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‘LOUGH CURRANE is premier league,” was the catchphrase at last weekend’s trout fly-fishing festival in Waterville, Co Kerry, as competitors took to the waters of this famous lake widely regarded as one of the finest sea trout fisheries in Europe.

The competition was hosted by Waterville Fisheries Development Group.

Currane can be trying at times, but my goodness when the big sea trout or salmon or even the “Junors” grab the fly, the excitement that ensues is nothing short of spectacular. Last year, Sean Smith (UK) caught the heaviest sea trout ever recorded on Currane, a beauty of 6.04kg (13.31lb) to the fly.

The first day of the competition was marred by strong gusting winds and downpours that tested the most seasoned anglers. Nevertheless, 11 fish made the cut line that included two for John Meagher, Paul Lawton and Mike Murphy.

Day Two was a different kettle of fish, with calm waters and broken sunshine. The periodic cloud cover brought up plenty of fish. Suffice to say that all 35 anglers boated, recorded and returned 24 fish.

Ballinskelligs angler Jim Sayers excelled in this department with a magnificent specimen sea trout of 61cm and, along with a second fish, took the coveted first prize of a John Meagher lake boat and Perpetual Cup. “I caught the big one close to Grassy Island on a size 14 Red Hopper,” he said.

I took time out to fish Lake Namona with top gillie Neil O’Shea and Group secretary Kevin O’Sullivan. Namona is a relatively small but beautiful lake with breathtaking scenery and bog-coloured water. Together we boated about 15 small brownies and raised a “Junor” or two. The lake has one boat and is available at a daily rate of €100 including engine.

The presentation dinner in the Waterville Inn was well attended and rounded off a truly splendid sea trout festival.

An added attraction this year related to two interesting presentations in the Waterville Inn by Prof Ken Whelan on the book Nomads of the Tides and Dr Willie Roche on the ongoing Celtic Sea trout project.

Nomads of the Tides provides an insight into how best to target sea trout in their natural environment and involved visits to more than 70 locations in estuaries and bays around the Irish coastline.

Fly patterns and prey imitations are included for saltwater and a chapter is devoted to the lives of sea trout and their complex biology. Compiled by Chris McCully, Prof Ken Whelan and James Sadler, it took five years to complete and is due for publication in autumn 2013.( nomadsofthetides.blogspot.ie/).

The Celtic Sea trout project is investigating the population of the species in the Irish Sea and rivers discharging into it, in an effort to provide science-based advice for sustainable management.

To this end, the Waterville Fishery is regarded as a major player and over the past three years Currane anglers have collected many scale samples. These will form a critical role in the success of the Interreg-IV Ireland-Wales funded Celtic Sea trout project.

The report will conclude in mid-2013 and results will help stakeholders to further understand the many different facets of this exceptional angling species. See celticseatrout.com,

Waterville is an “Anglers’ Welcome” hub where the community is committed to delivering a special angling holiday. Emphasis is on the whole experience and the fact that providers are committed to delivering an exceptional welcome and best of facilities.

Fáilte Ireland continues to support the Marine and Countryside Guides programme in Tralee IT to help grow development of angling in the area. For information, visit discoverireland.ie/angling

angling@irishtimes.com