The Corrib and Mask are home to massive trout called ‘Ferox’.
In the summer of 2012 the largest one in 115 years was caught on the Corrib, by visiting Welsh angler Ceri Jones. The fish weighed 23 pounds 12 ounces. He presented the fish to Burke’s pub in Clonbur, where the fish can now be seen, stuffed and displayed in a glass case. There are, no doubt, bigger fish hunting in the murky depths of Lough Corrib and Lough Mask. Perhaps you will encounter one someday.
My friend Brendan with his catch.
The word ‘Ferox’ comes from Latin and means ‘fierce’! These trout are a genetically separate species. They look and behave no differently to the other brown trout when young, but at a certain stage in their development they undergo a change and start to feed almost exclusively on fish and their growth suddenly accelerates.
In the past they would have fed on the large shoals of Arctic char which used to inhabit the Lough, these days they take advantage of the abundant shoals of roach which have established themselves in Lough Corrib. These fish can grow in excess of 20lbs!
While they are mostly taken by trolling a dead roach over the very deep water they typically inhabit, they are occasionally taken on a fly. If you are lucky enough to hook one of these leviathans, you are in for an unforgettable experience and a serious case of tennis elbow.
In recent years fishing for ferox has become increasingly popular with ghillies taking anglers to areas of the lake where they are known to hunt, usually in deep water. The use of sonar fish locators helps to increase the chance of success.
We are only beginning to learn about these amazing creatures. The fisheries are currently carrying out ongoing research into the fish to learn more about their feeding, life cycle and spawning habits. Eighty fish from Lough Corrib were fitted with electronic tags to monitor their movements in the period 2005 – 2006 and it was found that the majority of these fish spawned in the Cong River, which is a tributary of the lake. Neighbouring Lough Mask also has a considerable stock of this species of trout.
As a result of these findings, a bye law was introduced in 2008, which prohibited angling on the Cong River between the 1st of September and the 15th of February.
This conservational measure has made the fishing season slightly
shorter in an effort to allow this species to spawn successfully. A wise
move, considering that we do not know how resilient the stocks of these
fish are and to what extent we are affecting them by fishing for them
with more and more specialised tackle. The more of these large fish that are returned safely the better.
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