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Sport Fishing on the Wild Atlantic Way



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For game angling enthusiasts in search of good sport fishing, the west coast of Ireland is a veritable treasure trove. The waters of the Wild Atlantic Way are teeming with fighting salmon and trout, beautiful vistas and friendly, knowledgeable locals who love to catch and release.

 
 

“The great thing about Irish people is that everyone thinks their area is the best,” notes Dominic O’Morain of the Great Fishing Houses of Ireland when we asked for his sport fishing tips. Want to catch a wild trout or Atlantic salmon? Here’s where to do it.


Top Fishing Spots of the world in Donegal

Donegal, one of Satellite Sports Top 6 Fishing Spots in the World
 

In the Northern Headlands

In Donegal you’ll find the glorious 900-acre Lough Eske, home to salmon, sea trout and char, as well as a productive brown trout fishery. Sea trout fishing is particularly good from July, when you might catch a trout as large as 5lbs. Also not far away is the Owenea River Fishery, where fly fishing is the name of the game and where you’ll find spring salmon, grilse, sea trout and a stock of brown trout in residence. The Meadows Trout Fishery in the Fanad peninsula offers stunning views of Mulroy Bay. Elsewhere try Tullaghobegley River, Erne Salmon Fishing, Murvagh River, Erne River and Estuary, Eany River, Lough Melvin and River Drowes, Gweebarra River or get in touch with the Rosses Anglers Association for more information. 
 

Sunset fishing in County Sligo
Sunset at Rosses Point, Sligo
 

In the Surf Coast

Moving further south, you’ll find yourself in championship territory. Nearby Leitrim acts as a regular and popular stretch of the World Pairs Angling Championship and is truly a game angler’s paradise. Get your permit, fishing tackle and tours all from Drowes Salmon Fishery and seek out spring salmon and brown trout on the River Drowes. Its deep, slow-moving pools make it perfect for spinning and bait fishing. 

Bridging the gap between Leitrim and neighbouring Sligo is Sligo District Fisheries who offer guidance for those seeking quality wild brown trout at Lough Arrow, as well as Ballisodare and Easky salmon rivers. Or join Ewing Sea Angling Boat Charters for offshore and game angling around Sligo Bay and Rosses Point. More experienced anglers may want to enjoy their own adventure along the Garvogue River from June onwards for salmon, sea trout and brown trout. 

The River Moy which runs through Ballina offers both fly and bait salmon and grilse fishing. Ballina-based Jude Ruane provides boat hire and a guide service for sea trout fishing on the River Moy while the nearby Attymass Salmon Fishery makes up approximately two-and-a-half miles of single bank fishing. Meanwhile the Angling Barony of Erris is known to have 40 varieties of fish inhabit the seas, lakes and rivers, so it’s unsurprising that Erris is a fisherman’s fancy!

Fishing on the lake in Lough Mask, County Mayo
Lough Mask, image via Pure Fishing
 

In the Bay Coast

County Mayo is a sport fishing fan’s dream. Starting with the wild brown trout rich Robe River that flows into the enormous Lough Mask, a location regarded by angling experts as one of the crown jewels when it comes to wild trout fishing in Europe. Lough Conn is a similarly plentiful, while Carrowmore Lake in the north west of the region is another popular spot.  

Lough Corrib sailing and fishing in County Galway
Lough Corrib
 

Flowing through Lough Corrib and into Galway Bay, the River Corrib is a hub for wild Atlantic salmon migration during the summer months. At the aptly-titled Salmon Weir Bridge, a special pool acts as resting place for the salmon. You might find yourself jostling for position as the spot is extremely popular to spot salmon leaping. In Leenane, the Delphi Fishery is noted for its excellent runs of Atlantic salmon while Ballynahinch Castle Fishery in Connemara is found on one of the most beautiful fly-fishing rivers in Ireland. Meanwhile, Lough Carra stands out as part of the Great Western Lakes complex. The friendly teams at Ireland West Angling, Galway Bay Fishing and Come Fishing Galway all come with a wealth of experience.
 

Fishing in County Clare at Doonbeg
Doonbeg River, image via Bob Shuttleworth
 

In the Cliff Coast

An area famed for its smoked fish, it’s not surprising there’s plenty of angling opportunities in County Clare. Doonbeg River  is great for both salmon and sea trout, where early running trout can range from approx two-and-a-half to five pounds (1kg – 2kg) with many young European sea trout – also known as finnock – entering the stream from July. You’ll also get the occasional salmon on The Dealagh River, although sea trout is more common. This region really is trout country and you’ll find a combination of brown, rainbow and sea trout at Knockerra Lough, Luogh Lough, Lough Donnell, Doo Lough, Lickeen Lake and Lough Achryane.
 

Wild game fishing in Killorglin, County Kerry
Fishing at Killorglin

In the Southern Peninsulas

The mountainous terrain of Kerry provides an idyllic backdrop for those seeking to immerse themselves in lake and river angling. Lough Currane is especially renowned for the quality of its sea trout fishing, while several spots in town lead to amazing panoramic views of the lake and soaring mountains. The Dingle Peninsula is a strong favourite among anglers in search of great game. Kevin Crowley of Inland Fisheries Ireland is especially fond of Kerry’s warm waters which attract a wide range of species. Over at Lough Na Kirka, there’s plenty of opportunities to catch natural small brown and rainbow trout, while the large salmon habitat of the River Laune takes you up to the picturesque Lakes of Killarney. On the Caragh River, a spot of night fishing is a great experience under the stars, while the River Inny has its own concrete angling stand and is the perfect spot to catch some grilse.  


Fishing off the West Pier in Lough Hyne County Cork
West Pier at Lough Hyne, image via Fermoy Fish
 

In the Haven Coast

The lush and expansive county of Cork also offers fantastic fishing experiences. The River Ilen is a great spot for salmon, sea trout and grilse. In the charming village of Skibbereen, the two Shepperton Lakes, with lots of large pike and rainbow trout are connected by a narrow channel, meaning you can move easily between them by boat. And as the only inland lake in Northern Europe, nearby Lough Hyne is home to unique marine life and regularly attracts marine biologists throughout the year.
 

Do I need a licence?

You need a licence to fish for salmon and sea trout, 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.
 
These are just some of the many excellent sport fishing options that can be found along the length of the Wild Atlantic Way. For more information check out more fishing guides or try exploring the route yourself.  

 
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