Lough Corrib is regarded by many as the pinnacle of still water fly fishing across Europe. A huge expanse of water that spans over 44,000 acres, a mere 14 times larger than Rutland Water! It’s where many top anglers end up spending most of their time after long stints on the competition scene…
This year I was lucky enough to be invited to fish ‘buzzer time’ with Gareth and Larry McCarthy of Corrib View Lodge. This would be my first visit to Corrib and an offer I simply couldn’t refuse.
The pure wild fish are notoriously hard to catch and was instructed that light tippet is essential in these gin clear waters. Tackle-wise I took a selection of 9ft & 9ft 6in 5# rods, the lighter line weights make fishing a full week much more pleasurable and also cushion the pressure of a take when using such light fluorocarbon.
After hearing so much about Corrib over the years (my dad and many good friends have fished here for as long as I can remember) expectations were that a handful of fish a day would be good, with the odd fish over 3lb throughout the week – if you were lucky. My first day on the lough couldn’t have been so different, and really opened my eyes to what the Corrib can produce!
Gareth and I were lucky enough to secure a days fishing with Larry, and after a 30-40 minute trip through dense fog and rocky shallows from Kilbeg pier, we were approaching our first fishing spot… Peering into the distance I noticed some disturbance near a reed bed, keeping a close eye on the area and just trickling our way in, the fish moved again and I had to look twice! A huge head and tail rise which reminded me of a pike rolling… Once it moved a third time, we were slightly closer and we could see it was a large Corrib trout, estimated between 5-6lb!
We parked up in the reeds to let the water settle and tackled up our rods. It’s not often I get nervous when fishing, but when you have a number of large wild trout up to 6lb in weight moving all around you, it can make any angler weak at the knees… I’d set up a two-fly leader from 5.5x Masterclass Fluorocarbon with a team of two buzzers equally spread 8ft apart. Larry instructed for me to hop out of the boat and gently wade along the edge of the reed bed. I stood and waited a short while before making the first cast, the fish were clearly tracking from right to left and this short wait ensured they would be somewhere in the area when making the first cast. Unfortunately, they were just out of casting range and presenting the flies accurately was a struggle. So, I was back aboard the boat and we headed slightly down the bank.
On the third cast a fish broke the surface very close to my flies. I nervously sat and held on simply waiting for the trout to find my flies and before I could even think I felt a hard draw in my hand and then nothing… I’d snapped at the dropper, much to the amusement to Larry and G! I was dubious about the choice of leader strength but was reassured it will be fine… After setting up a similar fluorocarbon leader, I settled down and got my head together, waiting for the next opportunity. Meanwhile, G had missed two, and by now Larry was starting to get annoyed. He mentioned that three takes from one bay is often very good, and sometimes all that is had for the day! We were just 30 minutes in with a number of good fish still topping…
Just a few minutes later my line goes tight, a long slow draw as if the fish was slowly moving away… I gently lifted the rod and set the hook into my first Corrib brown! The fight was unlike any other I’ve had before – totally different from that of a large rainbow or river brown – with heavy lunges and short burst of energy. After a 15 minute battle on the light kit, a beautifully marked Brown slid into the net, a fish estimated to be over 4lb. The high was short lived when Garth struck into a fish, he gently applied pressure to persuade it away from the underwater weed and quickly got the net under it. Another wild brown breaching the 4lb mark!
As the day grew old, we managed a final total of 15 fish to the boat. With Larry’s expert guestimates and accurately weighing the larger of each fish, our tally would have taken the scales to over 57lb! That’s an average weight of 3.8lb with the largest taking the scales to over 5lb – Absolutely outstanding for such a wild fishery! Being the team players that we are, we called Tony and Matthew to the area where they managed half a dozen fish up to 5lb in weight, too. Although we were over the moon with our tally, and being of help to our teammates, we had it on good authority that if we carried on in the area alone, chances are we would have caught a few more and could have had one of the largest bags of fish ever recorded from the Corrib; an estimation of 20 fish for well over 75lb could have been on the cards! But fishing is not all about breaking records, it’s about everyone enjoying their time on the water.
Each angler in our party was using the 5.5x Fulling Mill Masterclass Fluorocarbon, which is just over 4lb in breaking strain. That day we recorded just one break off (my bad) between us all, and for the 6 days fishing, a total of 4 break-offs were recorded – pretty darn impressive in my book. The one stand out point we noticed with the Masterclass Fluorocarbon as a whole is the amount of stretch it has, and incorporating this with light tackle allowed us to fish lower breaking strains and thinner diameters with ease for such large trout.
Anyway, as much as this day was exceptional, I was assured that this is not usually how Lough Corrib fishes… I guess days like this is what forces people to come back year on year… and yes, I’m already planning my next trip!
Check out this great review of the Masterclass Fluorocarbon