All posts by: Tiernan Brothers

About Tiernan Brothers

Angling experts located on the banks of the famous River Moy, Foxford.

Friday 08/11/2019 Prawn & Shrimp

I was chatting with my daughter Irene last week “My dads a blogger” followed by roars of laughter “Oh Daddy I’ve started a few of these things as well” more roars of laughter, hmm. A beautiful morning in Foxford, slight touch of frost last night and sun shining at the moment. P.J and I  were out earlier in the week having a look at a few of the Moy tributaries. Very happy to say we saw good numbers of fish running, we will post a few video clips on facebook over the next while. This weeks blog is a little bit about Prawn and shrimp. Next week we will start to look at the fisheries on the Moy.

Prawn fishing: Sometimes controversial often  mysticised and definitely the victim of its own success the prawn has its place in the arsenal of any successful Salmon angler. Some of you are now smiling and some are growling and that is exactly how it is, different opinions. Its human nature, we disagree on certain things, argue, fight, criticise, condemn and generally go out of our way to prove our own side of the argument, prove that “I” am right. Yes we can do this and we will always find evidence and points that prove our side of the argument. I’m not here to referee or say what’s right or wrong.

My first experience of Shrimp or Prawn fishing was in the 1970s. Of course it has been practiced for a lot longer but it was during the 70s that it appeared on the Moy. Who the first angler to introduce it was is debatable, I’ve heard a few names. I can say with certainty that by the early 80s there was a handful of very successful anglers using it catching lots of Salmon throughout the season on the Moy. Back then Salmon were Valuable for different reasons than Salmon are valuable today. Money and employment were scarce, people did not have a lot and the value was a “Monetary” value. At that time it was not seen as anything wrong to go fishing catch and kill as many fish as possible and sell them, it was the way of life. Not surprisingly the handful of anglers who had discovered this new wonderful bait were keen to keep it to themselves while the others who were not as successful became jealous. I could tell many funny stories of the attempts to discover the “Secret”, the rumors of scents and potions “witch craft”. Thinking of some of these, I’m actually laughing here while typing (I’ll keep them for the Book). Two sides with different opinions, the argument had begun! This is not the place to go into all the details of the argument for and against the bait but it has gone on for many years. I can summarise my own thoughts and findings easily, the prawn or shrimp is not the problem, the attitude of the angler using it is.

Time has moved on and in general attitudes have changed. Money and employment are not as scarce as they once were and times in general are easier. We have developed different attitudes and the values has changed. We now think more of the future of our sport and the survival of the species that we all love. Most of us will now agree that the Anglers who were good with the prawn did not have a magic potion and were in fact very good anglers with more knowledge than others. On a River like the Moy where a great amount of the channel is not suitable for Fly fishing, with a lot of deep holes and little flow on a lot of occasions the prawn is the only bait that will offer hope of success. If using a single hook fish can be easily unhooked and released if desired. For anyone who has tried the prawn I would say that in a very short time they discovered that the fish were not going to suddenly surrender. There’s quite a bit to get right before you will see positive results

The Bait:  As anglers we generally refer to prawns as the guys with a sharp spike or horn on their heads, found in rock pools. Shrimps are the flat head versions normally found in sand. Beyond that I don’t actually know much about them as species. To the human eye there is relatively little difference in what we call prawn or shrimp. The fish it seems can differentiate and will at times favor one over the other. This is particularly noticeable towards the end of the season when they will very often take a shrimp and ignore a prawn.


Colour: When caught fresh in the ocean prawns are translucent. After boiling them for a few minutes they turn a bright orange colour, known in angling circles as “Naturals”. Just who decided to dye them different colours I don’t know either but it certainly seems effective. Purple is the most popular colour but Red, Pink, and Green all work well. Sometimes a combination of colours are used in a “cocktail”

Single or cocktail: The single prawn is normally enough to take a fish however some of the better prawn anglers will often use a cocktail. The cocktail is made up of a single Purple or Red prawn combined with a slightly smaller prawn of a different colour. Known as a pointer this smaller prawn is placed on the Point of the hook. Popular combinations are Purple and natural, Red and Green, Purple and pink.

The set up: Similar to worm fishing it is possible to fish with or without a float. On the Moy using the float is by far the most popular method. The overall set up is similar to that for worm fishing, there are a few little differences. We start the set up by putting a stopper or stop knot on our main line. This stopper is movable and can be adjusted to suit different depths of water. After we have put on a stopper we slide a small plastic bead onto the line, normally an 8mm plastic bead is ideal. Make sure that the stop knot cannot slip through the hole in the bead and that the bead itself cannot slide through the hole in the float. Next we put on our float. This is the first difference. When worm fishing the float is normally large and buoyant. For Prawn fishing we need to Fine things down a bit. The take and strike are fast and instant. Normally the float just disappears below the surface for a moment, during this moment the angler must strike. Readiness is key. The line from the rod tip to the float should be straight and tight, no slack line or big bellies of line lying on the surface. A lot of anglers use a line that floats or will grease their line to make it float. The reason for doing this is to reduce surface tension on the line so it lifts of the water easier for a quick strike. A cigar shaped float loaded using the appropriate weight so that it takes very little pressure to pull it under is used, the least resistance the fish feels when taking the better. Place another bead under the float and then tie on a swivel. Again nothing to large or bulky about a size 10 barrel swivel is fine. To the other end of this swivel we add approx. 20cm of monofilament onto which we slide our weight and under the weight a rubber buffer bead. Next we attach another swivel of the same size. To the other end of this swivel we attach a further 30cm of Monofilament at the end of which we attach our hook. Hook choice is a personal thing, some anglers choose to use a treble hook, normally size 8 or 10 and a straight mount known as a prawn pin which can slide on the line. This Prawn pin is passed through the prawn to straighten it before one of the hooks of the treble hook is inserted into the chin of the prawn. More accomplished Prawn anglers use a single hook which they thread the prawn onto, starting at the tail so that when mounted it hangs head down on the hook, a pointer can then be placed on the exposed hook tip. There’s a wide variety of suitable hooks on the market. A straight shank and wide gape are important. This is a link to some of the most popular models, The stopper should now be set at a depth which is approx. 15cm less than the depth of the water where we plan to fish e.g. water is 2m deep set stop knot 1.85m. This will allow our prawn to hang close to the bottom of the river but not touching it. Our float will be “Cocked” standing straight on the surface.

From here on we are ready to fish. As I mentioned earlier the prawn is an effective bait but only if fished correctly. The anglers who are good with it have intimate knowledge of the waters they fish. This knowledge is the critical factor that makes all the difference between success and failure. If you ever have the opportunity to watch a good prawn angler you will notice that they change depths to suit exactly where they fish. As they move from pool to pool they will adjust to suit. The really good ones have such knowledge that they can fish a pool with an uneven bottom and will know exactly when and where to raise their rod or hold back their prawn to rise it above an obstruction. It takes time to learn these things so don’t expect instant success. My advice would be to start with a few pools and move between them. (Normally and this is especially true with fresh fish that have arrived into a pool, if a fish is going to take a prawn it will do so in the first few casts over it) Spend a half an hour fishing one pool and move to another. Spend time figuring out the depths, where the obstructions are and where exactly the fish are lying. Concentrate and think about what you are doing, try different angles and control the speed you bait moves at. Look away for two seconds and i guarantee that’s when the fish will take, as you look back your float will just be re surfacing. We have all been there 🙂

River Moy Updates

01/11/2019 Spinning



An unusually mild hazy morning in Foxford, wind promised later. I’m a member of a little fishing club here in Foxford, in the closed season we try to keep doing something. Last weekend we went Beach angling and while we did not catch a lot we all had an enjoyable afternoon in a beautiful place. Just something different, we often overlook whats on our doorstep. This weeks blog is a little bit on spinning, its nothing major but I hope you can take something from it. Next Friday I will do a bit on what is probably the most controversial Salmon bait ever “The Prawn”

Spinning: At some stage of their life most anglers have tried spinning. Again it is often mistakenly considered a thoughtless or simple method. To be successful with the spinner the angler needs to employ a level of skill, knowledge and thought. If I was to pick one characteristic of a successful angler using any method I would say it’s thought. The angler who thinks is the angler who will be successful. Yes it’s nice to go fishing and just switch of, forget your worries for a while. I do know and i fully agree with the sentiment that there’s a lot more to fishing than catching fish. I often do it myself, just head to the river with the rod. Perhaps stand up chatting to another angler for a while and then have a few casts. It’s nice but it’s not exactly the most productive way to fish.  No, the angler that catches fish, Thinks. I can hear a few of you already asking what do you need to think about in order to chuck a lump of metal across that river and wind it back?  Of course we have all met the guy who pulled an old nameless spinner from a rusty tin had 3 casts and caught 3 salmon. Yes, I would say he was Lucky not necessarily good. There’s actually quite a bit to be taken into consideration if you want to take it seriously and get it right. Water conditions including height, clarity, temperature, speed and depth. Light, wind, Time of season, location, and target species, choice of type and colour of spinner, there’s a whole list of things. To go through all these factors and the different scenarios would require a chapter in a book as opposed to a few lines in a winter time blog but we will look at a few basic thing’s that should be considered.

Whether it’s a naturally deep pool or you are fishing in a big flood you will need to get the spinner down in the water. Most Salmon are lying close to the bottom of the river. Yes they will come up for a bait and will move to attack a bait but in most cases we need to bring our bait pretty close to them to get a reaction. This is especially true early in the season when we are after Springers. A Toby spoon that fishes at a depth of 1m is not going to be a lot of use in a pool that’s 3m deep. The same Toby can be deadly in slightly shallower water especially if it’s fast flowing and the current works the spoon vigorously. A great spoon when fished in the summer months. I remember one sunny day while guiding an English man we saw a grilse turn a few times in a shallow run. He tried the fish several times with a flying c. without reaction. I had an old 12 gram copper Toby in my box which i shined up with some silt. I put it on for him and standing on the top bank i could see it swim erratically across the river. After a few casts suddenly the fish darted after it. I believe it was the glinting erratic action that sparked this attack. In the next few hours he took four grilse from that streamy run. I don’t believe the flying c would have had the same effect.

In the deeper water and early season, Low and slow is the way to go. I always say that if you are not getting stuck occasionally you are not fishing correctly (and not just because I sell tackle 🙂 ). Years ago it was difficult to get a spoon that fished well in the deeper parts of the river. The choice was not great, Swinford spoons either Large or Medium size. The Large was used in spring and the Medium in summer, the effezett Spoon, the Toby, the salar, the Devon Minnow, Rapala and Mepps were about what was available. They had to be wound slower to get the depth and they lost action due to the reduced speed. Certain parts of the river became known as spots that were good for spinning. This was due to the depth of the water and speed of the flow. Around the mid-80s the Flying Condom made its first appearance or should I say became known. A certain few anglers had known for many years previously about these baits but and guarded their secret well. I have a good idea of who eventually “Popularised” the Flying C on the Moy and he himself told me the story of how it got its name but again the story is enough for a chapter.

We can say for sure that it has its origins in Brittany where it was known as “La Quimperloise”. Named after a famous region for salmon fishing.  It wasn’t christened the Flying Condom until it arrived in Ireland, it certainly didn’t get that name on the Tweed. It has become the standard spinner for Salmon anglers and there’s probably a few reasons for this. It certainly is effective. It arrived at a time when other spoons, spinners, minnows and whatever were pretty expensive. I can remember when a Swinford spoon cost almost five pound and a Rapala was costing almost seven pound, a lot of years ago!  The flying C was cheaper and hit a price point that combined with its effectiveness made it an overnight success. Anglers took to using it and the more that used it the more fish were taken on it, the more popular it became and the demand soared. So much so that in the mid-80s I recall one September when Black been the popular colour, could not be got as the supply of black rubber ran out. We started using black permanent markers to change our supplies of red flying Cs to black. Over the years the Flying C has taken over completely. It has become difficult to find suppliers of spoons and other spinners. The range of weights and colours available has increased significantly and we have a few very trusted brand names. On the Moy two brands rule supreme Ian’s spinners for the “Original” flying C and “Rolla” the silver bullet which itself is an evolution of the original. Most of us have a mixed selection of these baits in our boxes.

With the range of weights and colour combinations now available it is very easy to find a bait that will satisfy our need in all situations. For the critical factor of getting down to the fish at various levels we have at least 4 different weights to choose from. In deep or high water we can choose a 22gram which is a pretty heavy bait, as the water levels get lower or when fishing shallower pools it’s easy to change to a lighter bait and still achieve this without constantly getting stuck in the bottom. In the last few years the popularity of Mini lightweight Flying c like the Rolla 6G has exploded, anglers use them in very low water conditions and they are also excellent for trout. Another advantage of the flying c is that because of the colour combinations available we can easily make choices that fulfill our requirements for success in a variety of conditions. For a start we have 3 main blade choices, Silver, Copper and Gold. Silver been very effective for fresh run fish and in dirty water, Gold seems to work well later in the season and in clear water while copper is effective in peat stained water and during sunny periods. If we combine these blade choices with the colours available in the rubber tails we will cover a lot of scenarios. Although Purple and Green are highly effective, Black, red, yellow and pink seem to be the most effective colours. We laughed at Pink when we first saw it but it is now the new Black and accounts for more fish in any year than any other Flying c.

I’ve often been asked if i had to pick one Flying C what would it be? Well if i had to pick just one it would be a Pink and Silver 16 gram. However if I had to pick one and stick with it and wanted to be successful I would have to be creative and “Think”. I would have to think about when,where and how to use it. This brings me back to where I started, anglers have been successful for many decades using different baits and methods. The choices available in the variety of our modern Flying Cs make it easier for us. The only thing we need to do for success is think, but remember the 12 gram Toby?  Sometimes it’s good to Think outside the box 🙂

River Moy Updates

25/10/2019 Worm Fishing

A Frosty start to the day in Foxford, the first time this winter the roofs have been white. P.J visited a little stream earlier in the week and i’m happy to say he saw quite a few Salmon and a few trout making their way up over a weir. The following is a little bit on worm fishing. I will in the next few weeks put up a short video of the actual set up. This is a link to a box of bits and pieces I have put together, it contains the main pieces for the worm set up.     Next Friday I will do a little bit about Spinners & spoons.


Worm Fishing

 At its simplest worm fishing is merely using an earth worm and hook attached to a piece of fishing line, something that as kids we enjoyed catching little brown trout and eels in a local stream with. It has always been a favored method on the Moy where indeed many parts of the river are only suitable for bait fishing. It is a productive and interesting method if fished properly but fishing it properly takes a degree of skill which is something many purists seem to miss. I’ve often heard anglers dismissing worm fishing due to the fact that in their opinion it did not require skill or thought and was so simple that it is unsporting. In my opinion these people have never witnessed a “good” worm fisher practice his craft. I grew up in an era where there were several of these anglers who fished various parts of the river, each had intimate knowledge of his “Spot”. Knowing where the fish would lie at certain levels, where the snags were, the correct weight to use, how to slow down or speed up his bait, how to react to each take, whether to use a float or “fish the bottom”, a good bait from a bad bait so on and so forth.  Most of these anglers were happy enough to see a young lad fishing and would share knowledge. Others had to be observed, sometimes from a safe distance but I’m happy enough to say that I learned from the best and at the age of nine caught my first Salmon on the worm.

 “The worm” is probably at its best as a method when fished on a falling flood when the water is still somewhat colored. At this stage there are two main methods of fishing it i.e. with a float or “on the bottom” which is fishing without a float,just using a weight, swivel and hook. Both methods work. In general there are two critical factors to success No1 Speed, No.2 bait / presentation.  

 Speed: The correct speed is achieved by choosing a suitable weight and adjusting the length of our “Cork Line” (i.e. the length of line between the hook and Line stop). The angel the rod is held at and whether our fishing line is off the water or lying in a belly on the surface is also a factor and a useful one in fine tuning. Too fast and you will catch nothing, to slow you will feed the perch and eels. We are always trying to have our bait moving along at a moderate speed, about 1m every 15 seconds. Of course this speed will not be exact, the weight may get caught on the bottom in places or you may find it necessary to speed it up a little now and again. The idea is to find a happy middle ground. Judging the speed the bait is fishing at is easier done with a float, we can see the float moving. When fishing without a float we must learn to judge by feel what’s happening.  

 Bait: There’s a few different schools of thought on which worm is the best to use, some will say it’s the Black Head also known as a Blue head, some will say a Lobworm and others a Red head or Dendrobena. I honestly don’t know, I can say for definite that each has its good and bad points. The Black head is very tough and a bait will last a long time but they are scarce and expensive. The Lobworm is big and Juicy but they are lifeless, soft and break easily. The Red head is reasonably tough, more plentiful and very lively but they have a strong smell and squirt yellow juice when stuck with a hook. They also have a habit of escaping through the smallest of holes! Whichever we choose to use (normally dictated by what’s available) we should present the bait as best we can.  A fresh, clean medium sized bait is best. Generally 3 worms, the first two are threaded onto the hook and slid up the line, the third is threaded onto the hook to just above the barb with the point left protruding. The bait should be “freshened up” periodically. We do this by pulling of one or two worms from the line, sliding the worm already on the hook up the line and putting a new worm on the hook. Always keep an eye out for weed which has been picked up from the river bed. Remove this immediately as when a fish does take it will instantly “drop” a bait with weed.

 The set up: For float fishing we start the set up by putting a rubber stopper or stop knot on our main line. This stopper is movable and can be adjusted to suit different depths of water. After we have put on a stopper we slide a small plastic bead onto the line, normally an 8mm plastic bead is ideal. Make sure that the stop knot cannot slip through the hole in the bead and that the bead itself cannot slide through the hole in the float. Place a suitable float with another bead under the float and then tie on a normal barrel swivel (about a size 8). We then tie a 20cm piece of monofilament to the other end of this swivel. Slide a weight (either a pierced lead bullet or a bait controller) onto this piece of line followed by a rubber shock absorbing bead, we then tie another swivel of the same size to the end of this piece of line. The rubber bead stops the lead weight hitting and damaging the knot. To the other end of this swivel we add another piece of Monofilament line of approx. 60cm, we finally attach our worm hook to the end of this piece of line. Hook size and line size are a personal choice. I use hooks between size 1 and 4 normally, changing the size depending on water conditions and time of season. Normally larger hooks in spring time and the smaller ones in summer. For Monofilament I use Stroft ABS in sizes 0.27 up to 0.35mm, again depending on conditions and time of season. The stopper should now be set at a depth which is approx. one and a half times the depth of the water where we plan to fish e.g. water is 2m deep set stop knot at 3m. This will allow our weight to go to the bottom of the river and our float will lie on its side on the surface, once the bead above the float reaches the stopper it cannot pass and the float will now start moving downstream pulling our bait along. We will see the float react as the weight moves along the bottom and over stones etc. This is where we need experience and some skill in mastering the speed we fish at. As I already said too slow or stopped and we will get lots of bites from perch and eels, too fast and we will catch nothing. Play about a bit, raise and lower your fishing rod so the line is off the water or creating a belly of line to pull the float along, see what the difference is. Try different weights and increase or decrease the “Cork line”. Take time and get it right, these are the differences between success and failure. When a fish bites (The Take) varies, some fish are aggressive and take fast and hard others play with the bait, picking it up and dropping it. They may move out or back down slowly with the bait. All of these things you need to experience to decide how best to deal with them but typically when a fish takes you will notice a “Livelier” action on the float. Normally an initial two or three sharp dives under the surface it may then move further along, the best thing to do initially is just wait. You can slowly wind up any slack line that may be out. Once the fish has taken the bait properly it will run, you will see the float disappear under the surface, and at this point you should already have the slack line taken in and be ready to strike. Don’t be halfhearted, a good swift sharp strike and set the hook properly. In the words of one of Foxfords more famous anglers of yesteryear “Red John” as he watched me prepare to strike a fish “Hit him hard Mikeen he’s no relation”.

 Up to now I have spoken about float fishing with the worm. Well as I said earlier it’s easier to physically see what’s happening when we use a float. We can pick a stretch of water and quite easily fish in rotation along the entire stretch keeping parallel with our float, trying different casts, closer in or further out. So why would we choose to omit the float and fish with just the weight ?

The main time I would recommend fishing without a float is in a very heavy flow, whether this is the normal current which is strong or we are fishing during a high water period either a flood or early season and there’s an increased volume of water which means we need larger weights to slow things down a bit, to remove the float can be a good idea.  Another occasion would be sometimes when we are fishing in a confined space where it’s not possible to walk parallel to the float it is a good idea to fish with just a weight and try various casts, letting the bait sweep round in an arc. In very low water some of the streamy parts of the river can be well worth trying using very light weights and just letting the bait run freely through the water, this is best done without a float. The main difference between fishing with or without the float is that obviously enough when we use the float we have an indicator as to what’s happening with our bait. Without the float we must depend on our senses, holding the line on the tip of the index finger we feel what’s happening. A slow steady pull, we are snagged on the bottom. Two or three hard long heavy pulls, a springer. A series of lively tips, a trout. It’s a simple and exciting way to fish. All we need is a suitable weight and a swivel with 60cm of monofilament to which we attach a hook and bait of worms. Try casting to various lies from different angles. When a bite is detected let out a few meters of slack line to give the fish a chance to take the bait properly without resistance, once the bite gets stronger, strike. On the right day in the right place it’s as interesting and sporting as any other method. On another day when you’ve lost 6 hooks in 6 casts it’s frustrating as hell, but… Life can be like that some days 🙂

River Moy Updates

18/10/2019 Levels and Conditions




Good morning from a damp and cool Foxford, winter is setting in. Water levels are high and its difficult yet to say what sort of numbers of fish are running the smaller spawning streams. There’s still Salmon splashing about at the back of the town. In this weeks blog I have tried to explain a little about water levels, conditions and suitable methods. In the coming weeks I will go into more detail on the actual methods, worm,spin, bubble and fly and so on. This weekend we will be putting a fly rod we have designed through its paces, we are already happy with it but it will be nice to get feed back from a few experts 🙂 Will report in due course. 

Water Levels and conditions

 Something we need to consider when talking about water levels is that “water level” is just one part of the equation in the overall state of the river. Location, Clarity and Weather are all equally important. Most experienced anglers instinctively group all these and probably a few more factors under the heading of water level and when they ask what the water level is, what they really mean is how is the overall state of the river. Salmon have been taken in all conditions and by all methods. On one occasion in July of this year I advised an elderly German visitor to go sightseeing for the day as the river was totally out of order. It was rising fast in Foxford, already at 3m at Ballylahan Bridge with full trees floating downstream. His reply was “I am here to fish” and he went fishing on Bakers fishery just upstream of Foxford. In less than an hour he walked back into the shop punched the air and said “I have success, 3 salmons”. This man was 87 years old and it was his first time ever Salmon fishing!.  This man was Lucky, by accident or fortune he found a place where a few fish were holding up. In most cases this does not happen and the constantly successful Salmon angler will read the conditions, choose first of all whether to fish or not and then where and how to fish.

 Water levels: Throughout the season you will have noticed we used the water level at Ballylahn Bridge as a guide to how levels on the Moy are. The reason we use this gauge is that it is the closest gauge to Foxofrd and anglers have used this gauge and viewing spot for many years, so most of the regulars to the Moy are familiar with it and can judge conditions based on the level on a particular day or time. Using the Ballylahan gauge this is a rough guide at various levels. From 1m up it is worm fishing water, once the water is at 0.8m we are into spinning and from 0.7 down it is ideal for fly fishing. As in all angling situations this is not an exact science and there are a lot of variables. For example the gauge at Ballylahan may be reading 0.9m and the water coloured because of a flood in the River Gweestion (a tributary 3 miles further upstream) while above the confluence of the Gweestion the water may be perfect for fly fishing. This is why we use other gauges and some local knowledge to judge overall conditions. 

  Once you have an idea of the state of the river at various levels, Ballylahan is a good reference. Further downstream form Ballylahan on the Cloongee fishery the river is influenced by the Loughs. A short stretch of river known locally as the Lake River drains Loughs Conn and Cullin into the Moy. When assessing conditions or predicting future conditions from then Joining’s (Confluence of Lake river and Moy) downstream we must take the Loughs into consideration. High water levels in the Loughs can hold the levels downstream up. On windy days when the Loughs get churned up silty water flowing out can colour the water downstream. On such a day it may be better to fish upstream of the Joining’s. A simple way to look at the system is to consider the River upstream of the Joining’s as a spate river which will rise and fall pretty fast and from the Joining’s downstream we have the reservoir of the Loughs which “hold” the levels up for longer.


Conditions and methods:

Before I go on to talk about actual conditions and methods for success I need to clarify what I’m referring to when I use the term “success”. It is my belief that we as Anglers all go through different phases and desires. At some point we all want to catch our first Salmon, we all want to catch loads of salmon, we all want to catch a Springer, we all want to a huge salmon, A fish on a spinner, a fish on the fly, a fish on a fly we have tied our self, We all want to bring a fish home to enjoy a meal with family or friends, We all want to watch a fish swim free when released and the list goes on. For anglers at various parts of their angling journey “success” has different meanings. For the purpose of this exercise I’m writing about conditions and the method most likely to result in catching a Salmon as “success”. Something that may be useful to a visiting angler is if we talk through conditions from flood down to low water level.


Although not a big flood we will start with a level of 1.2m on the gauge at Ballylahan Bridge. The first thing I would say is to check is the river finished rising or not. I have never found fishing to be very good when the river is rising i.e. with the exception of the first 30cm or so of a rise during which fish can become very active. Assuming the flood has peaked and the water is still dirty but starting to clear the first bait I would advise is the worm. This bait can be fished either with a float or without a float (both methods I will explain at a later date). After some hours and perhaps up to a day the water will have dropped and cleared enough for the spinner to work (Approx. 0.9m on the gauge subject to other factors). I would say that as a rule of thumb when the spinner is dropped in the water it should be visible down to 20cm. Generally for the first while brighter coloured spinners work best and Silver is very good for fresh run fish. The spinner will continue to work well for a few days. Once the water gets to about 0.7m and has cleared out well the fly will work. An intermediate tip and a slightly larger fly or a tube fly will normally work best. As the water continues to drop and as levels get low it is best to try different tactics. Bubble and fly is a very successful method and on the right day is an excellent and interesting method. Prawn and shrimp work well in low water conditions, again this is an interesting method to try and to be consistently good with it takes a lot of river craft and skill.  This is a very rough guide and as I said it is subject to many factors and preferences. I am confident though that if it was your first time fishing the Moy and you follow this, your chance of success will be well above average.  Next Friday I will explain a little about Worm Fishing.

River Moy Updates

11/10/2019 No1 The Season



Every day throughout the season and during the off season by people planning a trip to Foxford we get asked a lot of questions. Some of these questions are pretty straight forward and easy to answer, some are more complex and a little more difficult to answer and some would require a big crystal ball and a lot of patience. The patience I have but the crystal ball is still on the wish list 🙂


Over the next few weeks I’m going to give the answer to some of the most commonly asked questions. From the start I want to be honest and straightforward in saying that I do not consider myself as an authority on Angling or the River Moy but I do have a lifetime’s experience of angling and guiding and in particular angling and guiding on the Moy. I am not saying that what I recommend is the best, others may know better and I have no doubt they will let me know.  I know some people are going to wonder why I have decided to do this and will ask what he is getting out of it. Well I’m doing it for a few reasons. I enjoy helping people and sharing what knowledge I have. I love when an angler tells me that he or she has had success due to some bit of help or advice we have given. I also want to promote and grow my business. We have had this website for a good few years and have never taken full advantage of it. I see this as a way of driving traffic through the website and perhaps creating a few sales. Perhaps if you enjoy this and get something from it you may at some stage choose to purchase something offered on or visit our shop when you are in the area. I think this is a fair exchange and will work both ways.


Q1: What’s the Season on the Moy and what’s the best time of year to come to fish.


Perhaps not the most asked, but this is a very regularly asked question. As there are many factors that are out of our control we cannot say for definite how a particular time of year or part of the season will be. I will as follows give a general idea of what a normal season is like.


February: The seasons opens on the First day of February. There will be a lot of Kelts (Spent fish) making their way down stream at this time of the season. Fresh Salmon have been taken on opening day, mostly above the weir in Ballina. The earliest I have ever taken a fish (fresh run spring Salmon) was on the 2nd of February while fishing with my friend Thomas Monaghan on the Cloongee fishery and I can safely say that was a fluke. Realistically there is a very slim chance of taking a fresh fish this early in the season. It’s a nice month for a local who lives close to the river to take the rod on a fine evening and have a cast while dreaming of better days to come but I could never recommend anyone to travel in the hopes of taking a fish.


March: Most Locals will not start fishing before the middle of March and St. Patrick’s Day is for most of them the start of the season. One of my child hood memories is of two old local men, Paddy Coleman and Gerry Madden.  Paddy always fished a pool called Cairigeen about one mile upstream of Foxford while Gerry fished close to his home in Cloongee. There was a form of competition between the two gentlemen, both well known “Good fishermen” as to who would catch the first Salmon of the season. Every year sometime in the middle of March one or the other would arrive in town with a Springer wrapped in newspaper. The victory would be celebrated in the Local pub and from then on the season had begun.


March to May: Although the chance of success has increased greatly by mid-March there is no guarantee. Water levels and conditions play a big part and it’s not uncommon to have hailstones and howling wind. It’s not for the faint hearted but the reward of an early springer is something worth struggling for. The run improves as we move into April and by late April and the first two weeks of May we will be in the peak of Spring fishing. From Mid may on we start to see a few Grillse arrive. These early Grillse have a tendency to run hard and fast and it’s not un common to hear of a fresh sea liced Grillse been taken on Lough Conn or from the River Deel at the North end of Lough Conn. At the end of May there can be a lull period as the main spring run ends and the Grillse run starts proper. However, normally there’s fish about and subject to water conditions fresh fish can arrive at any moment.


June and July: Moving into June the Grilse run increases steadily. On a normal year It will peak somewhere between the third week of June and mid-July. Some years this is different due to conditions and water levels. The biggest problem at this time of year is the unpredictability of the Irish summer, we could have a drought or extended periods of rain and as the crystal ball is still on the wish list its one of the factors we cannot predict. In general there will be plenty of fish throughout the system and all methods will work. You may be better fishing early mornings or late evenings, again this is all down to conditions on the day.


August: August is a month that’s unpredictable.  Depending on conditions it can be good or bad. In general the fish that have been in the system for a while are “resident” and can be difficult to tempt. If we have hot weather and water levels are low a lot of fish will lie in the tidal waters. A great time to fish some of the tidal beats and the famous Ridge and Cathedral pools.  There will always be periods where something happens and fish switch on. For example a windy day where the angler using the Bubble and Fly has a bonanza or a night’s rain can rise the water by 20 or 30 cm and we get a run of fish that have been lying in the estuary.


September: As we move into September and towards the end of the season fish that have been lying in the river tend to become more active and will again start to take more readily. Some fresh fish will arrive as well. The last two weeks of September are normally the best part of the month and as runs appear to be getting later it’s the best part of the month to be in with a chance of taking a fresh run fish. We would always urge anglers to fish with care during this part of the season. While I see no harm in an angler taking a fish for the table most Coloured or Red fish are not great for eating and if unhooked and handled properly can easily be photographed and returned to the water to continue to spawn.


A few of the more difficult questions we get asked have to do with water levels and conditions. The answers are more complex because they involve a lot of factors. Next Friday I will explain a little about water levels.

River Moy Updates

Friday 04/10/2019


Well we have survived “Lorenzo” the first storm of the year or should I say Tropical storm. Thankfully it did not hit us to hard and damage in general seems light. There will be a good flood in the river in the next few days. I have decided that Friday will be a good day for a weekly update. This update will as I said contain some useful tips and hints for fishing the Moy, water conditions , methods etc.  Have a good week and see you Friday.

River Moy Updates

Monday 30/09/2019


A dry, cool autumn morning in Foxford. The last day of the 2019 Salmon season.The river is at 0.9m at Ballylahan and suitable for worm and spin. Its been a strange season with a lot of difficult conditions. Overall fishing was not bad and even though most anglers did not get as much time on the water as they would in a normal year they were satisfied. A very good spring run and a poor grillse run, no one knows how many fish have escaped to spawn. The proof of this will be seen on the spawning grounds around Christmas time. As usual we will take a few walks and check this out. For the remainder of the year I will not be posting Daily updates but instead will post some information, hints & tips and other advice and suggestions on a weekly basis.

Both P.J and I want to thank you all for your support through out the season. Some new customers but many who return year after year to the shop. Without this support we could not continue and we do appreciate it.

River Moy Updates

Sunday 29/09/2019

A damp and dark morning in Foxford. The river was rising for most of the day yesterday, peaking at 1.59m it is now dropping and at 1.3m at Ballylahan bridge. I cant say how many fish were caught but there certainly was some very happy anglers in Foxford last night. Fresh air and Guiry’s Guinness may have been the magic ingredients but for certain it worked. The John Gallagher cup was won by the Foxford Angling Club and both teams joined in the “Magic” of the Night. On the river conditions should improve throughout the day, spinning and worm will bet the best methods.

John Gallagher Cup 2019


River Moy Updates

Saturday 28/09/2019


A dark morning with the occasional shower in Foxford. As has become the norm since July the river is creeping up again this morning. It is now at 1.29m at Ballylahan bridge. On the plus side the colour is not to bad. It is suitable for spinning and worm fishing. This is the last weekend of the 2019 season and it is looking like It will be a busy one the Moy and Lough Conn. Foxford Angling Club welcome the Westport Anglers to Lough Conn for the Annual John Gallagher cup trout fishing competition.

River Moy Updates

Friday 27/09/2019


A damp morning in Foxford but the heaviest of the rain seems to have passed. The river has risen again over night and is now at 1.3m at Ballylahan bridge. Looking at Foxford the water is not very dirty and should still fish. Spin and worm will bet the best methods.

River Moy Updates