Angling notes: Plenty to enjoy at curtailed competition on Lough Mask

Camaraderie and great craic, followed by a music session, made for a splendid day

Several months preparation for the two-day Burke open fly-fishing competition on Lough Mask were dashed last week as the weather gods signalled storm-force winds at times, necessitating a cancellation of the second day.

Although there was disappointment among the anglers, particularly those who had travelled long distances, common sense prevailed and the committee’s decision to ‘abandon ship’ was, in my opinion, correct.

All was not lost. Conditions on day one were perfect – cloud cover, quite warm and rolling away, what more could one ask for? And the fishing too was brilliant (at least for those fortunate to meet trout).

The centre of activity focused on Burke’s Bar & Restaurant in Clonbur, Co Galway, where the village came alive with the huge influx of anglers. Accommodation was at a premium and extended to Cornamona on one side of Mask to Cong and across to Tourmakeady.


Now in its 10th year, this much sought-after competition is way up there on the annual calendar of fly-fishing events and continues to grow in stature. This year saw the highest entry, with 138 anglers.

What makes this competition so attractive (apart from the fishing) is the camaraderie and great craic among anglers, followed by a music session to round off a splendid day. Value for money is important too – two breakfasts, two dinners and two days fishing. Excellent value.

For me, the highlight is the ‘pig on the spit’ evening meal. Delicious pork with crackling and all the trimmings. Where would you get it?

On the fishing front, Patrick (Pat) Burns stole the show with a magnificent trout of 2.482kg (5.47lb). For his efforts he received the John Burke Perpetual Shield for heaviest fish and the Ignatius Cup for overall winner. He also received a prize of three nights’ full board for two at the River Lee Hotel in Cork City.

“I caught the big trout at Martin’s Island on a Fiery Brown Dabbler. I didn’t see the fish for 20 minutes before it surfaced,” he said.

Kinvara angler Jackie Coyne took second place with two fish for 2.16kg (4.76lb). Peter Driver also caught two for 1.8kg (3.97lb) to secure third place.

The gala dinner and prize-giving was a sight to behold. At least 60 prizes on offer – rods, reels, nets, fly boxes, rain clothing, etc. In fact, most anglers fortunate to catch even one fish secured a prize.

A collection for the Mask and Corrib Rescue Unit raised a staggering €1,205. Spokesperson Mark Gibbons said the money will go towards upgrading their lakeside boathouse at the pump house locality. Last year the unit received about eight shouts across the two lakes. “Donations like this are our only source of income, and we are most grateful.”

Proprietor Tómas Burke thanked everyone for coming along and hoped all enjoyed their time in Clonbur. He said while it was unfortunate about the bad weather forecast, the safely of all anglers is of the utmost importance.

“There will be better days ahead, the lake will always be there and we look forward to seeing ye all at the Vintners competition on September 12th and 13th, 2023,” he said.

Results: 1, P Burns, 1 fish, 2.482kg; 2, J Coyne, 2f, 2.16kg; 3, P Driver, 2f, 1.8kg; 4, M Regan, 3f, 1.724; 5, P Kinneavy, 3f, 1.712kg.

If you have an angling story to share, please send to me at