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22 Dec 2010

Nomads bibliography

What follows is an emerging (not yet complete) bibliography of book titles relevant to Irish sea-trout and sea-trout fishing. In transferring the document to this blog I've lost some formatting but the entries should be readable.

Anon. (1960) Salmon and Sea Trout Fishing in Ireland. Dublin: Bord Failte Eireann (Irish
Tourist Board, compiled for the Inland Fisheries Trust).

Anon. (1992) ‘Report of the Sea Trout Working Group 1992’. Abbotstown: Fisheries
Research Centre.

A report compiled largely by Irish fishery scientists reporting to the Minister for the Marine in 1992. The report’s authors concluded carefully that ‘There may be a connection between the presence of lice and sea-trout mortality’ (p.14) – a conclusion abundantly demonstrated in much subsequent research – and recommended the fallowing of fish-farm sites as a ‘main element’ (p.45) of a management strategy for fish farms. The members of the Working Group are named on p.5 of the Report.

Anon (n.d., but 2008) Salmon and Sea Trout Angling in Ireland. Dublin: Fáilte Ireland.

Hugely useful paper guide (illustrated brochure) prepared by Fáilte Ireland in collaboration with the Central and Regional Fisheries Boards, The Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL) and the Loughs Agency in Northern Ireland. Contains details of important salmon and sea-trout angling centres together with a map of ‘centres of excellence’and contact addresses/numbers for gillies, guides and regional accommodation. The companion guides to brown trout fishing and to sea fishing are equally detailed and useful. May be ordered from e.g. Dublin Tourism, Suffolk Street, Dublin 3 (+353 (0)1 605 7700 or click on ).

Bailey, John (2003) Fly Fishing in Ireland. Dublin: Gill and Macmillan Ltd.

Seasonally-organised guide to fly-fishing in Ireland, with sections on the Ballynahinch, Delphi, Glencar and the Cork and Kerry Blackwater as well as asides on fly-fishing for coarse fish and fly-fishing for saltwater species. The section on the Kerry Blackwater (p80ff.) includes an account of fishing with one Ken Whelan. Lovely photographs.

Buller, Fred and Hugh Falkus (1988). Falkus and Buller’s Freshwater Fishing. London:
Stanley Paul.

This is the revised edition. The first edition appeared in 1975. pp. 295-324 detail sea-trout fishing, and are a compressed (and slightly updated) version of the material which appeared in Falkus’s monumenal Sea Trout Fishing (see below).

Clapham, Richard (1950). Fishing for Sea Trout in Tidal Water. Edinburgh: Oliver and Boyd.

Based on the author’s angling in the English Lake District, this is nevertheless an important book of interest to all sea-trout fishermen. Chapter 1, ‘When the sea trout run’, is full of useful (and in our view, still very pertinent) information. Chapter 5 details ‘Fly-fishing for sea trout’, and although the author didn’t think much of this method, his observations on the efficacy of a dragging fly (as opposed to a fly fished inertly on a relatively slack line) are again, in our view, spot on.

Currie, William B. (1980). The Guinness Guide to Game Fishing. Enfield, Middlesex:
Guinness Superlatives.

Section three, p.91ff., details ‘The Quest for Sea Trout’ and is a minor masterpiece – beautifully written (e.g. as in the author’s lovely comment about dapping: ‘ art with a strong natural logic in it and a streak of the fantastic about it’, p. 117) and indeed comprehensive.

Fahy, Edward (1985). Child of the Tides: A Sea Trout Handbook. Dun Laoghaire: The
Glendale Press.

Important and (for its period) ground-breaking work on Irish sea-trout by an eminent fishery biologist.

Falkus, Hugh (1981) Sea Trout Fishing. London: H.F. and G. Witherby.

This is the revised second edition. The first edition appeared in 1962. A hugely influential work, and justifiably so. It’s a comprehensive account of the author’s experiences of over 30 years’ intensive sea-trout fishing, both on the Cumbrian Esk and on waters further afield, including several Irish loughs and sea loughs. The chapters on night fishing for sea-trout will probably never be surpassed, and chapters XIII (on lake fishing) and XIV (on saltwater fishing) are also important.

Frost, W.E. and M.E. Brown (1970) The Trout. London: Collins.

This is a 1970 paperback reprint of a classic work first appearing in Collins’ New Naturalist Series in 1967. Important material on migratory forms of the trout may be found throughout.

Gargan, Paddy, P. Tully and W.R. Poole (2002) ‘The relationship between sea lice infestation,
sea lice production and sea trout survival n Ireland, 1992-2001’. Proceedings of The 6th International Atlantic Salmon Symposium Edinburgh, UK, 16th - 18th July 2002. Atlantic Salmon Trust/Atlantic Salmon Federation

Important scientific publication, based on large samples, by major Irish fishery scientists. The abstract of the paper states that

The relationships shown in the present study indicate that sea lice from marine salmon farms
were a major contributory factor in the sea trout stock collapses observed in aquaculture areas
in western Ireland. If recovery of depleted sea trout stocks is to be achieved in this area it is
critical to ensure that ovigerous sea lice levels are maintained at near zero levels on marine
salmon farms over the spring period prior to and during sea trout smolt migration. This must
be achieved on a consistent annual basis for a successful sea trout recovery.

Greenhalgh, Malcolm (1999) Freshwater Fish. London: Mitchell Beazley.

Superbly illustrated by Stuart Carter. pp.50-51 examine the life and distribution of varieties of Salmo trutta.

Greer, Ron (1995) Ferox Trout and Arctic Char. Shrewsbury: Swan Hill Press.

While only rather indirectly concerning Salmo trutta trutta, nevertheless Chapter 1 of this work contains interesting and thought-provoking material on how the charr may differ in evolutionary origin from the trout and the salmon.

Grey, Edward, Viscount of Falloden (1899) Fly Fishing. London: J.M. Dent and Co.

If I (CBMcC) were forced to choose one work on angling to accompany me into the hereafter, this would be the one. Chapter VI concerns ‘Sea Trout Fishing’ and is quotable throughout. Like many sections of Falkus and Kingsmill Moore, I have much of it by heart.

Hanna, Thomas J. (2003) Fly-Fishing In Ireland. Otley, West Yorkshire: Smith Settle.

This is a 2003 reprint of a classic work first published by Witherby in 1933.

Hansen, Lars Peter and Malcolm Windsor (eds., 2006) ‘Interactions between aquaculture and
wild stocks of Atlantic salmon and other diadromous fish species: science and management, challenges and solutions.’ NINA (Norwegian Institute for Nature Research) Special Report 34, containing edited proceedings of a symposium held in Trondheim, Norway in 2006.

An important report, freely available from NASCO (11 Rutland Square, Edinurgh EH1 2AS), since embedded in the proceedings of the symposium is a public admission by some aquaculturalists that salmon farming, as this has been practiced in Norway, Ireland, Scotland and elsewhere, has to date had a hugely negative impact on wild stocks of salmon and sea-trout (see e.g. and in particular ‘Take home messages’, pp.64-69).

Hardinge, Lord, of Penshurst (1976) An Incompleat Angler: A Fishing Autobiography..
London: Michael Joseph.

Chapter IX, p.111ff., contains material on fishing the Ballynahinch River in Connemara.

Harris, Graeme and Moc Morgan (1989) Successful Sea Trout Angling. London: Blandford.

A comprehensive and important work, more extensive – and in places, more in-depth – than Falkus. Indispensable.

Harris, J.R. (1956) An Angler’s Entomology. London: Collins.

This is the revised edition of a work which first appeared in 1952. The revised edition has been many times reprinted. While it’s a classic work of entomology, and thus of greatest interest to the brown trout angler, any sea-trout fly-fisher will find the plates on p.141 most interesting, since they show trout flies dressed ‘Irish style’ from the late 18th century (the fly-dresser was Cornelius Gorman, of Ennis, Co. Clare). We are certain that when fly-fishing for sea-trout began in Ireland, these were the style of flies used – even if the dressings then used were in Ireland just slightly more colourful (e.g. in their use of blues and magentas) than those dressed onto equivalent flies used for brown trout fishing.

Henzell, H.P. (1949) Fishing for Sea-Trout. London: Adam and Charles Black.

The author’s experience is most extensive on Scottish waters (Maree, Uist), but his chapters on loch fishing (including fishing with the dry fly) are required reading for all sea-trout fly-fishers.

Herd, Andrew (2010) ‘Legends’. In Waterlog, autumn 2010, pp. 42-49

Analysis of salmon fly patterns described in Henry Newland [1851].

Jarrams, Peter (1987) Sea Trout Run. London: A&C. Black.

Strangely neglected work on sea-trout fishing, and in our view, a very fine contribution to the literature.

Johnson, Stephen (1969) Fishing with a Purpose. London: Peter Davies.

Focussed very largely on the author’s fishing for sea-trout on and around the Scottish west coast (in
particular, on Skye), chapters 6-8 include useful generalisations about different forms of sea-trout fishing, and chapter 9 is devoted specifically to ‘Sea-trout in Ireland’.

Luce, A.A. (1959) Fishing and Thinking. London: Hodder and Stoughton.

The author was Professor of Philosophy at Trinity College, Dublin, and this work, centred on Irish fish and fishing, is always articulate, considered, and weighty without being portentous. Would that I could write so clearly. One of my favourite angling books.

McCully, C.B. (1992) Fly-Fishing: A Book of Words. Manchester: Carcanet Press.

This is the first, hardback edition of a work which two years later appeared in paperback under the Oxford University Press imprint. A provisional (and now somewhat dated) dictionary of fly-fishing, pp. 202-208 contain an extensive entry on the sea-trout together with notes on the history of sea-trout fishing. Perhaps I’ll update and revise this day [CBMcC].

McCully, C.B. (1998) The Other Side of the Stream. Shrewsbury: Swan Hill Press.

Chapter 4, ‘Dark of midsummer’, concerns sea-trout fishing, as does the final chapter.

McCully, Chris (2008) Sketches with Fishing Rods. Lichtenvoorde, the Nethwerlands:

These ‘sketches’ are a selection from – I’m afraid - my own work, and include what is probably a favourite from among my own angling pieces, ‘The day of a bit of a doff’ (about fly-fishing on Screebe Lough in Connemara when Screebe still enjoyed a big run of white-trout). Even I was smiling, gently, as I constructed the words. Superb pencil illustrations by the Dutch artist, writer and fisherman Ad Swier [CBMcC].

McLaren, Charles C. (1963) The Art of Sea Trout Fishing. Edinburgh: Oliver and Boyd.

Despite the small format of the work this is a most useful introduction, with chapter 4
(‘Sea pools, estuaries and the open sea’) being especially valuable.

Malone, E.J. (1998) Irish Trout and Salmon Flies. Machynlleth, Wales: Coch-Y-Bonddu

This is a reprint of a work first published in 1984 by Colin Smythe, which then appeared in a second, revised and enlarged edition from the Flyfisher’s Classic Library (1993). It’s probably the most comprehensive work to date on Irish trout and salmon flies, and includes highly interesting and generous historical notes on tyings and fly-makers. The dressings are given in great detail, including variant dressings, and wherever known, the provenance of individual flies is listed. Illustrative plates are excellent. Indispensable for those tying their own flies.

Maxwell, W.H. (1986) Wild Sports of the West of Ireland. Southampton: Ashford Press

This is a reprint of a work which first appeared in 1892. The book is in the best sense a riot, which includes (as the work’s sub-title has it) ‘Legendary tales, folk-lore, local customs and natural history’ - a heady mix. Despite its occasional laboured wordiness – something entirely characteristic of some 19th century prose – it’s a wonderful book, and is written out of all forms of energy and abundance, the author’s included.

Moore. T.C. Kingsmill (1979) A Man May Fish. Gerards Cross: Colin Smythe.

This is the second, revised and enlarged edition of a work which first appeared in 1960. No fly-fisher in Ireland (whether for salmon, sea-trout or brown trout) should neglect this book. If anything, the second edition is even greater than the first, since its Appendix details how trout and sea-trout may see the angler’s fly in a wave, and in deeply stained water. This Appendix provides some of the clearest rationale for choice of (wet-) fly in different conditions that we have ever read.

Morgan. Paul and Friends (1998) Saltwater Flyfishing. Machnynlleth, Wales: Coch-Y-
Bonddu Books.

Part II, ‘Sea-trout’, contains different authors’ accounts of saltwater sea-trout fishing (though these accounts don’t include Ireland). The book also contains highly interesting material on catching mullet on the fly – something that many fly-fishers in Ireland might like to study, since mullet share many of the estuaries in which Irish sea-trout feed, and through which they run, and may provide an interesting diversion at those times when the sea-trout aren’t feeding or taking.

Nall, G.H. (1930). The Life of the Sea Trout. London: Seeley, Service and Co.

Probably the single most important work on the life and habits of the sea-trout published in the 20th century. There’s an emphasis on Scotland (the sub-title of the work is ‘Especially in Scottish Waters; with chapters on the reading and measuring of scales’). Some of the implications of the observations contained in this major study still remain to be scientifically explored (we think e.g. of the author’s belief that sea-trout from the River Till make one – and usually only one – spawning run back across the North Sea from their feeding grounds off the Dutch coasts), while others have only recently been revisited..and confirmed.

Newland, Henry (1851) The Erne: Its Legends and its Fly-fishing. [London: Chapman and Hall]

Newton, Chris (2007) Hugh Falkus: A Life on the Edge. Ellesmere, Shropshire: The Medlar

Justly acclaimed biography.

Nixon, Sean (1999) Guarding the Silver: A Life with Salmon and Sea Trout. Westport: Berry
Print Group.

Autobiography, memoir and reminiscences of fish, fishing and fishery management from one of the most influential figures in later 20th century Irish white-trout and salmon angling, particularly as that was developing in Connemara and Mayo in the period 1960-1990.

Perry, Thomas G. (n.d.) May Madness! Fifty Years of Fishing on Shannon, its Tributaries and
Amusing Incidents [sic]. Privately printed photocopy.

A work which has never, to my knowledge, reached hard print – the book was copied for me from another photocopy by an old friend – but an absolutely splendid, and splendidly chaotic, account of fishing in Ireland (largely on and around Lough Derg at mayfly time) which still makes me smile every time I read it. I particularly like the chapter on ‘Ghillying for Bertie Nestor’. Bertie lived in a caravan. Bertie’s car – ‘a minute Morris Minor’ – was ‘full to the roof with pipes, cigarettes and daily papers’ (p.125). Bertie was also in the habit of going for a walk up ‘Ogonnoloe mountain very early in the morning.... saying “God’s fresh air is good for what ails me”. Sometimes’ (comments the author) ‘I really do not think he knew what was ailing him....’ (p.125). I also relish the account of David Minogue, the farmer and occasional gillie, who was in the habit of sucking his pipe so loudly that the hearer often mistook the sucking noises for those of trout feeding on mayflies. I’d love to have met David...and Bertie – and the author of this often-misspelled masterpiece. And I’d love to have fished with them all [CBMcC].

Rawlings, Bill (2002) The Great Salmon and Sea Trout Loughs of Ireland. Shrewsbury: Swan
Hill Press.

Survey of some important west coast fisheries. Includes some significant historical asides. I was surprised and touched to find that in what’s now the distant past, and although we have never met in person, Bill Rawlings and a very young McCully had fished the same waters in Connemara during the same month of the same year – August 1974.

Rice, Freddie (1990) Fly-tying Illustrated: Salmon and Sea trout Patterns. London: Batsford.

Detailed and well-illustrated work on dressing many important salmon and sea-trout flies, including Skunks, Sunk Lures, Wake Lures and Waddingtons.

O’Reilly, Peter (2007) Loughs of Ireland: A Flyfisher’s Guide. Ludlow: Merlin Unwin.

4th edition, and a work which will doubtless go into many subsequent and updated editions. Indispensable guide to almost all major Irish stillwaters. Includes grid references, maps, ticket information and commentary. See also the following entry.

O’Reilly, Peter (2004) Rivers of Ireland: A Flyfisher’s Guide. Ludlow: Merlin Unwin.

6th edition, and – like its companion volume, Loughs of Ireland – destined to be many times reprinted. Comprehensive information on fishing for salmon, sea-trout and brown trout in Ireland’s rivers (north and south of the border). An indispensable guide.

Scott, Jock (1969) Seatrout Fishing. London: Seeley, Service and Co. Ltd.

Significant and comprehensive work (for its period) on sea-trout fishing, centred largely though by no means exclusively on Scottish fishing. There’s an extensive section on tackle, with much of which we almost wholly agree – particularly on the necessity of avoiding excessively tip-actioned fly-rods ‘like the plague’ (p. 62).

Street, David (1989) Fishing in Wild Places. London: Penguin.

Beautifully written. Chapter 8 describes fishing for trout and sea-trout in The Rosses (Donegal), chapter 9 describes dapping, including dapping on Lough Owennamarve (Donegal), while chapter 10 describes episodes of fishing on Gowla and Athry (Connemara) when those waters still held big stocks of white-trout every summer. Wonderful book.

Stuart, Hamish (1952) The Book of the Sea Trout. London: Jonathan Cape.

This is the second edition, edited by Rafael Sabatini, of a work which was first published in 1917. Passionate, opinionated, and with an infectious enthusiasm for sea-trout – Scottish sea-trout – Stuart’s chapter on saltwater fishing (‘In tidal waters’, chapter VI) is splendid, as are his descriptions of sea-trout fishing on Uist. As the reader will have noted, our sub-title here, ‘Nomads of the tides’ is a phrase originally coined by Stuart.

Spencer, Sidney (1968) Salmon and Seatrout in Wild Places. London: H.F. and G. Witherby.

Indispensable for all those wishing to fish in the west of Ireland (or in the Scottish Hebrides). A classic.

Spencer, Sidney (1969) Newly from the Sea: Fishing for Salmon and Seatrout. London: H.F.
and G. Witherby.

The author fished extensively in Ireland, especially on and around Lough Eske (Donegal). His work is more descriptive and reflective than that of, for example, Falkus – but in its own meticulous way it’s no less detailed and thoughtful.

Spencer, Sidney (1974) Game Fishing Tactics. London: H.F. and G. Witherby.

Neither as large nor as comprehensive as the author’s earlier Newly from the Sea, this is nevertheless an astute, thought-provoking work. See also the entry for Spencer (1991), below.

Spencer, Sidney (1991) Fishing the Wilder Shores. London: H.F. and G. Witherby.

A work edited by that fine fly-fisher and writer, Jeremy Lucas, after Sidney Spencer’s tragic death in a car accident in Donegal in 1976. It is a very judicious selection and distillation of Spencer’s evocative and – that word again – meticulous writings on trout, salmon and (above all) sea-trout. Lucas’s introduction is itself very fine.

Walker, C.F. (editor, 1969) The Complete Fly-Fisher. London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd.

This is the second edition of a work first pubsished in 1963. It was among the first fishing books I ever read (a copy borrowed from Bingley Public Library in 1967). It seems dated now, and the chapter on sea-trout (by F.W. Holiday) is partial, but nevertheless the author’s insistence on a longish, relatively soft-actioned rod is entirely justified and his remarks on working the fly are still, in our view, most pertinent.

Waltham, James (1988) Sea Trout Flies. London: A. and C. Black.

Important and well-written work on the construction and fishing of sea-trout flies, including the Snake together with different dressings of Sunk Lure and Wake Lure.

Waltham, James (2006) The Sea Trout and the Fly. Ramsbury, Wiltshire: The Crowood Press.

Like the author’s earlier Sea Trout Flies, this work blends the description of the dressing of sea-trout patterns with evocative descriptions of days and nights fishing for sea-trout. As with the author’s earlier title, the construction notes and illustrations which accompany the text are most useful.

Whelan, Ken (1991) The Game Angler in Ireland. Dublin: Country House.

This is a reprint of a work which first appeared in 1989. KW will be too modest to say anything about it. I find the work to be a splendid little (144pp.) introduction to fishing for salmon, sea-trout and brown trout in Ireland, and many of its pieces of advice and description stand up proudly to the test of time [CBMcC].

Young, Eddie (editor, 2004) The Sidney Spencer Omnibus. Moretonhampstead, Devon: The
Flyfisher’s Classic Library.

Contains two of Spencer’s indispensable titles, Salmon and Sea-trout in Wild Places (1968) and Newly from the Sea (1969).

Web (URL) references

Accessed 7 January 2010

26 Nov 2010

Form and colour in Irish sea-trout flies

Silhouette, translucency, size and colour seem to me to be key components of Irish sea-trout flies (particularly those used in freshwater).
One pattern I use a great deal because of its colour impact is a yellow-based variant of the Raymond. I like it so much that I probably fish it too often, but over the past couple of seasons it's a pattern that's done well in Donegal and Mayo.
In the shot here you'll also see a blue-based, shrimp-stylising pattern of my own (the Derry Bull) and a couple of Bumbles modelled on David Knowles's purply-blue Bruiser, used to great effect on South Uist last month. Also glimpsed in this shot is that wonderful old stand-by, the Teal, Blue and Silver, into whose wing I often incorporate a few strands of flash.

18 Oct 2010

Goodbye to another sea-trout season

It's been an extraordinary season, one that's taken us from the Ballyshannon estuary in Donegal (late March) to Strangford Lough, Sligo, Mayo, Connemara...and finally to Uist in early October. I've learned more about sea-trout during this past year - particularly, about how sea-trout behave in the estuaries of the western Irish coasts - than I have in any previous season. I've found the whole project entirely captivating. Here and there, too, we've run across grilse and salmon in our sea-trout travels, and very welcome they have been.

Nomads on Uist 2010

Lunchtime on Loch Fada, South Uist.

Nomads on Uist 2010

The fishing was challenging: high winds (to gale and even hurricane force) in the first part of the week; sunshine and near calms in the last. Despite this we shared a catch of 22 sea-trout (most of them finnock to a pound and a half) and 5 salmon, most of the last very stale fish. Here's a salmon from Kildonan about to be returned: a fish which, as the Scots say, was definitely in its tartan breeks.

Nomads on Uist 2010

Landing a fresh-run, late season Uist sea-trout.

Nomads on Uist 2010

Chris was on South Uist recently (first week of October), fishing with David Knowles and Ian Kennedy. South Uist has an October run of fresh sea-trout - among them, maiden fish. Here's David with a pristine sea-trout of just under 4lb. taken from Loch Roag on David's variation of that great sea-trout pattern, the Bruiser.

Mayo September 2010

Mayo white-trout from a bog river
Owenduff estuary white-trout on a Teal, Blue and Silver

James playing a Glenamoy grilse
Cracking Owenmore salmon
Owenduff estuary white-trout

Mayo September 2010

Markus with an Owenmore salmon
Overlooking the Glenamoy valley from the top of the watershed - wonderful salmon and sea-trout spate river
Owenmore salmon (angler: Markus Mueller)

Mayo September 2010

Glenamoy grilse

Coloured Owenmore salmon
Releasing an Owenmore grilse
Owenduff grilse (angler: James Sadler)

17 Sep 2010

Mayo 2010: Owenduff estuary wet-flies

Far and away the best wet-flies on the estuary were smallish (size 10-12) silver- or lurex-bodied wet-flies. Larger patterns such as the Gadget (size 8) or the Sunk Lure (size 12 tandem) were ignored - even though the white-trout were readily hitting spinners and spoons fished by other anglers. Puzzling....but then, that's sea-trout fishing.

One of James's successful patterns was a green lurex-bodied Alexandra, size 12, shown here.

Mayo 2010: Owenduff estuary

The Owenduff estuary was in flood - high water was coursing down the river, and we fished from high tide to low. When I looked at the estuary in the morning I shook my head and thought to myself 'Completely unfishable'. Eight hours later we left, having shared a catch of well over ten brace of white-trout, all returned. The fish took small, silver-bodied wet-flies best. The shot shows a white-trout of around 1lb which took a Teal, Blue and Silver.

Mayo 2010: Glenamoy grilse

A fresh-run grilse of around 3lb being returned.

Mayo 2010: The Glenamoy

James, Markus and I shared a good catch on the Glenamoy (Co. Mayo), which included grilse to around 5lb. and a leash of white-trout, all finnock...and all fit, fat, welcome (and returned). Grand day.

25 Aug 2010

Delphi and the West 2010: Feel my Goat's Toe

In mid-August we travelled to the Irish West, enjoying white-trout fishing at Delphi, Kylemore, Glencar lake and the Ballysadare estuary (Sligo) and the Owenduff estuary in Mayo. It was a grand week. What follows is a very brief photographic tour of some highlights of these angling travels. At present I'm writing up four feature articles about the trip, which I hope will eventually appear in Trout and Salmon, so I urge you to look out for these features in future issues.

The shot shows white-trout flies, among which is the Goat's Toe (that big straggly thing with the red posterior) clicked into Peter Joyce's hat as he very expertly gillied us on Doolough, the largest lake of the Delphi system. Tough white-trout fishing, partly on account of the weather, which was either burnished and windless or drenched and wind-stricken.

The Middle Lough, Kylemore

The Kylemore Abbey fishery still has a run of white-trout, though the fishing's not quite what it used to be in the pre-salmon-farm years. Nevertheless, we encountered a run of white-trout and some salmon in a two-day period, and the Dawros river (please see below) is a gem for salmon.

Dawros salmon

Occasionally our white-trout travels include encounters with salmon and grilse. Here's a pristine little grilse safely in the net on the Dawros river, part of the Kylemore system in Connemara. Angler: Gardiner Mitchell. Netsman: Geoffrey Fitzjohn.

Fishing under Ben Bulben

We enjoyed a couple of grand days on the Ballysadare estuary (pictured) and Glencar lake. I suspect that the estuary would fish best at dusk on the first couple of hours of a rising tide. Super place - terns squalling over sandeels, oystercatchers, the push of the incoming tide...and white-trout.

White-trout tackle

Hardy Marksman Drifter 10-foot #6; Marquis #7 reel (second-hand, thirty years old, and as good now as on the day it left Alnwick), box of flies.... And away you go.

Playing a Glencar white-trout

We caught some good fish on Glencar lake: white-trout to 2lb. and a leash of lovely wild brownies to 12oz. Here's Gardiner Mitchell playing a white-trout.

In the net

A Glencar white-trout of around 1.5lb, safely netted.

On the Owenduff

The Owenduff in Co. Mayo is a lovely spate river which fishes for white-trout (and salmon). We enjoyed some good fishing on the estuary. Here's Gardiner Mitchell playing a white-trout.

27 Jul 2010

Big sea-trout from the Drowes estuary

Great reports of splendid runs of salmon and sea-trout in the Irish West continue. One particularly intriguing item among the reports (please click on http://fishinginireland/info/update for more) was the caputure of a handful of gigantic sea-trout on the Drowes estuary. The Drowes, which drains Lough Melvin, of course enjoys a justifiable reputation for the quality of its salmon fishing, but sea-trout appear not to run the river into Melvin. Last week, however, sea-trout of between 6.5 and just under 13lb (!) were caught on the Sea Pool of the river, leading me to wonder where those fish came from. Scales have been taken from these fish, so we should soon know what the origin of these massive sea-trout was...and when I know, I shall post the outcome here.

Photo from 'Irish Angling Update' (e-zine), 22 July 2010. Sea-trout 6.5lb caught by Sean O'Connor on the Drowes Sea Pool.

8 Jul 2010

News flash from the West of Ireland, July 8th 2010

According to reports on the IFI (CFB) website and elsewhere, sea-trout are returning in some numbers to many West of Ireland river and lough systems: the Erriff, Lough Inagh, the Ballynahinch and Kylemore are all enjoying good runs of fish following spates towards the end of June and over this past week. This is wonderful news. Presumably, some at least of these sea-trout are fish which are the progeny of runs of white trout in 2007 and/or 2008? Grilse are among them.

There is still some availability of rods for July on some of these fisheries. Prospective visitors should check out for contact addresses (click on the 'salmon' and 'sea trout' buttons for information, contact numbers and so on).

Killyleagh and Strangford

I (CBMcC) spent much of the past week at Strangford lough in Northern Ireland, enjoying tremendous hospitality and occasionally having a cast over sea-trout in and around Strangford. The Killyleagh Fly Fair was held last weekend in the village of Killyleagh, an hour's drive south of Belfast: there were fly-tying demonstrations, casting clinics and talks. The shot shows the location for the casting clinics: the front lawn at Killyleagh Castle. I even took a lesson myself from that wonderful fly-caster and teacher Marc Fauvet, who endeavoured to correct my general limp-wristedness and sagginess. ('Bit late for that, Chris,' cries my reader. To which I respond that one lives in hope, if only of tighter loops to come....)
Incidentally, while we're on about line-speed, I wickedly used the opportunity of the Fly Fair to treat myself to a new Hardy Marksman Drifter 10-foot 6-weight, and gave it a fairly thorough trial on the lough. Fierce dear - but worth every penny. It's probably the best, most versatile rod I've ever used for Irish sea-trout, and would handle summer salmon admirably, too.

On Strangford

Strangford lough contains a good head of sea-trout. The stock appears to be composed of (a) native (northern) Irish sea-trout which spawn in the streams flowing into Strangford, and (b) typically larger sea-trout which are using Strangford as a feeding ground before heading back across the Irish Sea to various Welsh rivers, in which last they'll spawn.
Angler: Chris McCully. Image: Ken Whelan

Of mullet, bread and cat food

I was slipping away from the estuary one evening when I encountered two fishers who'd come down to the tide specifically to fish for mullet. Since I'd fished (unsuccessfully) for several hours that same morning for mullet with the fly-rod, I asked them what they were going to use as bait. 'Bread,' they said at once. 'Funny thing, though,' one added. 'It can't just be any old kind of bread. It's got to be....' (his voice hushed into a reverential whisper) 'Brennan's.' I caught sight of what looked like a bag of dog biscuits peeping out of one of these gentlemen's kit-bags. 'And what about dog biscuits?' I asked. 'Not dog biscuits,' they said. 'Cat biscuits....' 'I don't suppose,' I asked again, 'that it has to be any kind of - any particular brand of - cat food, does it?' Stupid of me to ask. The reply came not even in a reverential whisper but with a hushed kind of awe.

'It's got to be Go-Cat,' they said.

Small sea-trout

I wish I could have titled this post 'Big sea-trout'- but then again, in Ireland I seem to catch what are mostly smaller fish, often finnock running to 12oz. along with a smattering of larger sea-trout running to 2lb. Still, I love these little fish, and these days invariably return them to whence they came via barbless or debarbed hooks. They're precious future stock; it's always lovely to see them, admire them briefly....and slip them back.

Casting under the Mountains of Mourne

The Mountains of Mourne are visible from many place around the shore of Strangford. Strangford lough, and neighbouring coastal waters such as the Dundrum estuary, the Whitewater estuary and so on, often hold interesting stocks of sea-trout along with a mind-blowing head of mullet.

The entrance

An image which somehow seems to capture what we're about in so many parts of Ireland: ruined gateposts leading to nothing but a path around a tump on the shores of Strangford lough.

7 May 2010

Strangford (1)

Just returned from Strangford Lough, where the wind blew from the north and where there was a hard, cold, glittery light. My catches (CBMcC) were almost non-existent, but I learned a great deal about this sensitive and lovely environment. One thing which delighted me was to catch (and of course, release) two tiny juvenile sea-trout which had clearly run into saltwater as smolts mere weeks before. The fact that these important fish are all wild and healthy is in my view hugely significant, and a tribute to the potential of Strangford as an environment in which totally wild sea-trout can grow and thrive.

Many warm thanks to all those who supported and helped my travels, and particularly to Stephen Kennedy, whose knowledge of the lough is unrivalled. Stephen is also the instigator of the Dibney River Conservation Trust and the forthcoming Irish International Fly Fair at Killyleagh (

Strangford (2)

Wild light on a beautiful and remote part of Strangford Lough.

2 May 2010

Safely released

A cracking underwater release shot of a pristine Irish sea-trout at the end of a cold and grey March.
Angler: Chris McCully.
Image: James Sadler.


Chris safely lands another fine sea-trout. This time from the Gweebarra Estuary.
Image: James Sadler.

A bonnie sea-trout

This one was taken by Chris on the last day. It eagerly grabbed hold of a free-lined sand eel within a few feet from where Chris was standing. [Chris writes: This fish puzzled me. It was relatively silvery and in fairly good condition, so I wondered whether it was a sea-trout which had skipped a spawning year or a veteran which had spawned the previous November and returned immediately to the sea, feeding thereafter in saltwater during the winter period. I wrote to Ken, who knows everything: sea-trout only very rarely skip spawning years, he wrote in reply, and it seemed likely to him that this fish is that veteran who spawned in November 2009 and returned immediately to the salt. So there you are.]
Angler: Chris McCully.
Image: James Sadler.

One last run

A good Erne sea-trout makes one last turn right before the end of its tussle. Note the sand eel in the side of its mouth.
Image: James Sadler.

Picture perfect

A small break in the weather on the beautiful Erne estuary at the end of March.
Image: James Sadler

Sea-lice damage

Notice the sea-lice damage along the back of the dorsal fin.
Angler: Michael Patton.
Images: James Sadler.

More from the Erne

A lovely sequence illustrating the sand eel rig, the epic battle and smiling release of a stunning Erne estuary sea-trout.
Angler: Michael Patton.
Images: James Sadler.