Chris McCully

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Fishers and men in Kerry

Friday, 28 July 2017 at 17:35

Fisherman Just back from Kerry, where we enjoyed a tough trip fishing for brown trout (in Derriana), bass (off the coast around Waterville and beyond) and salmon (in the River Inny). We did catch trout and they had an interesting story to tell us; we did catch - well, almost everyone but me caught - bass; and all of us abjectly failed in our attempts to catch a salmon despite perfect conditions. That last phrase is astonishing because even Goldenballs failed to catch a salmon...though he did catch a magnificent bass on the fly-rod, so I suppose he shall be forgiven. (Jesus, after all, was 'ere.)

In the images below you'll find some snapshots of our adventures. It was a grand and demanding week. Many thanks to our friends in Kerry for their hospitality, kindness, conversations and angling acumen.

Kerry bass: Schoolie

Friday, 28 July 2017 at 17:32

Schoolie The schoolies here in Essex run 1-2lb.and are sometimes smaller. In Kerry, where the coastal feeding is rich, the schoolies run 2-3lb. and are a wonderful angling proposition, though working out wind, tide and accessibility are ever-demanding aspects of fishing for them, particularly when you're working with the fly-rod.

   Here's Gardiner with a very fit school bass of around 3lb. The fish took a Clouser.

Kery bass: the river mouth

Friday, 28 July 2017 at 17:23

Mouth of the Inny I grant you it's not much of a snapshot, but we were all occupied watching and photographing Goldenballs tussling with what turned out to be a magnificent bass of c.8lb. (27½ inches long). The fish took a Clouser pattern in the mouth of the river. Strangely, and although five of us were fishing, it was the only fish that took during that morning, and the session seemed much more dour than our session the day before, when a high wind made the surf run and when the sea was full of activity - terns hunting sandeels and gannets diving out in the bay. That was an exhilarating experience altogether.

  This bass took Goldenballs well into the backing. To the observer (me), while the tussle progressed the line seemed at times to stretch almost horizontally from the rod-tip, so far away was the fish. It was a great moment when the bass was drawn up the beach - and better still when the fish swam away strongly after being unhooked, photographed and released.

Above Derriana

Friday, 28 July 2017 at 17:20

Above Derriana The loughs of the Cummeragh system - Derriana, Cloonaghlin, Namona, Currane and Capall Lough -all hold sea-trout but there are some tiny corrie loughs above Derriana. These are now inaccessible from Derriana though I have a hunch that in millennia past sea-trout and even salmon ran up here. One evening of pouring rain and ravenous wind we walked up to these high corries and fished for tiny wild brown trout. I may be wrong, but I doubt these loughs have been fished this year - or for many years past. Angler: Rod Robinson, to whom much thanks.

Claret Bumble in Kerry

Friday, 28 July 2017 at 17:14

Irish sea-trout flies I love the design and the colours of so many traditional Irish sea-trout flies. Kingsmill Moore's Claret Bumble is one of the great lough flies and works just as well for wild browns as it does for white trout. This Bumble, a Raymond (variant) and a Watson's did brisk business on Derriana and I wouldn't be without any of these patterns in Ireland.

Derriana has always puzzled me, because it holds a more than generous stock of brown trout - well-made, beautifully-marked fish that can run up to 2-3lb. - and I'd signally failed to catch them until last week. It struck us all that Derriana is a wonderful option for visitors (and local anglers) if and when the sea-trout fishing on 'the big lough' - Currane - is difficult or slow.

  This image shows a selection of traditional Irish sea-trout flies ties by that master fly-dresser, Denis O'Toole.

Big Red

Sunday, 16 July 2017 at 09:43

Howard July rainbow Happy day at Grafham yesterday, with young Lord Seabrook. As ever, it wasn't altogether easy: there was a fitful, gusty wind bearing successive fronts (and occasional rain); there was a good wave, then a white-capped wave, then little wave to speak of; the fish were rising, then they weren't rising, then they were sort-of-rising-but-not-with-any-real-purpose.... All the usual variables.

We pulled fish early but they were more curious than determined. A couple took the peerless Pearly Dabbler (which I think they mistook for pin fry) and were duly boated. Yet it wasn't until we started pottering around in the weedbeds, late on in the day, that we found fish working the edge of the weeds. A dry Big Red cast at haphazard to the weed edge (or actually into gaps in the weed) brought a due response. Young Howard distinguished himself by taking a very fit rainbow (pictured) on a dry Ginger Hopper on a 4-weight wand more suited to 6-inch wild browns than to hard-scrapping, feisty Grafham rainbows, but that rainbow, too, was duly boated and very good-looking it was.

The tench rake

Thursday, 13 July 2017 at 08:48

Tench rake If you read older accounts of tench fishing there's usually a mention of raking out a swim prior to fishing. Question: what rake? I could drive to a boot sale, buy a couple of rakes, pillage them and fumble their heads together with rope.... Well, I could. Yet I don't have the time. Even half a day devoted to bodging is impossible at present. And so therefore I gratefully followed a tip on one of the internet forums, and directed myself to Jake's Rakes ( This splendid outfit supplies angling rakes in different sizes and complexities. I ordered one. It came. Simple as that.

The only problem now is that I won't be able to use the rake for a while - it'll be next month, I think, before I can clear the swim I have in mind. And then I shall do things properly: lobworms, red-topped porcupine quill, the lift method.

It's somehow greatly reassuring that in a time of terrifying loss of biodiversity there's still a company that makes tench rakes.

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