FISHING IN CONNEMARA
Connemara is home to world-class brown trout and salmon fisheries, and a stay at the Anglers Return situates you perfectly to take advantage of them all. Whether you seek wild, native brown trout, ocean-run sea trout, or the noble Atlantic salmon, Connemara is the ideal destination – and the Anglers Return the perfect headquarters to launch the fishing adventure of a lifetime.
Brown Trout Fishing
G. Stanley & Sons Ltd.
Clifden, Co. Galway, Ireland
Tel: 095 21039
The Anglers Return owns exclusive fishing rights to over a dozen trout lakes scattered across the famous Roundstone bog located directly to the west of the lodge on the far bank of the Ballynahinch River. Our lakes offer a unique fly-fishing experience in wild and mysterious surroundings. Some of our guests return year after year just to enjoy the eerie solitude of fly-fishing in the wilderness of the Roundstone bog.
Our lakes enjoy sporadic hatches throughout the early season, and blown-in terrestrial insects bring fish to the surface during the summer and early fall. The native brown trout run from 1/2 a kilo to 2 kilos in size, with a few larger caught every year. Some lakes are designated catch-and-release only – and we permit the taking of a trout or two from others. In all cases, we encourage fly-fishing with flies that have the barbs pinched down to protect released fish.
No government license is required for trout, and guests of The Anglers Return can purchase a permit for 10.00eu to fish the lakes. Hiring a ghillie/guide is purely optional, but we recommend it for your first trip or two to get a head start on things. We work with several experienced ghillies in the area that have fished the lakes of the Roundstone bog most of their lives.
The beautiful Ballynahinch River flows directly across from Anglers Return, and offers good fishing for sea trout over its entire length. The Ballynahinch Castle Hotel owns fishing rights to the 4 kilometers of lower river, and we can reserve one of their four sea trout pools for you providing they have not been previously taken by one of the hotel guests. Angling for sea trout also requires a license. The sea trout begin their run in late June, and fish are in residence through July and August. Due to their shy nature, the best fishing is at night, although later on in the season, anglers report good luck during the daylight hours.
Ballynahinch Lake is immediately upstream from the famous castle that bears the same name. Noted for its salmon and sea trout, we can arrange for fishing permits and a gillie through the Ballynahinch fisheries manager. Boats are available for hire on the north shore, where a fishing permit is not required, which we can also arrange for you. The night fishing in July though September is very good – and fishing during a west or southwest wind seems to always be productive.
Lough Corrib is only a 40-minute drive from the lodge, and is world famous for its insect hatches and the wild, native brown trout that feed on them. The dry fly fishing begins with the prolific duck fly (a large chronimid) in late March, then on to the olives in late April, and ends in a grand finale – the world-famous mayfly hatch, which runs from late May through mid-June. Over 5,000 brown trout are taken each year during that hatch alone. After a mid-summer hiatus, the Corrib comes alive again with anglers dapping grasshoppers, crane fly imitations and other terrestrials from mid-August through the season’s close at the end of September.
No license or permits are required to fish Lough Corrib, but you’ll need a boat and an experienced ghillie or boatman. We can make all necessary arrangements for you, or direct you to one of the closest angling centers in Oughterard, Cong or Cornamona where boats are available for hire.
Lough Mask is directly north of the Corrib, and a bit farther afield – but can still be reached in under an hour’s drive. Noted for a large population of ferox trout (large cannibal brown trout which run up to 10 kilos), the lough is equally famous for free-rising native brown trout that run 1 to 2 kilos in weight. The mayfly hatch from late May through the mid-part of June brings up the largest trout, but dapping a grasshopper or crane fly later in the summer will bring many good fish to the net. While there are places around the lough that lend themselves to shore fishing, a ghillie or boatman and boat are recommended for the best success. Once again, we can make all the arrangements for you in this regard.
Atlantic Salmon Fishing
The Ballynahinch River is a legendary salmon river, with eight designated beats available through the fisheries manager at the Ballynahinch Castle Hotel directly upstream from the lodge. A state salmon fishing license is also required, and is available at the hotel or from G. Stanley & Sons Ltd., a fishing shop in Clifden. The salmon fishing begins with a small run in February through April, and a larger run of grilse beginning at the end of May, which peaks a month later. There is also a large enough run of September fish to keep a salmon anglers interest through the end of the season.
We can make all of your advanced arrangements and reservations, as well as reserving an expert ghillie. The fishing is conducted from a network of stone casting platforms that project into the river, making it especially easy to cover the best lodges efficiently and thoroughly. A double-handed Spey rod is recommended, but an experienced fly caster will be content with a single-handed fly rod and a #7 or #8 weight line. The salmon fishing hours are between 10 AM and 7 PM, and again from 8:30 PM to dusk (which can be quite late in our northern latitude), so all pools are well rested for the evening’s fishing.
The Owenglin River flows through the village of Clifden and offers good fishing for about 8 miles upstream of the town. The Clifden Angling Association owns the fishery, and fishing permits are available from the G. Stanley & Sons Ltd. fishing shop in Clifden. The river has a small run of spring salmon, but is well known for its run of grilse in June and July whenever there’s high water. Sea trout run the river in July. The Owenglin is not a large river, so is easily and efficiently fishing with a single-handed fly rod.
Charter boats are available for hire in both neighboring Roundstone and Clifden for those who enjoy blue water fishing. The primary targets are large blue shark and bluefin tuna. All sharks are tagged and released. Reef fishing produces pollack, ling, cod and mackerel, and bottom fishing results in catches of ray and an assortment of flatfish. All necessary tackle and equipment is supplied by the boat captain, and we can pack you a box lunch and refreshments if given enough advanced notice.
The shore fishing off the beaches and bays between Roundstone and Clifden is some of the best in Ireland. Shore anglers catch everything from large ray, pollack and wrasse to flounder, turbot and plaice.
Choosing a fly rod is a highly personal and often controversial matter, but for brown trout fishing we recommend bringing two outfits: a #7 or #8 weight rod for windy fishing conditions and a #4, #5 or #6 weight rod when the wind lays down. Length is a matter of personal choice, but most anglers will be pleased fishing rods that vary from 9′ to 12′ in length, with the longer rods for heavier lines brought for dapping on the loughs. Leaders should be between 9′ and 12′ long tapering down to 5X.
Salmon anglers will be well armed with a 9′ – 10′ rod for a #7 – #8 line, and a 12′ double-handed grilse rod rated for a #7 – #9 weight line. Leaders should be 9′ to 12′ in length with minimum tippet strength of 2 kilos (5 lbs.), and a bit stronger when fishing for spring salmon.
When fishing our bog lakes, a good pair of rubber knee-high or hip boots will do nicely, although more of our guests are wearing waterproof/breathable waders of late. We also recommend a good rain jacket and warm sweater on wet or windy days. Polarized fishing glasses and a hat are required for both safety and better visibility.
Lough fishing requires warm clothing, raingear, a hat and fishing glasses. The ghillie will provide the legally required life jacket. We also recommend taking a warm sweater or fleece in the event the wind kicks up, which is very likely.
Fly selections vary by season and species pursued. We would be happy to put you directly in touch with one of our ghillies for specific advice about patterns and sizes, or you can visit the excellent angling center at the Ballynahinch Castle Hotel where you can obtain expert advice and purchase flies and other fly fishing equipment. We also recommend G. Stanley & Sons Ltd., in Clifden for a complete selection of fly fishing tackle and flies.