A Done­gal tril­ogy

Chris Mccully drifts over three un­sung loughs

Trout & Salmon (UK) - - Contents - PHO­TOG­RA­PHY: GAR­DINER MITCHELL

IT’S A UNI­VER­SAL TRUTH I’ve just made up that the only an­ti­dote to an­gling is more an­gling, only an­gling of a dif­fer­ent kind. Bat­tered, frozen or swel­tered by the weather of 2018, for in­stance, I be­came … not bored, ex­actly, but stalled: stalled with the ice and cold of March and early April; with con­tin­ual norther­lies which be­came equally chill, hope­less east­er­lies; with the re­cal­ci­trance even of stocked rain­bows; stalled with the rel­a­tive lack of nat­u­ral flies; with sullen calms and the sud­den ar­rival of sum­mer with­out a pre­ced­ing spring…. There came a time in July when I shrugged on the wad­ing jacket with what, for me, is a van­ish­ingly rare emo­tion: in­dif­fer­ence. It was there­fore time to es­cape not merely Eng­land’s weather (which by July had be­come sulk­ily trop­i­cal) and the rain­bows (which had be­come sulk­ily lethar­gic) but time to es­cape my­self. I went to Done­gal in search of sea-trout and found the worst drought since 1976. The rel­a­tively few sea-trout we en­coun­tered in the es­tu­ar­ies seemed list­less. Plan A rapidly turned into Plan B and an ar­ti­fi­cial spate, one gen­er­ated on the lit­tle River Clady by a hy­dro-

elec­tric scheme which links the Clady, the River Crolly and the wa­ters of Lough Na­cung. We might have caught sal­mon – we saw one or two fish, while the flood lasted – but did not. Then, after flog­ging about for two days in im­plau­si­ble heat, we lit on Plan C. Near Dun­fanaghy, on the north­ern coast of Done­gal, there are three remarkable brown trout loughs. I’d driven past them and had al­ways in­tended to fish the largest of them, New Lake (named in 1917 as a re­sult of the At­lantic storm that cre­ated it from a for­mer salt marsh), but I was al­ways in too much of a hurry to get to the sea-trout of Bal­ly­ness, Ards or Bun­beg to stop. Hard by New Lake lie two other trout loughs – Port and Ses­si­agh – of which I’d cer­tainly read, though I’d never paused to fish them, ei­ther. Fool­ishly, too, I’d al­ways as­so­ci­ated Done­gal with scree, moun­tain slopes and turf-stacks, with those acidic rivers and loughs seatrout favour. Done­gal there­fore had re­mained in my

“The At­lantic storm that cre­ated it from a for­mer salt marsh”

A gen­tle breeze on Port Lough. Chris on dry-fly and Lind­sey Clarke with a team of small wet-flies.

tril­ogy: 1. a se­ries of three re­lated lit­er­ary works; 2. three mu­si­cal works that develop a par­tic­u­lar theme; 3. by ex­ten­sion, three in­ter­con­nected things (from tri-, three + lo­gos, word)

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