After a mild winter, trout anglers returned to Lough Corrib yesterday, optimistic of a good angling season ahead. The lack of snow and ice this year led to expectations of good early fishing, and there were certainly fish feeding yesterday, rewarding anglers who ventured out on opening day.

In the Greenfields area, a number of anglers reported trout on the fly, including Frank Reilly, who had 2 good trout averaging 2lbs on wetfly patterns. Peter Byrne from Castlebar also had 2 trout for about 2.5lbs, both returned, while Gerry Feeney from Athlone landed a trout of 1.25lbs on fly. Paul Dignam from Ennis also reported a good trout of 2lbs on fly.

In the Dooras-Cornamona area, about 12 boats were out, mostly trolling, and fly anglers here had less success. Peter Curran from Cornamona had 2 trout trolling for 3.25lbs. Jimmy Molloy from Cong and his son landed 5 trout on the troll, and Padraic Kerrigan caught and released 2 fish for 3.5lbs, also on the troll. Stephen Burns from Cornamona caught and released a 2.5lbs fish while trolling, and Tom Ormond from Meath landed 2 trout on the fly, both returned alive.

On the Oughterard side, Donal Connolly from Nonaim Lodge was on the lake with Roger Thompson, who landed one trout on the fly.

Opening day is not all about the fishing, however, and many anglers fish for a while in the morning before landing on a selected island for lunch, where they spend a leisurely time catching up with fellow anglers and look forward to the season ahead.

Anglers are advised that Inland Fisheries Ireland will be commencing a fish stock survey on Lough Corrib on Monday 27th February. This is the first major survey of trout stocks in the lake since 1996, and involves the use of gillnets to capture fish. Trout that are still alive will be measured, recorded and released alive again, while some fish will be killed and full details recorded, including stomach analysis. The survey will give a good overview of the health of fish stocks in the lake, and will further increase our knowledge of the genetic pool of trout in the lake. This helps identify which are the most important spawning tributaries, and improves our understanding of the ecology of the lake.

All nets will be clearly marked with brightly coloured buoys with IFI SURVEY printed on them. While all nets are set on the bottom and only fish the lowest 2 metres of the water column, those set in shallow areas may be close to the surface. Anglers and other lake users are asked to keep an eye out for marked nets and to avoid them if possible.