My brother Sean joined Mark McCann this year for their annual mayfly fishing sortie on Lough Arrow. He caught a very fine trout this year and sent me a picture at the time but I was hoping he might find time to write a few words about the trip before I put something on the blog.

Well, he duly delivered those words and, without further ado I am delighted to add them here along with a picture of his fine trout.

Yo Pablo,

Brief report from the 2019 Lough Arrow mayfly extravaganza. Fishing was tough. Bright, sunny, breezy. Mayfly were about but not to the same extent as last year. Seems our timing was pretty good in terms of the hatch. During the day we flogged the water into a seething foam. Like last year the trout weren’t too interested in wets and were not exactly throwing themselves at the dry either. They were coming up to naturals only occasionally and were not hanging around – up once and down again. We only managed a few fish up to about 1.5 lbs over four days fishing and were slowly but surely unravelling psychologically. The only source of happiness was in the form of food – breakfast in the local garage and feeds on the islands with tea brewed up with the Kelly kettle. At night we found solace in McDonaghs where we slurped pints of Guinness and found some comfort in the trials of our fellow anglers who were also struggling in the face of recalcitrant trout. Schadenfreude can be a beautiful thing.

Whilst the day time fishing was unproductive the evenings held promise of buzzer or spent mayfly fishing. One evening changed from a bewildering lack of action to water boiling with fish in a matter of minutes as they switched on to buzzers. This is last light/night time fishing at close range with sound rather than sight the main way of ‘establishing’ (guessing) if you have a take. It is intense and short-lived and a bit of a lottery – but great craic. I left a hook in one fish the first night (not good) and landed a 2.75 lb trout the night after. A very welcome fish indeed.

The following day saw the same pattern – hours of chucking wet and dry flies at the surface with nothing to show for it except a few half chances to the dry. In the evening, we noticed, for the first time, a good few spent mayflies coming onto the water and fish started to move to them. We changed to the spent and I left another fly in a trout – again not good! We drifted on down to a small island with the fish rising well. I noticed one or two fish feeding in the shallows close to the island and put my fly where they were rising. A pause and a fish head-and-shouldered as it took my fly. I struck and the fish shot out of the water broadside on – big fish! We had already discussed the need to keep any decent trout up off the bottom here – away from weeds and rocks. I had an 8lb fluorocarbon tippet on and didn’t trust it much after losing the fish earlier. I held it as hard as I could, (and despite having argued, in the past, against any possibility of the existence of a deity), prayed that the feckin’ line would hold. The fish kept trying to get down to the bottom and managed to do it a couple of times. I held on for dear life…just this one time sweet Jesus…just this once please let me land this fish……I’ll do charitable work….I’ll become a priest if it is Thine will…..I could see myself crumpling into the boat in despair after the line parted…full of self-loathing and rage against fate…..but the line held and the fish tired and eventually Mark did the honours with the net. Hallelujah!

Beautiful, big wild brown trout. We admired her and photographed her and agreed, after coming back from a delirious 6 lb estimation, that she had made the 5lb mark. Of course, we didn’t have any scales but using a combination of cold, objectivity from Mark and raving hyperbole on my part we agreed on her weight – slightly over 5 lb. Much joy and my best Irish trout!

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Here is Sean´s big trout lying on the seat of one of Finny Dodd´s boats. Shortly after the picture was taken Sean slipped it back into the lough. I imagine a few pints were consumed to celebrate later!