Up to my Neck in it
Temperatures and calm conditions meant that the first real hatch of fly on the lakes had finally started. Many of the lakes around the country had experienced some hatches of Ducklfly over last weekend and early this week. .
As I do shift work and I am off during the week, so I mostly escape the flotilla of boats that normally arrive on the lakes at the weekend. Unfortunately this really has not worked out for me over last few weeks as the weather seems to become more pleasant as I arrive to work and the weather gets nasty again on my days off, a cruel world.
It was hard not to notice Lough Lene in Collinstown had fished really well over the last few days in calm conditions, with duckly hatching and the fish feeding in the surface layers. So off I went, my first outing on a lake and I was really looking forward to it, although the forecast was terrible.
Conditions were very pleasant when I arrived at the lake shore, I set up two rods, both with floating lines. Two 10ft rods, one a 7 weight and the other an 8th weight. The heavier 8th weigth rod was set up with an 18 foot 3 fly, 8lb flurocarbon cast. The top dropper was 8ft from the floating line,the middle dropper 5ft from the top dropper and the point fly 5ft from the middle dropper. As the duckfly are small chironomids, I positioned two size 14 scruffy buzzers on the first two droppers and a size 12 epoxy buzzer on the point to help steady the cast in the waves.
The other rod was set up with a 16 fooft 2 fly tapered monofilament cast, using fine tippet material is esential in presenting small flys correctly. Flurocarbon sinks quickly and is great when you are repeatedly casting, but if are stalking fish along reed lines and shorelines, leaving your cast out for longer than normal monofilament is better. Selection of dry flies to use is quite difficult , as there are so many patterns to choose from these days. I chose a small black size 14 bits on the top dropper and a size 12 black clinkhammer on the point.
After a couple of drifts fishing buzzers without a touch and with the wind steadily increasing and even with a drogue out the back of the boat , the boat was not very stable. I decided to take a spin around the lake and see if there were fly hatching any where else. My search was in vain, so I decided to take a break for lunch on the lee side of the lake for comfort and to check out the trees to see if there was any fly about in the tree.
Sure enough there were some fly in the trees but not many, the wind had got up now and was blowing quite hard, a few boats were anchored off the rushes in the calm. I shook the trees and a few duckly blew out into the lake. Sure enough up came the fish and took the flies as they were blown across the water. I set up the boat and threw the drogue out into the bed of rushes, it slowed me down , but all the fish were feeding within 20 feet of the edge of the rushes , so the drifts were over quite quickly. On my second drift i hooked and lost a fish straight away and two casts later another fish took the clinkhammer on point. Shortly afterwards I landed my first rainbow of the year on Lough Lene in 2017. A well conditioned 2lb plus trout.
I use a stomach pump on trout that I release, to see what they are eating. The fish had about a dozen buzzer pupae in him. Each drift lasted no longer than 5 minutes and the fish were hugging the edges of the reeds. After about another 8 or so drifts I landed one more rainbow of similar size to the first one, but I lost four more in the reeds.
Frustrated I moved back down the lake thinking to myself, at least I had not blanked i could put something up on my blog. An area I had seen fish move earlier was worth another go. Setting up the drift i could feel the wind was getting up and down and as it was about 4pm I had not much time left. I drifted the area twice and rose six fish that seemed to nudge the drys but did not really want them.
It was cold and it was windy, there was nothing for it but to tie the boat up and fish from the bank. It is unusual to leave a dry and warm boat to plunge into the icy water, but if I wanted to fish my flies right. Needs must and all that. Lucky enough i had brought my Fjord Waders with me on this trip, they are double lined, keeps the chill out.
Wading out into the lake with my buzzer set up, I saw a fish move some 25 yards away, casting out into the area where I had seen the fish. I had just settled myself into position when the line went slowly tight, I lifted nice and easy into the fish and the floating line melted of the reel. After what seemed like an age the fish came closer and closer, I could see the fish wallowing in the clear water. It was a deep girthed fish, it had the lenght a five pounder but by the bend in my rod it was a little bigger. Finally I slid the net under the fish. A few quick photos and the digital scales wfent a ounce under 7lbs. My biggest off Lough lene from the bank. It was a really narly old fish with scars , huge girth and a huge paddle as a tail. Hopefully i might be fortunate to catch her when she reaches 10lb. I took four more fish quickly on epoxy buzzers before takes dried up. The fish had moved higher in the water, but even changing to a washing line set up enabling me to fish the flies higher in the water did not work.
I went back to the boat and changed to the dry fly set up. Again the fish nosed the clink, so I changed to a shipman buzzer. That seemed to do the trick as I hooked most fish that came within casting distance. One fish in particular took me into the backing 4 or 5 times. The culprit was a 3.5lb overwintered bar of silver. It was amazing to see the speed of the fish as they motored out of the shallows at frightening speed.
It was always nice to see the fish feeding from a different angle whilst wading in the lake and I am sure I was able to guess the direction of feeding fish a little better, as I watched them feed at eye level. Fishing from the bank is something I do not do that often on these larges loughs, but I will be doing it more in the future, as long as I remember my Fjord wadrs and my thermals that is.