Magazine Article on Owenmore Fishery

"After five minutes I had my first Owenmore trout"
I got a phone call recently from Frank Maunsell, the fishery manager of the Owenmore Fishery in Clahane, Co Kerry, looking for a specific salmon fly rod. After doing a deal with Frank, the conversation inevitably turned to fishing. He proceeded to tell me about the numbers of salmon that were running into the system after the floods and then he added "Plenty of sea trout are coming in off every tide as well." Hold it! Reverse! Did you say "sea trout"? I had often heard about the fishery, but never fished it. Frank then uttered those magic words: "Why don't you come down for a day's fishing and drop in my double-handed rod?"

The fishery is situated in the southwest corner of Kerry, overlooked by Mount Brandon, and made up of several small mountain loughs and the Owenmore River. It is easily accessed by road and the scenery is breathtaking as it lies up in the mountains and overlooks Brandon Bay, into which it flows five miles downstream.

Three days later I headed for Clahane with Frank's rod and of course more importantly, my own! We arrived at the river to find it in a raging flood, but I didn't mind, as there was a chance of a sea trout. Frank pinpointed exactly where the fish were lying and after five minutes I had my first Owenmore trout, covered with sea lice. Three trout later, we headed to the next pool (which had been newly created), to look at a shoal of sea trout and two grilse that had moved upstream and lodged in it.

Frank then asked me if I would like to see the lakes at the top of the system. We drove the two miles up into the mountains, and after viewing a couple of small lakes we continued further up the mountain to the largest one. I was as excited as a child on Christmas morning looking down at this lake. I just knew that there would be fish in it! "Come back again some other day and fish the lakes," Frank added, sensing my excitement. A word of warning, never offer me a day's fishing, as I will always take you up on it - especially if there's sea trout involved.

The following Saturday I was on the phone again to Frank, enquiring about the availability of fishing for the following morning on the lake. "Work away" was the answer, followed by some expert advice on where to fish and which flies to use. At l0arn the following morning my brother Liam and I were having our first drift. We started at the top of the lake, where the river from the mountain flows in, and within minutes we were hitting some lovely brown trout, sometimes two at a time, which was great as sea trout fishing can be very slow. However, the brownies will keep you on your toes.

As the boat drifted towards a little island on the southern shore, and the lake started to deepen, I got the first big boil to my flies, a lovely sea trout of about 2 lb on a size 12 Claret Dabbler, exactly where Frank said I would. He'd told me to fish the south side of the lake as it's deeper and the fish hold up there after running the river. We passed the island and went into a big bay where the lake flows out, and Liam hit a fish of 1 1/2 Lb. We looked at each other in disbelief. In our first drift we had caught two sea trout and roughly 20 brownies!

The wind was now blowing swiftly down the valley in a west northwest direction, with a good wave and plenty of cloud cover. We shortened our drifts, concentrating solely on the bay, drifting from the island to the outflow. Liam's rod doubled over, and a fish of 41b jumped and ran 20 metres of line off the reel and threw the hook. Following some choice words and a quick inquest, we fished on with me laughing quietly at the look on Liam's face when the trout took and then when he lost it.

After some more brownies I hit a good fish. When it jumped, I saw it was a lovely fresh salmon of about 7 lb. Then nothing - it had gone and so had my fly. Liam's sympathetic look had no meaning, as a broad smile came across his face while he tried to console me. I tied a new cast with 81b fluorocarbon instead of the 51b that I had up. Liam caught another right from the restart, and just at the end of the drift 1 got another covered with sea lice and that lovely preen sheen from the tide. The amount of browns we were meeting was just crazy. We hit fish nearly every second cast, ranging from six to 15 inches. We ended the day with three more sea trout, giving us a total of seven and about 60 brownies.

Frank arrived in the evening to enquire about our day, and he wasn't at all surprised with the catches. Listening to Frank you know that he has a passion for his job and art intimate knowledge of his surroundings. He went on to tell me about the other lakes in the system - seven in total, and how they haven't been fished properly for 20 years.

Frank then told me about the night fishing on the river for sea trout, and how he would rate it as some of the best in the country and that I should try it. Big mistake Frank! Like I said earlier, never invite me to fish, especially if sea trout are on offer, because I can categorically state that I will always accept.

4th October 2023
We had a run of fresh fish last weekend both grisle and seatrout. The river was high Friday morning but a man went on a pool for the last hour of the evening and had three grisle two landed bars of silver and one stale fish that fell off at the net. We had a couple of nice seatrout on the lake but its going to be too windy until next Saturday before the lake can fish again. The river is maintaining a nice level and with rain forecast for this evening and tomorrow it should be OK for fishing until the weekend. .