The Best Places to Go Fishing in Ireland

Trim Castle on the River Boyne | © William Murphy/ Flickr
Trim Castle on the River Boyne | © William Murphy/ Flickr
Photo of James Hendicott
6 August 2017

With great sea fishing, a landscape filled with lakes, and the odd lush river spot thrown into the mix, catching a big one is big business in Ireland. Whether you’re here for the serenity of a couple of days by the river, rod in hand, or the sporty adventure of a boat trip into the Atlantic waves, you won’t have too much trouble uncovering options. In fact, there are so many along the Wild Atlantic Way, you could make an entire fishing tour out of a long trip down the west coast. There’s cod, carp, salmon and bass all to be tracked down, as well as roach, bream, pike and even shark, and there are plenty of specialists who can’t wait to point you in the right direction. Here are our favourite spots to get your fishing fix.

Killarney Lakes, County Kerry

The perfect spot for those looking to fuse fishing with an adventurous family trip, Killarney is Kerry’s prime tourist territory, a spot sat close to the wonderful Ring of Kerry, with restaurants, hotels and hikes on your doorstep. While a permit is required for the nearby rivers, lake fishing is free, and the knowledgeable folks at O’Neill’s tackle shop will kit you out with everything needed to get going. Your primary stock: chunky trout, peaking April to September.

Muckross Lake, Killarney | © ritesh3/Flickr

Mullaghmore, County Sligo

A rugged Atlantic town with a taste for sea fishing, Mullaghmore also offers great angling opportunities from its harbour walls. For those wanting to get involved in the big stuff, though, boat tours begin in July (looking for shark, present until October), and then move on to tuna, from August to November. Fish of close to half a tonne have been caught here, with competitions taking place in July and September.

Mullaghmore | © Robert Montgomery/ Flickr

Belmullet, County Mayo

Renowned as a fishing haven, Belmullet (literally ‘mouth of the mullet’) has something for everyone, from craggy shore fishing to shark and tuna out on the boats. Its conditions can be stormy – the peninsula has no protection worth mentioning from the entire force of the Atlantic – but with dogfish, coalfish, bass, flounder, plaice, turbot and plenty more all in hefty supply, it’s a spot many hobbiests make a long-term base. The hotels and ample baitshops match the fish-loving crowd.

Belmullet | © Conor Lawless/ Flickr

The River Boyne, County Meath

A prime salmon fishing spot in a historic corner of Ireland’s East (check out Newgrange and the Hill of Tara while you’re in the area), the estuary end of the Boyne is a particularly fertile ground, also home to ample sea trout. It’s worth noting a number of local bylaws in place, including a catch and release policy, and requirement for day permits. Local guides will help you find substantial fish between March and September.

Trim Castle on the River Boyne | © William Murphy/ Flickr

Blackwater River, County Cork

Blackwater isn’t a hugely heralded spot in the Irish fishing community, but with great places to settle into in Mallow, Cappoquin and Fermoy, we think it’s a charming spot. Roach and dace are big here in winter, while in summer mixed fishing and varied conditions mean the more experienced river fishermen should be able to pick out enticing spots from the banks. Cappoquin sits right at the furthest reach of the tide, and while licenses must be sought, is an interesting spot to dig in.

Blackwater RIver, County Cork | © Muireann Ní Cheallacháin/ Flickr

Lough Derg, Counties Clare/ Tipperary/ Galway

If you can hit Lough Derg for mayfly season – late April/ early May – the force with which trout feed on the seasonal bugs is astonishing, and makes for fantastic fishing opportunities. The 30km lake is home to some impressive specimens (and given bylaws prohibit removing any brown trout at less than 36cm, you’ll be after them), and surprisingly, offers free access to fishing stocks, aside from the aforementioned bylaw. Killaloe and Rossmore offer two of the best access points.

Lough Derg Morning | © Liam Moloney/ Flickr

Aran Islands, County Galway

What better place to go fishing than a set of islands located just off Ireland’s west coast, almost like they’re drifting off into the Atlantic? These boltholes of tradition offer plenty to explore, but from a fishing point of view, there’s shark fishing, as well as shore angling said to be comparable to fishing from a boat in open ocean. Some of these spots are rarely fished, so make for an enticing adventure, rod in hand. A spot where it’s definitely worth seeking local expertise.

Inisheer Harbour | © Terry Ballard / Flickr

Lough Muckno, County Monaghan

While Lough Muckno is the main fishing draw around Castleblayney in Monaghan, the abundance of small nearby spots (including Smith’s Lake, Gas Lake, Malone Lake and Killygola) keep things fresh over a longer stay. An increasingly popular venue for competitive angling, it’s important to check access ahead of time (some contests feature over 200 guests, and prevent access for those not competing), but the obvious benefit is the quality: this is an abundant, comfortable place to fish.

Hope Castle | © IrishFireside/ Flickr

Rosses Point, County Sligo

One of the top spots in the country for mackerel, sea trout and the occasional bit of bass, Rosses Point also has the added bonus of being an absolutely stunning place to fish. Home to a stone age mausoleum and the tomb of Queen Maeve, there’s beach fishing to enjoy, as well as a charter company running out into the Atlantic to give you a shot at seasonal skate, ray and occasionally shark. There’s a great pollack fishing spot called ‘the ledge’ just a few miles offshore, too.

Rosses Point, Sligo | © Alain Rouiller/ Flickr

Strabane, County Tyrone

Sat on the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic, Strabane’s main draw for fishing fans is its variety: there are four rivers to give a go all within a short hop of the town itself. The Mourne, the Finn, the Row and the Faughan offer trout, coarse fish and salmon between them, while the town also hosts a regular contest, the ‘North West Angling Fair’. The local tourist information has details on the (not overly stringent) license requirements.

The Foyle at Derry/ Londonderry | © Ickleweb/ Wikicommons

Need more info on Irish fishing spots? They’re covered extensively on the simple but detailed website Fishing in Ireland.

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