Chris McCully

Fishing Diary

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Donegal 1: Tough days

Monday, 23 July 2018 at 15:45

Salmon singles Just back from Donegal and a week's work on feature articles. Given that Donegal is experiencing its worst drought since 1976 it wasn't altogether surprising that we didn't catch salmon, despite an artificial flood on the little R. Clady; it wasn't surprising, either, that we caught barely a handful of finnock (small sea-trout), though I did lose one very good fish which took a Snake on the estuary in a squally wind. Pity about that one. We did, however, have a couple of grand days' trout fishing on clear, alkaline loughs where the trout can sometimes run big. The lakes surprised me, largely because they are alkaline and the fish can run to large sizes. Until now I'd always (ignorantly) associated Donegal with bog, scree and sea-trout so it was a delight to find high-quality wild brown trout fishing in that county.

Donegal 2: New Lake

Monday, 23 July 2018 at 15:40

Trout from New Lake New Lake (Dunfanaghy) was created by an Atlantic storm in 1917. Over the years the Dunfanaghy Angling Association has worked hard to maintain and improve the fishing here - as at neighbouring Port and Sessiagh loughs. New Lake has been justifiably described as a 'Lough Carra in miniature...but without the marl': it's gin-clear, long drifts are possible, and the lake is nowhere more than six feet deep. We had a splendid day here, catching abundant trout that ran to the pound, but much bigger fish are caught each season.

Donegal 3: Port Lough

Monday, 23 July 2018 at 15:37

A drift on Port Port Lough lies hard by Sessiagh and holds another grand stock of fish, though the trout don't run to the same sizes as in Sessiagh or New Lake. Nevertheless, if you adjust your expectations you can - you will - have a lovely day out with traditional Irish wet-flies and dry flies, catching trout which are beautifully spotted and marked and which run to 10oz. or so. A pounder would be a good one. Fiery Brown and Olive Bumble worked for me as wet-flies, as did Sedgehog Hoppers and Daddies fished dry.

Donegal 4: I have to fish with these men...

Monday, 23 July 2018 at 15:32

Coming in Yes, if I need any excuse for my abject lack of angling skill it's because I'm obliged to fish with men like these.(They're in truth highly skilled, dedicated professionals, but for the purpose of this entry let's suppose that they aren't.) After all, I have missed many, many brown and sea-trout over the years, particularly when fishing from boats, because I was laughing so hard.

   The lough is L. Sessiagh, close to Dunfanaghy. It holds a good head of trout which can run to mind-shaking sizes - and it hosts charr, too, in its 70-foot depths.

Spoons dressed and naked

Friday, 13 July 2018 at 16:37

Dressed spoon Just an afterthought to the entry below. After those greedy little bass had run me out of fake ragworms I persisted for a while with a naked spoon. The bass did not appreciate nudity. They wanted the spoon dressed with fake ragworm or they didn't want it at all. I wonder now, though, whether a spoon dressed with a sliver of mackerel, or with a sandeel, might not work even better?

Today also persuaded me yet again of how opportunistic bass are. They'll get into any riff, any forming current, any place where food will be carried to them and can be hunted easily. Some bass today were even using coloured water (a particularly strong tidal push) in which to 'hide', predating from there into clearer water either side of the tidal, silt-loaded current.

Chateau Hopeless

Friday, 13 July 2018 at 16:00

Vintage Owing to an unusually busy exam. season at work it's been impossible to fish. Since catching that surprising tench last month, I enjoyed just one trip to a broiling Grafham (Mark three, self none despite rising three to dry flies, air temp. scorching)...and that was it. This week, however, the pressures have eased so it was out with the spoons and fake ragworms again in an increasingly ludicrous attempt to catch flounders. I fished a mark new to me - local anglers told me that it did host flounders, though there were few left because they were often used as bait in commercial lobster pots - and thoroughly enjoyed the hours around high water. First I caught a little bass; then another. They were clearly the same two bass that have been tormenting me since May, but on this occasion they'd brought their little friends. I ended up with eight small bass, all released of course. There were some tentative knocks which might have been flounders...but then again they might not. As things were, the bass had been so greedy that they'd run me down to the last fake worm.
    Meanwhile the hot, dry weather continues. It's tough to watch the garden going so thirsty but at least the vines are doing well - so well that for the first time I've been able to grow grapes. The summer of 2018 is clearly intent on creating a vintage Chateau Hopeless.

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