To give you a flavour of fishing in Ireland, I thought you might be
interested to read a report of a typical weekend's fishing for us here.
The county of Donegal is in the extreme North West of the country and is wild
and remote, sparsely populated and great for fishing wild browns, salmon and
seatrout (you guys may call these searun browns - not strictly accurate,
but you get the idea). Here's the diary:
My mate Dabbler and I had some good fishing. We started on Friday morning,
fished a tiny mountain stream called the Bullaba, got nothing huge, just plenty
of wild browns up to 12" - 14" but very obliging little fish and very
therapeutic! Mostly wet fly fishing there with softhackles and traditional Irish
wetfly patterns - size 14 Wickham's Fancy, Donegal Blue and Briggs'
Pennell did most of the damage. Moved from there to a tiny mountain lake called
Lough Naboll under the shoulder of Muckish Mountain. Hell of a climb up there
but well worth it, lots more wild (and I mean wild!) browns of much the same
size - but what fighters! On my 8' Fenwick 4wt they fought like tigers. Strange
that we didn't have much success when fishing a single fly but when I changed to
a 2 - fly leader they expressed a great interest to the dropper fly worked along
the surface - a traditional Irish method.
We had a meal in the little village of Dunfanaghy, a really picturesque Irish
village with thatched cottages and the smell of turf smoke all along the single
street. The tide was right to enable us to fish the estuary pool of the Lackagh
River for seatrout, although we reckoned that we would be pushed off just after
midnight by the incoming tide. We can only fish this pool when the tide is low.
If this doesn't coincide with dusk, we stay in the pub! Conditions were OK when
we arrived at the river and we flipped a coin to see who got prime position at
the head of the pool. I won and took up my stand just as darkness was falling.
Like it says in all the seatrout books, don't start to fish too early. An
old-timer once told me, "Don't even think about starting until the green
drains out of the grass" and he was dead right. You know that time at dusk
when you can't distinguish colours in the landscape anymore? Well, that was what
he was talking about.
Seatrout were splashing around in the gathering gloom, running in to the pool
with the tide as I set up my gear - a 10' rod for a 6 weight, 12' level 6 lb
leader and a single fly rig. I lengthened my cast over the pool and let the
single size 8 Peter Ross on its stainless steel hook swing round with the
current. Suddenly - biff! The rod tip dipped and I lifted into a lovely seatrout
of about 2.5 lbs. This fish spent the next five minutes giving a display of
aerobatics like you would see at an air show. Finally netted him, took a pic and
released him safely. I got several other smaller fish then at 12.30 am, with a
deep red glow still in the western sky, I felt the cold slop of the incoming
tide find its way down both my hip waders! Time to go. I waded ashore and found
Dabbler at the tail of the pool where he had only 2 small seatrout but was happy
enough with the result.
Rather than drive straight back to Dunfanaghy where we were staying we headed
up to Glen village - 1 grocery shop, 3 pubs and a post office. At 1 am, Mary's
Halligan's pub was still packed to the rafters with locals, the sound of the
fiddle and riotous singing coming from the back room. The local police force was
in there too, drinking a bottle of Guinness and we bought him another, so
closing time wasn't going to be a problem tonight.....Mary herself produced 2
hot Powers' whiskies without being asked as she knows that we usually arrive
either cold or wet or, more often, both. As we dried out beside the roaring turf
fire and made plans for our day afloat on Glen Lough the next day, the Powers
just kept coming unasked and we kept downing 'em until Dabbler reminded me that
it was 3:30 am and we had to collect the key for the boat at 9 o'clock in the
morning. The place was still jumping as we dragged ourselves away.....
Two bleary-eyed anglers tackled up at the landing stage on Glen Lough at 9:30
am the next day. It looked like a good day to be afloat - nice westerly breeze,
high cloud, brown trout rising behind us - and salmon and seatrout in the lough
too, we'd been told. Different gear today, my 10' 6" Loomis with a 7wt lay
in the 19' boat ready for action. We had trolling rods and a dapping rod too for
emergencies. First drift was Home Bay, along by the feeder stream where the
seatrout lie ready to run and spawn in the autumn. A 2 - fly leader once
I had a Zulu on the dropper, a Connemara Black on the tail, both size 10s.
The small browns kept fussing around the dropper fly as it tripped through the
wave tops, but I was ignoring them, not striking, watching for a bigger swirl at
the fly. Sure enough, it came, sooner than I expected and I missed it. Alerted
by the foul language, Dabbler dropped his tail fly neatly in the diminishing
swirl and stuck it in a surprised and angry seatrout which may or may not have
been the same one I released last night! Same size, anyway, and had been to the
same flight school as the other guy! Netted and released, we'll compare 'em when
the photos are developed.
Covered the bay a few times more, only small browns showed an interest, so I
fired up the Johnson and motored a mile across the lake to the Owencarrow River
inflow, a wide reedy bay where the migratory fish rest before continuing their
journey upstream to Glenveagh Lough - a wild and beautiful place which we fish
later in the year when the salmon and seatrout have completed their journey.
Lots of stories about Glenveagh, but for another time. One boat just leaving the
bay as we arrived, we exchanged greetings and they called across that some
salmon were showing at the top of the bay. Killed the Johnson, into stealth mode
with the Minn Kota electric. Began the drift out of the bay but no sign of any
fish. We reckoned that the other boat had disturbed 'em, so we went ashore for
an early lunch. Ham rolls with English mustard on fresh crusty French bread,
still warm from the oven washed down by strong tea boiled up from fresh lake
water in the Kelly Kettle - fit for a king!
Second drift down the bay was exciting. Dabbler extracted a smallish seatrout
of about 14" to a Butcher on his second cast, then five minutes later I
lifted into a deceptively small rise to find myself attached to a beautiful
grilse (1 sea-winter Atlantic salmon). He fought hard and deep with several long
reel-screaming runs which caused a little concern when the backing appeared on
the Battenkill reel. However, the fish was soon on his side and sliding into the
net. Unhooked the Connemara Black and looked at the fish. Six pounds, we
reckoned and just arrived in the lake on the flood last week. We debated whether
to keep him, but since he was my first of the season, I opted to release the
fish. Plenty more where that came from! (I hope!)
Then the rain started. If you've never experienced Irish rain, let me tell
you it has a way of finding its way through any material invented by man, be it
Gore Tex, PVC, waxed cotton or a hermetically sealed plastic envelope. Within
half an hour, we were soaked and the fish didn't think much of it either. The
lake went completely dead, even the small and usually reliable browns stopped
rising. We trolled spoons for an hour, went ashore for more tea, trolled again,
flyfished and swore a lot.
By five o'clock, we had had enough. Mary Halliagn's fire beckoned so we
drifted back across Home Bay and wonder of wonders, Dabbler pulled a seatrout of
just over 15" to a dibbled Daddy-Long-Legs (Crane-fly) with virtually his
last cast! But this guy was Infantry, not Air Force, fought in the trenches and
fought to his last bullet. Again we returned the fish and debated whether to
continue. The thought of the fire and the whiskies won and so we packed up and
headed to the pub. Very quiet in there at six o'clock, just a few tourists. Had
a chat with a some nice folks from Kansas City, here doing the
"roots" thing. Then back to base for a meal and an evening in the
Sadly, we had to go home on Sunday but we agreed to follow our tradition
which is always to fish somewhere new on our last day. We had heard of some
lakes high on a hill on the Donegal - Fermanagh border. We checked our small
scale maps of the area and found these lakes - didn't seem to be a road within
miles of any of 'em. Stuck a pin in one and agreed to fish it on the way
Dabbler did some tricky navigation to find our new lake. The roads became
tracks and eventually the tracks just stopped altogether. We abandoned the car
and set out across wild, boggy moorland for a couple of miles, following the
compass. Crested a hill and there below us was a little jewel of a lake,
glinting in the afternoon sunshine. It was about 40 acres in size, some little
rocky islands in the middle and not a sign of human life anywhere. Half a dozen
mallard ducks burst angrily from the reeds and flapped away into the blue sky in
annoyance. A fox, which had set up an observation post in a clump of heather for
duck surveillance, trotted away in disappointment.
We began to fish eagerly but as time wore on, I got a nagging feeling that
this place wasn't going to produce the goods. We both changed flies, using all
the tried and tested patterns and sizes for such places. I changed leader size,
pattern size, down and down until I could hardly see to tie on a fly. Tried
fluorocarbon in case the trout could see monofil - diddly squat.
Dabbler and I had agreed to meet up in a small wood at the far end of the
lake before making our way back across the bog. He got there before I did and as
I arrived, he asked,
"Notice anything about these trees?"
"Standard issue pine trees," I replied.
"Yeah, with brown needles, in July?"
"Shit, acid rain!" we both said together.
So, even in this remote and beautiful western region, clouds containing
dilute sulphuric acid from the factory chimneys of Western Europe had dumped
their deadly contents on the hills, wiping out flora and fauna. We grubbed
around under the rocks at the lake shore, looking for shrimps, larvae, bugs, any
trout food. Nothing. Dead as a doornail. No wonder there weren't any trout in
the lake - nothing for 'em to eat. That was a pretty long and thoughtful walk
back to the car. ~ Shuck Raider