If the thrill of the catch is part and parcel of going fishing, then experiencing the wilder side of life is up there with it, says TV presenter and angling enthusiast Henry Gilbey
A big coastline, endless tangles of rivers and a generous sprinkling of lakes, in Ireland it’s pretty easy to get away from it all, especially if you have a rod at hand…
Water, water everywhere
It doesn’t actually matter what you like to fish for or whether you have a preference for fishing out at sea from a boat, on vast loughs, quiet stillwaters, tumbling rivers, gurgling streams, open beaches or plunging cliffs. You’ll find the lot here.
Legendary freshwater fisheries in the northern part of the island, such as Lough Erne, Corrib, Lough Neagh, Mask and Currane all cater to both fly and coarse anglers with a rich mix of species. There’s no close season for coarse fishing around Ireland, so fill your boots with all manner of different freshwater fish throughout the year.
Keep a keen eye out for a migratory trout species called the dollaghan, unique to Neagh and its tributaries. And don’t forget about the famous River Blackwater that flows through Tyrone, Armagh and Monaghan. You can experience excellent fly fishing, spinning and worm fishing all while on the lookout for salmon, brown trout and, of course, dollaghan.
The River Moy, flowing through Sligo and Mayo, on the other hand is justly famous for its sea trout fishing.
Different freshwater fish all year round
Make as much time as you can to visit the parts of Ireland that only fishing can take you to, but if time is short and coarse or game fishing is your thing then Lough Erne, Lough Ree, the River Shannon and the Fermanagh Lakelands should be at the top of your list.
The magnificent predator Pike can be caught throughout the island, from loughs and rivers to canals. But Pike and Lough Erne, for instance, go together like Ireland and bass. Irish bream fishing, on the other hand, has been a famous pastime for many years now: who wouldn’t fall in love with catching those magical red-finned roach as a warm summer evening shimmers across the water?
A coastline to excite
Finally, don’t go forgetting about the island coastline. Here, on this endlessly winding, weaving coast, the saltwater fishing is as wide ranging and as varied as it is in the lakes, loughs and rivers. The Causeway coast is impressive enough already, but how about scrambling around the area with a fishing rod in hand? There are few wilder yet more easily accessible coastlines than Ireland and when you really step off that beaten track you could end up fishing spots that are yours and yours alone.
Now, that’s really getting away from it.
Fishing can be easily accessible, serene and social here, but it can also be wild, dramatic, heart-stopping and life-affirming. Ireland as a whole is blessed with the whole gamut of angling opportunities. If the people are the island’s beating heart, then its wild places are the lifeblood.
And fishing is just about the best excuse ever to experience them.
But deciding what to fish for and where to go is half the fun.