I just came back from my first trip to Ireland, an amazing country with some of the most beautiful natural landscapes and the most earnest and welcoming people I have ever encountered. Great golf, great Guinness, and great fishing! As part of the trip, Chris Santella author of Fifty Places to Fly Fish before You Die and I got to experience the incredible sea trout fishery of Lough Currane, a large freshwater lake that meets the ocean by Waterville, in the southwest of Ireland.
Sea trout are brown trout that venture to the sea, bulk up, and return to their home waters to spawn, just as they do in the Baltic Sea region and in the famous fisheries of Tierra del Fuego in Argentina, where European brown trout were actually introduced, just as they were in America.
We fished with Neil O’Shea, a fourth-generation ghillie from County Kerry who is legendary throughout Ireland for his mastery of Atlantic salmon and sea trout on these waters. His latest benchmark: the largest fly-caught sea trout ever recorded in Ireland. Here it is, 13 pounds, 5 oz., caught by Sean Smith of Yorkshire, UK, (right), and O’Shea on the 27th of May this year. They took the fish on a “Bibio” traditional style wet fly, in 10 foot-deep water. It took 40 minutes to land.
“Right away, I could tell it was a big fish… I estimated about 9 pounds,” desO’Shea says. “But then the fight kept going, and after a while longer, we got a good look at the fish and knew it was special.” Two days later, O’Shea and Smith landed another trout that tipped the scales at 11 lbs 7 oz, which they let go.
Perhaps in another year, that fish will be back from the sea again, and someone will catch it to break the record. Odds are someone will be fishing with O’Shea and odds are the records will keep falling. The Irish government banned the use of offshore commercial drift nets five years ago and that’s already having a hugely positive impact on sport fish species like sea trout and Atlantic salmon. Mark my words, you will be hearing more and more about the amazing angling opportunities to be had in Ireland in the coming years.
You don’t have to go to the end of the world to find big, wild sea trout. In fact the new, “hot” destination might just be a place with some of the oldest angling traditions of all…
More to come.