A beautiful morning in Foxford, clear sky and a touch of ground frost. Not the best of weather for fishing but its nice. The river crept up a little yesterday afternoon, peaking at just over 1m at Ballylahan bridge. it is now at 0.87m at Ballylahan bridge and is in good condition. The water is now clear through Foxford and in good condition for spinning. Reports of a good hatch of May fly on Lough Cullen and some anglers have had good sport on parts of Lough Conn. The weather is forecast to warm up a little over the weekend which should improve fishing in general.
River Moy Updates
Following a day of heavy showers of rain and hail the river is rising again, it is now at 0.88m at Ballylahan bridge, it will not be a big rise. Still coloured in Foxford. There’s very little angling activity on the river but we are getting reports of fish moving. Some ominous looking black clouds in the sky over Foxford and It looks like we could get more nasty hail showers today.
Good morning from a bright and beautiful Foxford. Some good news from Government last night and we are now looking forward to inter county travel again. This will mean that a lot of you will again be able to visit and fish the river and Loughs. We will soon be able to re open the tackle shop and are looking forward to welcoming you all back. Over the period of lockdown we have come to the realisation that there is more to life than seven days a week, twelve hours a day behind the counter. It is our intention to spend a little less time in the shop and some more time fishing. This does not mean we are going to disappear, we will just be condensing the hours a little but of course we will be there when you most need us. We will also be increasing our online presence with a new website which we have been working on.
Fishing in the past week has been mixed. I won’t bore you with the details of a hike in the Ox mountains only to be nearly blown away at the top or staring at two dry flies for eight hours on Lough Mask without a single rise last weekend but we had bright sunshine and a cool East breeze which did not help the trout fishing. Salmon fishing however continued to improve. We had reports of fish taken on most fisheries. The best of theses been a beautiful 16lb salmon taken by Geoff Willes from Gannons fishery. This fish was taken on a flying C.
We have had a dry week and the river is now at 0.38m at Ballylahan bridge. If anything it is starting to go low on the upper parts and some rain would be no harm. It is in ideal condition from the Joinings downstream through Foxford and fish are starting to hold in the fisheries downstream of Foxford. From next week I will start the daily updates; this will be useful for anyone making plans to fish the Moy. Try to get out fishing, tight lines.
Remember: Don’t be “The Gobshite”, Leave no trace.
Good morning from a sunny Foxford. We have had a few beautiful days and it looks like the good weather is to continue for the rest of this week at least. Not ideal for Salmon fishing but you can’t please everyone. The river is in very nice condition, 0.54m at Ballylahan bridge and suitable for all methods. Throughout the week there was reasonable reports given the lack of angling pressure. We would have heard of 8 or 10 fish caught. Most of the fish caught were in the 5 to 9lb bracket which is small for this time of year. Derek Harrison took a beautiful 14lb salmon just upstream of Ballina yesterday. I reckon this will be the start of the main run of springers. Over the next fortnight there should be some good fishing. I know that’s not the news a lot of you really want to hear but on the positive side there will be a good escapement of fish and stocks should increase in the coming years.
Getting Time to Fish
A benefit of Lockdown and having free time for us is that we get to do some more fishing. On Sunday last P.J and I visited a small local lough. The Lough which is not far from Foxford holds a large stock of small brown trout. We had some good fun and for their size they can put up a nice little battle on light gear.
On Monday I was back on Lough Mask with John Burke. It was a cold and wet day but we had some good fishing. John has vast experience in Lough angling and it’s very interesting to have a day with him. His knowledge of Loughs, trout, flies and how to fish is something that can only be gained in a lifetime of angling and I have to say that I feel a little honored that he is willing to share some of this with me. I’m looking forward to our next outing which will hopefully be soon.
Still no news on when we can open the tackle shop. We are in the fish shop on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and are doing what’s possible to assist anglers. We do have to remember that there is still a real danger to people’s health and we have to act in a responsible and safe manner, none of us want to be responsible for another person getting sick.
I will soon be starting back to daily updates. Tight Lines if you get out
Remember: Don’t be “The Gobshite”, Leave no trace
Good morning from a dry and bright Foxford. We have had a few beautiful days this week and the river is looking nice. 0.58m at Ballylahan bridge and in good condition for all methods. Although there is still very little angling activity we are starting to hear of fish been taken throughout the system. Danny Irvine and Glen Parry both had salmon from East Mayo angler’s waters on the fly. Liamous Martinikus took one from Rinnanney, other fish were taken in Ballina, Pontoon Bridge and on the Ballavarry river. We have been getting a lot of calls from anglers all around the country wondering when they will be able to fish the river. At the moment we just do not know but listening to the radio this morning it is looking hopeful that restrictions will be eased in May. If this is the case there will still be plenty of good fishing to be had.
On Monday last we could finally move outside our 5k. My first outing was a day on Lough Mask with John Burke. Although we are from the same town and I know John all my life this was the first time we actually fished together. It was a beautiful day and we both enjoyed it however the fish did not want to play ball. John managed to take one trout of about a pound on one of his own patterns “Just add water” and apart from that we moved about half a dozen trout. We both had several theories and excuses for our lack of success and have decided that the only answer is to do it again next Monday. It’s tough work but someone has got to do it.
Hopefully you are getting an opportunity to get out fishing, Tight Lines
Good morning from a cold and showery Foxford. A noticeable drop in temperatures in the past few days and it looks like this will be the pattern for the weekend at least. The river is now at 0.73m at Ballylahan bridge and coming into nice condition. Congratulations to john O’Connell who took the first salmon of the season from Foxford salmon Anglers Bakers fishery, just south of Foxford. John was worm fishing on Tuesday afternoon when he caught his fish.
As things start to open up a bit more in the coming days we should see a few more anglers on the river and a few more fish been caught. I myself have gathered up a few interesting lures and am looking forward to getting to the beach for a try at the sea trout. P.J and I also have a return visit to make to a mountain Lough. All this has to be done before the shop re opens and the madness begins, let’s all pray for some better weather in the next couple of weeks.
Callow from the Kayaks
We had another outing on callow Lough on Saturday last. Conditions were not as good for fishing as they were on our last day out. The day was less windy and at times the sun was shining bright. This did not really matter as we were on a different type of mission and we did not care to much about “ideal conditions”. This time we were using Kayaks, a very interesting way to fish. It’s something I have done a bit of in the past but the Kayaks have been laying un touched for several years. It’s only when my son Mike said he would like to try the kayaks on callow that I agreed to give it a go.
Not been experienced Kayak anglers we opted for the safety of having a boat on the water along with us. P.J doubled as support boat man and photographer for the day. On arrival at the lough launching the kayaks was very simple and we were on the water very quickly. We set of and paddled along the shoreline to the top of the Lough. This is where I would say the first noticeable difference in fishing from a Kayak or a normal lake boat becomes noticeable. Been able to paddle over the shallow water and through the reeds the beauty of the lough and the many features are more apparent. I could quite easily have forgotten about the fishing rod and just spent the day paddling.
On reaching the top of the lough the water was flat calm and it was pretty obvious we were not going to drift. Instead we spread out and started searching our way along the reed beds. It was very interesting to watch the behavior of the fish that did not seem to take a lot of notice of the kayak. This is possibly due to the fact that it sits low on the water and can be moved silently.
Little pods of trout were moving along the edge of the shallow water about ten meters from the reeds. Its difficult to say what these trout were feeding on but it was certainly sub surface. Casting to the pods and slowly retrieving nymphs we both managed to hook a couple of trout.
Mike stuck one half decent trout which he lost. Apart from this the fishing was quiet. Neither of us was surprised or disappointed. It was a nice afternoon on the water and an interesting experience. This outing has re awoken my interest in Kayaking and got me thinking of the many possibilities for some very good fishing later in the summer. Some early mornings ahead.
Remember: Don’t be “The Gobshite”, Leave no trace
Good morning from a bright, dry and slightly cool Foxford. Easter has arrived and still no hugely positive news on travel. It looks like it will be another while before we are permitted to move about. On a more positive note, its a beautiful morning, I’m writing this , you are reading it and we are safe and healthy. The river is in nice condition and looks good. I think there will be a salmon or two caught over the next few days. Although that been said, angling pressure is Nil. I said last week that we planned to get out on Callow Lough for a few hours. The weather was not good and the start was slow but we did manage to get out there.
Callow in March
Sunday started of wet and the forecast was for strong to gale force winds in the afternoon. It did not sound great but it was mild and Callow, nestled in a valley is one of those Loughs that can be fished in a strong wind. The rain was to lighten as day went on so a slow start was called for. This suited us both; we were very relaxed about our outing and in no panic. It was a few hours out to wet the lines, blow the cobwebs of and make a start. A while spent setting up the rods at home and choosing some suitable fly patterns, helped by the cat.
As is normal enough on the first outing of the season there can be hiccups. I had checked the outboard was running, made sure the boat was sea worthy and had even managed to remember where I put the bung last October. I was actually thinking things were going good. At 11am we hitched up the trailer. Less than a minute later we discovered one of the trailer tyres was flat! Yes we had a spare tyre but no we didn’t have a wheel brace to fit. To make a long story short we finally launched the boat at 1pm. At this stage the rain had stopped but the wind was blowing and the Lough looked lively.
The launch went smoothly and within a short while we were motoring up into the wind. Although the Lough was not rough the wind was gusting and for comfort we headed to the shelter at the top of the Lough. P.J had opted for a midge tip line and I was using a fast intermediate line. We both had identical three fly casts with the exact same patterns. On the first drift he had three fish while I didn’t have a single take. The trout in Callow are generally small, average of about half a pound in weight. The fact he had three and one was over a pound got me thinking. As we motored back up to the top of the drift I changed my line. I can’t say for definite if this made a difference but it wasn’t long before I started moving a few fish. These little brownies are wild, lively and fast. It takes a while to get to grips with them and I missed several before finally connecting.
I’m not going to bore you with the details of every trout we rose or caught but we certainly moved a lot of fish. What seemed like minutes was five hours later as we headed for home. We had exceptional sport and it is a day we will both remember for all the right reasons.
We kept two trout for lunch the next day and all the rest went back so there’s plenty for you to enjoy. Callow is one to remember when it’s too rough for the Big loughs .
I’m planning a different approach, will report. Happy Ester
Remember: Don’t be “The Gobshite”, Leave no trace
Good morning from a pretty cold and showery Foxford, it looks like it might brighten up. The river which had been coming into nice condition is again creeping up, it is now at 0.9m at Ballylahan bridge. Congratulations to Micksey Clarke who took the first fish of the season from the East Mayo Anglers waters yesterday. A beautiful fresh run fish just shy of 10lbs it took a spinner. Reports from Ballina are that a reasonable number of fish are moving and one or two have been spotted in Foxford. Hopefully restrictions on travel will soon ease and we will see a few more anglers out on the river. Reports from Lough Conn are that trout fishing is lively and those fortunate enough to be able to get out are having good sport. Subject to the weather been suitable over the weekend we are planning to visit callow Lough for a few hours. This Lough is a small lough east of Foxford and within our 5k :). The trout are relatively small but on the right day it can be good fun. I will report next week.
I was speaking with a customer on the phone the other day. The conversation was generally about how the fish always seem to be just out of casting range. There’s a few little things worth checking out before we go fishing. Once these are sorted and correct the fish may just come into range. Here a few suggestions
The extra meter
Don’t use a rod that’s too stiff for the bait you are casting. If you wish to cast a 15 gram spinner try to match it with a rod with a casting range of about 10 to 40 grams . This does not have to be exact but aim to be somewhere in the correct range. Trying to cast a light 5 gram bait with a rod designed for casting 50 gram weights will not work.
Choose a line with a suitable diameter and breaking strain. I would say that anyone using a 0.30mm line should quite easily cast a 15 gram bait 35 to 40 meters. The thinner the line the further it will cast but there is no point compromising strength. Trying to cast a 20 gram Flying C with 0.20mm line is most likely going to end with the bait somewhere on the opposite bank, seconds after the line snaps! Been there done that. Braid lines are very good for distance casting; this is because they are so fine. The good thing about braid is that along with been fine in diameter it is very strong.
Fill the reel spool properly. The spinning reel should be filled to within a couple of mm of the lip of the spool. A half filled spool will not make casting easy. On the other hand an over filled spool is a disaster waiting to happen; the line will jump of the spool and tangle.
It might not seem like a lot but it surprising how many experienced anglers still make these little mistakes.
Remember: Don’t be “The Gobshite”, Leave no trace
Good morning from a grey and overcast Foxford, a little drizzle but nothing to serious. The river is at 0.87m at Ballylahan bridge and is looking good. The 5k limit is making it difficult for most people to get out fishing. On St Patricks day there was one car at Ballylahan bridge, that says a lot. If there were more anglers out reports of fish would be better. For now we will talk about fishing and dream, its difficult to make plans but hopefully next month things will start to open up a bit.
A question I have been asked is “how do I start Lough fly fishing”. It’s a good question because unless one is introduced to the Loughs they can be difficult and daunting to tackle.
Don’t over complicate it
It’s very easy to over complicate Lough fly fishing, wet flies, dry flies, lures, copolymer, fluorocarbon, slow intermediate, fast intermediate, floatant, sinkant. The terminology alone is enough to confuse. Take it one step at a time and start with season and target species i.e. the time of year and what type of fish you want to catch. Most of us and in particular anglers in the west of Ireland fly fish on the Loughs for brown trout and occasionally salmon and sea trout. The season can be broken down into early, middle and late season. Early been February through to May, Middle been the summer months May to August and late season August and September. Each of these parts of the season will be different on the Lough. Water levels, temperature, weather, Fly hatches will all change throughout the season so it is better to focus on what’s happening when we want to fish as opposed to trying to figure out everything on day one. Study and think about these things, check out the different hatches in the different months and try to discover how the fish behave at the particular part of the season you will be on the lough.
Start with the basics, a rod, reel and line. From experience I would recommend a 10 foot (3m) #7 rod. Buy a reel that comes with a couple of spare spools/cassettes, these will be useful in the future as you progress. A floating line is going to be the most useful line to start with. As you progress you may want to get an Intermediate and a sinking line (a DI3 is a useful one). Waterproofs and a Life Jacket.
Flies: There are absolutely hundreds to choose from. Again don’t get carried away, think about where and when you are fishing. Study the natural hatches for the time and place. Match the hatch is a good rule of thumb and the time you spend investigating will be time well spent.
Likely hatches are
Eearly season: Duck fly/Buzzer, Olives
Mid season: May flies, sedges, buzzers.
Late season: Sedges, Daddys.
Think outside the box
Don’t concentrate solely on Flies, fish feed on lots of things and as fly angler we need to take this into consideration, Fry, Daphnia, Terrestrial insects like grasshoppers are all worth remembering. For example in the early part of the season You might say that there are no flies hatching and yes that is probably true but remembers trout are feeding and match the hatch is just a phrase . Use what the fish are feeding on. During the early part of the season the largest part of the trouts diet will be found below the surface. Trout will be feeding on smaller fish, snails, water louse, blood worms, and fresh water shrimp. All found below the surface. A good selection of artificial fly patterns to have in the fly box would be, Minkies, Humongous, A few buzzers, Black Pennell, butcher, black and peacock spider, fiery brown, Peter Ross, Silver dabbler, Sooty olive. The most important thing to remember is that you will need to get your artificial into the zone where the trout is feeding and that’s a big subject, to big of this short blog.
Find a fishing buddy
A boat drifts better with two and for sure the quiet parts of the day are better when one has a good boat partner. A good way to do this is to join an angling club and meet some likeminded people who in most cases are willing to help a newcomer. Get out on the Loughs with people who know the Loughs and how to fish them. You will learn more in a season from an experienced angler than in a lifetime reading books about the subject.
A word of warning and advice
It is very easy to hire a boat on any of the larger Loughs in the west of Ireland. It’s a different thing to use that same boat safely and productively. I’m not going to get into the safety aspect of things, I just hope that there is some common sense left in the world and people understand that venturing out onto 12,000 or 20,000 acres of rock strewn, windblown water that they don’t know is not wise. Although that been said, there’s plenty of people who leave their litter after them “Gobshites”, they do exist. Get a Boatman, good boatman is worth his weight gold to an angler. Not only will a good boatman keep his anglers safe he will work to put them over fish which can be the difference between having a good day on the lough or not seeing a single fish. Most good boatmen are also good anglers, he may well be in a position to offer some good advice on how to catch those fish.
Good morning from a wet and blustery Foxford. Lock down or not time seems to be flying. Already approaching the Middle of March when between now and St.Patrick’s day traditionally we would see the first salmon in the Foxford area taken. With conditions as they are this is doubtful this year. Over the past few days we have had a lot of rain and the river is now at 1.6m at Ballylahan bridge. From now on the run of fish should increase and as conditions improve and restrictions are eased fishing will improve.
I had an hour on the Moy in Foxford on Sunday evening last. It was a nice evening and even though the water is very high I decided to try the fly rod. I was using a very fast sinking line and a 1 inch brass tube fly. To my surprise after less the twenty minutes the rod doubled and I was in a fish. Yes as you have already guessed it wasn’t the fresh run springer I was hoping for but a Kelt. I didn’t mess about, got it to the bank quickly and without taking it from the water unhooked it and let it on its way. It was a nice well mended Kelt with plenty of life and it swam away pretty lively. It would be interesting to know how many Kelts actually make it back to the ocean. Judging from the amount of them we are seeing in Foxford I would say quite a few.
Reports from Ballina were a little different where Darren Cawley Landed a beautiful fish from Ballina salmon Anglers waters. This is the third fish taken there so far this season. Well done Darren.
Where to find a springer on the Moy system
Although there are a few parts of the lower and middle Moy that produce good numbers of spring fish the best of the early season fishing always seems to be from Foxford upstream. Threes a few theories for this but my own thoughts are that as the flow of water from the Loughs is normally big in the spring the fish keep moving fast until they get into the lighter flow upstream of the joining on the Clooongee fishery. If we were to look at catch records, the two fisheries upstream of the joining, Cloongee and East Mayo Anglers would certainly show up as the Spring hot spots. The Gub, Howleys , Ryans, The Long Bank, Coolraw, The Joinings, Caaraigeen are all areas worth trying. Pontoon Bridge and the Ballyvary river are also noted Spring fishing areas.
Baits and methods
As I have said in the past, the successful angler is the angler who is prepared and ready to adapt to conditions. This is no different when searching for a springer. In high, coloured water worm and spin are going to be the best methods. As levels fall and the water clears Fly fishing will come into its own. The main thing to remember is that slow and low is the key to success, you must get the bait to the fish. Search as much water for a fish, don’t stand in one spot waiting for the fish to come to you. Heavier spoons and spinners and larger flies. On the Moy I would not be without a few Flying Cs in the 16 to 22gram range, Silver blades work very well and Black, red and yellow tails seem to be the most effective. Copper and Silver spoons, Tobys, Rapalas and the traditional Blue and Silver or Yellow Belly Devon minnows are also well worth a try. For flies I would always have some combination of Blue, silver, Yellow and Black in sizes 8 or 10, (Lemon Shrimp, Hairy may, Beltra badger, Calvin shrimp, Cascade, Magenta shrimp) a half inch or 1 inch brass tube or cone head is well worth a try.
Its something that we as anglers are all very aware of, we are only custodians and must try to hand on our sport to future generations. Hopefully we will hand it on in a better place than where it was when we took it on. Springers are quality fish and a prized trophy. There will be a few days in spring where everything falls into place and fishing is fantastic. These are the days we need to show restraint. Sensible bag limits of 1 per day and no more than 3 in total during the spring months are law on the Moy. On that red letter day when you do manage to hook more than one, do the decent thing and return the second one unharmed. I’m not a catch and release preacher and I will kill a few salmon throughout the season and yes in the past I have killed more than one Springer in a day. All I can say is that I will do my best in the future. I will try to do something to help stocks. On many occasions I have watched Cormorants feeding on salmon smolts and prayed that they would choke, on occasion it appears to have worked, I have seen a few dead cormorants float down stream. I would encourage you to do the same.
Remember: Don’t be “The Gobshite”, Leave no trace