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There are some excellent game, coarse and sea angling fishing waters in South Mayo. The Western Regional Fisheries Board manages the main fisheries in this area.
The Western Fisheries Region has many salmon and sea trout rivers and loughs as well as many very large and some small wild brown trout waters.
Sea trout have been scarce in recent years because of the effect sea-lice have on stocks, the stocks are presently protected by having a ban on the killing of the species in this region and part of the North Western Fisheries Region only, but some fishery owners allow anglers to fish for them provided the trout are returned unharmed to the water. A few waters, which showed an improvement in sea trout fishing during the past seasons, include the Delphi, Erriff, Kylmore and Costello/Fermoyle, the last mentioned being the best.
At the moment the best salmon fisheries in this region are the Galway Salmon Weir Fishery, the Erriff Fishery and the Delphi Fishery. The Dawros River and Kylemore lakes are also well-known salmon waters and fish well from June onwards.
The Delphi Fishery and the Galway Salmon Weir Fishery have spring salmon from February 1st. The Galway Salmon Weir Fishery is hardly ever fished with fly in February, spinning being the method most favoured (there is no shrimp fishing allowed until June 1st).
The spring salmon fishing is usually best in March and April if the water is not too high. From the end of May to the end of June it can be outstanding for grilse catches to fly, shrimp or spinning. During the peak time from mid-May there are three sessions per day to accommodate 5 rods per session. The Ballynahinch Castle Fishery produces salmon from May to the end of September and some sea trout can be caught there from July.
The Costello/Fermoyle Fishery produces salmon as well as sea trout. Sea trout are caught from July onwards, all to fly. The Bunowen River, near Louisburgh, can be good for salmon, too, and is worth fishing anytime after mid-June. An angler can purchase a weekly permit to fish there or a daily ticket. It is mostly fly-fishing but some worm and spinning are allowed over certain sections of the river.
The River Erriff, a truly lovely fishery, is best in July, August and September if the water levels are right. It's a spate river so plenty of rain is important for good runs and better catches.
Licences can be purchased from all Fisheries Board offices, fisheries officers, from most fishery owners, fishing tackle shops, some hotels and guesthouses and from Tourist Board offices. No licence is required for brown trout fishing, sea angling or coarse angling in Ireland.
The season for brown trout on Lough Corrib opens on February 15th (the same as Lough Mask) and trout are usually caught on fly from the very first day of the season. However, the best wetfly fishing is at the beginning of April, for about two weeks, and again during the Mayfly period, May 16th to 30th, or sometimes later, all depending on weather conditions.
Dapping the natural mayfly is highly productive in Mayfly time. Dapping the grasshopper or daddylonglegs in August and September is also productive provided conditions are suitable. Wet fly-fishing during the same months usually gives good results.
Trolling can take salmon and big ferox trout, the salmon from April onwards and the warmer summer months are often best for the large ferox trout. In certain areas of the Lough, fresh-run grilse are caught on fly from about the third week in May. But one needs to know the fishing grounds well to locate them. However, one cannot go far wrong to fish near the mouth of some rivers, such as the Cong River and Owenriff River. The Carrick shore near Cornamona is also a good place for grilse.
The Corrib is a great place to fish during the Mayfly time, as also are Loughs Mask and Carra, when hatches of mayfly bring wonderful trout to the surface to make every angler's dreams come true.
Dry fly can take plenty of trout during the daytime, even if trout are not rising freely. Fished on the "blind," it can bring up excellent trout. Mayfly dry tyings are important, including a few tyings of the Gray Wulff and Yellow Wulff.
There are insured boatmen round the loughs and most hotels and guesthouses engage them for their guests. Tourist Board approved guesthouses, hotels and self-catering (as found in Bord Failte's "Angling Ireland" list) provide a full service with boats, Ghillies, etc. the Fisheries Board provides a list of all insured boat operators.
Fishing the wet fly is good on Lough Mask in April and during the Mayfly period, which is usually from May 20th, or a little later sometimes, to the first week in June. Wet fly can also be very productive onwards from the end of July. There are many areas of the lough where dry fly fishing can take big trout from May onwards. The lough is famous for dapping the different natural insects. Trolling for large ferox trout up to 18lb gives good results. There is good chironomid fishing in March and April. August and September is normally an excellent time to visit the lough as this is during the Mayfly period, of course.
Lough Carra is a late lough so little fishing takes place there until the first week of May, when the Mayfly usually appears. A lovely lake to fish from then onwards, even in the warmer evenings when other waters are gone off in June and July. Wet fly and dapping are equally productive. A very beautiful lough and well worth a visit anytime from early May.
Boats and ghillies can be arranged through Bord Failte approved guesthouses and hotels in the different areas around Loughs Corrib, Mask and Carra.
There are detailed angling maps for Lough Corrib, Mask and Carra available.
The region has many other trout and salmon rivers which are all good at certain times of the season, where trout and salmon can be caught to fly or by spinning spoon baits.
Many of the small rivers are good for dry fly from about April onwards, but especially good in late evenings in mid-summer and into September, depending on weather conditions.
For more information take a look at Fishing in Lough Carra
The Clare and Robe Rivers produce trout to mainly dry fly on summer evenings and sometimes during daytime. The Robe flows through Ballinrobe and enters Lough Mask, while the Clare flows into Lough Corrib, on the eastern side.
The last two weeks of April and into May can be a good time for dry fly on the Robe, the Iron Blue Dun, Orange Quill, Pheasant Tail, Pale Watery and Sherry Spinner providing the means of taking fish with falls of Hawthorn giving real sport when falling onto the water. Hatches of Blue-winged Olive on summer evenings on both the Robe and Clare Rivers will entice quality trout to five and six pounds.
A permit from the local angling Club is requires for the Clare River. The contact there for trout and salmon fishing is: Ian Callander, Secretary Tuam Anglers Association, Tel: 086 0566405. Permits can also be obtained from the Rustic Vaults, Vicar Street, Tuam.
There are stretches of the Clare River, near Tuam and Corofin, where spinning and worming is allowed for salmon at certain times only, otherwise its fly-fishing.
Throughout the region there are dozens of small loughs, which hold brown trout to 10-inches with a few capable of producing trout to several pounds.
Useful wet fly patterns include; Bilbio, Green Peter, Black Pennell, Watson's Fancy, Daddy-long-legs, Raymond, Fiery Brown and Connemara Black. Tied in size 10, they will take both trout and grilse throughout the season. During the Mayfly period, of course, you will also try the different "sunk" Mayfly patterns, Sooty Olive, Olive Bumble, Invicta, Mallard & Claret and some of the Dabbler patterns, the latter proving very successful in recent times.
Remember, for some of the better salmon fisheries it is important to book the fishing well in advance. However, there are some fisheries where the angler can easily obtain fishing, even at short notice.
Click here for more information on Fishing in County Mayo.
Information supplied by and published by kind permission of: Danny Goldrick, Regional Angling Inspector, Western Regional Fisheries Board.