Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Early Grilse on the Bandon

Joining in on the dawn chorus Saturday morning paid off with a sparkling, stocky grilse of about 5lbs on the fly. Its great to see these entering the system now, along with some good sized springers. The best fish I heard of at the weekend tipped the scales at 11lbs.

Once again the green butt cascade produced the goods and it is without doubt my favourite salmon fly, especially for fresh fish. Dressed in sizes to suit the water level you wont go far wrong with one tied to the end of your leader. When I started fishing with the standard cascade I couldn't conjur a pull but when I acquired a dressing which included the fluoro green trigger point there was no looking back. 

Hand lining, as the fly was  coming to the end of its swing across the main current, induced this fish to take with conviction. It pays to always retrieve a few yards of line before recasting as it just might inspire a following fish to pounce. Keeping the fish in the water while being unhooked made sure it swam away with gusto. 

Grilse, especially the early fish, don't take their time in ascending the river even when the water is low. Whilst having a quick flick with a spinner on Sunday a host of trout followed the flying c to my feet and next cast it was a grilse which had just entered the pool. Unfortunately it showed no more interest but walking back upstream I could see the same fish slowly creeping its way up at a leisurely pace.

The photo above is of a similar sized, very fresh salmon I observed last year in a lower volume of water just downstream of Dunmanway, approximately 35 miles upstream from where the river enters the sea. It will be very interesting to see how the fishing develops with the next rise in water levels!

Monday, 19 May 2014

Let the Good Times Roll

What can you say, the River Bandon really is on song at the moment! After banking my first springer on May 7th I went on to seduce 2 more fish in less than a week. Beautiful river conditions continued and fish were met on a daily basis by fishermen along the river. The biggest I heard of being caught, and released, was estimated to weigh 16lbs.

A few months ago I acquired a switch rod which I believed would be extremely well suited to fishing the Bandon. For early season and high water work, a 13 foot rod is advantageous when fast sinking lines are employed to dredge the river bed with heavy tubes. As the water warms and settles after the early season floods, a more subtle approach can come into play... cue the switch rod. I opted for an Airflo Airtec which is 11 foot 3 inches in length and very useful along the tree lined banks where space is limited. Teamed up with a RIO Scandi Short Versitip fly line and you have one amazing setup. Choosing the clear intermediate tip, a short 3 to 4 foot leader and a gold bodied Willie Gunn tied on a 1/2 inch copper tube, this fish was charmed into submission.

After unhooking the hen fish she was returned to the shallows to recuperate and continue her upstream migration. The lighter rod held its own quite comfortably even against this sea liced springer in relatively high water and I don't think I'll need to use the 13 footer on the local again this season!
To complete the hat trick another silver torpedo surrendered to a black and copper size 4 Flying C a few days later. Starting at the head of the chosen pool, a few casts over a lie achieved nothing but the first cast over the next lie down had the rod buckling over!

The quality of the fish this year is second to none and they obviously found good feeding during their time at sea. With the weather forecast relatively unsettled for the second half of this week hopefully we will get a top up of water to help prolong the excellent sport we are enjoying this month.

Lastly, for bass fishing enthusiasts, this years Irish Bass Festival will take place from July 25th to 27th. Closing date for registration is Saturday June 7th which is only 3 weeks away now. To enter look up the Irish Bass Festival website. For reports on last years festival, click here and here.

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Springers Wait For May

A week into the month of May and the spring salmon fishing on the Bandon has picked up tremendously! Up until the beginning of the month it is fair to say fishing was fairly slow. Just a couple of fish were grassed in March and fishing gained more momentum in April but all in all, given the great water, numbers of fish caught were modest.

However, with the arrival of swallows from South Africa came springers from the Atlantic in better numbers. Over the last few days catches have increased considerably and I was lucky enough to land my first fresh salmon of the season on May 7th weighing 7.5lbs . Having fished through a couple of pools with the fly and spinner unsuccessfully I finally found myself at the right place at the right time!

With the overcast conditions and a tint of colour in the water I opted for the ever reliable black and copper flying c. This fish must have only just come into the pool as the fight wasn't exactly electrifying, a sure sign of a hard running fish. It's an observation that has been echoed by others recently, with everything caught being mint fresh. Sure is nice to get the first proper fish of the season under the belt!

April wasn't totally devoid of sport for me either though. My heart skipped a beat for a moment mid month as I thought I had hooked a decent fish but when netting it I realised I had indeed caught a very well mended baggot .

If in doubt its always best to put a fish back. A quick look in the gills before leaving her go revealed maggots, a reliable indication of an old fish.
While salmon were thin on the ground a foray around some local estuaries was called for to see if there were some early bass or sea trout knocking about. Fishing with small metal lures, slob trout and sea trout found it hard to resist!

As can be seen from the photos all the trout, bar one sea trout which I din't take a photo of, were in great condition and at times fed ravenously. Retrieving the lure straight attracted no interest whatsoever, but jerking the rod tip and moving the lure erratically, trying to mimic injured baitfish, did the trick. All trout were returned and hopefully we can catch them on the fly during a warm summers night.

To end this post, the following is a video of the once famous and world renowned salmon fishery on the River Shannon at Castleconnell. Filmed back in 1995, it demonstrates how successful this fishery was even in more recent times when proper fishery management was applied. The fishery manager, Michael Murtagh, was clearly a very knowledgeable man and really brought this place to life again after the ill effects endured post installation of the hydro electric dam in the 1930's. Just look at the calibre and quantity of fish that were caught! He has since retired and the fishery is now derelict, although glimpses of the past are sometimes still seen today. I lived in Killaloe for a year and was lucky enough to fish it and land a couple of fish on the fly. Even though it is a shadow of its former self, the fishery possesses incredible fly water that instills you with confidence in every cast. More information for permits to fish the Shannon and Mulcair rivers can be found on the Limerick and District Anglers Association website.