wing to set it off and catch the eye of the salmon. Heading out on the river to my spot of choice I tied on the new fly... 2nd cast and whallop fish on! 5 minutes later and I had a plump little 3 and a half pounder in the net. 

As it was a hen fish I returned her to continue her journey upriver and hopefully achieve her goal on the spawning beds. 
Sunday the water was even better, with a slight tinge of colour in it. The day was mostly overcast with a light southerly breeze causing a ripple on the water. I fished for 2 hours in the afternoon and managed one more fish on the Park Shrimp, another stale hen which I returned, weighing approximately 6lbs.

In the next spot I hit a second fish but I knew immediately that it hadn't taken the fly properly and it came off after a couple of minutes play. A fine fish by the looks of it too, 7-8lb weight and bright silver. 
The water level has now fallen once again and so has the fishes interest in the fly so I haven't been out much this week but I did have one more small grilse on the worm. My next plan of action is to tie some flies on size 15 hooks, incorporating more late season colours such as red and purple/claret. 

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Adapting Methods for Continued Sport with Salmon

Since the 4th of August the Bandon river has been dropping steadily, reaching a low summer level once again. However this hasn't deterred runs of fresh salmon into the river and luckily enough I managed consistent sport on a variety of methods. Despite low water and mostly bright conditions, I managed 3 fish in 3 days on 2 seperate occasions fishing for an hour or two in the late afternoon.

Both of the fish above were released.The first salmo salar was a coloured grilse of 3lbs or so which fell to a size 3 black and gold flying c cast upstream and retrieved fast. Retrieving faster than usual after trying the moderate to slow retrieve can sometimes make a salmon take the spinner as it has less time to see it, meaning less time to think. Slow retrieval in coloured water and moderate to fast in clear water has worked best for me this year. Previous to this I had fished the pool down twice with the fly but to no avail, underlining the advantage of having a "Plan B" to hand. 
The next day a sea liced grilse of 5lbs or so couldn't resist my size 13 green butt cascade. Since the water had fallen to a height I deemed too low for the 14 foot double hander I opted for the trout fly rod instead. My set up here is an Airflo Forty Plus Extreme 6/7 weight single handed fly rod matched with a Guideline 4Cast Sink 1 Line. This line consists of a floating running line and a 15' sinking tip Power Taper F/S shooting head. I can't speak highly enough of this line as it is a pure joy to use, whether I need to perform a snake roll, snap t, single spey or simple overhead cast it does it all. Attach a 3-4 foot leader of 8 or 12lb fluorocarbon and a fly you have confidence in, then you have a great set up for medium to low water. 
Over the coming days sport fizzled out on the fly with fish constantly coming up short. From short plucks to long, straight draws where I was full sure I had hooked up, all came to nothing. Spinning in the low water yielded little reaction either, only the odd half hearted follow, so next in line to use was the worm. Using light line, little lead and trotting the worm down the current I managed another 3 fish in 3 days.

The above fish were the 1st and 3rd bars of silver I managed to bank, the top fish weighing 5lbs and bottom 7.5lbs. Both were cock fish and again covered in sea lice. Unfortunately I didn't manage a photo of the 2nd as after another angler helped me land it, it quickly shed the hook and eagerly jumped off the bank and back into the river! It was easily the smallest salmon I've had this year, around 2.5lbs. 
Today the 16th of August we had a quick rise in the river of nearly 6 inches after yesterday evenings heavy downpours. With some more persistent rain leading to higher water levels we could be in for some great sport. Increased water could also mean fly fishing will be more effective, be it on the double or single handed rod. The runs coming up from Kinsale still seem to be mostly made up of grilse but the average weight of these fish is increasing. 

Monday, 5 August 2013

Big Water Equals Big Fish on the Bandon

Last week the River Bandon experienced yo yo water levels as a result of heavy downpours. These rises were very small and short lived but fresh enough to wake up the odd fish from their lethargic moods. I managed one fish at the start of the week when the river was experiencing one of these freshets, a stale grilse of 3 to 4 pounds or so which succumbed to a trotted worm after twice following a flying c without taking it. Quick photo, quick return.

Come Thursday the river rose rapidly and by Friday it had peaked at 0.75m according to the gauge in Bandon. My uncle and I hit the river Friday afternoon as the river was after peaking and just starting to drop. Spinning a size 4 flying c we both missed fresh sea trout, mine shaking the hook at the bank. Half an hour in and Winston hooked a fish on a size 4 red and silver flying c out in the middle of the river. After an initial 10 minute fight and plenty of jumping the fish started tiring, but had another trick up its sleeve and proceeded to leave the pool! Many would not have followed in the torrent of water present that day but experience and knowledge of the river paid off and he managed to follow it downstream for 100 yards, getting absolutely soaked in the process. Another 10 minutes of trying to coax the fish out of the roaring white water saw our first attempt of landing the fish fail miserably as his net had a hole in it! Threading the rod though the hole I ran back up to the pool above to get the other net and eventually the fish was landed. Winston's first fish off the river in a while and what a way to get the ball rolling again! It brought the scales down to a hefty 16.5lbs.

I was away over the weekend but sport seemed to be consistent along the river with a lot of fisherman meeting a fish or 2. A good few grilse were caught along with some more bigger fish up to 13lb weight. Needless to say I couldn't wait to get out again to make the most of the rise after the drought and I was hoping to get a fish on the fly as so far any fish I've hooked on the fly this year have come off. With the morning proving fruitless I met up with a couple of friends and we headed further up river. Thankfully the sun was now partially covered by cloud increasing our chances further as the morning had been very bright. Rob was the first down the pool, with me following on behind and Fergal trying his luck with the worm. Half way down Rob had a pull which didn't stick, but at least we knew they were there even though they refrained from showing. Continuing down he had another draw on the line but this time the fish was on and 5 minutes later a scale perfect 10 pounder was on the bank, his first of the season, ably netted by Fergal.

Now, thinking I may have been fishing a little too deep I switched tips on my fly line from an s3/s4 to a s1/s2 and just as I was approaching the same spot as Rob had his fish my line came to an abrupt stop, I left a loop of line go and I was bent into fish number 2 of the afternoon. After a very strong fight the fish tired and at last I had one on the fly.

After another fruitless run down the pool by the 3 of us we decided on a change of location further up river again. Although we spotted quite a few fish, apart from a grilse being caught and released by Rob's uncle before we arrived, nothing more was to be tempted by our offerings. Flies that did the damage were both tied on size 13 salar hooks, bigger flies proving ineffective. Rob's came to a Ness C salmon fly, which also worked for others over the weekend, and mine to one of my own variations of the green butt cascade which I will put a photo up of in the future. Hopefully now the river will stay at a decent height and more sport can be had by all. With autumn now at our doorstep, a bigger stamp of fish akin to Winston's above will become a much stronger possibility.