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29 Sep 2011

Travels with a volcano 1: Kerry in September

Last week I returned from a sea-trout trip to Kerry. It was for a number of reasons a tough trip, and for four days there were almost continual storms which made fly-fishing difficult. Hard to cast a fly when waterspouts are sweeping down the estuary.... Still, I got a few fish, took some photographs, and encountered sea-trout on three different waters. The following blog entries give a short and selective tour of the trip. The current image shows breaking waves on an inlet at the western end of Brandon Bay (Dingle peninsula).

Travels with a volcano 2: Kerry finnock

One sea-trout mark I'd never expected to fish was a channel off Fermoyle Strand (Dingle peninsula). There were some small sea-trout moving up and down the channel, and there must have been some bigger fish among them (though we didn't connect with any of these last). Nevertheless, the finnock would take small silver-bodied wet-flies, or tandem Sunk Lures, rather well at times, and I very much enjoyed and learnt a great deal from these minor encounters. In that respect the relative success of the braid-mount Sunk Lure (size 8-10 tandem, dressed with a tinsel-and-peacock 'wing') was very heartening: the finnock took it well, and by no coincidence whatsoever there were at the time large numbers of sandeels in the channel. (Angler: David Knowles.)

Travels with a volcano 3: The Kerry Owenmore

The Kerry Owenmore is a lovely spate river which tumbles from the Dingle mountains to meet the sea at Brandon. There are at least three fishable loughs on the system and the scenery and management of the stream are alike splendid. The only problem during our visit was that the sea-trout hadn't seemed to run, and there were only a few grilse about, despite the fact that we were fishing in absolutely perfect water conditions (a big and dropping flood). Despite our entire lack of success, however, I thoroughly enjoyed my visit...and in a strange sort of way also enjoyed watching waterspouts sweeping down Brandon Bay during an afternoon of intense storms. (Angler: David Knowles.)

Travels with a volcano 4: The Feale

The Feale (north Kerry/Limerick) has a reputation as one of the best sea-trout rivers in Ireland. Yet for some reason the river has fished badly for sea-trout during the past two seasons. The photograph may give a clue as to why: it shows net-marks on a Feale sea-trout, a fish of around 1lb. which took a small double. It was the only sea-trout we moved during a day's fishing in apparently perfect water conditions.

Travels with a volcano 5: A case for decoking

Volcano kettles (also known as Kelly kettles) should in my view be covered in soot and the residues of decades'-old lunchtimes on storm-swept islands. Yet as David Knowles pointed out, if you allow soot and tar to build up on the inside of the kettle then this significantly slows down the brewing process, and therefore you have a case for serious decoking. I was most reluctant to decoke the kettle, but it has received treatment from the wire brush since this photograph was taken (September 2011, and a tributary of the Feale). I thoroughly enjoyed taking the volcano with me on this trip. Very often, volcano-stops are among the best parts of the angling day.

Travels with a volcano 6: Corny Gorman's flies

I took with me the two volumes of O'Gormans Practice of Angling (1845) in the Flyfishers' Classic Library (1993) edition. A frontispiece of the edition shows flies tied by Cornelius Gorman at the end of the 18th century. They're quite beautifully tied and I'd use some of them, including the one shown here, without hesitation today.

Travels with a volcano 7: The Cummeragh

The mouth of the Cummeragh is one of the most hard-fished drifts on Currane. It provides fishing for spring salmon (in particular), but sea-trout also lie all over the bay. Here's a fish which took a Bloody Butcher (point) early one September day. I was particularly pleased to get this one because Tom (O'Shea) had turned his nose up at my choice of fly - he'd have preferred me to fish three Bibios, I think.

Travels with a volcano 8: Four Sisters

Four Sisters is a drift on Currane east of Church. There are four upstanding rocks which provide lies in the lough for both salmon and sea-trout. Here, a stale 2lb sea-trout is being returned by Tom O'Shea - a fish which took at the same time as a decent brown of around 1lb., so Tom had his hands full for a while.

Travels with a volcano 9: Church Island

Church Island on Currane is one of the world's great sea-trout drifts. The anglers in this shot are playing a 6lb. grilse - part of a catch of 15 small sea-trout and a salmon which they released during one morning's work on Church. Church has never been that kind to me, but it's always a privilege to fish here and I can never fish these waters without excitement and anticipation.