Tuesday, 24 February 2015

February Silver on the Drowes

The River Drowes is located in County Leitrim and flows into Donegal Bay. Flowing out of Lough Melvin, it is a short river of only 5 miles in length. Opening on January 1st, it traditionally produces Ireland's first spring salmon of the year. This year the river got off to a slow start but last week saw catches improving. Keeping an eye on updates, water levels and the weather forecast, my buddy Mike made a late call last week to go up there and fish the weekend as conditions looked very good. Time to pack the gear and start the long journey north for our maiden voyage!

Tackling up at 8.30 Saturday morning with the gauge hovering around the 0.65m mark, we began fishing in front of our cottage in Lareen Estate at the Boat House and worked our way down to the Blackwater using fly and spinner. The Drowes in this upper section is quite a shallow running river in most parts, punctuated by several weirs. These weirs produce a diversity of flows, creating several streams to swing a fly in.

Later on we drove downstream to the Four Masters bridge and fished from the Alder Pool down to the infamous Mill Pool. Employing my 13 footer with a RIO AFS Hover shooting head, I attached a RIO Spey Versileader with a sinking rate of 4 ips and a conehead gold Willie Gunn. Mike opted for his shorter switch rod, matching sink tip line and used a variety of flies. Between us we covered the river for a few hours without a pull in all manners of weather, from glorious sunshine to battering hail. Confidence lifted for a short while as I saw a fish head and tail in one of the many pools, alas it looked like it was running hard.

For the evening shift, we ventured back up to the top of the fishery and worked our way through the pools once again. Fly, spinner, shrimp and worm, the lot was drowned at one stage or another. But as the light faded we had to admit defeat and so we retired to the cottage and made plans for the following day.

For the last roll of the dice, we settled on having a look at the fishing around Lennox's Bridge. Wandering upstream equipped with spinning rods, we came to a lovely piece of water called Briney's. The pool consisted of a fast, shallow head, an even flow in the main body through to the tail which held a bit of depth. 

With only a couple of hours to go before we had to hit the road for Cork, I persevered here hoping that at some stage a springer would come by. On my third run down through the pool my black and copper flying c was halted mid way as I struck into a fish. Initially I was startled after hundreds of casts without a sniff, but soon enough I copped on and 5 minutes later Mike slipped the net under a 7lb beauty. 

I was ecstatic with my prize, this being my earliest spring salmon to date. What a feeling to have the fish in the net as our long journey and persistence had paid off. My new Shimano Spheros 6000 reel stood up to the challenge and I'm looking forward to seeing how it copes with spinning in high water conditions for the rest of the year.

The Drowes Salmon Fishery certainly is a beauty, and is managed with the utmost of professionalism and care by Shane Gallagher and Bill Likely. Their hospitality was second to none, from the kettle boiling as soon as we stepped in the door on Saturday morning, to providing a big bag of blocks for the evening fire! Every pool is tended to and wooden walkways along the river make fishing a joy. It sets an example to other fisheries around the country and the long expedition to the other end of the Wild Atlantic Way will certainly be made again.