The warming effect of the Gulf Stream ensures a long season for the angler, from mid-February to the end of September. The area is renowned for the abundance and variety of brown trout fishing readily available.  Almost every stream and lake has a resident stock of wild brown trout and supplemental stocking, of selected waters, is carefully controlled so as not to interfere with indigenous stock.

To describe the brown trout fishing of the Western region as a whole it is necessary to distinguish between fishing the large Western lakes (more commonly called ‘loughs’), smaller brown trout lakes, mountain or brownie lakes and stocked fisheries.

Fishing Rates 2016 – Lough Corrib

Hire of boat only €25/day
Hire of boat and engine €45-50/day
Hire of boat, engine and gillie/guide €140-150/day + gillie’s lunch

 

 

 

The Great Western Lakes

Castle Kirk on Lough CorribThe large western lakes comprise Loughs Corrib, Mask, Carra, Conn and Cullin. Lough Corrib is the largest at 44,000 acres. Fly-fishing from a drifting boat is the angling method favoured most. Shore angling on the large lakes is over short, specific shorelines, or from the banks of islands,  and expert advice is invaluable for the first-time visiting angler.

These lakes are predominantly rich limestone waters, producing wild brown trout averaging over 1lb. (0.45kg) to 3lbs. (1.36kg) with some to 10lbs. (4.53kg) caught on fly every season. Large Ferox trout from 10-20lbs. (4.53-9.07kg) are caught by trolling deep water or along the deep side of shallows. A record brown trout was caught on Lough Corrib in 2012, by  Welsh angler Ceri Jones, and weighed in at 23lbs. 12oz. Trolling can take place throughout the season, but it’s the high quality of fly fishing and dapping for which these lakes are renowned.

In the early weeks of the season fly are scarce on the water. However, trout are taken on the fly in areas of shallow water from opening day, providing modest success for the persistent angler. Spinning spoon/plug baits or trolling deadbait are successful methods of catching trout in early season. During March the ‘duckfly’ (a black chironomid) hatches and trout rise freely to pupa emerger, wet-fly and dry fly patterns.

Duckfly fishing in late March/early April can be excellent for all fly fishing, a period that deserves more attention from anglers. The day catch per rod during this period is equally as good, or better, than during the highly productive and publicised Mayfly period.

Looking for trout in duckfly season

Duckfly fly patterns include: Black Pennell, Connemara Black, Blae & Black, Watson’s Fancy, Bibio, Mallard & Claret, Duckfly, Sooty Olive, Cock Olive, Peter Ross, Fiery Brown, Claret Dabbler and Golden Dabbler, Hoglice patterns, Coch-y-Bondhu, Duckfly Pupa and Emergers. Sizes 10-14.

Mayfly hatches can appear as early as late April  but, in the main, they hatch throughout the month of May and on in to June at some locations. During the Mayfly hatches, trout feed eagerly on the surface taking the emerging nymph, Green Drake and, later on, the Spent Gnat. While fly fishing gives best results, ‘dapping’ the natural insect using a long rod (15ft) and blow line, is perhaps the most popular method employed. The Mayfly are picked by hand along the shoreline of the islands or from bushes and kept in special wooden boxes most of which are hand made and passed from one generation to the next.  As the hatch progresses, the spent fly, as it falls back on the water, becomes the choice food item particularly of the larger trout. Spent Gnat dry-fly fishing provides the best opportunity to record a specimen fish (10lbs. [4.53kg] weight on the lakes).

Mayfly on water

Mayfly on water. Photo taken by Josef Niedermeier

Also from April onwards through to June, in the more sheltered areas of sediment and weed, extensive hatches of lake olives and chironomids provide unlimited variation and challenge. Late evening buzzer fishing, given the appropriate conditions, can be an unforgettable experience, larger trout coming more freely when the ‘balling’ buzzer appears.

 

Mayfly time fly patterns: Green Peter, Green Drake, French Partridge Mayfly, Fan Winged Mayfly, Golden Olive Bumble, Cock Robin, Green Dabbler, Olive Dabbler, Claret Dabbler, Invicta, Golden Olive, Spent Gnat and Buzzer patterns. Sizes 8-12.

When the Mayfly hatches end the trout concentrate on feeding on perch and roach fry. Fry patterns and lures are then effective around the shallows. In late June, large sedge fly appear in late evening and provide good fishing through to August and September. Locally these fly are called Murrough and Green Peter and artificial tyings of these fly produce great sport, fished either wet or dry to surface cruising large trout.  Anglers should not leave the water too early at this time of year but stay out late and wait for the feeding trout in calm, sheltered bays. Lough Carra is noted for the quality of its evening fishing in the summer months.

Towards the end of August, wet-fly fishing improves and continues to the end of the season and generally is not to any specific hatch of fly. Terrestrials of all descriptions are important as also are fry, sedge and shrimp. Dapping large terrestrials (Grasshoppers, Daddy Longlegs) tempts larger than average 3lbs. plus fish. Indeed ‘dapping’ during the last two months of the season should be practised more often as the method undoubtedly attracts the larger trout to the surface.

Wild Brown TroutExtremely large trout may also be caught on fly during September. These are frequently found in shallow water accompanying grilse and salmon.

For the latter part of the season, suggested fly patterns include: Green Peter, Murrough, Brown Sedge, Invicta, Silver Invicta, Kate McLaren, Blue Bottle, Daddy Longlegs, Bibio, Claret Dabbler, Golden Olive Bumble, Claret Bumble, Connemara Black, Raymond. Sizes 8-12

Tackle

A 10-11.5 ft. rod is suitable for lough style wet-fly angling, shorter perhaps for dry fly. Floating lines are widely used for wet as well as dry fly. However, an intermediate sinking line is also a must for certain conditions.

For dapping a 12-15ft. rod is required with a centre-pin, or spinning reel, loaded with blow line/monofilament line and dapping floss.  Hook sizes should range from 6-10.

When fishing specifically for Ferox trout, deep water trolling is required. Ferox trout reach 20lbs, or more, so tackle must be suitable and of good quality as these are strong, hard fighting fish.

Trout of 19.5 lbs caught by Peder HansenFor trolling or bait fishing for both salmon and trout, an 8-10ft spinning rod with fixed spool or multiplier reel is recommended. 100-200yds. of 10-16lb breaking strain monofilament line is necessary. Baits include dead bait, spoons, plugs, Mepps, Rapalas, Toby’s and Tasmanian Devils, Silver, Gold and Yellow-bellied Devons, Lane Minnow and rubber tailed spinners.

Methods

All legal legitimate methods (live baiting is not permitted).

Licence

No licence is required for brown trout fishing, however, there are regulations governing the fishing of waters in the Corrib catchment and full details can be found on http://www.fishinginireland.info/trout/west.htm

Size and Bag Limits

Loughs Corrib, Mask and Carra: Only trout over 13″ (33cm) can be retained.      A bag limit of 4 trout/angler/day and, of this number, only one trout of 4.43kg (10lbs.) or more can be taken.

Specimen Fish

All specimen fish caught including salmon, trout, coarse and sea, should be reported to the local Inland Fisheries Ireland office (The Weir Lodge, Earl’s Island, Galway Tel:+353-91-563118).  For further information and details of the rules check out  http://www.irish-trophy-fish.com/ where a claim form can be downloaded.

Specimen weights: Brown trout – Lake 4.536kg (10lbs.); Brown trout – River 2.268kg (5lbs.)

Smaller Waters

Brown trout lakes varying in size from 50-1,000 acres include Moher Lough, Castlebar lakes, Bilberry Lough and Kinlooey Lough. Some are limestone and consequently produce good-sized trout averaging over 1lb. Native brown trout stock is augmented by local clubs and Inland Fisheries Ireland. Regulations vary from one water to another, most being fly-only with a bag limit – check locally.

Generally, trout are easier risen than in the large lakes. Consequently, anglers often turn to them during the low periods on the big lakes. Shore angling can often give good returns. Fly hatches are similar to those found on the big lakes and some produce the highest average rod catches in Ireland.

‘Brownie Lakes’

There are hundreds of small lakes in the Western Region. Only a large scale map can show that there is almost a greater area of water than land. Usually these waters are acidic and do not have the abundance of fly life found on limestone lakes. Important flies are chironomids, small dark sedges and a variety of terrestrials including ants, moths and Daddy Longlegs.

The lakes are located in mainly mountainous districts of great scenic beauty, or in extensive areas of bog land which characterises large areas of Ireland West. Trout are small in the lakes, weighing 0.25-0.75lb. They are prolific, free-rising and give tremendous sport to wet and dry fly all season and are invaluable for the novice angler. These lakes vary greatly and there are some real gems amongst them with trout in excess of 1.25lb. Local advice is invaluable to ensure success. Dark flies are best: Black Pennell, Bibio, Connemara Black, Blae & Black, Mallard & Claret, Watson’s Fancy, Sooty Olive, Butcher, Invicta, Silver Invicta, Green Peter, Dry Sedge and Daddy Longlegs. Sizes 12-14.

Stocked Fisheries

There are relatively few stocked “put and take” fisheries in the region. Ballinlough Lake, near Newport, Co. Mayo, contains a good stock of rainbow trout. Stocked as fingerlings they grow to 8lb in the rich limestone water.

Stream/River Fishing

Wild brown trout in the small rivers are plentiful and the angling season is from March to September 30. May to late September is peak time with late evening the best time for fly.

There are two distinct types of fishing: the acid streams of the west characterised by their relatively small trout (0.25-0.75lbs) and the limestone rivers of the east containing much larger fish. The western streams are generally headwaters of salmon and sea-trout fisheries which are normally privately owned. Fishing for brown trout in these systems is not normally permitted in order to preserve sea-trout stocks.  The Finney river, running between Loughs Nafooey and Mask is open from 1 March-31 August and the Maam river (including Bealnabrack, Joyce’s and Failmore rivers) are limited to fly fishing only from 1-30 September.

The eastern rivers drain into the large lakes and hold large trout, many between 3-6lbs Ideal waters for quality brown trout include the Clare and Robe rivers, the Cong Canal (Open: 17 March-31 August) and the Keel river.