Mullingar is every fisherman’s dream- surrounded by the widest array of a beautiful open lakes and sparkling rivers that offer some tremendous fishing amidst spectacular scenery.
Lough Owel lies 2.5 miles ( 4km ) north west of Mullingar, to the left of the Mullingar – Longford road. It is a high pH, mainly spring fed limestone lake with an area of 2547 acres ( over 1000 Hectares ). It has remarkable water quality and can give visibility to a depth of of over 20 feet (6m) on a bright day.
Owel is a deep lake with less fishing shallows than other Midland Lakes, but fishing can be productive, even over deep water. With the exceptional water clarity and with flies drifting out from the shore it often pays to drift well beyond the shallows, indeed right across the lake in some instances.
The lake has a resident stock of wild brown trout, with an average weight of about 2lbs. In Lough Owel spawning and nursery facilities for Brown Trout are extremely limited. The lake which for the most part is spring fed, has few tributaries, all of which are small. If all the native trout were allowed to run the streams each year there would be considerable losses because the available spawning grounds would be fully utilised by the first runs of fish. Their redds would be distributed by a succeeding runs of fish and consequently the ova would be lost. To prevent such wastage a policy operates which allows the available gravel in streams to be fully used for spawning. Surplus ova, which would otherwise be wasted, are then stripped from the runs of native adult trout which subsequently enter the streams. These ova are hatched out at the nearby Cullion Fish Farm and large numbers of the resulting fry and adult fish are later stocked back into the lake. They thrive and grow quickly on a rich diet, eliminating the necessity for any staggered stocking programme. In this way, Lough Owel is maintained as a high class trout fishery.
The average size of the trout is remarkably large – averaging about 2lbs. Trout to about 7lbs are taken every season by anglers and fishery staff have encountered fish up to 11 – 12lbs in the streams at spawning time.