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West of Ireland, Mayo

I am just back from a few days fishing over in the west of Ireland. I stayed in Ballina Co. Mayo as i was booked in for some days salmon fishing on the river Moy. I was looking forward to this since last March when i booked the fishing. I had heard some good reports from the Moy with good runs of fish and plenty coming to the fly. I got down on Friday night and as the salmon fishing was booked for midweek i had also planned to do some trout fishing.

Lough Muck

Lough Muck.

My first outing was to Lough Muck near Foxford, Co. Mayo. It is a small lake set in beautiful surroundings among the hills of the Foxford to Swinford road. It has a good stock of free rising wild brown trout. After enquiring locally as to whether a permit was required and also to find out if i could hire a boat, i got a phone number for boat hire. When i got to the lake i found that the boat was dry and ready for fishing. Looking around the lake shore to see was there any signs of fly life to give me an indication as to what flies to use, i saw some Mayflies on the reeds and on the boat.




Mayfly (Green Drake)

I set up the rod with a team of dabblers i.e. pearly, olive and claret. The day was overcast with a good breeze blowing up the lake from the jetty. There also was some rain showers forecast. For the first drift i headed up the lake towards the opposite shore which is rocky and which also has a good growth of small trees along it. Setting the boat up for the drift i noticed some Mayfly coming off the water and a few fish rising to them. First cast and fish on. It took the olive dabbler and was a nice little fish of about twenty two centimetres. The first drift counted for four nicely marked hard fighting wild brownies. I fished the same drift for about three hours or so getting fish on each drift. The wind picked up along with heavy rain and the fish stopped rising so i headed back to the jetty. I finished the day with a total of fifteen fish all of which i returned to rise on another day. With the water temperature at sixteen degrees Celcius, Mayflies hatching and the trout rising i planned to get back fishing on Muck before the week was out.


Moher Lough

 Moher Lough.

To me no fishing trip to Mayo would be complete if i did not take a outing on Moher Lough. This time was no different as i had a few hours  fishing on Moher. The day was overcast with heavy rain showers and a strong wind blowing up and across the lake from the jetty. I set up the boat with the electric motor and i had my usual look around for any signs of fly life. I found nothing of note except a few small dark sedges that i disturbed from the bushes. I set the rod up with a team of flies which included the olive dabbler which had worked well on Lough Muck. I set off down the lake to do a drift across with the wind. Of all the times i have fished Moher this was my first time time to fish in with the wind blowing strong and across it. On the first drift i got one small wild brownie about twenty centimetres long. It was several more drifts across before i had another fish on. This was the way the day went only catching the occasional fish. Regularly changing flies during the session i finished with total of eight fish. The best one was a stocked fish of about thirty eight centimetres. Most of the fish fell for the olive dabbler. It was a struggle even to get that many fish, not one of my best days on Moher. I returned all of the fish for the next time i get to fish on Moher Lough.




Callows Lake Upper

Callows Lakes.

For my next outing i went out to the Callows Lakes. The Callows is another old favourite of mine which i try to fish on every time i get over to the west. There are two lakes the upper and lower which are connected by a narrow channel which flows under a little bridge. I usually fish on the upper lake however this time i fished on the both of them. Boat hire is available locally on enquiry. Getting there in the early afternoon i had plans to fish on up until dark. The day was mixed with some cloud cover and some strong sunshine along with a steady breeze which was blowing nicely down the lakes. Having my usual look around for fly life i found nothing of note so i set up with a team of traditional wet flies i.e. bibio, black pennel and a sooty olive. I headed up the lake to take a drift down along the shore opposite the jetty. I was fishing for about three hours without a fish getting caught. I decided to head down to the lower lake to give it a go to see if it was any better. More of the same down there. No fish. Things were not looking good at all. What to do next? Head back to the upper lake and try some of the shallower shores? I decided to head right up the lake to where i knew there was some shallow water. On getting there i saw a Mayfly lifting off the water so i tied on an olive dabbler to see could i at least tempt a fish to take it. At last a fish on. A nice wild little brownie of about thirty five centimetres had taken the dabbler.

Callows Lake Lower

Another hour or more passed before i had another fish again caught on the dabbler. I headed for the shore to take a break before it started to get dark. Before setting off again i set the rod up with a single fly to fish as an emerging sedge. The fly i choose was a Balloon Caddis. I have fished this fly before with great success on Callows when sedges are about. I remained fishless for another half hour or so before i had a fish on. With sedges now appearing in good numbers the fishing picked up. Finishing the day with a total of nine wild brown trout the best about thirty eight centimetres. On looking through my notes about fishing the Callows i found the best fishing was at night time to the sedges.

Cathedral Beat River Moy. 

Cathedral Beat

Eventually the time had come to fish on the river Moy. My first outing was booked on the Cathedral beat. I was allowed to fish on this beat from sun up until six pm. Checking on the time the tide was due in at i found out i would be able to fish from sun up until about twelve twenty. All reports from the previous few week were good with as many as twelve or more fish caught each day. I got to the beat at about seven am and there was already some other anglers fishing away. I enquired as to whether there was any fish caught only to be told ” none yet”. I stepped in and took my place and started to fish. After an hour or so another angler caught and released a small salmon of maybe two pounds. It was another two hours before another fish was landed, a fresh run fish of about four pounds. I fished on up until the tide was upon me. I headed of up the town for a bite to eat. It was around four pm before i was again able to step in and fish. There was one other small fish caught and returned for the day, not such a good day at all. 

Ridge Pool Beat, River Moy. 


Ridge Pool

The next day i was booked to fish on the renowned Ridge Pool. I was allowed to fish on it from Two pm up until sundown. The tide would have no effect on me this time. Getting down to the pool shortly after two o clock there was other anglers fishing in it. Enquiring as to how it fished on the morning session i learned that three fish were landed. The total for the whole day ended with seven fish being landed. I was not one of those lucky anglers who managed to land a fish. Some of the Salmon were caught on worms. I do not fish for Salmon with the worms as most of the fish will take the worms down  deep before they are hooked and therefore are not fit to be released.



Salmon Weirs

I heard all sort of reasons and excuses as to why the fishing was bad while i was there.  “You should of been here last week” , “very low tides”, “the fish are just running through”, “the river is too high”. I even heard it said that the refurbishment works on the Salmon Weirs was having an effect on the fish. I dont have any excuse or reason other than hard luck for not catching any fish this time. I will be back down in Ballina the Salmon Capital of Ireland in September as i have another few days salmon fishing book on the river Moy. Hopefully next time i won’t be listening to any excuses, I’ll be catching Salmon instead!


One Response to “West of Ireland, Mayo”

  1. Cillian says:

    Hi just wondering about lough callow, I’d love to fish it but just wondering would it be worthy time? I’m willing to hire a boat but just wondering how much it would cost? What flies would you recommend now, would there be a hatch of mayflies? And also sedges?


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