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Home Fly Fishing International Lough Mask Spring 2018- Ireland Win Gold!

Ireland’s Tom Doc Sullivan reports back on Ireland’s gold medal winning performance on Lough Mask in the 2018 Spring Home International.


The Spring Home International of 2018 was hosted by Ireland and fished on the mighty Lough Mask, one of the great western Loughs. The venue proved to be a test of true lough style fishing; the Mask is a mighty lake at over 20,000 acres in area. A lake not for the feint hearted, it is an open body of water nestling against the back drop of the Partry Mountains and Joyce Country. It is not just the trout that are wild here; when the wind picks up form the mountains, big waves develop and crash over the vast expanse of limestone reefs dotted all over the lake. The competition was fished on a catch and release basis with a 30 cm (12”) being the limit. The host club was the Ballinrobe and District Anglers who did a splendid job.

The overcast morning conditions were when the majority of the fish were caught…
The overcast morning conditions were when the majority of the fish were caught…

Wind And Wet Flies

The weather set the tone for the event and what was served up to the teams in the week leading up to the final was the predominant south westerly’s that we are accustomed to on the western seaboard, this was to have a huge bearing on the match. While there are times when fly hatches come into play on the Mask, especially in the bays, the Irish team had quickly ascertained that if the weather was windy then pulling wets in amongst the huge areas of reefs and shallows on the Lough was going to be the method. The Irish Captain, well known International angler, Mike Keady said that one of the strengths of the team would be on wet flies and he hoped to capitalise on this.


Match Day

The final day dawned on the Friday and after an overnight storm, conditions were ideal with a force four southerly and cloud cover. Over the course of the day the cloud lifted and it became brighter, the wind veered south westerly and strengthened a notch. The morning fished the best with the overcast conditions, the harsh sunlight affected the fishing in the afternoon and most anglers reported having most of their action early on in the day.

…the fishing became more challenging when the blue skies appeared, however some anglers still caught in the tough conditions.
…the fishing became more challenging when the blue skies appeared, however some anglers still caught in the tough conditions.

When the boats returned to Cushlough Harbour, the teams all formed in their huddles. Word quickly filtered thought that Keady’s Mask Marauders had done the job! Word from the Wales, Scotland and English teams was that their totals were all in or around the twenties, the Irish eyes began to smile as their total was an impressive 45 trout, this was an average of over three trout per rod which from a purely wild brown trout venue was fantastic.


Egan’s Brown Bowl

The Brown Bowl trophy for the best individual rod turned out to be a very interesting event. Iain Barr of England must have thought he had another ‘victim’ in his sights as he led his boat partner, Irish Team member Dave Egan by five trout to two at lunchtime. However, the change in light conditions brought a change in fortune for Dave and he achieved a magnificent comeback boating six fish on the trot without reply for eight trout in total. This catch earned Dave the coveted Brown Bowl, beating Iain into second place overall on the individual rankings. A magnificent individual performance from Dave.

2018 Spring International champions, team Ireland.
2018 Spring International champions, team Ireland.

Ireland won the event with 45 trout; a great team performance saw them finish with 20 more trout than the Welsh team who finished in second position. This was the highest margin of victory that an Irish team has had since they won with a margin of six fish in Loch Leven in 1952. It was a remarkable achievement!



  • Ireland 45 fish 1552.3 cms 2469pts
  • Wales 25 fish 905.8 cms 1415 pts
  • England 23 fish 805.3 cms 1273 pts
  • Scotland 20 fish 681.2 cms 1090 pts

Best Basket: Dave Egan (Ireland) 8 fish 273.2cms 438 pts
Biggest Fish: Andy Dunn (Scotland) 51.2 cms

Tom ‘Doc’ Sullivan

Tom ‘Doc’ Sullivan has over 20 years guiding experience on the western Loughs of Corrib, Mask and Carra. He is the Irish agent for Airflo and Fulling Mill and is a keen competition angler. Tom has fished for Ireland on nine occasions. In the winter he suffers from withdrawal symptoms from fly fishing!

Mike Keady Irish Captain receives the winning trophy.
Mike Keady Irish Captain receives the winning trophy.
Brown Bowl winner Dave Egan.
Brown Bowl winner Dave Egan.
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