The long cold spell is well and truly broken now, with gale force southwesterlies and much milder conditions prevailing this week. Duckfly hatches have been in full swing and are probably almost finished now, with the olives set to start hatching shortly.
On Mask, Ronan Cusack reports that the welcome increase in air temperatures and change in wind direction this week has certainly been reflected in both the fishing and the number of anglers seen out on Lough Mask. Good hatches of the long awaited duckfly have been reported in the usual hot spots throughout the week. Ballinrobe angler Noel Moran had a lively day's fishing, landing and returning 5 good fish for a day on small wets (best fish 2.5lbs). Kevin Egan, also from Ballinrobe, fished for a few hours on the same day and he had 3 fish for 5.5lbs. Greg O'Donoghue, Ballinrobe, had 4 cracking trout for 12lbs fishing nymphs from the shore on Wednesday last. Roy Simpson and his angling partner Barry from Northern Ireland fished on Wednesday last and they had 2 nice fish on buzzer (best fish 2lbs, both returned). Connor O'Mahony, Partry, had 4 fish for a day on wets this week. Liam Conroy from Tourmakeady had 2 fish on Saturday (best fish 1.75lbs, both returned). Declan Murphy from Ballinrobe fished buzzer for a few hours on Friday and he had 2 nice fish including a fine trout of 3.5lbs (both returned).
Reports from Corrib have been slow to come in so far, but stormy conditions have restricted angling somewhat, and the Oughterard Development 50 competition was curtailed to one day, with conditions on Sunday proving unsafe. First prize on Saturday went to Mike Coyne and Tommy Carroll, with 5 trout for 4.335kgs. The second team was Kevin Molloy and Mike Faherty, with 3 trout for 3.775kgs, and third were Jim Glynn and Willie Molloy, with 3 trout for 3.635kgs. Pat Feerick landed the heaviest trout, a nice fish of 1.755kgs. Overall 30 anglers fished, recording 36 trout over the limit for a total weight of 31.655kgs.
The previous week, the Garda West club held a competition, with Seamus Kelly taking top honours with 2 trout for 7lbs. Peter McGovern was second, with a fine trout of 4lbs, and Paddy Tierney was third, with a trout of 3.5lbs.
This week, very few rods have been out in the stormy conditions, but with the stormy conditions has come much milder temperatures, and once the wind drops I would expect to hear of many more anglers venturing out.
Water levels have been at one gate for the last week, but have risen again following heavy rain, despite the lake remaining at summer level, and the OPW have opened another gate on the weir. With conditions so good for flyfishing, it was no surprise that most fish taken over the last 2 weeks were taken on fly.. Liam Dunne took a nice 9lbs fish on fly, as did Seamus Nee. Padraic Doherty fished over 2 days and landed 2 springers of 8 and 9lbs on shrimp, while Leo casey landed a fine 13.5lbs fish on fly. Sean O'Toole landed a 10.5lbs fish on shrimp, and Jim Barry took a 9lbs fish on fly. John Connolly rounded off the catch with a fine 13.5lbs salmon taken on fly.
Salmon are moving upriver on every tide at the moment, and while catches have been moderate, anglers have met plenty of fish. Unless levels rise substantially, conditions look very good for the coming weeks as the spring run begins in earnest.