A cool and dry start to the day in Foxford. The river is now at 0.9m at Ballylaahan bridge, it’s coming back into nice order. I was chatting to a member of the Ballina Salmon Anglers club and he tells me that despite a fair amount of angling effort there has been no sign of a fish down there yet. I drove past Ballylahan bridge on Monday and was happy to see that work is progressing with the new anglers’ benches on the East mayo anglers stretch. Its nice to see a club improving facilities for anglers and these benches are a nice touch.
Locally I have noticed that the last flood has changed the riverbank slightly. A hole has appeared behind the big rock. I’m not sure was it that the rock moved which is unlikely or did the bank just collapse but there’s a hole on the path where I was standing a week ago, a broken leg waiting to happen! Changes like this are common on the river and it’s not just the banks that we can see that change, the bed of the river also changes.
No matter how well we know or assume we know the river the start of the season is always interesting. To use geographical terms, erosion and deposition occur throughout the winter. Storms, floods and freezing conditions all have their own effect. If you have ever witnessed a decent flood and seen the debris it carries you can imagine what happens. This debris, and I can safely say I have seen most things you can imagine being swept along, scrapes and scours its way along. The banks get eaten away and pieces fall away. Rocks and stones move and in places branches or indeed trees become lodged. The end result is that the river we spent all last season studying is now a different thing.
We have all had a favourite “throw”, a spot where we knew fish rested and time and time again, we took fish from. That spot in a pool where we knew it was going to happen. That spot to which we returned in spring only to find it didn’t happen anymore. Yes, it changed, something happened during the winter and the fish no longer rest there.
On some occasions these changes are small but sometimes they are quite major. I have often seen several meters of bank gone and know farmers who have lost considerable chunks of their land. I know of one pool where a hole several feet deep developed, not only did this change the behaviour of the fish, it made what was relatively safe wading, lethal. I witnessed one angler who “knew” the pool taking an unexpected dive during which he got quite a scare along with losing his car keys, an expensive lesson.
All this activity is what makes the start of the new season interesting, we have the opportunity to explore and discover. Miles of water where we can search for a new lie, our own secret spot. Its hard to do, I know. Our time is precious and, on a day, when we do get to the river, we try to make the best of it, searching for a new lie is not our first priority. However, it is something well worth doing because as surely as you have discovered fish no longer lie in a spot you have fished for many years you will find they now lie somewhere else. Once again observation is key, walk the banks and look for changes, a cast here and a cast there where you would not normally have tried, a chat with fellow anglers. It could all be very rewarding and discovering this lie can be as satisfying as catching the fish.
Here’s a link to a video I made a few years ago, imagine the changes this event made. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VxW8FmI0bmI Oh dear, I just raelised that was twelve years ago, seems like yesterday…