Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Fly Fishing Report from An Irish Angler

There is nothing better than to find a new stream, lake, or section of a familiar river that you have never visited and unlock its secrets. Co Wicklow has an abundance of little fished waters ready to surprise the intrepid fly fisher who is prepared to don the chesties, carry the few bits of necessary tackle, and prospect. Hill Loughs and the upper reaches of river catchments such as the Liffey, Avoca, and Slaney come to mind defined by images of moss covered rocks, sandy gravelly bottoms, deep tea coloured pools, rocky cascades, sedge banks, moorland, and forestry.

A trip to a new stream proved very interesting in terms of a few fish landed and the discovery of fresh water pearl mussels, an indicator of pristine water quality. Parking up at a bridge around 10.30am, I proceeded to walk the bank downstream and fish likely runs. Although March the river was running clear and at summer levels, the water was cold and with a stiff north east breeze there was no fly life. Putting up a team of spiders with a leaded hares ear on the point I proceeded to fish a gut below a small island where two channels met. Running into a large pool there was sure to be trout along the seams.

Fishing downstream with a long line and keeping low, as the flies swept around I set the hook into a spirited 30cm trout. A good start which was quickly followed by a slightly smaller colleague, both nicely spotted they scooted away upstream on release. Casting along another couple of runs which bordered a water meadow, I encountered five more fish of which two in the 25 -30cm bracket were landed. With a midday sun now heating newly blossoming gorse so filling the air with a coconut scent, I walked back to the car and drove half a mile upstream.

Here the channel meandered through fields hard won from the surrounding moorland, looking down into the valley I knew that come late spring with a fresh running this section would come into its own. Long flats, riffles, and tumbling cascades there had to be fish here. Slipping in above a riffle I looked down to see an oval shape resting on the sand. A pearl mussel at least six inches long, its foot slowly retreating into the shell upon my touch. Probably 50+ years old and a positive indicator of water quality, a real find.

Spotting a few fish but no takers I decided to end the session early. In a few weeks time when there are leaves on the trees and some insects are moving, this stream will come alive for certain. With a mile of varying water to choose from a fly fisher could spend a day here and not see it going. Likewise the evening fishing could be very good too. Definitely worth another visit.

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