About
Medlar Press

A project by Chris McCully,
Ken Whelan & James Sadler

This website contains information supplementary to the hard (book) text of Nomads of the Tides: Fishing for Irish Sea-Trout. Here you’ll find Gazetteer entries relating to Donegal, Sligo and Mayo, Connemara, the South-West, the South-East and East, and Northern Ireland. We give information relevant to each region about tourist offices, travel and accommodation – ‘useful infrastructure’, as the sub-head has it. The layout of these Gazetteer entries is exactly the same as that found in the hard (book) text, namely, a section headed ‘Location in space and time’ and a report on ‘Days (or nights) on the water’. Here you’ll also find supplementary information about tackle shops together with recipes and other material.

HOW NOMADS CAME TO BE MADE

In August, 1973 a young Englishman called Chris McCully could be found fly-fishing for white-trout in the Round Pool on Beat 3 of the Gowla river in Connemara. Nearly forty years later, the same Englishman can be found writing about Irish sea-trout – they’re usually called ‘sea-trout’ now, even by the Irish – in his study at home in the north-east of the Netherlands. In many ways, this book is a record of what happened in the context of Irish sea-trout fishing during many of those forty years, and what is happening still.
I never expected to write such a book. Once, perhaps, in the years when I was travelling fairly regularly to Ireland from my home and work in the north of England, I might have entertained the idea of contributing a short piece to a book that might have been rather like Nomads of the Tides. Yet it would only have been a short piece, focussing on just the Connemara white-trout fishings that existed as I knew them in the period between 1973 and the end of the 1980s. Although during those same years I fished for brown trout in different parts of Ireland, my experience of Irish white-trout fishing was limited to Connemara, a part of the country which, like thousands of other visiting anglers, I loved for its space, for the dark froth of peat-stained summer floods, the westerly winds and the sunshine-freaked wave-tops on the lough. I loved it for the company, the friendship that was extended to me and for the fact that, for once, I felt deeply and strangely not so much ‘at home’ but in place.
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THE BOOK AND MEDLAR PRESS

To those who have come to these pages after buying the book, thank you. Those who haven’t yet bought Nomads of the Tides can buy a copy and explore The Medlar Press’s wonderful range of angling titles (including older titles by Chris and Ken) by navigating to Medlar

WHY A WEBSITE?

The book text of Nomads is around 160,000 words long – the length of two PhD theses or a couple of novels – contains hundreds of images and was six years in the making. Why, then, have we constructed a website as well as a book?

Convenience

These days, many if not most anglers obtain information about their fishing from the internet. Angling newspapers and magazines generally have fewer paper subscribers, most journals have their own websites and chat fora, and others are purely internet-based. As a repository of information, a handful of web pages containing workable and well-selected links can contain and disseminate more information than can many magazines, and it seems to us that those wishing to fish for sea-trout in Ireland would be well-served by such a resource – one supplementary to other excellent generic sites, such as Inland Fisheries Ireland. It’s simply far quicker to plan and book a sea-trout trip while sitting in front of a computer than it is to sift through books, brochures and assorted other paperwork.

Discreteness

At the same time, books of the kind we have written don’t really date. The book text of Nomads contains plenty of information about fishing particular waters at particular times, true, and those waters might not exist as sea-trout fisheries in another fifty years, but nevertheless, as a record of extended enquiry, as a place to tell stories, as a locale for posing interesting questions and as a place where sea-trout anglers can continue their real or imaginary dialogues with the past and present, a book – as opposed to a website – still offers a relatively durable and beautiful structure. A book, that is, is discrete in a way that a website isn’t. If it’s a good book, that discreteness is satisfying, again in a way that a website can’t be satisfying: a story has been told; there’s a time-frame and (usually) a narrative line; the reader reaches the illusion of an ending. As it happens, the text of Nomads ends with a poem, and we hope and think that all the words preceding the poem justify the verse: that sort of thing is probably only possible in a book. It would seem inappropriate when set in the electronic architecture of the internet.

Images

A book can only contain so many images. There are three hundred images in the book text of Nomads – more than in almost all comparable angling books – and including more would have increased production costs of the book in a way that would have made it unaffordable. On a website the number of images is in theory almost unlimited – and we have used that freedom, here including a number of images that would have been peripheral to the book’s narrative but which are important in telling an even bigger story of the land- and waterscapes of Ireland…and of those who fish them for sea-trout.

Open or closed?

One question we had to face when constructing this site was whether to make it open – so that there could be comments and questions – or closed. In the end we decided to make the site non-interactive. To answer queries, to respond to comments, to moderate dialogues would have committed Chris, Ken and James to spending huge and daily amounts of time purely on this website. Since all three of us have other careers and extensive other work and family commitments we simply didn’t and don’t have the time to make maintaining this website a full-time (and unpaid) job. We check it regularly; we continue to edit it; we replace or scrap broken links and try to keep up with new material; we invite people to contribute, sometimes. That makes this site a resource, and a big one – but it’s still a closed resource.

Acknowledgements

Very many people and several organisations gave of their time, hospitality and expertise to help in the making of this book and website.  We thank them all most warmly. They are...
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Nomads blog

During 2010-2012, when so many of the journeys that went into the making of Nomads were taking place, Chris and James constructed a blog of their travels. In these entries you'll find information about kettles and rain, about chocolate cake and chandlers, about sea-trout (and some more sea-trout, just for good measure), about surprising and no doubt surprised dace...and about an unfortunate seagull in Bundoran which we encountered during the Festival of the Flounder King. You'll find some supplementary images, too, and from them as well as from the words should be able to gain some insight into the work that goes into the making of a book and site of this kind.
http://nomadsofthetides.blogspot.com

©Chris McCully, Ken Whelan, James Sadler, 2013

Extras
Medlar Press

Further notes
about tackle and flies

SPINNING AND BAIT FISHING

During some weeks of the early season (April) I use spinning gear in Irish estuaries in order to present natural sandeels or to fish long, narrow, sandeel-representing spoons.  I’ve found rods 8-10 feet long, with a casting weight of 5-18g, wholly adequate, though again I prefer longer to shorter rods, largely because they offer more control over the presentation of bait or lure as well as greater control over hooked fish.  Because in this form of fishing I enjoy using braided lines, it’s important that the rod-rings are made of toughened material so that constant casting with braid doesn’t wear (cut a groove in) the rings: the tip-ring is particularly important in this respect.  Reel-fittings should also be constructed, ideally, of saltwater-proof materials and be light, comfortable and warm in the hand.
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BAIT COLLECTION AND PURCHASE

Those fishing bait over sea-trout will need to collect bait. Few if any these days breed their own maggots: maggots (called ‘chandlers’ in and around Dublin, possibly because the etymology of chandler is related to ‘candle’ and therefore, via the waxy, white look of the creatures, to maggots?) are widely available in all tackle shops. Worms may also be bought in some tackle shops – these are often brandlings, sold sometimes under the name of ‘tiger-worms’ - but it’s in many ways more satisfactory to collect your own: lobworms may be collected from damp lawns after dark on summer nights (tread very carefully and use a good torch) and brandlings may be encouraged to breed in compost heaps, particularly if newspaper is layered between the compost and old carpet is placed on top of the heap.
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LURES

These days I use artificial lures such as spoons only in saltwater. Even then, I use them rarely. I repeat that my preference for the fly arises not because I’m that most baleful thing, some sort of fly-only snob – far from it – but because fly-fishing is usually so effective and efficient. Therefore what I have to say about artificial lures is limited, though I’ve included what I hope are some realistic ideas for experiment.
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FURTHER NOTES ON FLY PATTERNS

The braid Sunk Lure

Although I’ve returned to the Falkus/Rawling Sunk Lure (SL), I’ve also experimented with various braid-mounted sandeel representations. Through 2008-2010 I worked on and fished a number of different variants of the SL: Judd’s Moy version caught fish for me on the Gweebarra and elsewhere, though the hollow braid, stiffened at the vice by the application of superglue, had a tendency to soften after a day or two’s usage. That was easy to counter: the lure was so lightly dressed that the wing could be lifted aside and the braid re-stiffened simply by applying another go of superglue. All the same, I worried about that trailing and tiny treble. Although it often afforded a good hook-hold, the hook-hold could sometimes be too good: the treble could become so deeply embedded in the gristle of a fish’s mouth that the sea-trout could prove time-consuming to unhook. The last thing I want to do is mess about unhooking herling, particularly in the dark or the half-light.
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EPILOGUE: THROUGH THE IRISH SEA-TROUT SEASON

Part One: April and May

The First Phase: Mending and Feeding

If you’d asked me in, say, 2007 – the year in which I began the work on Irish sea-trout that would translate into Nomads of the Tides – ‘What is a sea-trout?’, I’d have said that the question was easily answered: ‘A sea-trout is a brown trout which runs to sea.’ Five years on, the answer would be radically different: ‘A sea-trout is essentially a marine creature which uses freshwater in which to spawn.’ Of that last postulation I’m as certain as six years’ intensive angling among Irish sea-trout can make me. Nevertheless, ask ‘What makes a sea-trout?’ and an answer comes less readily, to the extent that if it comes at all it’s embedded in further questions, some of which Ken explored in Part Four of Nomads but which bear restatement. Is the sea-running habit of the sea-trout something genetic, where sea-run parents spawn sea-running progeny? Or is that same habit a matter of adapting generation by generation to available feeding? In other words, are sea-trout born that way? Or are they compelled by circumstance to develop that way?
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©Chris McCully, Ken Whelan, James Sadler, 2013

Appendix
Medlar Press

Recipes, where to eat
and sea-trout names

REFERENCES AND ANNOTATIONS

The following downloadable list is replicated from the book-text of Nomads, but I have added annotations for the use of those beginning to collect or in the process of collecting sea-trout literature. CBMcC.
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APPENDIX 1: SEA-TROUT RECIPES APPENDIX

It will have become heart-breakingly apparent to readers of the Nomads text that I’m not made of money. Feeding myself while fishing for sea-trout in Ireland is often a matter of making liberal use of Ireland’s tremendous garage culture: most things are available at petrol stations, including sandwiches (which will often be made to order for you), sweets and chocolate, cold drinks and coffee. But one can’t live off sandwiches forever (I know – I’ve tried) and usually it’s sensible to try and find somewhere to have an evening meal. Because my wallet has suffered from the effects of an almost mis-spent life together with a global recession I can’t usually, or even at all, sit down in the evening to monkfish tail, devilled Hokkaido crab or shrimp tempura with hand-tooled asparagus. Typically, I go in search of fish and chips or Indian food. The following are some of the best fish and chip shops in Ireland, together with one excellent Indian restaurant in Tralee and one splendid Chinese establishment in Belmullet, Co. Mayo.
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APPENDIX 2: EATING PLACES FOR NOMADS IN IRELAND

It will have become heart-breakingly apparent to readers of the Nomads text that I’m not made of money. Feeding myself while fishing for sea-trout in Ireland is often a matter of making liberal use of Ireland’s tremendous garage culture: most things are available at petrol stations, including sandwiches (which will often be made to order for you), sweets and chocolate, cold drinks and coffee. But one can’t live off sandwiches forever (I know – I’ve tried) and usually it’s sensible to try and find somewhere to have an evening meal. Because my wallet has suffered from the effects of an almost mis-spent life together with a global recession I can’t usually, or even at all, sit down in the evening to monkfish tail, devilled Hokkaido crab or shrimp tempura with hand-tooled asparagus. Typically, I go in search of fish and chips or Indian food. The following are some of the best fish and chip shops in Ireland, together with one excellent Indian restaurant in Tralee and one splendid Chinese establishment in Belmullet, Co. Mayo.
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APPENDIX 3: SEA-TROUT AND THEIR NAMES

[Preliminary note on the hyphen: many sea-trout names are technically-speaking compound words consisting of two separate words joined together to make a new word: sea-trout, fork-tail and black-neb are examples.  Older, standard British English spelling conventions generally treat such words by inserting a hyphen between the two terms, while current American spelling usage leaves no graphic space (and inserts no hyphen) between the two words that go to make up the compound word, thus seatrout, blackneb and so on.  In what follows, as has been the case throughout this book, standard British English spelling and typographical conventions are used, even though these conventions are coming to look increasingly old-fashioned in the 21st century, where ‘standard American’ is for many users of English a prestige variety of the written language.]
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©Chris McCully, Ken Whelan, James Sadler, 2013

Gazetteer
Medlar Press
Medlar Press