Angling Notes: Clonbur hosts vintners’ two-day fly-fishing competition

Village ideally situated between two of the finest wild game angling lakes in Europe

Alan Haugh from Loughrea, Co Galway, with his winning trout of 2lb 9oz on day one at the get-together competition on Lough Mask

Alan Haugh from Loughrea, Co Galway, with his winning trout of 2lb 9oz on day one at the get-together competition on Lough Mask

 

Clonbur in Co Galway is still boasting from being nominated as one of the best 20 locations in Ireland to live and visit (as listed in The Irish Times, Saturday, September 4th, 2021), and it remained in fine fettle on my visit last week.

In one respect, the Connemara Gaeltacht village is a step back in time with its easy-going lifestyle and close community spirit, yet is well served with all necessary amenities including a new bakery that opened only last weekend, specialising in traditional Irish bread.

From a fishing perspective, the village is ideally situated between two of the finest wild game angling lakes in Europe – Lough Mask and Lough Corrib – each within “casting distance” and with easy access, including by boat hire or ghillie.

For the past 18 years, Clonbur has hosted the vintners’ two-day fly-fishing competition, centred in Burke’s bar and restaurant on the main street. More than 120 anglers from across the country and beyond converged on the village and provided, I have no doubt, a welcomed financial boost to the community.

Covid-19 put a stop to the event for the past two years. However, with restrictions lifted somewhat, a group of “diehards” kept the flag flying with a scaled-down version last week. No prizes, no official entry fee, no gala dinner, just the fishing (basically).

Unfortunately, Lough Mask was like a millpond for the two days. On day 1, 20 boats (40 anglers) fishing out from various vantage points, including Cushlough, Roshill and Burke’s, managed just four fish. Alan Haugh, from Loughrea, took the honours with a ferox trout of 2lb 9oz (1.16kg) on an elk hair nymph.

Donald O’Leary (left) and Daniel “Dinger” Murphy, winners of the day-two competition on Lough Mask, with Tómas Burke (centre)
Donald O’Leary (left) and Daniel “Dinger” Murphy, winners of the day-two competition on Lough Mask, with Tómas Burke (centre)

Your correspondent caught one, unfortunately, the smallest of the four! The second day was somewhat better, with 22 boats returning 18 trout. Donald O’Leary and “Dinger” Murphy, both from Cork, brought in four, two each, to win the day.

Conditions improved over the following two days, sufficient to move fish and for the angling stragglers to enjoy some well-earned sport. I managed five good-sized trout (one returned), mostly to a sooty olive dabbler.

For those who turned out, all thoroughly enjoyed the few days, although it was a bit eerie to find the main street deserted shortly after 11pm each night!! Roll on next year.

Farmed salmon discovered on the Dawros river

Fisheries officers in Galway were alerted recently by anglers fishing for wild Atlantic salmon on the Dawros river in Letterfrack of farmed salmon from the Connemara fishery. The captured fish had poorly formed fins and other distinguishing features that are associated with farmed salmon.

Scientists inspected samples from the river and confirmed the fish are of “aquaculture origin” and are not wild Atlantic salmon. Investigations are ongoing to determine the source of escape and the Department of Marine, which is responsible for issuing aquaculture licences, has been notified.

Dr Greg Forde, head of operations at Inland Fisheries Ireland, said: “The Dawros rivers have been designated a special area for conservation for wild Atlantic salmon and we are seriously concerned about the impact farmed salmon could have on this native species.

“Farmed salmon could potentially transfer disease with the indigenous wild salmon population. Early indications are that the farmed salmon, due to their size and development, could be capable of spawning this winter and interbreeding with wild fish, thereby weakening the natural genetic pool unique to the Dawros River.”

“To protect and conserve wild Atlantic salmon for both current and future generations, it is absolutely essential that all salmon aquaculture installations are completely secure and farmed fish are not allowed to escape into the wild.”

If you have an angling story to share, please send it to me at angling@irishtimes.com

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