This week on the river whispers Dan O’Neill speaks a little about his favourite set-ups for a leisurely day on the river. Young angler Reese from Chicago speaks about how he felt when he hooked his first brown trout. Lady angler Vanessa from Boston gives us an insight into her first day on the River Nore. Kevin O’Neill gives us a very useful tip on how to protect those delicate rod tips. Dan’s good friend Andreas Buttimer speaks a bit about how to write what we see. And as if that wasn’t enough it’s all followed by another angling tip that may help you on your angling journey…

I have been there. I have too many rods, fly boxes and ideas that I need new rods / fly boxes. I began to look for versatility in my rods so they would cover a couple of different applications. Let’s take a look at what I carry at the moment.

Travel light, take time to think

I have my 9ft 5wt which I use for dry dropper, wet fly and at times dry fly. I then have my 8ft 6in, 3wt that I use for dry fly mainly and also nymphing if needs be. When conditions allow I use a nymphing line on my 8ft 6in. The landing is so delicate which is really useful at the moment with the water being so low. Many people that come to me feel the need to have a different rod for each application which can become costly. Try to get a fly rod that covers a few different applications well. List off or find out the main characteristics of what each application requires and pick a hybrid or compromise to have a more versatile rod. Angling fairs are ideal to try out different rods and lines. It’s also a great chance to speak to the guides and casters who can make one rod work and what they look for when covering multiple applications. I love all types of fishing but prefer one or two so plan my rod choice around those two applications. At the moment I am mostly fishing dry fly and occasionally dry dropper so my 8ft 6in is getting a lot of use. I like to travel light so put the bare essentials in my backpack then work from it once I get to my fishing beat. Some dry flies, pros choice powder, couple of pieces of kitchen towel and a few Werthers Originals (or whatever you favourite sweets may be) I place in my pocket and leave the rest in the backpack. When things begin to go south and I make a couple of sloppy casts, wind knots or just need a quick refresh I have a Werthers Original and a quick look about the river. It’s amazing the difference it can make just taking a couple of minutes to reflect.

Reflections on a first trout

A short while ago I had the pleasure of fishing with Reese Edwards from Washington. Reese is age 11 and was looking to catch his first Irish Brown Trout. Reese indeed met a Trout and wrote a few words on what it meant to him.

“I was very happy to try fly fishing for the first time. I usually catch panfish,blugill and walleye back home with lures, now i want to try to catch them with a fly. I really enjoyed wet fly fishing and found that the fish taking the fly was really exciting and i wanted it to happen every cast. I was very lucky to catch such a lovely trout for my first one. I can’t wait to go back home to show my friends. I even got to keep the fly that I caught it on.”

Hopper Dropper Kinder Egg

Vanessa from Chicago was another wonderful angler and had fished Montana quite a bit using the Hopper Dropper technique. I must say the first time I saw a hopper it looked like something you would get in a Kinder Egg. However, it worked quite well and Vanessa talks a little bit about fishing with terrestrial patterns.

“In Montana where I was introduced to Terrestrial fishing we would fish grasshoppers with a small nymph under it. We generally would fish the grasshopper when it was windy and there was a high bank along the river. The grasshoppers would get blown in and the fish would hit them. The added splash of the nymph would really get the fish to look up and when they did, they would see the grasshopper and hit it. We use different colors with dark red or orange usually being the most successful. We also use beetle patterns during the same conditions. Dan encouraged me to try my patterns, I had some nice trout on beetle patterns at the back of the White Bridge by the laurels. Super fun.”

on the Nore

Careful now

Kevin O Neill sent in a great tip to protect the delicate rod tip. It sounds like he may be speaking from experience here, I have managed to break one rod tip doing exactly what Kevin tells us not to.

“This is a tip that I read in The Little Red Handbook of Fly Fishing and is a real timesaver when you’re moving from one spot to another and need to wind your rig in.

You should always keep the fly line-to-leader connection pulled through the top ring of your rod otherwise you run the risk of breaking the tip by attempting to pull the knot through. I nearly always fish a leader that is longer than the length of my rod so this little trick is one I use every time I’m on the water.

With the fly line-to-leader connection through the tip top, firstly attach your bottom fly on a snake guide halfway up the rod. Then drape the leader around the backside of the reel. Finally, wind in the slack ensuring the fly line connection remains outside the guides.

When you are ready to fish, undrape the leader from behind your reel, and let the line hang free. A gentle tap on the top of the rod, just above the handle creates a small vibration that will pop the fly off the guide. If you’ve done it correctly your line will fall into the water. It saves time (and perhaps your rod tip from potential breaks) and makes you look like a pro!”

Write what you love

I have been lucky enough to fish with Andreas Buttimer and gifted a couple of his wonderful books. I like to write about my journeys but want to be able to take the person with me when I write it in words, Andreas always manages to do that and I would give anything to have that trait. I asked Andreas to write about a recent trip to the Nore, enjoy the adventure.

“People differ in what is of interest to them.  Probably the best thing is to write what most appeals to you.  The best writing is like that.  The reader senses you love it.  Otherwise it tends to be flat, dead.  Write for yourself, and it may be good.  Others may see its worth.  And if they don’t, who cares?

I do a lot of fishing writing.  I catch very few fish.  I like the whole ambience of rivers.  Each one is different, unique.  It has a character all its own.  Some are sedate, mature, peaceful, others talkative, youthful, free of deep thoughts.  They speak, sing.

The life along the river is seen by few.  You are like a heron.  You see more than most.  You could write about that.  I do.

Last week Dan let me fish his stretch of the Nore.  I had written of it previously, vicariously, before I ever fished it.  The surprising thing was, I found that description to be correct.  How can that be?

You descend through old woods to White Bridge, continue upstream past Back of Bridge (the surest salmon lie), Lower and Upper George’s, good fly casts all, come at last to Plantation Pool.  You clamber out some stones placed as a kind of croy.  The “Roaring Nore” does not roar.  Not today.  Instead, it sings.  You look along the old cane salmon rod to the most perfect bit of wet fly water.  You Spey cast a Rogan’s Fiery Brown.  It lands perfectly for once, near the far bank, is seized by the stream, pulled around.  You know how it looks, plucked and teased by the current.  It grasps you.

Downstream, a Mallard flutters madly from one side to the other, clearly unhappy about something.  Above, a Buzzard soars.  Blackcap are busy in tall trees that mark out that place from any other I have fished.  As you leave in the late evening, a Song Thrush serenades the dusk.

You make your weary way back to wherever you came from, knowing you have known the Nore.  You have it within you as a happy secret.  It is yours alone.  And no one can take it away.

Quick Tip

It’s always a good idea to keep a diary or note book on water temps and heights. Keep a track of what patterns worked and when. See if you can see a pattern linked between water height and temps with fly patterns used. If you go to the hydro data site it will tell you all you need to know about the river.

Office of Public Works (waterlevel.ie)

Crunching the numbers

Brown trout count: 195

Largest brown: 30cm on a spent spinner,mid way down the long pond.

Salmon count: 8

Largest fish: 12 pounds caught at the plantation pool.

Sea Trout: 4

Largest sea trout: 38cm caught at pebble beach.

Go fishing…

South East Casting

Address Thomastown Kilkenny Ireland Mobile Phone: +353857652751

Mount Juliet

Address Mount Juliet, Kilkenny R95 E096 Ireland Mobile Phone: +353 85 7652751 Website: mountjuliet.ie