I always look forward to April. Tyrone's River Mourne opens again and there is always a chance of a Springer from opening day. Of course, myself and Liam 'Switchboy' Woods got ourselves up to give the Sion Mills AC water a throw at the end of opening week. We both had some new toys to try out and the bitterly cold weather which had persisted for most of March was finally abating. Liam is a real fan of switch rods; in fact Guideline switch rods to be precise. During the close season however, he got his hands on a Guideline LeCie 14'8'' #9/10 and a range of Guideline heads to try out. The Mourne is a big river and a proper double hander is not out of place although a switch rod is great fun to use in low water and no wind.
Liam manages an ultra tight loop at Purgatory.
I had been on the lookout for a mid-sized double hander for a while and I decided to plump for a Sage Z-Axis 12'9'' #8. American anglers raved about this rod and I got plenty of advice for the members of the Speypages forum. I picked it up in the Bridge Guns and Tackle shop in Strabane before heading to the office in Sion Mills to get the permits sorted. Weather conditions for the day were very bright but it made a welcome change from the cold. I teamed the new stick with a Rio AFS Float/S1 head and a polyleader. A well balanced outfit is great to cast and the Sage didn't disappoint. The sinking tip of the AFS did seem to stick a bit initially, but I soon got the hang of it. Water conditions were low so we decided to start at Purgatory and work our way downriver.
Banana Bottle Tube
We fished hard all morning and worked our way down from Purgatory, through the Long Streams, the Back of the Mill and down to the Woodhole until the flow got a bit too sluggish. No fish on this occasion, however. This stretch of river is one of my all time favourite spots to fish, lovely streams which fish the fly really well and which can be very productive.
Back of the Mill.
After dinner, we went down to the bottom of the Sion Mills fishery and fished Lords and the Blackstone. We took a walk down to Haggins' but the was another angler fishing the run so we left him at it. We headed up to give the Grevenue a throw before finishing off. Part of the Sion experience is sitting at the Grevenue and having the craic with the local characters and this evening was no exception.
All in all, a great day. No fish, perhaps, but one will turn up soon.
The following day myself and Liam collected fishing buddy James Casey and headed, yet again, for the enigmatic Lackagh. Water levels were dead low and we were in no rush to start early. We aimed to fish at the top of the tide and perhaps intercept a fish fresh in, but it didn't happen.
The previous Tuesday, I fished the Slaney in Co.Wexford for the first time. Rumours had it that it was fishing well, so when I found myself with an afternoon to spare while in Dublin for a few days, I decided to take myself down to Wexford to check it out for myself. I fished at the Farmleigh beat between Bunclody and Enniscorthy. The Slaney is a far cry from the Foyle rivers of the North West. It flows from Carlow, southbound through Wexford and empties into the Irish Sea at Wexford town. I was advised that water levels were a bit high for Farmleigh but I got stuck in regardless with the 14' LPXe. Fishing at Farmleigh was tricky. The river was too high for wading in many place and stiff upstream breeze made for tricky casting. I didn't see any fish or get any touches, but it was nice to try out a new river.
Gin clear on the Slaney.
On a side note, it looks like the fishing will have to take back seat for the next few weeks. I spent the weekend on the IASC guiding course in the Loughs Agency HQ in Derry. The course means no fishing for a few weekends but it will be well worthwhile. I've met some great people, mostly from the North west area, but some from further afield also. I'm looking forward to the next few weekends of craic, learning and banter.