Friday, 3 April 2015

Springers on the Finn

I'm just back from 3 super days after springers on Donegal's River Finn. Easter holidays have arrived for me and this was an ideal opportunity for a few days fishing. The past week had seen a considerable amount of rain so luckily the river was in good ply for most of my trip.

The view from the Ivy Bridge in big water.

I arrived at Glenmore Sunday afternoon to a river with 4ft on the gauge so fishing was out. A right few beers and a catch up with new fishery manager, Jarlath Winters and two fellow anglers, Roly and Johnny, made for an afternoon of great craic.

There was 2ft on the gauge at Glenmore Bridge on Monday morning although it was raining fairly steadily.
Myself and Jarlath started at Mc Ginty's where I had a solid pull about halfway down the pool. A change to a smaller fly initially and then to a big Frances brought no further response. We had no luck at Keys either but Jarlath received a call from season rod, John Gilfillen to say that he had just landed a fish at Glenmore Pool. There was a super prize and trophy up for grabs for the first Glenmore salmon landed and John was well chuffed with his winnings. Well done John!
The river subsequently became unfishable due to the rain so we had no choice but to sit it out and hope Tuesday would bring better conditions.

 Prizes for catching Glenmore's first salmon and John Gilfillen's fly that did the damage.

 Sunset at Glenmore Bridge

Horrific weather was forecast for Tuesday and dawn saw gales and the river sitting at 3'6''. We had the Ivy Bridge Beat at our disposal for the day and there wasn't another person anywhere else on the river. The downstream gale and high water conditions meant that it was gonna be a day for the skagit and 10ft of T14 level tip. There were only a few showers knocking about and the water was clear and dropping steadily. At that height of water, the best option is going to be the bottom of the Graveyard so we started there in the crazy weather conditions. I matched the 510grain skagit switch line to a 11'6'' Loop Goran Anderson Signature Spey which Loop pro team member, Stuart Foxall had kindly sent over for myself and Liam to try. This rod is an absolute cannon and handled the high winds with ease. Usually I need a rod of at least 12'6'' to handle the Graveyard in big water, but the GASS 11'6'' was a revelation and I could cover the entire pool with ease. We had no action however so we headed back up to the top of the beat to try the 'V' which can often throw up a fish in big water. No luck there either so we decided that lunch was now required. 

 Throwing the skagit on the V with the Loop GASS 11'6'' #8

Wading the Graveyard.

I resumed the search alone at the Graveyard in the early afternoon. The water was now dropping nicely and was striking in its clarity. I decided to try something quite dark in colour and tied on a wee brown  foxwing tube with a few turns of yellow grizzle softhackle and grey grizzle softhackle. This looked the part in the water and I got stuck in with renewed confidence. At this stage, I spotted a fish turn beside me and then I got a good take which resulted in a few headshakes before coming off. By this stage, the water had dropped sufficiently for me to be able to wade the top part of the graveyard and it was here that I hooked and landed my first springer of the season; a nice bright fish of about 5lb. After sending the fish on its way, I continued down the pool and got another decent pull right at the very end of the pool. Plenty of action for a March afternoon so I was well pleased to get off the mark for 2015.

The fly that caught my 1st fish of 2015

A lovely bright Finn fish.

Safely landed and about to go back.

The water had dropped to just under 2ft the following morning. Jarlath and I began by fishing the corner pool and Martin's with nothing to report. Jarlath returned to the lodge to catch up on some paperwork so I headed up to try Mc Ginty's and Key's.The gales of the previous day had abated and I changed from the skagit to a short Zpey float/S5 shooting head. This head is ideal for rivers such as the Finn. The angler can adjust the floating section of the line to fish around rocks and other obstacles while the sinking section really digs in and gets down to those springers lying hard on the bottom. I like to use a long tapered leader with sinking heads. Henrik Mortenson described this method to me at a seminar last year, the theory being that the sinking head drags the long leader and light fly down the water column where the fly is able to waft seductively in front of the fish. On this occasion, the method worked and I tightened into a decent fish in front of a submerged boulder well down the pool. I played the fish, which was really gleaming silver, for about 5 minutes before it threw the fly after some pretty aggressive headshaking. Sickened, I struggled to concentrate sufficiently while fishing out the rest of the pool so I left Mc Ginty's and headed downstream to try Key's, The air temperature had taken a noticeable drop and the constant rain had caused the river to rise so with no action forthcoming at Key's, I returned to the lodge for lunch and a catch up with fellow anglers.

There were perfect water conditions Thursday morning but unfortunately I had an appointment back in Louth which had slipped my mind so I had to drag myself to the car and head back down the road. Still, three great days of fishing for spring salmon has boosted confidence as the season progresses. I can't wait for my next trip back to the Finn.

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