Costello and Fermoyle Fishery - an extraordinary place

Fishing instructor, fly fishing tuition and fishing trips based in Scotland. Salmon and trout fishing advice, flies and articles.

Connemara fly fishing haunt of T. C. Kingsmill Moore

Glenicmurrin Lough
Glenicmurrin Lough.

My first impression when I arrived at the road bridge over the River Cashla near Costelloe Village about 22 miles west of Galway City is that it looked tiny. On later reflection I realised that this is possibly the worst view to have of this river system as further upstream I was to experience its beauty and the charm of intimate salmon fishing. Cashla (I’m told that its proper name is Casla) drains about 32 square miles of mountain and bog including the main Loughs Fermoyle, Rusheen, Muckinagh, Clonadoon and Glenicmurrin as the river flows with very little gradient between them. Fermoyle is 24 ft higher than the lowest Lough Glenicmurrin and the latter two mentioned are just a foot less. The result is an unusual hydraulic response to rainfall from the upper reaches which in addition to sending water into Glenicmurrin also back fills large quantities of floodwater into Muckinagh and Clonadoon so the River Cashla gets water first from local sources and then from the upper reaches when the outflow from the loughs normalises. Flow reversal into Muckinagh and Clonadoon is said to encourage the sea trout out of these loughs to continue their sojourn to Fermoyle and later as the extra water drains from them it attracts a fresh run of fish from Glenicmurrin. So my first impression from that road bridge was completely wrong The Costello and Fermoyle Fishery is a fascinating and extensive system including a chain of a further four main loughs above Fermoyle the route to them being punctuated by a passable but challenging waterfall of some eight feet that requires a big flood before fish can ascend. Historically huge numbers of sea trout (white trout in Ireland) and salmon ascended each season. In “The Salmon Rivers of Ireland” published in 1913 Augustus Grimble mentions a catch of 200 sea trout in a day to one rod averaging a pound each. Interestingly he also mentioned the sea trout’s partiality to black or grey bodied flies with silver tinsel and mixed wing and later in the season olive bodied flies mixed with red and blue. Probably still good advice for today’s fish.

Costello and Fermoyle map

Legendary Irish angler the late T. C. Kingsmill Moore (1893-1979) I am told fished The Costello and Fermoyle fishery on many occasions and he included several references to the Cashla system in his lovely book “A Man May Fish” first published in 1960. Claret Bumble perhaps his best known fly remains a great favourite on many Irish loughs and Scottish lochs. We are also indebted to him for the Kingsmill and the Golden Olive, Bruiser, Fiery Brown, Grey Ghost and Magenta Bumbles. His book also mentions a fly called the Glenicmurrin Blue described as one of the few flies with a wing which uses a blue body colour, the pattern for which has proven to be ellusive. I encountered a fly called the Costello Blue in “Irish Trout & Salmon Flies” by E. J. (Ted) Malone which has a similar description; could it be the same fly? Fascinated by the prospect of a good story I called Ted Malone and was delighted to hear his voice again, especially when he offered to research his material for further information. A few days later a copy of a cutting collected by Ted many years ago entitled “The Costello Blue” written by Tim Cronin arrived in my post. I can do no better than quote the relevant piece from it. “Christy Deasy had a design for a fly which he wished to try on Glenicmurrin; he tied two, and passed one of them to me when we arrived on the shore. It was a gaudy looking affair with a blue raffia body, oval silver ribbing, a red ibis tail, and a double jungle cock wing, and I put it up more to please him than in any great expectation of a fish on it. John Costello, with whom we were fishing, looked at it and started praising Black Pennels and Zulus. By mid-day, with eight sea trout in the boat, and all but one of them taken on the new fly we decided, to put a name on it and when it had been duly christened Cashla Gorm,  an important salmon took a fancy to it and came up and broke me. I made Christy sit down and tie two more of them; the Cashla Gorm may eventually turn out to be a one day wonder, a cuileog aon la, but it certainly worked wonders for us on a low Glenicmurrin.”

Local man Geoffrey Fitzjohn kindly visited Johnny Costello who still lives close by Glenicmurrin on my behalf to ask if he recalled the event and amazingly he remembered that day some 40 years ago when he ghillied and they used a blue fly on Beat 2 Glenicmurrin off Matt’s Island. But he could not be sure if the Costello Blue is the fly that Kingsmill Moore mentioned because he recalled two patterns of blue bodied flies. Ted Malone’s personal notes for the Genicmurrin Blue also query with some doubt whether this may simply be another name given to the Costello Blue. The Costello Blue is a pretty fly and just one of several patterns that exploit the prominent use of jungle cock. Jungle cock and Silver, Delphi Silver and a simple pattern called Jungle Cock are three other examples that instantly spring to mind and of course many other patterns are usually adorned with jungle cock cheeks. The search for the truth about the mysterious Glenicmurrrin Blue fly continues.

Page 2 - Glenicmurrin Lough
Page 3 - River Cashla
Page 4 - Costello Flies, credits and contact

top of page
Copyright 2007 Alastair Gowans AAPGAI and FFF Master and THCI, APGAI. All rights reserved.