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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.