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Fisheries » Lough Beltra

Lovely Lough Beltra! This is truly a lough for all seasons. From opening day on 20 March, with a biting, black, north wind blowing, until the season closes on the last day of September, with the heather turned purple and the leaves beginning to colour, few fisheries have greater potential than Beltra to quicken the pulse of the fly fisherman. It gets a run of spring salmon and they come to the fly from March until June.

From June onwards, the grilse begin to appear and with them come the sea trout to keep the interest going for the rest of the season. This lough lies 5 miles north-east of Newport and 8 miles north-west of Castlebar. It is 2¼ miles long by 1 mile wide and an outboard motor is essential to get about. The lough is divided east and west between Glenisland Co-op and Newport House. Fly fishing is the rule and the favourite salmon patterns are Silver Badger, Silver Doctor, Black Doctor, Quack, Thunder and Lightning, Lemon and Grey, Red Shrimp and Hairy Mary – sizes 8 to 4. For sea trout, the Bibio, Blue Bottle, Delphi, Green Peter, Daddy, Butcher, Connemara Black, Black Pennell and Watson’s Fancy work well. The best salmon in recent years weighed 21 lb and was taken on a shrimp fly. The sea trout average about ¾ lb but fish of 4 and 5 lb are taken annually. The fish are generally free-rising, and when conditions are right Beltra can produce periods of pure magic.

The best of the spring salmon fishing is all along the east shore and from Clarke’s Point northwards by the mouth of the river on the west side. There are ten boats for hire, five on either side. Outboards may be booked in advance on the Glenisland side and outboards and boatmen are included in the charge for the fishing on the Newport House side. Two of the Newport House boats may also fish the east side.

Early in the season, a slow-sinking or sink-tip line is preferred by some anglers and the rod should be powerful enough to control large, fresh, spring salmon. From June onwards, a floating line is in order and dapping can often bring up the best sea trout. There are seven islands, mostly off the south and south-west shores, and it is not really a dangerous water for the angler who is accustomed to fishing a large, wild lough.

Beltra is in a lovely setting, surrounded by mountains, rough pastures and small farms. It can make a lasting impression, whether your visit is on a cold spring day or a balmy summer afternoon, and there will be days when you will not have time to admire anything else but the fish.