Written by Peter Wildash who spends a month with his family in Ballycroy every year.
’Ballycroy is a sportsman's paradise' .. William Hamilton Maxwell
One hundred and twenty five years after the publication of these words in 'Wild Sports of the West', guided by my uncle John Masterson (from Kildun, Ballycroy) I caught my first trout from the little stream that crosses the N59 just north of Ballycroy Church. These days my work involves the supply of equipment to anglers all over the world and I often think about what that fish started!
Two main rivers lie within the parish boundaries, the Owenduff and the Ballyveeney. All fishing on them is controlled by private owners but limited access may be possible by personal contact through the appropriate channels. The Owenduff is particularly noted for the production of beautiful spring salmon (but not in great numbers) as well as dependable grilse runs during July and August. Sea trout ('white trout') are also taken in fair numbers, with some of very good size. The Ballyveeney used to produce some remarkably large sea trout for such a short, dark river, but in recent years the runs have declined dramatically. Brown trout are present in both rivers but are generally of small size.
The native brown trout, which are found in the various loughs, are small in size but are perfect miniatures with beautiful markings and glowing colours. Each one seems to have been enameled by the Creator himself and anglers should treasure these natural jewels rather than consigning them to a hot pan without a second glance. The wild brown trout is under threat and I would encourage all anglers to gently return as many as possible to the water. As a youth I learned a lot from these fish and they can teach future generations much more about angling, conservation and wildlife than any number of videos or computer games.
A glance at the map reveals that Ballycroy's coastline is varied and, for the most part, sheltered from the open sea. The angling possibilities have hardly been explored but a wide variety of species is known to be present. Species include: Pollock, Mackerel, Monkfish, Huss (Greater Spotted Dogfish), Plaice, Grey Mullet, Conger, Ballan Wrasse, Brill, Thornback Ray, Coalfish, Common Skate, Flounder, Turbot and Tope.
As can be seen, the range of species provides possibilities for fishing with both bait and artificial lures. With modern shore-casting gear the pioneering angler will be able to enjoy sport from many locations. The holiday angler could do very well with light spinning tackle from rocky positions and I can recommend experimenting with saltwater fly-casting for maximum sport with the smaller species (Well you'd expect me to say that, wouldn't you!).
The visiting angler would do well to seek local advice as to safe locations for shore fishing whereas boats for sea angling excursions could only be arranged on an individual basis.
P.S. Peter owns Mayo Flycraft (86, Pinehurst Road, West Moors, Ferndown, Dorset, BH22 OAR, England). Our thanks to Peter for this article.