Close to mighty Lough Conn there sits another, much smaller body of water. Pretty well unknown except to the locals, lough Levally is home to a stock of pike. I’ve known about this lough since I moved to the area 23 years ago but have never fished it. Pike have never excited me as a quarry so why would I fish for them when the delights of trouting on Conn was but a short distance away? There are some trout in it but they are few and far between. I also strongly suspected that a few salmon run into the lough, swimming up the small river that flows into Conn at Addergoole cemetery. There certainly is not a big stock of salmonoids in Levally. No, Levally is a pike fishery and it is now pike fishing season. With level 3 lockdown firmly in place Ben and I decided that piking was better than sitting at home twiddling our thumbs so we made arrangements to try Levally this Saturday.
The lough is roughly a mile long and half a mile wide, big enough to keep us gainfully occupied for the day. I don’t know how deep it is but given the local geography I doubt if it is more than 30 feet deep. I stand to be corrected on this though so if any of you have fished Levally and used a sounder I’d like to know if there are deeps there. Regarding the size of the fish in the lough, that has long been the source of much speculation in the area. I reckon most pike waters harbour the occasional larger than normal fish but there were tales of monstrous pike in Levally. Dragging smallish lures behind a boat is definitely not the best way of hooking the biggest pike though and we were not anticipating anything we could not handle. I brought along some big soft baits to try and tempt a leviathan just in case.
Not being expert pike anglers we just planned a sedate day trolling lures. I like silver spoons for pike at this time of the year and although I chop and change lures frequently throughout the day it is usually a silver spoon which produces the best fishing for me. I brought along my trusty old ABU Atlantic 443S rod with a 6000C on it filled with 30lb braid. ‘Old Yellar’ is ideal for this job and has just the right combination of suppleness and backbone for heavy trolling. As an alternative I took an old 11 footer with me too. On a slow day it gives you something else to fiddle about with (on a busy day it can be a curse).
I know there are pike experts who take their fishing very seriously and are equipped to cover every inch of water effectively. We are less scientific and sort of motor slowly along over spots we think look likely. Some days we catch loads but on others our haphazard methods reap little in the way of fishy rewards. C’est la vie.
Ben’s 17 foot boat was already on the trailer when we met in the yard at 10am. We packed our gear in to his jeep and motored off down the Pontoon Road under grey skies that foretold of rain to come. At the side of the lough it was but a few minutes work to launch the boat, lock up the trailer and head out into the unknown. I started off with my favourite spoon, a silver Solvkroken Storauren. These Norwegian lures have a great action in the water and at 45grams swim that bit deeper than some of the other spoons I use. The copper coloured version can be good some days too. It says on the packaging the spoon is good for pike (obviously) and trout. Trout! The damn thing is bigger than some of the trout I catch!
We had barely motored 200 yards when my rod bucked and the reel screamed, very good pike tore line off the reel somewhere behind the boat. I only had him on for a few seconds before there was a sickening slackening of the line and I forlornly wound in my line, the shop bought trace had snapped at the swivel and the fish was gone with my silver spoon. I have no idea how big that pike was but he certainly pulled like a big one.
Gathering myself I tied on a new trace, this time one I had made myself. I clipped on another spoon and we set off again, aiming to circumnavigate the lake just to look for any likely spots. The end of the lake farthest from the car park was shallow and weedy but both of us hooked and lost pike in that area. As we passed an old wall that ran into the lake I had a firm take and after a good fight boated a nice pike of about 6 pounds. Further on a small Jack grabbed the same silver spoon and was quickly wound in. Then it was Ben’s turn and he boated a five pounder on an old Atom spoon in green and gold. By now it was time to break out the sandwiches and coffee which we hungrily consumed amid heavy showers. I tried a couple of other lures including a massive pink plastic squid. Another pike took a fancy to a rainbow trout softbait and once again this fish was in the 5-6 pound class. Ben picked up another similar sized fish around the same time. The action was steady if not hectic.
Heavy rain returned, drenching us in the downpour. We motored on through a pewter coloured world. I had changed lures again and was now using a huge handmade chrome spoon which I had painted fl. lime on the reverse side. I lost one fish before boating another 2, each very lightly hooked in the front of the mouth.
On our last section before we packed up we both hook pike at exactly the same time. Both were around 6 pounds and they fought very well. My one managed to take a chunk out of my left thumb as I was unhooking it and I bled profusely for the next hour or so.
We headed back to the shore, damp and getting cold now. The day had been enjoyable and Levally had given us some sport with a total of eight pike to the boat. Once again the weather had been a mix of sunshine and heavy showers, maybe on a better day the lake would have given up more of its residents.
One week later……………
We decided to try another local lake the following Saturday. This time we fished Carrowmore lake (not to be confused with the famous salmon and seatrout fishery in Erris). This body of water lies near Manulla and has a reputation of being dour but holding a few good sized pike.
We dragged the 17 footer to the ramp and launched her with little fuss. This is a nice lake to troll and we circled the reed beds and tree lined shores for the next few hours. Ben lost one and I managed to boat a couple of pike, one lad of around 4 pounds and a much better one which we both reckoned was a twenty pounder. The photo does not do this magnificent fish justice!
7 thoughts on “Lough Levally”
Very much enjoying all of your writing, as I’ve recently moved to Westport, and it’s been a great inspiration on venues to fish for the coming season. On a point of interest to you, depth charts for Levally show a large area in the middle of the lake with depths ranging from mid 30ft to nearly 60ft. Most of the lake seems to average 8-10ft with the majority of deeper areas around 20ft. Some interesting little features present also that would be worth fishing over.
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Hi Sean, welcome to Westport! Thanks for the info about Levally. It is very interesting as we fished more or less around the edges of the lough that day and only did one traverse of the middle. The impression I got was there are plenty of pike in there and that alone would lead me to think there will be one or two really big ones. Lovely spot to fish with glorious views even if the fishing is slow.
You will meet some first class fishermen in Westport. If you are keen on trout fishing then you should consider joining the Westport club. They are extremely active with outings virtually every weekend of the season, regular competitions and a good social side to thing too. Feel free to get in touch with me if you think I can be of any help.
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Thanks Colin! I’ll certainly look into the Westport club, I’m keen on fly fishing for any species really but I have a penchant for trout, and the wilder the better. I’ll drop you an email with a link to the depth charts which may be of use to you for some of the lakes you fish. Hopefully, we may even get out for a day fishing together this season if things calm down.
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Def. up for a day fishing with you. I keep a boat on Conn and can show you around there. If you like river fishing for trout I can show you the river Robe, I know lots of spots that would take you ages to find on your own. Keep in touch!
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That would be great, I’ve never fished Conn but I’ve had an earful from my grandmother over the years of fishing stories from it as she grew up on the shore of the lough at Laherdaun so it would be lovely to get a day on it! Also, I’ll definitely take you up on the Robe, it’s on my radar, looks like a lovely river. Tightlines Colin!
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Looks great! Lovely pics and words. Where did you enter in to Lough Levally ? Would be interested in trying there
Hi Caomhinn, yes, it is a nice spot for the pike. get there by taking the R315 then turning off for Bofeenaun. Levally is on your left along that road. There is a rough launching area which you can see there. Need a 4×4 to get in at that spot but think there is another place to launch a boat along the little road which runs along the south side of the lake. It is generally shallow around the edges so a boat is a huge asset. There are big pike in both Conn and Cullin if you put in the hours!