A Donegal trilogy
Chris Mccully drifts over three unsung loughs
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)