The 2018 angling season started of cold and wet. From the previous mid-July there was constant rain which led to high levels of water in the loughs and rivers and very wet ground conditions. The weather was cold with North and East winds, bringing heavy snow to the eastern parts of Ireland and only a little to the West.
Angling therefore on Lough Corrib at the beginning of the season from mid February looked like the growing season was about 2 months behind in growing conditions and there was only sporadic hatches of the various fly hatches of Duck Fly, Olives and the May Fly. No hatches in great numbers and only on alternative days which lead to poor showing of fish who were slow to take a fly.
Nature has a way of compensating and from mid June and all of July, we suffered from lack of rain and high temperatures causing a heatwave- an unusual event here in Ireland. No break in the weather came until end of July and then the loughs were so depleted of water that some systems took some time to fill and spill over into the rivers and let fish up from the sea.
When the mayfly season was over on Lough Corrib, we gave more attention and serious consideration to catching salmon on the Costello and Fermoyle system which I had undertaken its management from April. Water levels were good for the early part of the season due to the high water levels in the many loughs higher up. We get a small run of early returning spring salmon but it was not until the 25th April that I caught the year’s first salmon of almost 9 lbs at the Butt of Fermoyle on a windy day fishing a size 12 Munroe Killer.
Although not heavily fished, it was May 4th before local knowledge and an upbringing on the system had Geoffrey Fitzjohn land a fresh 6 lb salmon on his favorite fly , size 10 Black shrimp, at Beat 2 on the main river. Water levels still holding at very fishable levels although the month of May had cold east winds. Many salmon were seen but were not inclined to take the fly.
Into June saw some 10 salmon caught and from the middle of that month conditions started to dis-improve, with water levels dropping and temperatures rising. July saw no salmon caught and most anglers had given up due to conditions as it was considered un- sporting to distress the fish if caught in the high temperature of water. Most salmon were seen in the sea pools coming into the river but leaving again on the departing tide due to adverse conditions.
At the end of July, weather conditions started to improve with a bit of rain and a reduction in temperatures. Almost immediately the catches of sea trout rose and there was good returns from the main lough, Glenicmurrin which continued to get runs of finnock or small sea trout that made their way through the low water in the river to reach the lough. While the rains came at the end of July it took two weeks for levels to rise in the various loughs and as the floods cascaded down through the system, it was mid August that Glenicmurrin overflowed and rose the level of the main river , encouraging salmon and bigger sea trout to run.
From August onward to the end of the September and the end of the angling season, we had sufficient water and good catches of sea trout continued in Glenicmurrin while the upper loughs did not fish as well as usual in number caught. Some boats in Glen had up to 20 sea trout ranging in weight from 3/4 lb to 1.5 lbs while catches in the upper loughs were 5-10 sea trout.
There was limited angling effort on the Crumlin system but it did provide larger sea trout in the 3lb range during the month of September. In the past with more anglers out , a lot of finnock would be caught on this system in both August and September giving up to a dozen to a rod for a 1/2 day’s effort.
Over all, the Costello and Fermoyle system had catches of 28 salmon, well down due to weather conditions and 668 sea trout which were not bad totals overall.