Trout & Salmon (UK) - - Ireland -

LOUGH MASK is the wilder and lesser-known neigh­bour of the fa­mous Lough Cor­rib, but for all that it is no less pro­duc­tive and is rightly con­sid­ered one of the great loughs of Ire­land. The 20,500-acre lake holds very good stocks of wild brown trout, though it is deeper and more ex­posed than Cor­rib so weather can be an im­por­tant fac­tor in de­ter­min­ing suc­cess.

Brown trout

The pri­mary quarry of the Mask an­gler is the hard-fight­ing brown trout. This is an en­tirely wild fish­ery with no stock­ing. The hatches may not be as pro­lific as Cor­rib, but they are steady and fol­low a sim­i­lar pat­tern. Fish­ing be­gins in March with duck­fly, which con­tin­ues to May when mayfly ap­pear and its hatches of­ten con­tinue into June. Sum­mer will bring on very good hatches of sedge, which skit­ter over the sur­face. Mask can fish par­tic­u­larly well in Au­gust and Septem­ber, with spec­tac­u­lar hatches of cae­nis tak­ing place early in the morn­ings. These tiny flies raise trout to the sur­face to feed avidly but ex­treme skill and stealth is re­quired to ac­cu­rately match the hatch – fly pre­sen­ta­tion must be im­pec­ca­ble. Wa­ter lev­els in the lough can change sig­nif­i­cantly be­tween sum­mer and win­ter, so much so that nav­i­gat­ing among its rocky shoals can be a chal­lenge even for the lo­cal rods who know the wa­ter well. There are many bays along the eastern shore, which pro­vide a va­ri­ety of habi­tats from shal­low reefs and reedy bays to deep drop-offs. The western shore, too, can be pro­duc­tive – es­pe­cially in a southerly wind – though it drops away to deep wa­ter very quickly. This is where, in the later days of the sea­son, the daph­nia feed­ers will hold. There is also ex­cel­lent fish­ing to be en­joyed in the large bays of up­per Mask, where the Maum­turk Moun­tains pro­vide a stun­ning back­drop. An­glers fish­ing tra­di­tional meth­ods can en­joy some truly ex­cep­tional days with catches of more than 20 fish not un­com­mon. The ma­jor­ity of the Mask fish will weigh around 1lb but spec­i­mens of 5lb are reg­u­larly caught, and then there are the mys­te­ri­ous ferox which grow to 15lb and more – but these are mostly caught by trolling.

The wild wa­ters of Lough Mask are the per­fect venue for tra­di­tional loch-style fly-fish­ing from a drift­ing boat.

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