Friday, 14 October 2016

Burrator Fly Fishers (& Others!) in Ireland Again

As in previous years I have resisted the urge to drive over 400 miles each way from Plymouth to the rented house in West Cork and have instead taken the Brittany Ferries flagship, Pont-Aven, from Plymouth to Roscoff and then on to Cork. A drive of about 35 miles each way. The house we rented enjoys a great location in Courtmacsherry looking up the estuary of the Argideen River, a well known sea trout stream.

Kelvin had never been to Ireland and had never fished for bass.  He showed us how it was done though, landing a nice bass on his first cast in Irish waters.  He had 5 good bass in all during his trip.  All fell to the charms of a Snowbee rhubarb & custard plug.  

Kelvin & Peter were due to hire one of Mark Gannon's 16 foot self drive boats for 5 days but the weather was anything but settled so they had just two days afloat.  There are usually plenty of pollack around the bay and we like to catch a few for fish pies, fish & chips, fish cakes etc.  This year we struggled to find any numbers even when the weather and sea conditions let us get out to the usual reefs and headlands.  

One of the photos below shows the Courtmacsherry lifeboat on a shout to assist a yachtie.  The lifeboat is a 14 metre Trent class and as they were going at full chat down the estuary one of the crew told me later that they noticed me fishing on a sandbank that was almost covered by the flooding tide.  They sounded their klaxon and realising that I may get wet I turned to wade back but at that moment I had a bass take the sandeel.  The wash looked worse than it was in reality but I did get a few photos and land the bass!  Later, in the Anchor Bar one of the crew told me that a yachtsman had dislocated her shoulder and was unable to sail the boat so the lifeboat took it and the yachtie into Kinsale.

I had been in email correspondence with Dr Ciara Wogerbauer at the Irish National Bass Program in Dublin.  Her team are collecting data to assist the Inland Fisheries Ireland in a long term bass sampling and research program to manage stocks for recreational anglers.  Unlike the UK where commercial fishermen are permitted to retain 1.3 tonnes of bass per month there is no commercial fishing for bass in Ireland.  Ciara asked if we could take scale samples from bass we landed before returning the bass to the water.  Recreational anglers are permitted to retain 1 bass per day but almost all of ours are quickly returned.  We did finish the visit with plenty of scale samples that I will be sending to Dublin with a short report.

My four and a bit weeks went in a flash while other guests came and went.  All too soon it was time to pack the car and drive to the ferryport at Cork for the return to Plymouth.  This year I landed 8 bass but in previous years I have had nearly 100 over the same sort of period.  I hope the research will discover some useful information.

The rented house in Courtmacsherry
The view up the estuary from the house

A visit to Mary O'Neill's Bar is a must - Mary on the right
and again............
And again.........!

Bassing from the shore at Barry's Point

Out on the estuary in my Avon

Tying up to a navigation buoy is not recommended when you are in the UK!

5lb+ bass

Peter & Kelvin in a self drive 16 footer

Just off Wood Point

At Rosscarbery Pier

Kelvin plugging off the shore at Wood Point

and again this time at Quarry Point with Barry's Point beyond

Tea break at Blind Strand

Off Barry's Point in my Avon - quite choppy for small boats!

The Courtmacsherry Trent Class lifeboat on a shout - less than 8 feet of water under the keel!

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Burrator Fly Fishers Competition & BBQ 13 August 2016

There was quite a good turn out of nine members to fish a competition at Burrator.  We followed the afternoon weigh-in at Longstone with another BBQ.

The competition started at 10am and although not cold at 16C it was very overcast and murky with a light breeze from the southwest.  I took the water temperature which was 18C.  Through the morning we were treated to occasional drizzle and low cloud.  There was little fly life coming off the water and very few trout moving.  By lunchtime the weather began to improve and when we assembled at Longstone for the weigh-in the sun was breaking through.  The total catch was very disappointing with just one blue trout of around 1.25lb landed by Bob Eccles.  I understand that one or two members had contacted fish but didn't get them to the net.  Bob Prout had been all the way up the shore on the east side of the reservoir but did not contact anything.  At least it was an easy walk as Burrator is only 50% full.  We extended an invitation to SW Lakes Trust staff and Mark came around to check permits and see what was being caught but could not stay for the BBQ as he had to go back to Kennick.

The BBQ was lit after the weigh-in and we were joined by four of our ladies and our 5 year old grandaughter, Lily-Rose.  Mark Garbutt was disappointed to have to leave before the BBQ was underway.  Neil from SW Lakes Trust had let us have a bag of the Burrator Discovery Centre produced charcoal and I used it to cook the burgers & bangers.  Very good charcoal, by the way!  I had to apologise to the gathering for the shortage of onions as I made a schoolboy error (or was it an age related error!) and turned the gas cooker on full instead of off.  Some of the onions became welded to the bottom of the pan which reminded me of a few of my teenage camping trips when cooking over open fires!  I need not really say that it took some time to restore the pan to its former state! 

Bob & Jenny's very well behaved Spaniel, Ziggy did his best to ignore the smell of sausages & burgers all evening and was rewarded with one of Tesco's Finest sausages. Another enjoyable day at Burrator despite the lack of trout.

Low cloud & drizzle greeted members at the start

A bit of free advertising for the Snowbee Lightweight jacket!

BFFA members at Longstone

MikeD at Longstone Point

BobE at Longstone

Pat in one of his favourite spots at Longstone

TonyH trying farther along the east shore

The weather cleared up after the weigh-in

13 of us enjoyed the BBQ along with Ziggy the Spaniel

And finally my Kelly Kettles provide the tea and coffee

Monday, 1 August 2016

Burrator Fly Fishers Competition 30 July 2016

Six BFFA members met at Longstone for the July competition.  There has been low rainfall during July and the reservoir levels reflect that.  I took the water temperature at Longstone - 18C - and at the boat pontoon - 20C - so very warm.  A widely held belief in the US is that with a water temperature at and above 20C it is time to pack up!

At first there was a breeze blowing across the reservoir from the west which gradually became more northerly.  No rain was forecast and around lunchtime it quite suddenly became warmer.  Anyway, at the 10am start BobP decided to start fishing near the Discovery Centre on the west shore where he lost one trout  before returning to Longstone where he did land one 1.25lb rainbow.  Personally, I did not have a single 'touch' all day.  After the weigh-in at 3pm where Bob's was the only fish, I tried over the other side of Burrator at the boat pontoon and below the Discovery Centre without contacting anything at all.

The water level is quite low
View from the Sheepstor Dam

Linda fishing at Longstone

Tony & Mark waiting for the Kelly Kettle

Just boiled

We mostly fished towards the end of Longstone Point

I later fished at the boat pontoon

Saturday, 23 July 2016

Burrator Boat Thursday 14th July 2016

Most of the shore anglers are members of the BFFA

Fishing the northern, shallower end of Burrator

The anglers only area at Longstone

Peter & I lunched at Longstone

Peter with one of several brownies

Ashore for an afternoon brew
The water level was quite low

Peter & I took the boat out at Burrator on a day of sunshine with only a gentle breeze.  Several other BFFA members were fishing at Longstone and we also met an ex-colleague of Peter's when we went ashore for lunch.

The water level was low and fishing at the top end we had to be careful not to run onto the odd big boulder or stony bank just under the surface.  We saw very little surface activity all day but did boat four rainbows and one blue as well as several beautifully marked brown trout.

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Pollack on the Fly - Mike & Tony's trip to Ireland

Our accommodation for the week - Elmville B & B

On Friday 1st July We (Tony Vallack and Mike Duckett) set off for Ireland by ferry from South Wales to Rosslaire. We have been to Southern Ireland several times before and visited Co. Wexford, Co. Waterford,  Co.Cork, Co. Kerry and Co. Galway in our time. This time we were going earlier in the year than is usual for us. We have mostly gone in the Autumn before. Our plan was to base ourselves in Cobh, Co. Cork, a very attractive and fishing friendly town inside the massive Cork Harbour, which is supposedly one of the best sea fishing spots on the whole of the southern Irish coast.

In advance of our visit we had contacted a local fishing guide, Richie Ryan, who takes anglers fishing for bass and pollack from his boat. So we booked with him and he recommended that we base ourselves at Elmville B & B which overlooks the harbour and is only a few hundred yards from where is boat is moored. Richie, a retired Irish Navy Commander, advertises himself as the first licenced saltwater fly fishing guide in Ireland and the local expert on fly fishing for bass. However, in our case, he turned out to be much more of a pollack expert. For some reason the bass were particularly hard to come by during the week we were there, but we had a real bonanza on the pollack.

Mike with one of the week's  rare bass

Mostly we fished in 20-30 feet of water using fast sinking lines and very slow retrieves. The killing fly was on of our guides' own design, 'Richie's Raider'. We caught dozens of pollack and a few bass and got taken into the kelp and broken up a time or two. We kept the odd fish for the landlady, Olive O'Brien, at the B & B, but mainly we returned them. Here are a couple more pictures.

A typical fly caught pollack

Another one for Tony

Bass again for Mike

We were disappointed not to get more bass but had a very good time anyway and may well be back again next year.

All the best and tight lines...Tony & Mike

Sunday, 10 July 2016

Return to the Highlands - Part 2

Peter asked me to post a summary of what happen at Corriekinloch after he left us on Sunday. The main features of the second week were that we started to catch a few, consistently larger fish from the bank of Loch Shin, mostly by fishing a little deeper than we had been doing and using some less traditional flies such as bead headed lures. Interestingly most fish still took the dropper which for me was usually a Golden Olive Bumble but it seemed as if the weighted lure made a difference in presentation that attracted bigger fish.

Lovely looking Fish from the tiny stream outside the house

Fish of about 1lb 4oz from Loch Shin

Phil experiencing tough going

We also hiked to a much more distant hill loch. This was tough going, taking us some two hours to cover about five miles to get there. The picture on the right gives an idea of the terrain. The Loch is called Loch Bealach a Mhadaidh. We decided to go there on a tip from some anglers who called at the house, they were heading into the hills themselves and advised us of this as a good option. It was a wonderful place, directly under a hill called Conival west of Ben More. We watched a Golden Eagle mob an Osprey and chase it off. We all caught trout and I had a red letter day with eight between 10 and 12oz and innumerable smaller fish. Almost all the fish I caught were on Sedgehoges which for me was probably the most productive fly of the whole trip. These were often taken within seconds of landing in the heavy chop produced by the strong Easterly wind. We were all exhausted when we got back, but it was a great day. Other than that we continued to fish hard everyday until late into the evening, we explored some areas of Loch Shin which were new to me, the loch is vast and has miles of fishing which rarely if ever sees a bank angler. We had a tough, windy but very enjoyable day on Loch Merkland with Phil and Kev taking good fish and lots of small ones. Loch Craggie remained poor and the River became very difficult to fish because a strong and cold downstream wind, though Kev had some success using a French Leader set up and heavy nymphs.

                                    Loch Bealach a Mhadaidh

Overall we had a great couple of weeks, caught loads of fish, though nothing huge, got eaten alive by midges and had a great time. For those who have never tried it I recommend highland fishing. The fish may not be the biggest but the places you can catch them will make your heart sing.