Word on the street here in Galway, Ireland is that fishing is tough. Ireland has been experiencing a record breaking heatwave with temperatures hovering in the 80’s. Normal temps here are mid to upper 60’s. Furthermore, they haven’t a drop of rain in the two weeks. Again, very unusual and both have the wild brown trout sulking.
Today we practiced for next week’s World Masters Flyfishing Championships with our guide Michael Drinan on the renowned Lough Corrib (Corrib Lake). Corrib is one of Irelands best waters because of its big brown trout and Atlantic salmon. The massive island covered body of water has intense mayfly hatches and normally in June offers some of the finest dry fly fishing in Europe. But with the freak weather there are no rising trout and fish are hard to find. This is unfortunate because Corrib is a venue for the competition.
But, with a guy nicknamed “Monsoon Currier” in town the weather has changed. We awoke to a drop in temperature and a steady drizzle. Mike was very enthusiastic with the more normal conditions.
We practiced on Lough Corrib exactly as we’ll fish during the tournament. That’s from a classic old wooden style boat drifting in the wind. In each boat will be two competitors and a controller (judge) that measures fish and controls the boat with oars and motor. Both anglers cast off the same side of the boat and neither can cross a cast to the others water which is from the center of the boat to the front or back.
The great thing about competing on the world stage is learning new techniques. You might think a guy like me knows all methods to catch trout but trust me there are always new tricks to absorb. While I’d attack a lake like Corrib back home with a three fly streamer or nymph rig, Mike assures us this doesn’t work here but rather it’s all “wet fly” fishing. Basically they fish more traditional flies such as a Royal Coachman wet or Mickey Finn six feet apart with and intermediate line. You cast far then strip short and fast lengthening strips as you go. At the end you raise the rod and let the flies dangle for a few seconds then recast.
The wet fly lake fishing method flat out covers water and that’s the name of the game when fishing is slow. However, we had two boats and six of us busting out long casts, stripping fast and changing wet flies. We saw a few fish boil in the waves but not one of us connected by lunch time. Mike felt bad but assured us that if a fish was going to bite it would be with the wet fly method.
Mike and Joe Humphreys were in my practice boat after lunch. Though Mike is our guide I encouraged him to fish also so I could watch him. There’s minute tricks to stripping and fishing in general that can’t be explained so sometimes it’s best to watch. The weather got nicer as the day progressed and we were getting desperate for that first fish.
When it’s tough is when I usually come through. My persistence paid off and I brought hope for the team by landing a small 10” brown trout (big enough to count next week in the competition). Though I didn’t snap a photo of the tiny brown trout I did manage a snapshot of this tiny European perch that came a few casts later.
An hour before completing our day Mike landed another brownie. By days’ end Mike and I each landed one and each had another on. It was certainly a fun day if you like a challenge like I do but if today was tournament day there would be a lot of disappointment. Jay, Scott and Jerry went all day without a touch. Hopefully the weather continues to become more Ireland like in the days to come.
We ended the day like all days in Ireland should be ended. We hit an Irish Pub called the Anglers Rest Hotel in Headford. We enjoyed a few Guinness and crushed some fresh haddock fish and chips plates. Difficult days of fishing must all end on a high note!