covid-19, welsh flies, boats and Mulranny

Please excuse my ramblings, this is a bit of a catch up over a few busy days.

All the pubs, clubs and restaurants are shut now and other amenities are closing daily either by instruction from the government or through lack of business or staff. Ireland has not yet been fully locked down but that event can’t be far away with more cases of the covid-19 virus being reported every day.  Going by the experience of other countries such as Italy and Spain we can expect that number to increase sharply over the coming weeks. So what is an angler to do during these difficult times?

Obviously confinement to home means lots and lots of time for fly tying. Now I really do not need any more flies, the boxes are full to bursting as it is. However, I will try making some new patterns which I never seemed to have time to tie before. In particular I want to make some of the welsh patterns from a book called ‘Plu Stiniog’ which I picked up at the fly fair in Galway at the end of last year. Written by a gentleman by the name of Emrys Evans, there are some nice looking sedge patterns in it which could possibly work in Ireland.

Here are a few I have tied up so far.

Rhwyfwr Cochddu Bach (small red/black sedge)

Rhwyfwr Bach Tin Gwyrdd (small green-arsed sedge)
Egarych Felan (yellow corncrake
Rhwyfwr Robat Jos Shop
Rhwyfwr Mis Awst Pen-ffridd
Rhwyfwr Mawr Gwyrdd (large green sedge)
Egarych Gochddu

Apart from making a few flies and keeping away from everyone else the other day I took the opportunity to give the woodwork on my old boat a lick of varnish. The local paint shop were not allowing anyone into the actual shop when I went to get a pot of varnish. Instead, the staff came out to a cordoned off area at the front of the premises, took your order and brought the tins out to you. It was a nice morning so it was no hardship to wait patiently in the sunshine. The boat has suffered some damage over the last season but it will last for another season or two before in needs re-timbering. An hour saw a nice heavy coat of varnish applied, now I need to wait for it to dry.

Looking a bit tired and worn
Starting to varnish one of the seats
That’s better!

With Helen’s hours at work curtailed due to the virus we decided to go for a spin out to Mulranny and have a walk down at the beach there. It was a lovely sunny afternoon and we really enjoyed getting out in the fresh air and away from all the depressing news for a while. Just being dry and seeing the sun lifted our spirits. The views across Clew bay to the Reek on the south side were as impressive as always and we both felt blessed to be living in this part of the world. I for one can’t begin to imagine how it must feel to be living in a big city like London during these days of crisis. At least we have some escape here in rural Ireland.

The reek from Mulranny

Hopefully the rain will hold off for a few more days and let the land dry out a bit so I could get out on my own and do some fishing. All the lakes and rivers are still high but they are dropping slowly as the rain has eased off slightly this past week. High pressure is due to build from this week onward, bringing drier and more settled weather to the region. Trout will be close to the bottom and hard to tempt but just getting out in the fresh air will be a tonic in these difficult times. The moorings at Brown’s bay and Pike bay on lough Conn are both still well under water as of today but my boat should be on the lake by the end of next week if we get dry weather and the water levels drop. Stay safe!


4 thoughts on “covid-19, welsh flies, boats and Mulranny

  1. The LOUGH MASK is overfished

    As it is reported, Geoffrey Hylands won this year’s World Cup with over 400! fishermen on the Mask, catching four trout weighted 4,861 lbs.
    If this is the catch of five days, it’s a very poor result – compared to the Mask at the end of the last century.
    We first came to the Mask in the nineties and were introduced into different angling methods by the legendary Al Cunningham from Athlone. At that time the Mask was an angling paradise for brown trout, with daily catches per boat up to ten big fish or more. During the last five years, catches have deteriorated dramatically.
    Al told us: This lake protects itself by windy and bad weather and rocky shallows where the boats cannot enter and the fish can retreat and feed.
    This was in the good old times. Now the fish are chased into the rocky shallows with ultralight boats with electric engines by hundreds of anglers during competitions. Isn’t that too much?
    In addition pikes over 50 cm may no more be taken, while in the good old past many anglers came to the Mask explicitly for big pikes. Each one they caught could not feed trout any more. On the other hand, in programs to take pikes out of the Mask, many big trout were caught in the fishing nets as well. Why not let anglers take the pikes?
    The Great Western Lakes and their surroundings are still of breathtaking beauty. So we shall come here again despite the deplorable deterioration of the angling situation on the Mask. But we know many anglers who do not come here anymore.
    Though it’s not up to foreigners to give advice to Irish authorities, maybe time has come now to take action to restore this jewel.

    Rudi Santschi, Reinach, Switzerland
    Markus Eckstein, Goldach, Switzerland


    1. Rudi and Markus, thank you so much for taking the time to comment on the deterioration of the fishing on Lough Mask. I totally agree that the fishing on Mask has been in steep decline over the past few years but would add that the situation is even worse on loughs Conn, Cullin and Carra. These once productive fisheries are in deep trouble with extremely low catch rates. Pollution and the introduction of roach have upset the fragile ecology of these lakes to a point where it is dubious if they will ever recover. Killing Pike is a contentious issue here in Ireland. A large and vocal pike angling lobby support the severe restrictions on killing Pike but trout and salmon anglers in general remain convinced that Pike kill large numbers of game fish. While I agree there needs to be action the questions remain as to what exact actions are required and who would police them? The farming lobby is also very strong across Ireland and the land is overloaded with slurry and fertiliser and nobody is willing to tackle this problem. The beauty and tranquillity of the Irish lakes remain there to be enjoyed but, as anglers, we all want to at least have the opportunity to catch some fish. Perhaps the current crisis will lead to a greater awareness of the huge damage we are all doing to our environment and from that more protection for the wild spaces such as the western lakes. Stay safe gentlemen and we hope to see you back here in Ireland in the near future (hopefully with rods bent into big wild trout).


      1. Good morning, thanks for the quick reply.

        We also sent this brief report to the western fisheries board but received

        absolutely no response. Also to Markus Muller in Ballina, he speaks German, never received an answer.

        The measures that should be taken are relatively simple:

        1. Pike allowed from 50 cm, no limit on the number

        2. Rest of the fish (exept Eals), open, no limit

        3. no more fishing competitions

        So it was years ago and valid in most European countries.

        It is so simple and would have an impact in 2-3 years.

        When we are back in Mayo could we meet for dinner? Could be an interesting discussion, but probably not this year!

        Greetings from Switzerland

        Rudi & Markus

        Rudolf Santschi

        HRS Human Resource Services

        Habsmattweg 7

        4153 Reinach

        +41 (0)79 449 86 55

        Von: Claretbumbler Gesendet: Mittwoch, 25. März 2020 19:56 An: Betreff: [New comment] covid-19, welsh flies, boats and Mulranny

        claretbumbler commented: “Rudi and Markus, thank you so much for taking the time to comment on the deterioration of the fishing on Lough Mask. I totally agree that the fishing on Mask has been in steep decline over the past few years but would add that the situation is even worse “


      2. Hi Rudi,
        Banning all competition trout angling would be a huge step for the Irish game fishing fraternity. Can I say that I personally do not fish these competitions and am deeply unhappy at seeing hundreds of beautiful trout killed at these competitions. To make it worse, most of the trout killed are wasted and I have often seen anglers trying in vain to give away fish after the weigh in. I know that some competitions have tried catch and release competitions where the trout are measured and safely returned to the water instead of being killed. I think this may be an option rather than stopping the competitions altogether. The competition scene is popular as it brings anglers together from across the country and there is great camaraderie between the fishermen. It has an economic benefit for the rural areas where the angling competitions bring in visitors who spend money in local pubs ad accommodation too. As I said, I don’t fish competitons and would not be sad to see them gone but maybe we need to find a middle ground? What are your thoughts on C&R competitions?
        Pike angling has taken off over the past decade here in Ireland. It has gone from virtually no interest to a huge business with the government actively encouraging anglers to come to Ireland and catch big Pike. To that end, increasing the numbers of pike is seen as a good thing and we are often told that pike prefer to eat other pike so that they have little impact on trout stocks. This a nonsense as far as I am concerned and a pike will eat whatever it can catch, be that another pike, trout, roach or salmon. Indeed, where lough Conn flows into lough Cullin is a hotspot for pike when the salmon smolts are migrating in may each year (we catch many big pike trolling spoons for them in that spot). I don’t have access to any scientific data but anecdotally we are seeing more and more pike and less and less trout each season in all the western lakes.
        It would be a great pleasure to meet up for dinner when you are next in Ireland (alas not likely to be this year now). My private email address is
        Take care and stay safe in these difficult times. Best wishes to all in Switzerland.


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