Good morning from a calm but very cloudy and overcast Foxford. I took my own advice last weekend and headed off to a put and take fishery. It became a bit of a family outing and we were joined by some good friends which made it all the better.
We headed North to fish Birchwood fishery. Birchwood is situated near Omagh in Co. Tyrone. A nice fishery with friendly staff and one I will certainly visit again. After about a three hour drive we were fishing for 10am. My son Mike had made contact via Facebook with an angler who fishes the fishery on a regular basis and had 18 trout in one session earlier in the week. The gentleman was kind enough to reply and give some helpful hints and advice, which I thought was nice. Even with this advice it took us a good while to figure out how to catch the fish and although some anglers were having good sport all round us, we were slow of the mark. In the end we cracked it and had good sport. Interestingly we were using two different methods to achieve the same goal and had sport on both. The weather was nice and although we hardly spoke to each other during the day (a sign of enjoyable fishing), the company was good.
This takes me onto today and what advice I can offer to anglers wishing to visit us here on the Moy. Its difficult to plan an angling trip 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 hope the following will give you some idea of the Season in general and help in your planning.
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. As we move into April we begin to see a bit of spring and new life, the run of fish improves 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 Grilse arrive. These early Grilse have a tendency to run hard and fast and it’s not un common to hear of a fresh sea liced Grilse 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.
As I have often said, its not an exact science and we are dealing with natures so its unpredictable. However if you study these few paragraphs and think about the type of trip you want it should help. Start planning 🙂