Showing posts with label Fly Fishing the Blackwater Cork. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Fly Fishing the Blackwater Cork. Show all posts

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Diving Full Length Into Six Inches of Water by Alan Cogan

fly fishing ireland

It wasn’t going to be easy. Here we were in the middle of the best stretch of weather for years, clear blue skies and soaring daytime temperatures. The arm was getting twitchy, weeks without a cast except for mackerel bashing, but there is only so many of those you can catch on the fly rod before even that becomes a chore.

To say conditions weren’t conducive to salmon fly fishing would be an understatement. Knowing that the River Blackwater was down to its bones did not bode well, however all things aside I still felt there could be a chance of sport if I could get the time and location right.

With the heat, sun and blue skies, fishing during social hours wouldn’t yield anything except a bad dose of sunburn, conditions dictated a dawn raid or else fishing into darkness. Rolling over in the bed at 5 a.m. on a Sunday morning really only left one option, it would have to be an evening sortie.

Doing the family thing during the day didn’t bother me as I knew that any chance of sport would have been hopeless so I arrived at the Beat at 9 p.m. Having fished this particular stretch for over 15 years, and bearing in mind the high water temperature I knew that if there was going to be any fish around the chances were extremely high that they would lie below a man made groyne that oxygenated the water to some extent.

I had to decide on a stealthy approach and knew that skagit tactics weren’t going to be the order of the day. Setting up a 10’ #7 rod with a long leader and small flies really was the only choice, as to the fly it didn’t really matter as long as it was small and imparted some life as it would swing around. Fishing around in my overfilled fly box I chose a size 12 shrimp fly. Working down from the groyne I fished the stretch, as I had done for numerous years.

As is often the case my mind wandered to times when this stretch of water yielded me some feisty fish, the time in extremely heavy water I managed to hang on to a 12lb bar of silver that had literally exploded on my brass monkey. And then there it was, yes, the rock that I had waded past for numerous years, except, this evening, in my fishing stupor I had forgotten all about. Over I went, and not being small of stature caused a considerable din to the surrounding wildlife. Knee one wounded.

It was surprisingly refreshing to immerse oneself in the river, certainly it eased the body temperature and actually came as a welcome relief. Wading to the bank taking off my tee shirt and squeezing the remnants of water that the river had kindly given up was cathartic, it wasn’t as if I was going to chill in the balmy evening temperatures.

Hobbling back to the place of my dignity removal I lengthened line and watched as a strong pull took the line from my hand. It must have been a nice trout I mused, after all, in spite of my bravado I really didn’t expect anything else would be lying in no more than three feet of oxygenated water in these conditions.
The beat being short I finished out my cumbersome casting routine and returned to the top of the groyne. It was going to be worth one more shot, just in case, but the reality was it was beginning to darken and I knew I still had to traipse through two fields, one of which was populated by a herd of frisky bullocks, somewhat like a bunch of teenagers on a street corner just waiting for an opportunity to laugh at my predicament. Limping past them, I would be a sitting duck.

The take was not subtle. A savage wrench and a lifting of the rod indicated that this was no 6oz brownie having an evening snack waiting for hatch of the day to come on. I’m still puzzled a few months after how the fish took well below me yet in the space of half a second exploded in an arc directly across from me. It was pretty obvious that this was a good fish and that I would do well to land him.

The space was limited for this man against fish battle. Swimming directly towards me didn’t help the situation as I frantically handlined slack fully expecting there to be a slack line followed by a number of expletives filing the warm air, however, miraculously there he still was, the tip of the rod pulsing under his weight.

Ten minutes or more of battle ensued and I knew he was tiring, the runs were weaker and I began to gain an advantage. I knew from experience that the water shallowed on the left bank but that there was no room to walk the fish up the bank as there were overhanging trees. Possibly, and just possibly, with the shorter rod, if I held the rod above half way on its length I could manoeuvre the fish onto the small gravel bank.

I surprised myself, a plan actually worked, holding the rod and applying gentle strain I managed to beach the salmon but still was not happy with his positioning as he tail flapped inches from the waters edge. Holding the line in my hand I gave a gentle pull to pull him further from escape. That is when it happened, that sickening moment when you hear a pop and as the line goes slack, I had only pulled the fly out of his mouth!!

Now I’m one of the people who think fish may not be intelligent but they are intuitive, this fish was no different, although played out he saw his future ahead of him as getting the chance to contribute to the repopulation of this fine species as opposed to ending up at the end of a filleting knife. Somehow, in my clumsiness I not only pulled the hook out of his mouth but gave him a push start on his quest for freedom. I really couldn’t have screwed up so spectacularly if I had tried. The next second or two played out in slow motion. Frantic tail swiping and expletives and this vision going through my head of the salmon and steelhead runs in Canada watching salmon frantically swim through inches of water evading the jaws of bears.

Don’t ask me how or why, call it instinct call it stupidity but it just happened. Now it’s a long time since I tackled a person on a rugby pitch, mostly unsuccessfully I might add, but still it happened.  Diving full length after a fish really isn’t to be recommended but knowing the chances of landing a fish were so slight it just happened. Knee two wounded!

Miraculously because the fish wasn’t a grilse my left hand grabbed the tail and my right the head. He must have been one extremely annoyed fish, inches from freedom, and yet now the game was up. Standing there with two wounded knees, damaged pride, a wet tee shirt and a fine fish, was it worth it, would I do it again? First chance I get I’ll hobble on down there past the laughing bullocks!