The Last Cast: Start of March heralds new trout season

Jarlath Gallagher


Jarlath Gallagher

Salmon landed in the snow on River Drowes River as Storm Emma fails to get the better of Leitrim anglers

Chris McGovern with a beautiful River Drowes Salmon of 7.5lb caught last week. Photo : Shane Gallagher

Finally the month of March is upon us and we are back at the start of the trout season.
For many of us the winter was a long, dark period without any fishing but for others the all year round opening of Lough Rowan goes a long way to shorten the close season.
However, as far as I am concerned there is nothing more exciting than a day on the local rivers in search of those wild Leitrim brownies. The fishing can be slow to begin with, but with the use of some common sense and a few tricks, catching your first wild brownie of 2018 will be made a little bit easier.
I really enjoy the first few weeks of the new season as the rivers tend to be fresh and the trout hungry and by default a little naïve. The fishing is never too easy as the water is usually high and cold. With hatches nearly non-existent the trout tend to feed down in the deeper water.
The best methods to use in conditions like this are nymphs or the age-old trusty worm that I tend to use as a last resort. Trout are hungry at this time of the year and eager to feed, so if you do go down deep they do tend to take the fly.
With water levels high it will entail doing a bit of searching and pay particular attention to slower slacker water, which the fish prefer, as there are less currents to fight and therefore less energy sapping. Don’t ignore slow water just below the banks so tread carefully as you move upstream.
As the month progresses, there will be warmer spells and the possibility of some hatches and the return of fish feeding from the surface and with it the tell tale circular “Rise”. However we are more concerned right now on how to eek out a fish or two from the difficult conditions early season presents.
After the recent snow and storm Emma most of our rivers are high and fast flowing. It is important to use a sinking line or as I prefer a sink tip.
This ensures that the nymph or wet fly will stay well below the surface, avoiding skating and be presented to where the fish are feeding. I like to use weighted nymphs at the start of the season.
My favourite and most successful fly has to be the Pheasant tailed nymph. The heavier the better! If you are not feeling the nymph bouncing of stones on the bottom of the river then you are not doing it correctly.
Expect a few snags and be prepared to lose a fly or two. I also tend to use a larger fly (size 10 or size 12) as the fish are hungry and not as particular as they will be in a few months.
Fishing in March can be difficult, but if you persevere with it you can catch some of the rivers larger inhabitants, as they do tend to take in the early part of the season. These same fish will become very difficult to catch as the season progresses.
Until next time…. Stay safe on the water and never underestimate its power, wear your lifejacket and hopefully catch plenty!