The lower Bandon showing its bones, as has been the case for the majority of the 2016 season.
Besides the water levels, numbers of salmon migrating have been fantastic which is hugely encouraging. Thankfully, these observations have been echoed nationwide and will help make up for the lack of fish last year. Since April, good numbers have been consistently entering the system and making their way to the headwaters. The summer will be remembered as one favouring the bait angling enthusiasts as these have accounted for the lions share of fish. However, many have also come to the fly, especially in late spring and when water levels were conducive to good fly fishing conditions. A good range of sizes have been encountered with a few salmon in the fifteen to twenty pound category coming to the net and this has been further supplemented by an excellent run of grilse.
As fresh an Irish grilse as one could hope for. Hard fighting and covered in sea lice, fish have been in excellent condition.
On the sea trout front, the best word I can use to describe the season is 'sporadic'. At times there have been decent numbers of fish present but good fishing has never really materialised. Contrary to the dire salmon fishing conditions, it has been a summer of ample opportunity to venture out on a midnight hunt for their smaller cousins. I enjoyed excellent sport on the Argideen at the beginning of the summer but could not quite replicate it on the Bandon. A couple of nice fish have turned up and smaller 'schoolies' have been present in good numbers, but on the back of the previous two seasons we were hoping for more.
A decent Bandon sea trout tempted by a surface lure in the small hours of the morning. This fly has proved to be particularly effective of late.
So far it has been a season of many highlights for me. These have included guiding an angler to his first ever Atlantic salmon on his first attempt, landing four salmon one day recently and catching a bass, salmon and sea trout in one evening. The last success is something I've always wanted to accomplish but never tried and I must say it caught me by surprise! An evening cast on the rocks produced a few bass to five pounds on lures and a night time sortie for sea trout resulted in a twelve pound salmon which is one battle I will not forget in a hurry!
A memorable evening of sport. That's the beauty of West Cork!
Bass fishing is an element of the sport which catches my attention in October when the rivers close but the Irish Bass Festival in July always captures a bass anglers imagination. 2016 was no different and we enjoyed a savage weekend roaming the Copper Coast on our quest for the festival winner or best three combined. It's such an excellent event and it offers the chance to meet up with great friends we don't see too often throughout the year. Conditions this year were excellent and the improved catches of bass were a reflection of this. It really was a festival of two halves as day time sport was best at the beginning and the end spiraled into all night madness, with barely a wink of sleep and too much Red Bull! A summary of the weekend, written by James Barry, can be read here.
A hard fighting copper coast bass which fell to a Yum Lil Suzee soft plastic lure.
Finally, two more issues have been released of Ireland's number one angling publication, "Off the Scale". It's hard to believe eleven issues have been published already! In May I wrote an article about Bandon Angling Association's fly fishing tuition day with the world renowned Glenda Powell and Bandon Scouts. The latest issue includes an informative article detailing how an angler can feel their way into the world of sea trout fly fishing at night time. A daunting prospect made easier with day time planning.
Issue 11 of "Off the Scale". Well done to all the great contributors!
P.S. The next update on this blog wont take as long!! Plus, you can see more photos on my Instagram account which can be found on the right hand side of this blog.