Ronan Cusack looks back at the 2014 season on Mask.

Mask closed its doors to trout angling on Tuesday evening last, after a very mixed or maybe even one sided season. This year got off to a particularly slow start mainly due to the extreme flooding we experienced in early spring. Many locals in the area said the lake reached levels this year never seen before. Yet by midsummer, the lack of rainfall meant anglers were nervously tip-toeing around the lake, trying to avoid shallows which have not been exposed for years.

My first outing on Lough Mask this year was not until late March and this was with good friend and well known Mask angler Kevin Egan. We focused our attention on Cushlough Bay, using various wet fly patterns on intermediate lines. We finished that evening with 7 trout, 2 of which exceeded the 4lbs mark. All trout were in excellent condition and did not seem to have suffered any hardship over the winter months. As the season progressed, water temperatures rose and fly life got more prevalent. Buzzer and Olive hatches were reasonably good in April and early May, with excellent fishing reported on a weekly basis. The first sign of Mayfly this year was around the second week of May. Hatches were what I would describe as “well up on other years”. The last week in May brought strong NW winds and resulted in some unbelievable wet and dryfly fishing. My best day was with visiting UK angler Pete Dighton on the 30th of May. We finished that day with in excess of 30 trout exceeding the 13” limit pulling wet mayflies. Pete is a regular visitor to the west of Ireland and always assumed that catching numbers of trout like this only applied to stocked fisheries.

As the Mayfly faded away, the sun continued to shine and barbeques replaced fishing tackle in most cases. Mid July approached and once again anglers began to focus their attention on the lake. The much sought after World Cup was just around the corner and homework needed to be done. By now surface water temperature was over 20°C and the majority of trout in the shallows had moved to the cool of the deeper water. At this stage trout were few and far between and your best chance of any sport was early morning before the day warmed up, even on days which were suited to angling.

The 28th of August brought the only heavy downpour of rain for weeks, which lasted almost 24 hours. This seemed to cool and freshen the lake and trout responded well for the following few days. Unfortunately for anglers, this was short lived and as predicted, the Indian summer settled in and the tough fishing resumed.

Already looking forward to the 2015 season, so it’s back to the vice now and try fill in those gaps in the fly boxes.

Ronan Cusack with his best trout off Mask in 2014, a lovely 7lbs fish taken on a buzzer pattern in early May
Ronan Cusack with his best trout off Mask in 2014, a lovely 7lbs fish taken on a buzzer pattern in early May