Sunday, April 30, 2006

Of city streams and big trout

I gave in to temptation yesterday evening and took the fishing rod for a walk down by the river. I fished a team of nymphs as there was no sign of fly life. The river is very low, and I found it difficult to keep the nymphs up of the bottom. I fished a few faster stretches, the dodder is a small spate river with streamy areas and long pools, and had some sucess there. I seemed to bump, or not quite hook a lot of smaller fish all evening but I did manage one wild fish of about a pound/13 inches. I managed to hook and lose a bigger fish somewhere between 1.5 and 2 pounds weight, I was watching it turn in the flow below me and knew it was going to come off well before it did....that feeling of knowing a fish is badly hooked is a sickener when it is a big You can always tell poorly hooked fish by the way they react, they will either splash on the surface, spin around or...that dreaded HEADSHAKE!...why is the headshake dreaded...because only BIG fish do it...they sit there shaking thier head to throw the hook, and you know it's only lightly in the front of the upper lip so as soon as he/she decides to go he/she is gone.....the other splashing on the surface is a tactic for thesame hookhold, but done by fish of any size...the roll or turn tactic is used by better fish when the poor hook hold is in the side of the mouth...they are using the current to pull the hook out while adjusting the angle of the hook.....they don't turn and run like a well hooked fish...they know if they do that they would pull the hook in instead of out....
I am not too dissapointed though, I'll go back later in the week and catch him. I love river fish, you always know where to find them...back at the same's a difficult cast into a little pothole in a run that is unlikely to be fished by the average angler...that is where watercraft comes in it looks too small of a pool at first glance, but 10 yards down stream is an area with a concrete over hang giving cover to two or three good fish most years. The concrete is part of a foundation for a high wall (about 20 feet) along the far bank of a bend, it is flood protection and support for the bordering road, the Dodder is a city river and has many concrete bank areas here and there, but it also has lots of trees and bushes etc. as it is a linear park all the way through the city. It is a spate river though so it can rise very quickly, hence the need for bank protection and support. It is full of wild brown trout though..suplemented every spring with a stocking by the angling club, mainly so that there are plenty of takeable fish for the huge numbers of kids that fish it for the first couple of days of the opens on St. Patricks keep them keen, after a few weeks the remaining fish are quite difficult to catch and fishing tails off until summer holidays start. It is a great benefit though, it encourages the kids, and it helps protect the wild stocks...there are always masses of fish in the 4-10 inch bracket in the river, and a good smattering of bigger fish 10 inches to 14 inches if you look carefully....and then there are a few bigger ones....rarely seen and even rarer to catch hidden away in deeper darker pools....I've seen fish over 5lb...I have only caught them to 4 though...but I don't spend as much time chasing big fish these days...they take a lot of planning and perseverance, long evening walks, leaving the rod behind, just searching for big fish..plotting thier feeding areas..working out the best approach to them...invariably difficult! and then constantly watching out for that opportunity, that one time when the fish is in the right place feeding well and no-one around to disturb it..not very common on a river bank that is used by thousands of walkers and hundreds of dog-swimmers....and I always put them back anyway...LOL..I'd rather just pop down to a stretch thats convenient, spend an hour or two catching a few halfway decent sized fish and just take the opportunity of a big one if it comes along....specimen anglers usually makethier own luck work work...the harder you work the luckier you get..

Saturday, April 29, 2006

I was awoken this morning, (well not exactly woken) by a knocking on our door...and surprise, Mother was standing on the doorstep. She had been at a party in town last night and decided to drop in on the way home..
Now home in 45 miles away... so she stayed awhile and spent time up in my studio with me, and walked around the Park and the market for a while. She then came home for a late lunch..I left the studio early, and she has just gone home..(5pm.)
Work wise I started a new piece, based on the view here, as painted a while back. I am intending to create much more interest in the water, and as the new work is 30 inches by 24 compared to the study 16 by 12, I have a lot more scope to work with. Walking down by the Pond now with the new growth the Harshness has gone, there are lots of fresh greens with the new leaves and the water is starting to take on a warm look. I will endeavour to take some photos next camera should be fixed..I can take pics with my phone, but it costs a fortune to email them to myself....I really must work out how to download them on to my PC.

The new painting is already looking a lot warmer than this study, even though I have only really put in my darks...but they are a warmer hue.
Now I am deciding whether to put my feet up or wander down to the river and take the dog for a walk...with a fishing rod of course...

Friday, April 28, 2006

Spring-time, and the grass is a growing....

I have had another busy least I was rested after Thursdays fishing...not a lot of excitement anyway. I did catch two small fish, but that was as good as it got. The weather was beautiful, light breeze, warm and broken cloud in the sky- just no fly life on the water, hence no sign of fish. I could have changed methods and flies a lot more if I was really chasing fish but I was enjoying the day anyway so I muddled along as I was, just searching out areas.
Today I was busy both in the studio and at home. I have to leave a few paintings in for an exhibition next week so I varnished them first thing at the studio. I then cleaned and re-organised my palette, brushes etc. and they are ready for a good start in the morning. I reraligned the current painting, and I am now looking at it as a backdrop to a nice still-life type painting of either bamboo, birch or a contorted hazel....or something similar anyway. I am going to have a long look at it tomorrow in between working on a new idea.
Coming home from the studio I noticed with the warmth the grass was high again already, so lo and behold, out comes the mower, lawn is now cut, hedge cutting done, shrubs pruned, edges trimmed and I can ignore the garden for the weekend....unless of course Christine decides to buy bedding plants etc for more tubs. I do have 160 iris and Gladioli bulbs to plant too......aaaaargggghhhhhhhh.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

bills- some come in, some go out...I'm going fishing..

I had a busy day today, I didn't manage to get into the studio at all. I spent the day chasing money.... It has to be done, it's nearly the end of the month and I needed to get some cash to lodge into the bank...bill time in a week!! I like to have funds available when my direct debits go is expensive otherwise, between referral charges bookies, banks never lose money themselves...The good news is I can lodge tomorrow before I go fishing.
It is an uncomfortable job looking for payment, I no longer feel embarrassed about asking for it, but I still feel I shouldn't have to. If payment is due, I pay it, unless I can't afford to at the time- then I tell the creditor prior to delaying it and apologise. I would expect the same consideration but alas no.. Have you noticed it's usually the ones who can afford to pay on time don't? Rant over...apart from that, it was nice to have conversation with others too. Studios can get very of the drawbacks of being an Artist. I have checked my emails etc, so I'm finished for the day. I'm going to make a nice cup of Tea, sit down, relax, think about dinner, (maybe make it) and watch the goggle box for half an hour or so......I'm feeling very lazy now, the difficulty I'm having breathing tends to tire me. I'll take my inhaler.

Tomorrow I am going off to lough Ennel with Noel....hopefully we will get a few fish. Catch you when I get back...and let you know if I catch a few fish..LOL.., but these are some of the flies I'll use, the top 4 are skinny buzzer nymphs with holographic cheeks, red underneath a clear/pearl covering that creates the impression of gas in the hatching pupae casing. The lower two flies are cul-de-canard hatching olives, dry flies that immitate the hatching upwinged olives, I also have some standard dry olives too, but I tied these up during the week as I didn't have any 'trapped' emergers tied up. The buzzers were tied with an underlay of lead foil to give them extra weight so they sink faster, the actual size of the fly in the center is 12 mm (1/2 the size of the picture on my monitor) so the actual sink rate of the flies needs to be a bit quicker when fishing from a drifting boat in a breeze.

Finally, Fishing can be dangerous...

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Bah humbug....I've a fault on/in my camera...took more pics today..connected to the PC...and ziltch, zero, nada, nowt....The camera shows I have pics, but the pc can't find them.
Aside from that I reworked areas of the 3rd painting...the one you can't see anyway, and I still hate it!. It is looking increasingly likely that the piece will be destroyed....I spent some time doing a few little studies too, just to loosen me up.
I am thinking of getting stuck in to a large work again. The large canvas has a hypnotic effect on me...I keep picking it up, setting it on an easel and then remembering I have no plan for it! It's wierd!. The canvas was on the easel 5 times today, twice without me even realising I'd put it up.

Monday, April 24, 2006

A little more work...but...

The pictures didn't come out on my camera...I did a lot to the 2nd Corrib painting. I strenghtened the blue of the water, more so in the foreground, but also behind. This allowed me to create a brighter seam into the painting which is working well at the moment.
I also did more work on the latest Marlay Pond painting...this one though is proving to be difficult. It is 30 by 20 in portrait format and is tending to be striped...I think it is going to have to be abstracted a great deal to work. I won't photograph this one until it starts to work, it's that bad!!!!
Apart from that I did not do much else, my breathing is bad at the moment so I'm not particularly energetic..

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Spring Sprung....

I have been busy all day...Spring has come, the garden needed taking in hand...the lawn was 10 inches high!!. I cleaned all the paitio of Algae etc., the patio furniture, did some repotting of plants. (there are a lot more to be done...) all in all a very busy day!
The weather was great though, warm and sunny. I also sorted out a few tubs for the front of the house, and got my Mediterreanean and tropical plants in the conservatory in good order for the summer. My Sterilitzia or Bird of Paradise plant is threatening to flower, still, I have expected the flowers for about four weeks, but they just won't come out. My Banana tree is starting to flourish again along with the Bougainvillea and Hibiscus...doesn't sound great, but anyone who knows Irish weather will realise these plants are difficult to keep over here. I find the conservatory plants are starting to dry out on me though, and it's still not warm enought to give them a good soaking.

Tomorrow I will return to the studio and survey my work, and decide exactly what I want to do...(I hope) that done I must get stuck in, as I only have four weeks before my fishing trip...time flies when you are having fun... I have to go now, We have to fill out a census form tonight...and I hate filling out forms....

Friday, April 21, 2006

I finished the commission. I can relax fact I'm doing that right now with a nice glass of wine. I have to drive to Limerick in the morning. A 5am start, I have to drive back tommorrow evening so I can go to a 60th Birthday party tommorrow evening....a long and exhausting day...
I'm off to enjoy my wine now. See you Sunday.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

It's a bright, bright, sunshiny day....

Here is a photo of the 2nd Corrib painting. The lower left corner needs more work. It doesn't read as it should. It lacks definition. I think it needs a stronger blue than I have used, rather than a darker one. I'll try that next week. I have to work on a commission over the next few days... so my own 'work' has to go on the back-burner as it were. I am not in the position to refuse guaranteed sales yet. Maybe sometime soon.. aahhh! wouldn't it be great not to have to consider the next rent payment, bill, etc. but know that the income is there, constant and sufficient for all needs.......

I may as well dream here at the computer as in bed...

I tied 1/2 a dozen flies up for Noel.. finished the 'gardens' painting as is still a plien-air study, and will stay that way. The gardens have changed too much to continue with it in any detail. I also did a ferw sketches and started another in the water series that I have been doing, but then realised I couldn't continue...ooops... but the bones are there.. so all in all quite a good day. The bright sun-shine and blue sky helps, it lifts the spirits and creates a feeling of well-being, encouraging you to work...spring is in the air...a blackbird is nesting in the ivy on the tree in the front garden..I can see it going in and out with building materials from the lounge...

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

I spent yesterday visiting my Mother. It was an enjoyable day. I took the dog bunny hunting across the bunnies but lots of birds to chase, so she was happy. Today I left her behind when I went fishing. We decided to fish a river, rather than the lough as we were not sure of the weather conditions. Noel is a member of Clane Anglers, so he took me to the River Liffey. It was an enjoyable day, I had about 12 'takeable' fish, (28 -35 cm) and numerous smaller ones. I also lost two good fish after playing them for a while, small hooks and heavy current again. One of the fish was on for about 5 minutes and I never even saw it. I didn't really mind losing it but I'd have liked to have seen it so I knew what size it was. I saw the other one, he cartwheeled a few was about 1.5 lb, (40cm) and I managed to let him go just when I thought he was mine....
The successful flies were very small bead-head nymphs again. Fished either upstream or on a dead drift down the river. Conditions were almost ideal. Waterlevels were quite low and the river was easily waded, unlike my last trip. There were a few Olives hatching sporadically, not enough to really encourage dry fly fishing, but enough for the occaisional fish to show. We finished early though as the rain came, and it was heavy and unrelenting, but we got a longer dry spell than we expected (up until 5 pm) so no complaints there. We had nearly had enough fun by then anyway... Tomorrow I spend in the studio, but I need to tie up a few flies for Noels trip West for him too. He wants a few of a particular pattern that he can't get in the shops...and he doesn't tie himself, so I'm happy to oblige.

Monday, April 17, 2006

just a quick hello....

I popped up to the studio today and managed to get quite a lot of work done, including a good deal of work on the 2nd corrib painting. I didn't have my camera though and had purposely left my phone at home no pic until Tuesday....
I also had quite a few visitors up to the studio during my time up there. No serious lookers/buyers though, just browsers, curious people and those with young children. I like the kids coming in though...they are very enquiring and can be encouraged to look outside the box...future art collectors in the making. This evenimng I was partying. After the partying though I'm ready for bed....

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Rabbit Island to Rabbit fur....

Hooray! I could get in and out of my studio today...they had left room for my sign too.......
I have photographed the painting of Rabbit Island. I put the final touches to the sky earlier in the week. The photograph doesn't do it justice as usual...unless it improves on your Obviously the detail is not in the photograph when uploading for the web, so much of the character of a painting is lost.
I started work on the 2nd Larger piece too. The sketch for the planning looked quite nice also, but I didn't take a picture of it. As you can see, I have blocked in the basic areas of darks and washed in the water areas. The canvas is 30 inches by 24 inches. On the easel it

looks quite well. It has great depth so far. I hope it will keep it as I progress.

Yesterday I travelled to Lough Ennel. The weather was pleasant, but due to lack of any wind in the afternoon fishing was difficult. When we arrived we found the boat full of water...literally hasn't been baled (emptied) in months and had filled up with all the rain. It took us an hour to empty it and then push the boat, which had been towed up the bank for the winter, back into the lake. That done we tackled up etc. fitted the outboard and set off about 12.30. We had a nice gentle breeze for about 2 hours, but no luck with the fishing. The wind then died and we continued fishing in a flat calm until about 8 pm. There were plenty of duckfly or buzzers around but very little activity from the trout. I did managed to catch two small fish, the best about a pound and a half, .7kg a nice takeable fish down the road on lough Owel, but Ennel fish are bigger with a 14 inch size limit as opposed to the usual 12. All Ennel fish under three pounds are considered small!. The day was enjoyable anyway, any day on Ennel with fish is a good day, it can be a very difficult lake. The difficulty of catching on Ennel is well offset by the size and quality of the fish when you do catch them though. I caught one of the fish on a small wetfly immitation of the duckfly, black body, soft black hackle and an almost white, grey rabbit fur wing. The rabbit-fur wing moves in the water giving the impression of life more than a feather wing. The second fish, the larger was caught on a buzzer pupae imitation cast ahead of the fish while it was sipping down trapped emergers in the early evening after a patient wait for it to come within casting range of the boat. It is almost impossible to get close to fish in flat calm conditions, and when you do because there is no wind to create a drift the fish are not travelling upwind but swimming around aimlessly in all directions.... But conditions like this make success much more enjoyable. I'm looking forward to my next day out.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

I did the couple of bits I needed to do on the photo though.
I then decided to tie up a few trout flies for tomorrow...yes I'm fishing again..
I tied up a few detatched foam bodies for mayflies too, using some of them to tie up finished flies also. I'm getting organised for my Mayfly trip over on Corrib. The reason I tied a few complete flies up is so that I have them ready if the fly comes up early on Ennell. Speaking of which, is where I'm off to tomorrow. Lough Ennell is a beautiful lake, relatively shallow with large wild trout, difficult little ********* to catch though. The southern end of the lough is 'Lilliput'...yes one and the same as in Johnathon Swifts book, Gulliver's travels upon which the bay was based....It is a lovely little area. I hope the Duckfly will be up, they should be, but we need the wind to drop a lot, and the temperature to keep up. The forecast looks promising though.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Rabbit Island, Lough Corrib..

I got stuck in to the Rabbit Island painting, it went well. One of those that comes together very quickly. It is almost finished. I need to lighten and cool down the sky, but apart from that I'm happy with it. The painting is quite simple, but it is effective.
It is 20 inches by 16, quite small, but I am thinking of expanding it into a larger work.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

A work in progress....

Here is a working study 30 inches by 20 of Rabbit Island, on Lough Corrib. The horizon could have been higher, it is not central but looks so. The wide format is not helping it either. I have started redoing the painting as a 20 by 16. I have reduced the area to either side of the Island, and will leave out most of the rocks. That will allow me to concentrate more on the water, both in movement and reflections, similar to how I have cropped and adjusted the image here.

Obviously the colouring and mood will change also, I may incorporate reeds from earlier paintings such as this below into the piece.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Another fishing competition...

I fished a club competition on lough Owel today.....Enough said, I was frozen while fishing....we spent more time boiling the Volcano Kettle on the shore, sheltered from the wind, than actually fishing....needless to say we weren't very successful. It was great to be sat down on the lea of a bank on the wood shore, the kettle boiled, hot mug of tea in hand watching all the 'fools' out in the weather fishing away... no sign of any fish mind you... we fished for an hour, had an early lunch, fished for half an hour, decided to get another cup of tea...four hours later we decided we had better have an hours fishing before the competition finished...(we had had regular visitors to the Kettle over the 4 hours, good craic and lots of banter) ...we did two or three short drifts and went in half an hour early. We did have a good laugh at the lads who came in fishless after 8 hours fishing, pointing out that at least we were warm and dry in the wood looking out at them.
Hopefully the fishing will improve along with the weather next week....

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Well nothing new at the studio. Still the same old Sh*t, this time though when I left my sign out at the corner of one of the stalls..(nowhere else to put it) I was threatened with ABH. I have decided it's time to get more militant, I'll park my van there next week. Obviously I didn't get much painting done..though I tied up some more trout flies.

Friday, April 07, 2006

more fly-tying....

I didn't even try to work in the gardens today, It would have been impossible with the strong breeze. I think if the conditions don't improve I may just finish it in the studio. I ended up tieing some trout flies instead of working.... but I didn't feel like painting today anyway. I need to clear my head a little. I will go up to the studio tommorrow, even though the Market will be there, but I don't expect to be painting, I'll tie up a few more flies instead. I need to keep a weekend presence though, otherwise it can be said..."but he's rarely there" catch 22 again. I will be fishing a club competition on Sunday, nothing serious, but I try to take part in most of them. As I represent the club at provincial level etc. I feel it's only right that I actually fish as many of the club competitions as possible....I don't try to hard though, I remember the year Iwon most of them, after 3 wins I went out half-heartedly for the next 2, and still ended up winning!!! sod's law....if you don't want it, you'll get it. Mind you I haven't won one in 2 years... a couple of 2nd's mind you...just to keep me happy....I might have to do something about that on Sunday....
'till tomorrow...

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

SPEND! spend! spend! I'm Poorer by the day, at least today I am!

I did some work on the Walled Garden painting, but it is very slow, I get an hour if I'm lucky then a wind comes from no-where and tries to blow the lot over... & I need to re-adjust everything with the spring growth....... I don't know if I will get to finish it at this stage the garden is changing so fast.
I had to spend half the day getting a set of tyres on my van..badly needed. Tommorrow I have to go to Blessington to do some work on the Clubs Boat dock area..I picked up a few old tyres to use to wedge the boats upright while getting my new ones. I am working away on a few ideas all the time for paintings though.
I have been invited to take part in an international Art festival in Tunisia in September. It is a nice idea, a group of visual artists from differing countries, get together and work side by side, en plien air as it were and produce works over a ten day period, these works obviously can be seen as they progress, then we leave two works behind us, as a gift to the museum/gallery. All expenses bar flights are paid for by the organisers, hotels meals entertainments etc.. a nice idea.
I decided to go last night, so not one to let the grass grow I booked my flights. By travelling with a package holiday company, flight only, I got the flight for less than half price, & without two plane changes. I must remember that one! The down side is I have to stay a few extra days (3) but with rooms in the hotel at $20/ 15 euro I don't mind, I'm still saving 400 euro on the trip, and I will have a little holiday for myself for the last 3 days.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Oh the aches and pains..It's about 5 years since I did any deep wading (up to mid chest level). Yesterday I did a full six hours of it, in heavy flowing water. Add that to the fact that I am still quite unfit (It's less than 2 years after my thorracic surgery) I am totally exhausted. I've aching muscles I'd forgotten I wife has gone of to aqua-aerobics, she knows them!...wind burn on my face, in short, I'm a sorry sight. I've even got a mark on my neck from the current constantly pulling against the landing net slung over my shoulder on a lanyard.....But do I care? No!
The bad news is I didn't win, I didn't even come a close second...but I'll settle for third, the top five qualify.
The flies I tied up came in handy, the little beadheaded hares ears and peacock herl bugs did most of the damage. I got eight fish in the morning session by fishing the team of 3 flies across the stream on a long (11.25 feet) rod, keeping as much line out of the water as possible so the flies fished in a dead drift rather than being pulled by too fast. I caught 6 measurable fish in a 20 yard stretch of relatively shallow (5-7 feet) water, the first on my first cast! there's nothing like a quick start to get you going.. I gave the run another quick go, but lost the two more I hooked in the heavy flow, (a regular problem all day with the small hooks in the strong flowing floodwaters) then one of the other anglers on the beat had asked to get into the pool, (you have a half an hour to fish it if another competitor wants to fish there). I then walked off down the river a bit and landed another two measurable fish in a smooth glide, (Fast but even bottom) in about 4.5 feet of water, stopping after about 20 meters when the depth got to much to wade any further, I managed to lose another couple again, but I had hooked 16 and landed 8 of them so I wasn't to dissapointed, with the flow-rate so strong I knew everyone was going to lose close to 50% of hooked fish. After that I decided not to walk any further down stream as I only had 45 minutes left in the morning session and had to fish further up the river in the afternoon so I walked back up the beat to the very top above my starting peg (5 anglers on each beat start at different points along it, I was 2B) but found all fishable areas occupied so I had a few casts here and there but was not able to fish the flies dead and knew I was wasting my time so with about 20 minutes left, and having lost a cast in a tree, I decided to stop for lunch early and walk upriver to my afternoon beat (1B) and rest so I was fresh for the afternoon session.
When I arrived at the peg the angler fishing it was still in the river, he had 5 minutes left, and there were olives hatching. He was fishing a short line upstream and looked like he had covered the water fairly well (the beat was a lovely one fast flowing with little pockets of deep slow areas.) when he came out we (my steward &I) heard he had 16 measurable fish. I spent the lunch hour watching the river and only saw two very small fish rise to the olives that were still hatching, though the hatch finished about 10 minutes before the start of the afternoon session of course! When I started the afternoon session I managed one fish from the pool and a couple of undersized ones (the ones rising) after that I moved upstream to beat 1A, I found 9 or 10 bait anglers ensconced in the area I was due to is private fly only water and I had to spend 10 minutes getting them moved... I managed to pick up one measurable fish on the first run down the pool, and lost two. I then gave it a rest and fished another area before coming back and picking up another two fish. Towards the end of the day the water levels had risen a bit more and coloured up too, and with the flow rate increase it was almost impossilble to keep in touch with the flies, so much so for the last half hour I fished a tail of the pool above a bridge, casting upstream from the shallow rim, still 3-4 feet deep!, and missed about 5 fish because I couldn't keep up with the line flowing towards me. At the check in I found the angler who had caught 16 in the morning only managed one in the afternoon off beat 2! it just shows how the luck of a hatch of fly in the right place and at the right time can make a huge difference, or getting into the right spot first, (beats are drawn from a hat) can get you fish...he fished my area after lunch, I obviously left him as few as he left me!!, but he also failed to pick any up elsewhere along the beat either. One angler way down on beat 4 had 25 fish for the day, and with only 117 fish measured in total, he did very well with 20% of the total catch, and deserved his win.