Sunday, 26 June 2016


Having been privileged enough to be born into a family with big fishing traditions, I have always fished. For as long as my memory extends, I can't remember a time when I didn't fish. In my very early teens I discovered an old copy of sea trout fishing by Hugh Falkus in my grandparents home and after very quickly digesting it cover to cover I became instantly captivated by the images his writings created in my imagination. Growing up on the south side of Dublin, meant a lot of my fly fishing skills were honed on the humble river dodder on evenings after school. I can remember as though it were yesterday, the first time the sea trout Hugh Falkus had created in my mind crashed into life out of a murky evening in Ballsbridge, when I stumbled across the small but underestimated sea trout population the dodder supports. From that moment on my fascination with perusing sea trout and with their mysterious life cycle was galvanized.

Fast forward a few years and I find myself living on the east coast on the Wexford/Wicklow border. The corresponding section of coastline luckily has so far escaped the clutches of intensive salmon farming and consequently has several rivers with healthy populations of migratory trout. The fast flowing, stoney rivers with relatively low productivity around here are perfectly suited to supporting large populations of sea run Browns. The main rivers south of Dublin are, the Dargle, the Vartry, the Avoca, the Ahare, the Ounavarragh and the slaney all of which I've been lucky enough to have access to, as well as many other small streams that support sea trout in varying degrees.

My 2016 sea trout season has thankfully started as I would like it to proceed with a few lovely trout finding their way to my net. Last night (24th June) I made my way to one of my favourite beats on the small but not to be under estimated river Vartry. Unlike later in the season when finnock often occupy every available lie, the larger fish that run early on, tend to travel in small pods intent on their upstream progress and only resting in prime lies. Consequently knowing the water your fishing is vital if you are to succeed. On the beat I was fishing there is a large "turn pool" which has carved its shape out of a fifty foot high sandbank under a Woodside on the north bank and a manicured cattle pasture on the south bank.

The narrow neck of the pool forces the river to speed up and scour downwards to depths of 10/12 ft then widening out into a pool that resembles a small lake, slowly shallowing to a gravely tail out. The depth this pool has, coupled with the overhanging trees and under cut banks makes it a top holding pool for sea trout. Generally I have two sets of tactics for sea trout in rivers, 1. Muddlers or small wets in shallow pools. OR 2. Larger wets or streamers fished slow and deep.

The later always produces the bigger fish for me. As I sat waiting for darkness several fished showed around the pool, mostly in inaccessible spots under trees on the far bank but I knew it likely there would be good numbers of fish in this pool so I waited patiently. As my surroundings lost their definition I decided to tie up a small white muddler, it was a warm muggy night with loads of sedges and white moths about and there was a good chance of bringing trout up to the surface. I started at the neck of the pool and systematically worked my way downstream casting at 45 degrees and retrieving with a slow figure of 8.

My Favorite Sea Trout Quote 

"Brown trout give themselves up to those who have skill, salmon to those who have money but the sea trout is a very different fish, to catch a sea trout you need soul"

Almost straight away I could hear the little splash of small resident trout and parr investigating my muddler occasionally punctuated by a loud plop or slurp of a curious sea trout but without the slightest contact with my fly. By the time I was half way down the pool I began to see a large disturbance in the tail out, which I credited to the helpful otter that had been travelling upstream with the sea trout since they began to run. This wasn't the first night mr otter had halted play of late and disappointed I reeled in. As I sat down on the bank, about to take out my phone and peruse done deal for more unneeded fly rods, I noticed the water had settled, maybe I had spooked mr otter I thought to myself. Not one to give up to easily I decided to tie on a wet and have another go. I picked out a long shank 6 that had tied myself, a silver tinsel body, blue hen false hackle, black Arctic fox wing with crystal hair overlaid with a few strands of peacock hurl and topped with a bit of teal !!!!

I went back to the top of the pool and started to work my way down again, this time casting more at a right angle to the bank in an effort to get the wet a bit deeper and a slightly faster swing as the line straightens, still retrieving with a very slow figure of 8. As I went down the pool I could feel the odd tap and tickle at my fly which were more than likely curious parr. On just about my last cast, right in the tail out of the pool where I thought the otter had been my line stopped dead and before I knew it a large silver lump was hurtling through the air shattering the silence. After what seemed like about 20 crazy leaps when the fish stayed in the water long enough to run it stripped me nearly to my backing. A few hectic minutes later, a plump sea trout of about 3lbs was in my net. A quick photo and the fish dashed into the depths of the pool as quick as it had hit my fly.

I rested the pool for about 20 minutes and then repeated the process, low and behold in nearly exactly the same spot I connected with a second fish, wen it came to the net it was a slimmer slightly smaller fish of around 2lbs. Satisfied with my achievements and mindful of the busy days work I had that was fast approaching I packed up and went on my way.
I regularly ask myself what it is about sea trout fishing that is so captivating and I regularly don't come up with an answer. But it's without doubt, once your are bitten by the bug of sea trout fishing there is no cure.

Monday, 20 June 2016

The Complete Angler

The Complete Angler is a film by James Prosek (artist/writer), Fritz Mitchell (producer/editor) and Peter Franchella (cinematographer). It documents Prosek's travels as he walks in the footsteps of the 17th century English writer, Izaak Walton—"research" for his senior thesis at Yale. The film focuses on Walton's book, The Compleat Angler, a book that many have heard of but few have actually read.

Chapter 1 - James leaves Connecticut for Ireland and England, catching a few trout in his home streams and musing about his youth, fishing, and some Waltonian ideals. He visits the library at Yale and examines a first edition of Walton's Compleat Angler from 1653. Then he sits for a reading of Yeat's poem, The Song of Wandering Aengus, by Harold Bloom.

Chapter 2 - James goes to Ireland to experience the earliest form of fly-fishing, dapping live mayflies impaled on fine-wire hooks for brown trout on the lakes of the Connemara region. He visits with a boy who collects and sells live mayflies to the fishermen, and salmon fishes along the Eriff River.

Chapter 3 - James fishes a tributary of the Thames in London that Walton fished three hundred and fifty years before, the River Lea. Walton was forced out of London during the English Civil War and returned to the pastoral beauty of his homeland in Derbyshire and the beautiful River Dove in the Peak District.

Chapter 4 - James visits the "fishing temple" on the River Dove, which Charles Cotton (considered the father of modern fly-fishing) built in honor of his friend Izaak Walton.

Chapter 5 - James fishes with Sir John Swire, an upper-class Englishman who talks about his love of fishing and of Izaak Walton's ideals and life philosophy.

Chapter 6 - James visits Victoria Wakefield who helped him secure fishing on the renowned chalk streams, the Test and Itchen in Hampshire. She introduces him to Roger Harrison, who owns a beautiful stretch of water on the Itchen with lots of wild trout. There, James encounters a milkmaiden.

Final Chapter - James visits Izaak Walton's grave in a chapel in Winchester Cathedral, and discusses the last years of his life. Then he sings a song in a meadow by the river and returns to the fishing at the pond near his home in Connecticut.

To Purchase the DVD please visit

Friday, 17 June 2016

Protest March for Cessation of Pike Management Operations by Inland Fisheries Ireland

Concerned anglers, angling and wildlife groups and members of the general public will be holding the second of a series of planned protests in a bid to bring about cessation of Pike Management Operations by Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI). Pike Management Operations cause damage to fish, wildlife and rural economies. IFI are systematically eradicating one of Ireland native fish species without valid scientific or economic justification at huge expense to the Irish tax payer.

The first protest was held on the 24th March 2016 outside IFI headquarters and attracted huge numbers, great support internationally and national media coverage.

This protest will take the cause to the heart of government by taking place at the gates of Dail Eireann from 3:30pm to 6:00pm on the 5th July 2016. Please show your support by attending.

Visit the facebook page here

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

The Ones That Got Away

After a Tuesday fishing on the River Test, near Southampton in Southern England, Trevor is walking from the pier carrying two brown trout in a bucket.

He is approached by a Water Conservation Officer who asks him for his fishing license.

Trevor replies to the environmentalist, 'I was not fishing and I did not catch these brown trout, they are my pets. Every day I come down to the water and put these fish into the water and take them for a walk to the end of the pier and back. When I'm ready to go I whistle and they jump back into the bucket and we go home.

The officer, obviously, does not believe him and he reminds Trevor that it is illegal to fish without a license. The fisherman turns to the warden and says, 'If you don't believe me then watch, 'and he throws the trout back into the water.

The warden says, 'Now whistle to your fish and show me that they will jump out of the water and into the bucket.'

The fisherman turns to the officer and says, 'What fish?'