Dan O’Neil reports from the south east where high water is playing a large part in determining where fishing is possible

Water levels remain very high, and it seems every time I look out my window it’s raining so I find myself poking around the riverbank looking for small little nooks and crannies that may hold a trout or two.

I have recently been trying out a couple of fly rods, one being a 9ft 5wt and the other a 10ft 5wt. The 10ft 5wt is going to be my new wet fly rod and the 9ft 5wt is going to be the “spud masher” as a good friend called his go-to fly rod. Given conditions I have recently been focusing mostly on streamer fishing. I have gone to different people around the country and sought advice on the technique, set up and various other necessities when it comes to streamer fishing. Some didn’t point me in the direction of a 5wt and advised me to go to 6wt or 7wt while others said to fire away with the “spud masher”. I also questioned leader set ups and tried to find out what was the “go-to” set up. If I was to listen to them all would end up with a suitcase full of leaders.

So, the conclusion I came to was do what works for you. It will take some trial and error, what works for me might not work for you. However, you do need a starting point. I will list below the set up I have used since the 17th of March and the conditions I used it in.

  • Rod: Cadence SM 9ft 5wt
  • Reel: Cadence CSM
  • Line: Rio streamer tip (floating line to an integrated 9ft sink 6 tip)
  • Leader: 12inch butt section (12lb maxima ultra green) 20 inches of 6lb maxima ultra green to the fly.
  • Knots: Blood knot to blood knot for the leader sections, loop knot to connect the streamer. (Take a look on YouTube for a tutorial video, easy knot and gives streamer much more movement).

I fished the above on the King’s River where it isn’t overly deep. I was probably being over cautious about being down low in the water using a sink 6 but that’s what I prefer.

I mostly used a simple woolly bugger in black. I did switch to an olive coloured one for a short while but found the black to be most effective.

I tried 3 strip retrieves first in each run then ran the same piece again using a jig retrieve. It’s amazing how the fish switch to taking one retrieve over another. In one run I’d get them all on strip retrieve and in another run it would be all jig retrieves.

kings river
Peter Warren

Back to reality now, I had Peter Warren out on what was a lovely morning for streamer fishing. The river had a slight colour which I like. The Kings can be narrow in places, so we had to watch our casts at times, but we managed just fine. There were plenty of roll casts and circle c casts practiced throughout the morning. Swinging the streamers we mixed our retrieves up a bit and paid special attention to how we retrieved so we could copy that retrieve if a fish hit. We did in fact meet some trout which mostly came from the end of the runs. We aimed our casts tight to the opposite bank in hope a trout would follow our streamer and hit it. This did happen a couple of times, we found that as soon as our streamer hit the water just off the opposite bank if we immediately stripped in then the trout would hit just on the turn or when the streamer sped up on the swing.

I was a little apprehensive about using the heavier line but was told, and it’s true I suppose, that the fish are not focusing on the diameter of the line but more on the streamer itself. Once I got a few trout I lost my concerns about the heavier line.

Kings River trout on a black Wolly Bugger
Kings River trout on a black Wolly Bugger

Peter did quite well in some of the runs and was surprised how hard the trout fought from this little river. We both then sat down and had a chat that I have had many times with people, what must the river have had been like 60/70 years ago? What a wonder that is. We had a cup of coffee and continued our chat wishing that some of the old oak trees surrounding us could speak some words. Amazing to stop for a minute take a look at your surroundings and realize how lucky you are to have found angling, then look a little deeper and realize a lot of the surroundings will outlive you and two streamer fishermen may sit in the same spot in many years from now and wonder what our fishing was like this very day.

Go fishing…

I will be running a casting clinic Saturday 13th of April, there are 3 places left. If you would like more information contact me on the below details.

South East Casting

Address Thomastown Kilkenny Ireland Mobile Phone: +353857652751