Fly fishing Ireland's olive and mayfly hatch on Lough Corrib starts in late April and lasts until mid-June.
After the height of the duckfly hatch, in late April the lake olives start to appear. The lake olives belong to the Ephemeridae family of which the mayfly is the largest member. These beautiful flies have large upright wings and long wispy tails. Olives are much smaller than mayflies and there are many different species in Ireland.
Olive fishing can be either excellent sport or extremely frustrating depending on when you fish them. The trout can be very fickle around this time. One day you can have great success, fishing with wet or dry flies, and the next day nothing, even when the water is covered in the fly, and the conditions are identical to the day before.
Some anglers come to the false conclusion that trout don’t like olives. They definitely do like them, but only when they are in the mood.
You can fish olives using nymphs, wet and dry flies. Popular wet fly patterns at this time are Greenwell’s Glory, Blae Sooty Olive, Olive Bumble, Sooty Olive, Cock Robin, Invicta, Green Olive and Claret Olive. When fishing the olive nymph, it can be helpful to fish them slowly and steadily.
The legendary Corrib Mayfly hatch usually takes place towards the end of May and lasts for about a month. The trout throw caution to the wind when they gorge themselves on the mayfly which emerge from the lake in huge numbers.
This is a wonderful time of the year for first timers to catch their first trout, ‘dapping the mayfly’. Normally trout are not caught so easily on the Corrib, but during a period of about two weeks, when the trout become obsessed, almost exclusively with the mayfly they become uncharacteristically easy to fool.
The Gosling as seen below is one of the wet fly patterns used at this time.
To the serious fly fisher, this time is known as “duffer’s fortnight”. Dapping is a pretty easy and thrilling way to fly fish and can be the most successful method at this time.
The live mayfly are collected from the bushes by the lakeshore and used as bait. It is enjoyable to collect these beautiful flies, but you can also buy them from enterprising school children in some of the main angling centres, such as Oughterard, who catch the mayfly and sell them to in boxes to anglers, earning some extra pocket money.
It’s a nice local tradition. The flies are then stored live in a well ventilated wooden box to keep them at their best.
As regards tackle, one uses a 15 ft rod with a long blow line made of light but bulky floss and a short length of nylon leader. The fishing is done from a drifting boat, with best results on a breezy day. The rod is held high with the blow line carrying the mayfly on the wind, which skips tantalisingly on the surface of the water.
The ‘takes’ are often dramatic with the trout attacking the fly ferociously! It’s an exhilarating way to fish. Many a life-long love affair with trout fishing has begun with a day accompanying a friend, ’dapping the Mayfly’.
Artificial dry fly such as the dry mayfly pattern above, and wet fly are also very productive during the mayfly hatch, and are the preferred method for the serious fly fisherman.
In the evening time fly fishing Ireland's Lough Corrib with the “spent gnat” such as the pattern seen on the picture below is the most successful method as the trout feed on the dying mayfly.
The spent gnat is the final stage in the mayfly’s brief but glorious flight. After the mayfly have mated and laid their eggs they shed their skin and change colour from pale greeny- yellow to white and black. The trout can’t resist them as they lie on the surface of the water, their death throes sending out enticing ripples.
Try fly fishing Ireland's Lough Corrib with a spent gnat as the one above.
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