Wild Trout Fishing in Ireland, Lough Dan, Co. Wicklow.

Lough Dan, the largest natural lake in Co. Wicklow, situated in a spectacular location close to the village of Roundwood is absolutely stuffed with free rising wild trout. With the average size knocking six – eight ounces, one in a dozen will head towards a pound+, with over the years an occasional monster up to five pounds in weight being recorded. Dark in colouration, these trout hit the fly like a steam train, fight well above their weight, and on a four weight rod provide wonderful sport.

Wild brownie tempted by a daddy long legs, Lough Dan, Co. Wicklow, Ireland.

Access to Lough Dan is limited due to most of the surrounding land being in private ownership, a feature which helps to preserve the fishing and contribute to a very unique and productive water. Having recently purchased an electric outboard motor and due its maiden voyage,  Gary had suggested Lough Dan and not having fished the lake this summer, it seemed like a good plan.

Lough Dan, Co. Wicklow, looking north towards the Cloghoge river valley.

Lough Dan is situated in a glacial valley, part of a ribbon lake system that includes Lough Tay to the north. Linked by the Cloghoge River, overlooked by Knocknacloghogue mountain, and source of the Avonmore River, the lake once was home to a strain of arctic char. I say once only because the last recorded specimen was captured in 1988. Given that these fish normally live at depth, and that the lake is lightly fished using top surface fly fishing methods, there is a possibility that the species still frequents the Lough. Peregrine falcons nest in the steep cliffs surrounding the lake, and broad leaf oak woodland extends upwards from the shoreline, painting a picture of what the Irish landscape might have looked like at the time of the first settlers.

Gary casting a team of wet flies, Lough Dan, Co. Wicklow.

The day was warm with a steady southerly breeze blowing up the lake providing ideal conditions to drift the eastern shore. Putting up a team of wet flies to include a Wicklow Killer on the point, Daddy Long Legs on the middle dropper, and a Bibio on the top, Gary fished with a Peter Ross on the point, a daddy in the middle, and a small Silver Dabbler on the top. Choosing a drift starting at the mouth of the Avonmore we were pushed north at a fair clip by the breeze. Adjusting the line of drift by occasional reverse or forward touches on the engine we contacted fish immediately setting a pattern which lasted all day.

Wild trout, Lough Dan, Co. Wicklow, Ireland.

Casting long and stripping fast trout rose to the flies in spectacular fashion, head and tailing, sub surface boils, and mini explosions of water. They took the point fly on the strip, the top dropper on the dibble, even snatched at flies as they were being raised to recast. On hooking the fish felt twice their weight, plump and strong, Gary and I lost count of how many we caught. Top flies on the day were the daddy long legs and the silver dabbler indicating a September diet of fry and terrestrials. At five pm with the skies clouding over we called it a day. Wild trout fishing is not always about big fish. The great western lakes of Corrib and Mask may steal all the glory in terms of large trout and mayfly hatches, but for rapid fire bread and butter wild trout fishing in a glorious location Lough Dan, Co. Wicklow is hard to beat.

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