Fishing in Ireland
Fishing is one of the most popular activities for visitors to Ireland each year. Each year thousands come to enjoy our unspoiled rivers, lakes, and coastline. As an Island nation, we have survived off the fruits of the land and sea for many generations and have a long fishing history. Here we have given you an outline of the types of fishing in Ireland and what you can expect on your fishing holiday in Ireland.
Lendemain de Trôle's crew cross the Atlantic ocean to discover the pleasure of salmon fishing in Ireland.
Produced and directed by Francois Lambert
The Irish coastline, over 3000 miles long, is washed by some of the cleanest and clearest seas in Europe. It is also one of the most varied, with dramatic cliffs such as those in Donegal, Mayo, and Clare; many miles of wide strands with their arresting contrast of blue sea, white surf, and pale sands; and stretches of rugged rocky coastline and quiet estuaries. This variety offers unlimited opportunities to the sea angler, who can find somewhere to fish almost all the year round. Ireland's climate may give mixed summer weather of sun and rain, but because of its seas, especially on the south and western margins, benefit from the warming influence of the North Atlantic Drift they can be fished from spring to late autumn for species found elsewhere only in the summer months.
For this reason, unusual warm-water species often turn up in catches here, fish such as triggerfish, red mullet, red bream, sunfish, and amberjack. But Ireland's shores are near the divide between cooler north Atlantic waters and the southern influence and they accommodate many cold water species also. In all, over 100 species can be caught from Ireland's seas.
Irish deep-sea fishing is associated with charter boats and a very sociable form of angling. Traditionally, these crafts head to deep water marks from centres which became famous and still provide superb fishing - Westport, Fenit, and Kinsale. Nowadays, charter boats can be hired from a greater number of centres and they fish for such species as blue shark off the south and west coast, for big conger, ling, and cod from marked wrecks, and for tope and flatfish over sandy ground.
Wreck fishing in deep water marks can be very productive. There are many marked wrecks off the Irish coast, some lying in water over 50 fathoms deep. Many more wait to be discovered and the angler who is in a boat fishing such a wreck for the first time can experience the unforgettable sport. It may take an hour to reach these marks, but it is worth it because of the size of the conger, ling, pollock and coalfish which are caught from them. Other species such as turbot and megrim can also be caught. Anglers who specialise in this fishing use rods in the 20/30lb class and reel lines of 30lbs test, this type of gear may be hired from charter skippers.
Inshore fishing both fly, river and from small boats, especially during the months from May to September, is a growing trend. There are no better means of appreciating the intimate connection between the life of Irish coastal communities and the sea than to fish from a small boat equivalent in size to the craft that almost all Irish fishermen used until recent times.
Many visiting anglers bring their own purpose-built 14-18 ft boats to a growing number of centres where guidance on where to go, and on safety issues is available. Irish shore angling is among the best in Europe. Almost every type of shore fishing may be done, for a very wide range of species, throughout the year.
Ireland has some of the cleanest and most lightly-fished freshwaters in Europe.
The Irish landscape is one of the small fields and wild peat bogs, littered with loughs of all sizes and drained by many rivers; there are over 7,000 miles of riverbank for the coarse angler. The scale of these waters varies dramatically. Two of the biggest, the river Shannon and the Lough Erne, each comprise huge systems.
The Shannon contains in its course several massive loughs, such as Lough Ree which is eighteen miles long. The Erne also spreads into big networks of loughs, such as Lough Oughter in County Cavan. But apart from these systems, there are innumerable smaller rivers and loughs. What all of the waters, big and small have in common is their richness and their wealth of fish life.
Irish inland waters have retained their pristine quality. Ireland has never had a significant degree of heavy industry, and its inland towns are mainly small. It is still possible to find yourself in a corner of an Irish lough, sheltered by dense reedbeds in ten feet of clear water and to feel that you are the first person ever to have fished that particular place.
There are the big rivers, such as the Shannon, but there are also medium-sized rivers like the Barrow. There is deep loughs dark with peat stain and there are crystal clear waters, such as Lough Annaghmore in County Roscommon, where you may see the fish take your bait.
Some of the biggest loughs are rugged and wild when stirred by the westerly winds which sweep over Ireland. But there are also small quiet loughs and miles of canal sheltered by stands of mature trees where the most delicate styles of angling can be practiced in perfect peace.
Irish coarse fishing offers this solitude and tranquility and it can also offer companionship to those who like to fish in the company. But above all, it offers superb fishing.
The essence of game angling is the pursuit of native fish in wild places; Ireland offers a unique opportunity to experience such fishing. Salmon, trout, and sea-trout are native species with an honoured place in Irish culture. And Ireland's loughs and rivers have preserved their character in a landscape which has changed very little over the centuries. The angler on Lough Mask, one of the great western limestone loughs, witnesses a timeless scene looking across the waves to mountain ranges which ripple into infinity on the skyline.
This sense of place, which is one of the pleasures of fishing in Ireland can be experienced in different ways on the many types of Irish river and lough. Lough Mask is like an inland sea, but there are also countless small loughs where the lone angler can fish in sheltered solitude. Major rivers like the Munster Blackwater in the south offer sport with salmon and scenery on a grand scale while a more intimate experience can be enjoyed on the minor limestone trout streams such as those which wind through the green pastures of County Meath. But while Irish game angling is a sport of varied landscapes and many seasons, it has one abiding virtue; it still offers an authentic angling experience in a world where this is increasingly rare.
If you are planning a fishing vacation in Ireland, the best way to get around and enjoy the scenery is to hire a suitable car from us. Our recommendations for hotels or accommodation for the best value stays and pre-book your arrangements online before you travel.