John had jokingly said “no two days are the same in Kerry” and he was right! After the wind and rain of the previous day we were greeted with sunny blue skies littered with broken fair weather cloud and calm winds on this the third day of our trip. It had all the hallmarks of a tough day on the bass front but with the previous days rain it did give us a different opportunity which John put to us… the river would have a bit of flood water so the option of trying for a salmon was now definitely in play… why not eh?
Quick stop off en-route to get licences and we were on our way for a completely different day in Kerry. Fishing for the salmon here is all single barbless hooks and strictly catch and release. It was spinning gear for me and both spinning and fly for Andy who had done a bit on the fly in years gone by. After a drive up the Inny valley and a couple of stop offs by John showing us marks we would fish later in the day we arrived at the start point for our jaunt on the river where he gave us the insight into how we should be spinning for the salmon here as well as giving Andy a refresher on the fly technique required. A little walk upstream until we found a pool where John said I should start and suggested a practice cast or two… I only had a follow first cast with the fish turning away last minute! That however was nothing compared to Andy who walked maybe 100 yards upstream from me to another pool where within a matter of minutes he hooked a salmon on the fly…. pretty good for a bloke who, by his own admission, has not fly fished in years and never for salmon! After a lovely scrap John slipped the net underneath and within the first half hour we had a salmon on the bank and then safely released!
What a cracking start…. this salmon fishing must be easy eh? Oh how wrong one can be! We then fished the river hard for a few hours for nothing at all until an inspired spinner change from John got me into a fish! The take on the spinner felt for a split second that the lure had been snagged but then all hell broke loose with the fish hurling itself out of the water and running first up then back down stream. Just when I thought I had it under control and it was coming towards the net off it went again at a rate of knots. Finally, though it was beat and John was able to slide the net underneath a lovely fresh run grilse with a hand shake to follow! A proper good scrap!
Andy had a another take on the fly that dropped but other than that we then went fishless for the rest of the time on the river but we were more than happy to both have had our first Irish salmon!
Now, I can’t really leave our day on the river there without fronting up to my clumsiness and the general hilarity at my expense which John, with that Irish mischievous tinkle in his eye and knowledge of my blunder-bus ways, had the foresight to have his camera at the ready for!!! Let me set the scene… we needed to cross over two barbed wire fences about a metre apart with thicket in between – things looked ominous when first John and then Andy both struggled over the fences which were, let’s just say, less than rigid. So, John – camera at the ready was in prime position for what followed… I’ll let the video do the talking!!!
Needless to say both John and Andy were justifiably wetting themselves with laughter barely able to talk in the field beyond that damn fence!! It goes down as a classic that’s for sure!!
Anyway, back to the fishing! With the day on the river done and back at base we still fancied having an evening session for the bass at the mouth of the estuary where it met the surf and met up with Nick down there as the tide ebbed. White senkos were the order of the day in the small tables of surf where we waded to waist height and cast out. As darkness fell (though the full moon made it feel somewhat lighter), we started to notice sand eels skitting across the surface and all around our feet – literally thousands of them – when you moved you stirred them up even more! We started to get pulls on the senkos but no definite takes which was frustrating and which we put down to small bass though of course we could not be certain. We moved along the bay and it was the same all the way – just thick with sand eels. Eventually, Andy and myself decided our day had been long enough and bid our farewell for the night to Nick and started to walk back to the car…. only to get a wolf whistle as we were half way back – a quick flash of red beams on the head torches confirmed it was Nick and we guessed what was coming next! Sure enough by the time we got to him he had a nice 65cm bass on the sand in absolutely beautiful condition which had rammed into his senko! That was pretty much it though and we headed back to Thatched Cottage to get our heads down.
Tough day. Don’t ever go to Ireland thinking the bass fishing is easy and if you want to talk about fishing in weather that’s all over the place then today was the day. We covered a lot of venues in quick spurts but could we find bass…. not so much as a sniff. The wind direction was inconsistent at best starting north to north westerly and for August it was cold with what seemed like incessant heavy squalls coming through…at times it felt more like November! We did hook into some small pollack and a surprise coalfish at one mark but that was it – not even a hint of bass during the morning. Back to base for lunch and a brew where we met John’s mate Ian who was over for an extended period from the UK – another fishing fanatic! The afternoon took us east around the bay to some decent looking bass marks but by now the skies had cleared and it was bright sunshine with the wind still coming in from the north but ever so slowly dropping off. We just couldn’t buy a bass so decided to bail early with a view to heading out under the cover of darkness which, after dinner, we did along with Nick once again. The water was much calmer now and it didn’t look too promising but the sand eels were back in their droves so it was on with the senkos again with more occasional plucks before yours truly finally caught a small bass of a couple of pounds…. it wasn’t really happening though and we all took the opportunity to have a relatively early night and were back at the ranch by midnight pretty tired out!
Ireland 2017 – Part 3 to follow!
Until next time…