Most people associate lough fishing in this area with the big waters like Conn and Mask. While most of the angling effort is expended on these impressive fisheries there are ample opportunities for the angler who enjoys less dramatic sport on a range of smaller loughs around Castlebar. Let me me tell you about three of them today.
Just a short walk along the Pontoon road from me lies Tucker’s lough, a small and well stocked lake with a fine head of small wild brown trout. Most of it is pretty much inaccessible due to soft margins and large reed beds, but you can get enough elbow room to cast at a couple of places. I find this lough is good in April and May before the weeds choke the water and the fishing becomes an exercise in clearing green stuff from your flies. I have yet to hear of any monster from Tucker’s and the trout are smaller than I would like, but in those occasions when I only have an hour to spare and heading out in a boat on Conn is not feasible I can still fish from the shore on Tucker’s and winkle out a fish or two.
Next we have Lough na Gcearch which I have only fished once and come off the water without even a pull at the flies. Not that that poor performance is anything out of the ordinary as this small water has a local reputation for being dour. The trout are supposed to be bottom feeders and attain a good size with rumours of massive brownies over 3 pounds inhabiting the lough. It is entirely possible as the limestone on the bottom would tend to indicate excellent feeding potential. I am intending to give this water a few casts this coming season to try to winkle out one one the spotted leviathans from the watery depths.
Finally we have Lough Ben, one of my favourite small loughs to fish. For a water which is situated close to a popular road it is surprisingly lightly fished. The average trout in this lough is probably around the half pound but I have taken ones closer to a pound from it in the past. Again, I regard this water as an early season venue with March / April my preferred time to cast a line here (the season opens on 20th March). The fish are free-rising and there are good hatches of buzzers. Claret Duns also hatch out early in the season and I have used a Grouse and Claret to good effect here.
Normal lough patterns will work just dandy on all of these loughs and I particularly like the Butcher, March Brown, Grouse and Claret, Watson’s Bumble and Golden Olive in sizes 12 and 14. I tend to use a floating line even when nothing is showing as the water in these small loughs is never very deep.