This week in “The River Whispers”:– I recently fished with good friend Kevin O’Neill, who ties up some fantastic flies that always have a slight twist. Kevin fishes the Dodder and Liffey, so he has some summer tips for us. Photographer George Kavanagh talks about taking the perfect picture and how he approaches a salmon pool. American angler Chad Buckley gives us a few little tips when we approach trout. In the youth section, we speak to Anthony O’Neill on why he likes fishing so much. I speak a little bit about casting and what it looks like behind the camera lens.

With the weather a little warmer and rivers a bit lower recently, we have gotten to sink back into summer tactics. The fish are beginning to get a bit wearier, so we are having to make some changes to be successful. Kevin O’Neill fishes the Liffey and Dodder quite a lot and gets some wonderful fish. I am always intrigued by his approach. Kevin spoke to me this month a little about the colours he uses on his favourite patterns.

“During this time of the season, I tend to concentrate on fishing pools and runs with dry-dropper my favoured method. I want my dropper to get down fast, so I often fish a Perdigon-style fly in size 16 or 18 tied on a needle-sharp dry fly hook. Over the years, I’ve found the colour Kingfisher Blue to be lethal. Sometimes, it’s employed in the tail, but more often than not, I use a small hotspot of Gulff UV resin on the back. The body of the fly is usually black with a few wraps of very thin silver or gold wire. Lately I’ve been having success with a body made of primrose coloured Pearsall’s silk. I don’t know what it is, but the blue seems to tempt fish when more typical colours struggle. I can’t remember how many times I’ve fished a section of river down with zero success, only to run through it again with the blue fly and get a result.  Granted, it doesn’t work all the time, but I think it’s an underrated colour that every angler should have in their box”.

We have all been there: We get the perfect fish, but how do we get the perfect picture? Photographer George Kavanagh gives a few words on what to watch out for when looking for the perfect picture.

“So, you have made a great effort to catch a beautiful fish. Now, make it memorable in a great photo. While the fish is resting in your net in the water, compose quickly a background that rewards your effort and shows off mainly the quality wild fish.”

In my younger years, I remember my uncle bringing various magazines from New York. They would show some fabulous crystal-clear rivers with huge brown trout in them. The things of dreams. I remember looking at them and thinking, “Maybe one day”. A recent trip with client and now friend Chad Buckley from Montana helped me to see maybe one day, my dreams will come true. I spoke to Chad about approaching weary fish and fishing in extremely clear conditions and here’s what he had to say: “So, before I even put a foot in the river, I take a discreet walk along the bank to check for features such as undercuts in the bank, rocks creating shelter behind them for fish to hold up in, food sources and the one I find most productive is where two currents meet. So, if there is a flow of water and another flow intersects it or joins, usually at this join, it’s very productive as you will find there is double the food supply. Before I set foot in the river, I have a few casts from the bank where it allows me to. When searching out bigger trout, I pick my casts carefully. If I make a cast that isn’t accurate, I allow it to run out of the fishing zone before I recast. I usually use a dry-dropper or straight dry fly. Pick a landing zone and a recast zone the area in between is your fishing zone try not to disturb that in fact just don’t disturb that, if you make a bad cast just let it run through don’t rip up line and recast when its running through the fishing zone. Watch your shadow, nothing spooks fish quicker than your shadow and indeed the shadow of the fly line across the river bed, you can’t always help it but certainly be aware of it and do your best to manage it”.

Anthony O’Neill or as he is also known “the apprentice” has come from strength to strength on his angling adventures. Catching his first sturgeon only a few weeks ago on a trip to Poland. Anthony speaks about why he enjoys fishing so much and his favourite catch to date.

“I started fishing at the age of 3 with my dad. I don’t remember much from that time, but I do remember my first fish. I love fishing because I never know what I am going to catch. I like how quickly things change when a fish takes. I recently caught my first sturgeon in Poland. It fought very hard, but luckily, I had practice with hard-fighting fish, so I was ready for it. I enjoy showing my friends and helping them to fish. My friend and I caught some nice carp over the winter, and we showed our other friends in school, who all want to come fishing with me now. My best tip is to be as quiet as you can and wait, once you hook a fish then you will see it is worth it. My favourite fish at the moment is carp, and I enjoy stalking them around the lake. I also like to wet fly fish with my dad, the takes on wet fly are so exciting”

And so, comes my turn to speak. When guiding about 80 percent of my clients have never held a fly rod before, no problem. I enjoy it this way as it helps me to work on my explanations and how to simplify them. It’s very important that I remember where I started: many “wind knots” or bad casting knots, as my good friend Pat Hughes used to call them. Standing beside an APGAI instructor with my legs and arms like jelly trying to make a cast. Nerve wrecking for sure and even reflecting on it now I still get the jelly feeling and remember my journey to Banbridge angling centre for my exam like it was yesterday. The only thing I possessed that I feel gave me the drive was a passion. It put me in a bubble and no one else could get in. All the funny comments when I was out practicing on the local green or park never bothered me. Everything I was doing was to become a better caster and if that meant standing on a roof top casting I would do it. When practicing it’s easy to get disheartened. Getting many knots, Spending most of my time changing or making new leaders. It happens and will continue to. The pictures or casts I do for the cameras are not first-time casts unless I’m lucky. Anybody can become a good caster with the right practice and being put on the right path. I learned a lot by going to fairs or demo days. The people at these or who run these are extremely passionate and have a way of teaching that’s phenomenal and mostly unique. The more of these people you go to see, the better. I studied quite a few casters for my exam and have been lucky enough to fish with most of them. The moral of the story, I guess, is that social media can sometimes show all the best bits, the prize, the fish of a lifetime, the unique locations. However, there is a story behind getting there; it wasn’t the first time someone picked up a fly rod and had a cast (usually). Marcin Kantor put it very well recently in a post. He said something along the lines of all the leaky waders, knots, and time on the water has paid off, accompanied by a picture with him and a fantastic salmon. I think this is now the point where I say don’t give up on your angling journey. You will have many happy days where it all goes right, and unfortunately, many where if it can go wrong, it will. We all know the feeling as we have all been there and will be back there soon, no doubt.

Beginner Experiment

If you get some monofilament line, say 4ft, tie another thinner piece of monofilament on about 4ft also, so 8ft in total. Try .24 diameter and a .16 diameter. Practice lengthening and shortening the lengths to see the results in turnover. It can be a building block for you to begin tying some of your own leaders. It will teach you a little about energy transfer also. When practicing remember to wear glasses and use a wool tag.

Quick tip

Clean those fly lines. I often get people coming to me looking for more distance or wondering why the fly line doesn’t shoot. Dirty lines or rod eyes are the main culprits usually so make sure to clean those fly lines. To look at my blog on cleaning fly lines check out the link attached.

Fly Casts – Simple Methods For More Distance – Cadence Fishing

Fish Count for the past two weeks

Brown trout: 320

Largest Brown: 35cm taken on a greenwells spider at the manor pool.

Salmon: 14

Largest salmon: 12 pounds caught at the plantation pool

Fishing Guides and Instructors in County Kilkenny