Ireland has always been on my “to fish” list but I must say I wasn’t bouncing off the walls with excitement before leaving home this week. I was concerned that perhaps I’ve traveled too much lately and travel lost its charm. But false alarm, when I woke this morning I was like, “Holly crap in in Ireland!” I was stoked.
As you know I’m here to compete in the World Masters Flyfishing Championship for Team USA. The fun but competitive event starts on Monday with ceremonies and parties. The fishing consists of four three hour sessions on lakes. Being that not one Team USA member has fished in Ireland, Jerry Arnold, our team sponsor and captain generously brought us in early and hired a guide to show us around.
The guide is Michael Drinan. Mike is from two hours south of the Galway area and he’s fished this area his entire life. He’s also fished competitively for many years including the Ireland Nationals and been part of the Irish Worlds Team.
We drove about two hours into the hills of Western Ireland. I’m not exactly sure where we went but I know we passed through the cool little town of Oughterard. Narrow roads and tons of traffic took us that far but then we had beautiful open country with green pastures covered with sheep and small fogged in mountains. It’s exactly what I always imagined Ireland to look like.
Of the fours lake sessions we’ll compete on next week, two are from a boat and two are from shore. The three hour long sessions from shore will be 50 meters long and that’s your beat. That’s not a ton of space to work with so you must manage your space, tactics and time carefully and this is how we decided to practice today.
The lake we chose was one of many scatterings of small lakes along the roadside. The pond size body of water was a gorgeous little thing with weeds, rocky crops and drop offs. We wadered up and out came heaps of flies from my teammates and Mike showed us what he thought would work best.
We’re fishing for wild brown trout. For the most part these browns are more like brook trout back in the US because they’re so small, but like the rest of the wild fish of Europe, they’re spookier than any trout you ever met. I put more emphasis on not spooking these incredible creatures than choosing the correct fly. While most the guys went with leeches and nymphs and waded out in the lake I rigged up my 4-weight Winston and headed to my own area and went to work with dries close to the edge.
I keep my flies simple. I put on a size 14 Parachute Adams on the point and a size 16 Elk Hair Caddis on the dropper. As I suspected on about my first cast I had a small brown trout eat the parachute. A fish needs to be 20 centimeters to score and be released unharmed. That equals slightly less than 8” and before I knew it I’d caught three of the little fellas.
After I fished my area thoroughly with dries I switched to nymphs. Then I followed up with some leeches and experimented with streamers. Dries were by far the best with four measurable fish on them, then one on a nymph and three on tiny leeches.
I ended up catching most of the fish today. While my teammates picked up a few measurable fish they learned they need to be a bit more methodical in approaching a 50-meter piece of water. Three hours can be too long if you beat it down in the first half hour by wading and tossing big flies. This is why we’re here a few days early to practice.
We hit a fantastic restaurant and pub tonight on the way home. I got grilled hake and it hit the spot. We returned to the Connacht Hotel for a couple Galway Hookers and I just returned to the room. Its great fun to be back in Europe competing in the Worlds.