Angling in Ireland

Copper Coast, County Waterford

Angling is what you make it: serene or social, tranquil or tense. But in Ireland, it’s an experience you’ll want to return to again and again

Getting started in Ireland

Angling is a sport to be enjoyed all year round on the island of Ireland. We have some of the most lightly fished waters in Europe, a vast variety of breeds in our lakes, rivers and seas and no closed season – plus it’s really easy to get started. You will need a rod (you can rent or buy them in tackle shops), bait (we recommend duckfly, mayfly or sedges if you’re fly-fishing), a permit to fish in your chosen spot and, in some cases, a license. Then you’re ready to get started – though it’s recommended that even the most seasoned angler take a local guide, or ghillie, out with them for the first few days on the water. Ghillies know the best spots to fish in and baits to use, as well as all the local fishing lore. 

 All that’s left is to decide which beautiful spot in Ireland you want to go to...

Alone in the world and catching the perfect fish? Ireland could be heaven with rod in hand.

Henry Gilbey, angling journalist

A fisherman's paradise by the sea

According to angling enthusiast and journalist Henry Gilbey, sea and shore fishing are the lesser-known jewels in Ireland's angling crown. To stand at what feels like the edge of the world, rod in hand, is a breathtaking experience. The best part? Rock, surf, beach, pier and estuary fishing – most commonly known simply as shore fishing – are completely free in Ireland. It’s perfect for those who enjoy the quiet solace of angling and want to experience Ireland unplugged. Try the rocky shores of the Southern Peninsulas for pollack and wrasse or storm beaches such as Benone Strand, home to an abundance of flounder.

For sea fishing, the best way to do things is in a charter vessel from a specialist centre. Off much of Ireland’s coast, you’ll find sunken wrecks that are home to dozens of species, from cod to conger. The best places to try sea fishing? Kilmore Quay in County Wexford, Kinsale Harbour in County Cork, or Ballycastle in County Antrim.

Coarse angling

All anglers are looking for rich rewards, and our rivers and lakes in the Shannon, Erne and Lower Bann areas are filled with catches of over 50kg. Visit the Royal Canal in Mullingar, County Westmeath, for specimen tench and carp; the River Barrow, County Carlow, for specimen perch and the Lower Bann, County Londonderry, for specimen bream and roach x bream hybrids. These spots are calm enough to catch plenty. And on a clear day, the sun shining on water here is as close to paradise as you can get. 

Salmon fishing in Ireland

Any angler knows that salmon is an elusive fish to try and catch. So how do you do it in Ireland? Salmon fishing expert Alexander Baird Keachie recommends that you “wake up to salmon” by fishing in the early morning – a perfect time to watch the sun rise over one of Ireland’s gorgeous rivers. The River Bann in Northern Ireland is a mecca for salmon anglers, but the River Corrib in County Galway and the River Shannon are also worth visiting for a chance to catch this shy fish.

Pike fishing in Ireland

For pike fishing, the big lakes of Ireland are good starting points for anglers. Take note that fly-fishing has become an increasingly popular method for taking pike in Ireland; we’d recommend using this method, if you can. If you’re not in lake country, you can fish for pike along the Grand and the Royal Canals or the Newry Canal in County Down. If you need a little more excitement, try booking yourself into one of the many angling festivals that take place around the island...

Bass fishing in Ireland

Bass fishing is addictive – and the island of Ireland has quite possibly the most perfect bass fishing coastline imaginable. These fish thrive in so many different kinds of environment, meaning you can head to the quiet lagoons or raging waters and take your pick. We recommend pitching up around Waterford’s Copper Coast, Kilkee in County Clare, and southern Galway, where you’re unlikely to spot another angler for miles. And in County Kerry, you can catch bass to your heart’s content all year round.

Before you begin... 

In both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, licences are required for salmon and sea trout fishing. A license is also required for trout, pike and coarse fishing in Northern Ireland – you can purchase these online. In both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, sea fishing for marine sport fish does not require a licence. On a number of trout and coarse fisheries, a local permit may also be required. 

There are currently conservation laws governing salmon, sea trout, brown trout, sea bass and pike. However, new conservation measures may be implemented at any time.

For more information, you can contact the Central Fisheries Board or the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure Angling in Northern Ireland websites. They can supply you with up-to-date information on all licence and permit regulations.


More to catch in Ireland

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