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Where to Fish in Ireland



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An area of exceptional beauty, the diverse nature of Ireland’s west coast provides the perfect habitat for a wide range of marine species with endless options for sea, lake and river fishing. We spoke to three local experts about their favourite spots and what makes the Wild Atlantic Way such a unique fishing experience.

 
 

Kevin Crowley Fishing in Ireland
Image via Fishing in Ireland

Kevin Crowley

Fantastic fishing in spectacular scenery is how Kevin Crowley describes Ireland's Wild Atlantic Way. Working at Inland Fisheries Ireland, Kevin knows all the best spots that combine wild fish, stunning vistas and friendly locals.

Where is your favourite fishing spot on the Wild Atlantic Way?

I’ve fished from Donegal, right down to Cork. One of my favourite spots for sea fishing is the Dingle Peninsula, while Donegal has some tremendous beaches for flat fishing. It’s quite easy with a little bit of bait. Right along the west coast is excellent territory for deep sea fishing. You get more species in the south because there’s warmer water around Cork and Kerry.

Mackerel Fishing on the Wild Atlantic Way
Fresh mackerel for breakfast

What’s the easiest catch?

Mackerel by far. It’s very accessible. You can go to any pier in summer time and go fishing for mackerel. They move in shoals up and down the coast and at high tide, they’re often caught off pier. You can buy a cheap rod in any local shop with a bunch of feathers and some weights and just go spinning for mackerel. It’s nearly a universal introduction to fishing. 

Where are the best places for lake fishing on the Wild Atlantic Way?

Lough Corrib, Lough Mask, Lough Carra and Lough Conn are probably the crown jewels when you talk about wild trout fishing in Europe. The May-Fly season on Corrib is famous the world over and rightly so. Lough Mask is superb for trout too. Apart from that, there’s a multitude of smaller lakes that offer brown trout and even sea trout fishing. The likes of Lough Hyne, Carrowmore Lake and Lough Corran are pretty famous too. In Donegal, Lough Eske and the Rosses area are both great for sea trout.

Is fishing in Ireland a social activity?

I think both serious anglers and casual holidaymakers definitely like the social element. In Ballina, Co. Mayo, there are a few pubs near the river and it’s as likely as not you’ll bump into an angler. The clothes are a dead giveaway too; you might see a waistcoat covered in flies!
 

Dominic O’Morain

 

Dominic O’Morain of the Great Fishing Houses of Ireland knows exactly where to find the finest salmon and trout fishing establishments the length and breadth of Ireland. From historic homes, hotels, B&Bs and guesthouses, you can head out with a guide and even have your catch cooked when you arrive back. 

What makes fishing on the Wild Atlantic Way unique?

It’s wild fishing in Ireland. The salmon you’re fishing comes in from the Atlantic on this wild journey on the North Atlantic Drift and ends up in river streams and lakes. It’s not a stocked system like Britain and all over the continent. You know the salmon has gone to the ocean and some of them off Newfoundland others as far as the Caribbean, and they’ve come back. A lot of people are putting catching a wild Atlantic salmon in Ireland on their bucket list.

What makes Great Fishing Houses of Ireland special?

The vast majority of houses are set in incredibly beautiful locations, like Ballynahinch Castle, Ashford Castle, Lough Hyne, Aasleagh Lodge and Delphi Lodge. They’re old and incredibly luxurious. The beauty of the Great Fishing Houses is you can land with nothing, have no interest in going fishing yet end up in the middle of a lake reeling in a catch! Each house has all facilities and equipment on site. You could arrive in your underwear and be fishing in twenty minutes! 

Where is best for game angling?

Genuinely, it’s throughout the Wild Atlantic Way. The whole coastline lends itself to it. Incredible fish come into the system from Donegal right through to Cork. The great thing about Irish people is that everyone thinks their area is the best.

A Sunset on Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way
River Drowes, Co. Leitrim

Best quiet spots?

Where do you start? There are lots of beautiful and secluded places. There’s  the Rock House which is a fishery in Mayo. You’ve got Screebe Lodge in Connemara, Lough Inagh Lodge… there are so many. They’re all incredibly beautiful and set back in their environment, on the fisheries and in the water. If someone were to try building these houses now, they wouldn’t be allowed as the locations are so stunning. 
 

Sea Angling on Ireland’s West Coast
Cpt. Mary Gavin, Clew Bay, Co. Mayo

Mary Gavin


Mary Gavin grew up on island and learned to fish with her grandfather by the early age of three – she even went to school by boat. She’s taken gold medals at angling competitions all over the world, but you can avail of her expertise from Clew Bay Angling

What makes sea angling on Wild Atlantic Way unique?

Here on the west coast of Ireland, we have the most prolific fishing in Europe. There’s lots of species, sheltered waters and an abundance of species. You never know what you’ll catch when you’re fishing off Clare Island and Achill Island. With the North Atlantic Drift running along the coast, anything could show up. We’ve had lots of basking sharks recently.

Keem Bay Ireland
Basking Shark feeding on the Wild Atlantic Way

What are they like?

They’re very friendly. We’ve been seeing them quite close to the shore at Keem Bay, which is the beach furthest west in Clew Bay. I’ve seen people wade out to their knees in the water looking at them. They’re like a dog really. One day they can snap, so treat them with respect.

Have you done any lake or river fishing on the Wild Atlantic Way?

I’ve done fly-fishing on Beltra Lake and Carrowmore Lake, as well as some rivers. Fly-fishing is trying to lure salmon and trout in with tiny flies. It’s a wonderful experience. I think the fish come to the ladies more than the men! It’s been proved that ladies make better anglers then men. If you look at competitions results, ladies are more successful.

Is it a welcoming environment for women?

Yes, until we beat the men! 

Any tips for people who might not be used to the rough and tumble of the waves?

No socialising the night before – to an extreme extent! Be well rested. Saying that, Clew Bay is unique as there’s so many islands, there’s always shelter. 

See what fish you might reel in with Catch of the Wild Atlantic Way or start planning your angling adventure with this list, where you can filter by destination or map view and figure out where to fish in Ireland.

 
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