Nephin on a calm , calm day

Nephin on a calm , calm day

In Pursuit of Lough Conn Gold

My Dad and I decided to head to Lough Conn earlier than usual this year to try and sample  some of the amazing Mayfly Sport that the lake is known for. We normally travel to Lough Conn on the June Bank Holiday weekend to fish the Conn and Cullin two day competition. But the fishing is hit and miss, not giving out at all, we both have had good years fishing the competition , but the best of the Mayfly seems to be over when the competition is being held. The  Mayfly start hatching as soon as May arrives or even before May and they can hatch all the way into September, so if you go hunting for them you can normally find a few fly.

Many years ago when I was single, well it seems like a lifetime ago, I travelled to Lough Conn for 2-3 weeks. My buddy Fergal Scully always ventured with me on these trips. We caught trout big and small, we had epic battles with big salmon and pike. One big Salmon in particular comes to mind on a flat calm baking hot day on Lough Conn. We were actually looking for salmon feeding on spent, their black dorsal cutting through the water gave their presence away. After a long time of rowing after the fish we eventually got in front of it and Fergal had the chance. The fly was presented perfectly and the fish took it as sweet as a nut. To cut a long story short the fish fought long and hard and actually confined Fergal to the Mobile we were staying in for  the next day as he got a touch of heat stroke from the battle, the fish also got away. I have many memories from our visits to Conn and I may actually put them in a book one day.

I’m getting off the point of the blog, this trip was about spending time with my Dad on Lough Conn a lake we both love dearly.

My father is renowned for catching big trout on Lough Conn and most of them on the dry’s. He normally fishes with his good friend Michael Rutledge who lives on the shores of Lough Conn or with his close friend Eamonn kelly from Dublin. They all have fished the lake together for many years and the Knowledge they have of the lake is something special, bu the knowledge that Michael has from being on the lake all his life is second to none.

We eventually pushed the boat out at 11am and conditions were ok, a small ripple and it was not really that cold. We headed for Castlehill Bay to see if there was any fly. Sure enough about 11.30 the fly started to hatch and we were immediately into fish from 10-14 inches. Nothing big at all. Over the years the size of fish on Lough Conn  has decreased,  there are lots more trout present now but most of them are small.  If you want a big fish on Lough Conn Castlehill Bay is a prime area to be in.

After about a dozen fish all on dry’s the wind what little there was went. Fish rose at the mayfly’s as they hatched, but it was next to impossible to get a cast to them.

We decided to make a move.

The conditions were not nice at all, but we headed to the two pins out deep off the Middle of Mayo. Fly were hatching and again we caught fish, but nothing close to a 1lb. About 6pm a small ripple came up, the wind changed if you could call it that four times throughout the day, But the wind satrted to get strongeer. it started to blow North and Cold, typical, bloody typical. We headed back into Castlehill and motored all the way to the top of the bay. Positioning the boat in a foot of water, a few fished moved in front of us and as there were adult buzzers, spent sedges olives and hatching mayfly  on the water I went for dry buzzers and my dad stayed with the dry mays.

As we started to drift out fish were going well in front of us but they were all rising differently, Dad covered a fish and it just sipped the fly down. There was an explosion as the fish felt the point of the hook. The fish was golden orange in the evening sky as it leapt out of the water and a proper lump at that. The fish fought hard, it was a very deep fish. Soon enough my father was taking him out of the net for a photograph, We had done it, we had found Lough Conn Gold once again. The fish was slipped back to fight another day

Within minutes i hooked a fish on the dry buzzers but as it hurtled out of the shallow water the fly popped out of its  mouth. As quickly as the fish started rising as the wind increased and it started to rain they stopped rising and we headed in for the night at about 9pm.



Second Day lets Nymph away

The second day was much like the first, but it was flat calm as we motored out of the bay. I decided to start with nymphs as I had tried them briefly in the calm the day before and I had a few pulls and a couple of small trout. Things looked next to impossible, flat calm ,lovely warm day and fly hatching. The only problem was once the fly hatched they immediately flew away as their wings dried quickly in the heath. My dad caught a few small ones straight away on the dry’s and as I waited with the nymphs. Sure enough when 11am came the fish started to pull at the nymphs, I had numerous perch, roach and trout but again nothing over a pound. It was great fun but I did get many more pulls than I converted. something to work on I suppose, I have tried to devise a good mayfly pattern over the years and  to be honest I think the depth of water and retrieve is more important. But I had fun . I varied the retrieve and caught fish figure of eighting fast in shallow water and very slowly in deep water. I also had numerous fish of all species take me on the hang.

We again left the bay but this time in search of wind. We  went to various pins, reefs and points that have been consistent for myself and Dad over the last 20 years. It seemed like every drift brought memories of fish caught , lost or risen. It was a great afternoon with fish caught nearly everywhere we stopped at. 

The wind started to pick up about 5pm. Unfortunately we were heading back East that evening but the draw of Castlehill Bay was too much. One last drift found us in really shallow water. An odd mayfly was still hatching and it was much warmer evening. Spent might go out???

All of a sudden my Dad conjured up a take from a Castlehill Bay resident. The trout sucked down the fly and seconds later was mid air as Dad set the hook. The golden yellow belly glistened in the evening light. Unfortunately the fish shook the hook moments after it re-entered the water. That was enough for us. . I would of really of liked to of stayed out that evening but with a 3 hour trip home we called it a day. We had caught a lot of fish over the two days and met two solid Golden Bars that would made any trip worthwhile.

Lough Conn we will be back soon.

Flies, lines and leaders

Fishing mayfly on Lough Conn is not that specialised. Its the same as fishing most lakes except we use smaller dry’s and wets. But in a big wave 10s are  fine but 12s and even 14s catch fish in lighter winds.

Wets mays on 12s and 10s and green yellow claret dabblers and bumbles work very well too.

Smaller dry’s require lighter leaders, some people use tapered leaders, with fluorocarbon tippets. I use monofilament line in all conditions. I use 4,5 or 6lb monofilament depending on the size of fly and wind conditions.

For pulling wets I use either 6 or 8lb fluorocarbon as the fish can hit hard when they are feeding on Mayfly especially in a good wave.

There are so many kinds of leader material out there and everyone has their own preferences, use leader you are confident in.

The Mayfly is now in full swing on most lakes, enjoy your fishing, i hope to visit a few other lakes in the coming weeks and sample more of ther Duffers Fortnight

Again if you like the blog please hit like  and I would be delighted to hear your comments.

Mayfly Nymph tying instructions


HOOK 10-12








HOOK 10-12










20.05.2019 12:58

Great article.
Dusting down the gear for the annual pilgrimage.
Castle Hill is a long old motor from where we launch the boat but has always been worthy of a drift, I agree the fish are a beautiful.


19.05.2019 21:35

size 10 I will post the dessings on the page

Leo Foley

19.05.2019 20:13

Good blogs, really enjoyed the one on the Leinster. What is the dressing and the hook size for the above nymphs Denis

Sean goulding

19.05.2019 18:53

Thanks Denny for a great couple of days Seanie G

Aidan Rush

19.05.2019 17:41

Looks like you had a great time. The fish are just a bonus

chris meadows

19.05.2019 15:40

great blog, Lough Conn has everything you could ever want from a totally wild fishery!

Latest comments

19.05 | 05:47

Hi Denis
Good meeting last night, and enjoyed reading your blog. Felt I was on the lake with you. Great work

02.05 | 20:42

Hi Dennis loved the article straight to the point .just wondered will the trout feed on the small buzzers all year ?

06.04 | 11:57

Cant wait to read this

01.03 | 03:03

glad u enjoy, ty, will be back when the fishing returns

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