Leinster Qualifier Lough Owel 2024



During the four weeks preceding the qualifier i had fished the lake six times. Normally you would get various weather conditions and could find fish and techniques that would fit every possible conditions. So i practiced away getting some lovely grown on trout to 6.84lbs. The fish in Lough Owel are now mainly triploids with an occasional wild trout being caught.

At the start of my vigil on the lake, i caught fish on Duckfly, both epoxy buzzers and drys. Knowing that the Duckfly would be gone come match day,  i would need to concentrate on pulling flys and hopefully nymphing and drys for olive feeders.

It was plain to see that the overwintered trout would play a big part during the competition due to the stocked trout showing at the top end of the lake and around Sudora and these fish would be heavily pressurized with numerous competitions being held before our big day.

                                                  A PRECIOUS FISH

As mentioned already the weather was so cold, with North , North East wind relentlessly blowing and making fishing very uncomfortable. Setting up the boat with temperatures 2 and 3 degrees was not nice at all. But the fish still played ball, even on hard days we still managed some nice trout. Dermot Leonard fished with me on a few practice sessions, it was a change for me to have such an experienced angler to fish with and to bounce ideas off. Most of my practice sessions are mid week due to my work schedule, its very rare that i have company in the boat.

We fished every inch of the lake and it seemed that the trout were everywhere but it was still hard to string a bag together, Dermot had lovely wild trout on a small dry in a tiny bay that we stalked for 30 mins. After a quick photo the precious wild trout was returned.

Pulling seemed to be the way forward but it was hard to nail down a line or patterns due to the inconsistency of the fishing.


                                         Looking for Olives

As the day got closer Olives started to hatch, so many hours were spent on the tying bench trying to imitate the nymphs which as we all know is a task in itself, drys were also restocked and new killers brought to life. The hours i spend tying for competitions are a must, that's not to say its easy, its a slog, especially with a young family and working nights and day shifts.  I often find myself looking at the clock and going well how many more can i get done in 15 mins before i have to go to work. All i can say is that if i did not do it, well i would not have the belief in being able to catch the trout if they did go on them.

Every kind of Nymph, Emerger , Adult and Spent were tied. Its amazing how detailed you can go  with dry's and nymphs and to be honest you really do not need too. When fish are feeding on Nymphs, selecting the correct line and then line control is key. Dry's are easier, light nylon and fly's spaced well apart seem to do the trick for me. But the weather was still horrible and there were days that you could not fish nymphs due to rate of which the boat was drifting. Unfortunately drogues are not allowed in our qualifiers so there was no point in using one in practice.

                                April Weather , Wind Rain and Flat Calm ?

Sods law, a few days before the match the weather changed, Flat Calm was predicted for match day. I normally would not fish so close to the competition day, but needs must. I did very little fishing that day, but watched fish feeding all over Sudora Bay, some at the Kettle and at the Cornfield.  A total change of tactics was required from the pulling match i had planned. It would be dry olives and nymphs, or so i thought.

On the day itself I was Drawn with Noel King, a very experienced angler from Navan and District Angling Club. I have known Noel for years but never fished with him, so i was delighted to have him with me on the day.

We headed up the lake and as suspected all the boats in front of me took a left and headed into Sudora Bay. The boats went targeting the stocked fish but Lough Owel Anglers, TAFI and the Gardai had fished their qualifiers and competitions in the weeks previous and the fish were well pressured in the back of Sudora. Given the conditions i did not want to be around so many boats, so i headed up to the neck. Historically the neck produces quality fish, if and that's a big if, if the olives appeared and last year i made a mistake of leaving the bay too early.

We were first to arrive up in the Neck, but there was not a fly to be seen. 


                                               GET YOUR BUNG OUT !

The Neck ranges from a nice depth of 12ft to 5ft right at the bottom of the bay. So i opted for a floating line and an 18 ft four fly cast with an Olive Nymph on the top dropper followed by two buzzers and another olive nymph on the tail. After two fruitless drifts the  boats started to accumulate in the bay. The bay is small and although everyone had manners, there were way too many boats. After 2 hours i got my first pull and i was connected to a decent fish, unfortunately he kitted to the left and towards the boat and duly shed the hook. On a day like this every take is few and far between and fish are like gold dust.  We repeated the drift quickly but to no avail. Patrick Ward and John Kellegher were drifting to our left, i shouted over to John " ITS BUNG TIME " . I fished with John all winter in the AWOL league and he is a mean bunger, he laughed and said if you were in Laois you would have it on by now. As i motored back up the drift, i quickly took down my cast and took out my pretied 10ft bung set up. I had about 10 bung rigs made up on spools, with the depths of each rig written on the top of the bung so i could change quickly according to what depth i was in. 

Flicking out the bung, it just did not feel right, as i had not got a single olive on the rig, just buzzers.  But their were a few campto adult buzzers on the water. A few minutes into the drift Noel got a pull on his straight line set up, that even put more doubt in my head.  My bung had been sitting out there for 2 minutes or more and was not more than ten foot from my rod tip. I was thinking seriously about changing when my fario bung dipped below the surface. I lifted the rod and i was solid in a fish. After a spirited fight i eventually put the fish in the net, a cracker of about 2.5lb. What a relief.

There was an odd olive on the water now, but we also saw a couple of buzzers hatch, just a few, but sometimes that is all you need.

About ten minutes later my Bung wobbled at distance and i struck, my rod bent over as a heavy fish felt the hook and bored deep. I wondered was it a pike as i had caught many pike on buzzers over the years. Eventually the fish came close, it was no pike. The fish ran out the back of the boat , actually pulling the boat around in the calm conditions. If i was going to qualify this was the fish. The fish came closer but stayed deep, after several crocodile roles the fish eventually came to the surface and into the net. An absolute brute of a fish, closer to 6 than 5lb. Shortly afterwards we went in for lunch and Noel showed me photos of fish and told me a few stories of his fishing escapades over the years. We both only had one more chance that day, but the olives never hatched and the bay was too crowded. I just could not believe we did not get any more chances but that's fishing. We really should of headed back down the lake in search of new water. There wasn't another fish caught in the bay that day, just shows you how hard it fished.

My fish weighed 8lb 3ozs on the scales which got me third on the day. But Brian Conway weighed one fish of 10lb 3ozs to win the Leinster Title, a fish of a lifetime, well done Brian.

Next up is Lough Sheelin, Buzzers and Mayfly and then onto the Home International on Lough Ennell where i am boating for the week.


Congratulations to Brian Conway who won the Corcoran Cup , Leinster Lake Qualifier today 21st April on Lough Owel, with an amazing fish of 10lb 3ozs.. . Well done Brian. 2nd Ronan Meghen 4 fish 8lb 15ozs 

3rd Denis Goulding 2 fish 8lb 3ozs.

Well done to all the organisers, Brendan Murray , Stanley McKeon , Julie Gerry , Martin McGorian and the rest of the leinster committe.

Special thanks to the Lough Owel Club for hosting the event. Some amazing fish caught in terrible condition. Well done to all the qualifiers and all that took part.