Coastal, off-shore, river or lake? Whatever your fishing preference, check out the variety of options the Wild Atlantic Way has to offer.
Angling enthusiasts are spoilt for choice when it comes to fishing on Ireland’s west coast. Long recognised as a world-class destination for both pleasure and competitive angling, its combination of coastline, rivers and lakes means the sheer range of unspoilt habitats is quite exceptional.
Ireland’s position on the North Atlantic Drift, an offshoot of the Gulf Stream, also means the water here is a little warmer, and is therefore suited to a wide diversity of aquatic life. In fact, Ireland’s coastline is home to over 80 different species, ensuring that the angler can look forward to some great variety from one location to the next.
Here’s where to go and what you can find there:
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A very sociable form of angling, get a group together and take a chartered boat out into the ocean for a day’s fishing. This type of angling is popular all around the coast at angling centres such as Rosses Point in Sligo , Belmullet in Mayo , Kinsale in Cork , Fenit in Kerrynbsp;and Bundoran in Donegal .
Sink deep to catch pollock, cod or conger or take the easier option of mackerel swimming closer to the surface. Afterwards, ask your skipper if any local restaurants will cook up your catch of the day, or pan fry it yourself with a squeeze of lemon. Yum.
Whether you’re an experienced angler or a total newbie, there’s plenty of shore angling on the Wild Atlantic Way to suit you. For an easy win, head to a sandy beach to seek out dogfish or a rocky outcrop to target pollock.
For more experienced anglers, the wild beaches of the west offer a challenge. Wade in to a safe and shallow depth to find ray and flounder among the crashing waves and if you’re really lucky you might land a John Dory, a rare but satisfying catch. The whole west coast offers superb shore angling and a list of comprehensive angling guides to the area is available to download here.
With an expansive network of rivers and lakes, Ireland is famed for its freshwater fishing. During the summer, wild Atlantic salmon migrate upstream to the headwaters of the Corrib River in Galway. At Salmon Weir Bridge, there is a special pool covering approximately 200m where the salmon rest after migrating thousands of kilometres. You’ll have to be very organised to get a spot here as it’s booked by anglers from all over the world years in advance, but it’s worth visiting just to watch the salmon leap regardless.
Also on the Wild Atlantic Way, Lough Currane in Kerry and Carrowmore Lake in Mayo are renowned for the quality of their sea trout fishing while the River Moy in Ballina is one of the most prolific Atlantic salmon rivers in Europe. The River Launein Kerry is perfect if you wish to take in both river and lake angling, as it takes you up to the nearby Lakes of Killarney.
Traditionally, the lake trout fishing starts in mid-February, but really kicks into gear around St Patrick’s Day (March 17th). This is the perfect time to use artificial flies in shallow areas of the great western lakes to target wild brown trout foraging for shrimp and snails.
After that, you’re right into Mayfly season for fly fishing, which usually starts in late April and starts to peter out at the beginning of June. Lough Corrib in Galway and Lough Mask in Mayo are popular with locals and visitors alike during this period and well worth putting on your itinerary.
Pike are also a prime target for anglers on most of the Wild Atlantic Way lakes and have the added advantage of being available all year round. So if you are travelling to Ireland outside of the trout angling season, these hard fighting fish can provide great sport.
DO I NEED A LICENCE?
You need a licence to fish for salmon and seatrout, whether you are fishing for them in fresh or salt water. For sea species and many freshwater species, fishing is free. Find info on obtaining a licence here.
To start planning your angling adventure on the Wild Atlantic Way, check out this list where you can filter by destination or map view.
Want to know more on angling? Check out sea angling along the Wild Atlantic Way and game angling along the Wild Atlantic Way.