Met Éireann released their summer 2020 weather statement last week and, in case you missed it, summer 2020 was a poor one weather-wise. Rainfall was well above the long-term summer average everywhere in the country (146% of the norm for July) and the amount of sunshine received was below average in every part too; Dublin Airport even recorded its dullest summer on record. Not only that, but we had strong gales, storm-force winds, and there was the very rare occurrence of two named storms during the month of August.

Despite the poor summer, many anglers will be feeling a pang of loss and even impending doom at its passing, as the flurry of wind-whipped leaves in our driveways heralds the end of another angling season. The salmon and trout anglers amongst us will no doubt be making plans to squeeze the most out of the last few weeks in the hope of providing some lasting memories to sustain us through the long winter months. But those that ventured out trout fishing this past week have reported tough going, and any trout that made it to the net was hard got.

On Sheelin, the trout didn’t respond as expected to the milder temperatures and fishing was relatively slow. Anglers that did tempt fish did so on bushy wets or lures. Out west on Corrib, anglers didn’t fare much better, as rising water levels hampered angling and more than a few blanks were recorded. But, when things get tricky on the lough, you can always count on experience to lead the way as was evidenced by John Watson, who at 83 years young, helped bring three fish to the boat while guided by John Somerville Jnr. It is John’s 50th year coming to fish Lough Corrib, during which time he has been guided by three generations of the Somerville family.

Angler in boat holding trout
John Watson, 83 years young, with a nice catch on his 50th year coming to Corrib

There’s little enough to report from the salmon anglers, but there must be a few fish in the rivers going by our report from Mt Falcon, where visiting angler Tony Mashford had a bumper couple of days. Arriving at the fishery with a lifetime total of one single salmon, he proceeded to add six more to his tally over the following two days, all returned. This contributed to a respectable total of 26 salmon on the fishery during the week. Our only other salmon report comes from Currane where the fishing was slower, but anglers managed to land some sea trout, brown trout and at least one salmon.

Those that enjoy charter boat fishing will also be counting down the days until the change in weather forces many boats out of the water. But charter anglers did fare better than the game anglers during the past week despite windy conditions making fishing difficult. Boats in the north-west of the country have seen plenty of action this season, and we have reports in from Killybegs and Sligo, where catches of good pollock predominate amidst some quality general ground fishing. Sticking in the north-west, but switching up species, we have seen some significant milestones achieved as part of the Tuna CHART project this week, where Adrian Molloy tagged his 100th bluefin of the season and Wildatlanticwayangling managed to notch up 51 bluefin tagged during August. Kiwi Girl also chipped in with a couple of fish, contributing to pretty respectable numbers for a week where wind hampered the fishing.

No 100 for Adrian Molloy

Wind also interfered with fishing plans in other parts of the country as Lady Gwen stayed close to home and fished the Shannon estuary rather than face the high rollers out in the Atlantic. Luckily for them, the pollock also took up residence in the estuary leading to good catches and happy anglers. Finally, there was little enough shelter on the east coast as  Wicklow Boat Charters had to contend with a few blustery days. Catches remained steady on the days they did get out, and they even managed to venture out sharking for a day which proved eventful if not prolific.

Amy was back in action again during the week as a day fishing with family yielded some non-stop action with blue shark. Needless to say, Amy more than held her own in the company of adults and her epic day has been recorded on her YouTube channel for all to enjoy.

Amy helps her Dad pose with a specimen sized blue.

Our final story from the saltwater this week tells the tale of a whopper of a bass that was first caught a couple of years ago. The bass was caught in 2018 in Ballinskelligs by a client of local guide John Quinlan, who tagged and released it as part of the National Bass Programme (NBP). Amazingly, the bass was recaptured this year and had piled on a couple of pounds in the meantime. It’s great to see a fish of this size caught in any circumstances, but to see it recaptured as part of a scientific programme is headline news and is a worthy winner of our Catch of the Week this week.

The floy tag used to contact IFI

Moving to freshwater, and we are in the midst of what would typically be prime competition time for our coarse anglers as September usually sees a succession of matches taking place all around the island. These events are vibrant affairs, bringing anglers from all over Europe to pit their skills against each other. Unfortunately, concerns and uncertainty over COVID 19 have forced many of these matches to be cancelled in 2020 with only a handful of events taking place this year, all sticking to government guidelines. We have reports in from Munster, Fermanagh and Oaklands Fishery and we can only but hope for a resumption of normal affairs in 2021. Away from the competition scene, but keeping an element of challenge, young angler Anthony O’Neill set himself the goal of capturing a trout, a gudgeon and a carp in one day. Not only did he manage that with ease, but he also threw a dinky little tench into the mix as well.


Anthony with a fine carp, part three of his challenge

September also sees the resumption of serious pike angling after the summer lull, and we have a few reports in this week suggesting that things are starting to stir. Garreth Maher had a nice pike while deadbaiting up in Cavan while young angler Cian Ryan only took a couple of casts to get into the action on Lough Kinale. Angling guide Damien Culliney was finding it tough going on Derg until a switch-up in tactics brought better fortune and a super 25lb fish to the net. Finally, Ben & Oisin Kirwan, two avid young anglers from Rathfarnham, Dublin had a fine day out on Lough Gowna which resulted in a nice pike and the unexpected bonus of a quality brown trout.


Ben, with his Lough Gowna pike as brother Oisin looks on.

Other news

A new documentary has started on KCLR radio that discusses the salmon and the influence it has had on our heritage. Combining stories from angling and scientific perspectives with examples of how salmon has played an essential role in many different cultures, it’s one not to be missed for anyone who has even a passing interest in this wonderful fish.

And now the weather…

Rain in Connacht and west Ulster today will move in a band southeastwards through the country, breaking up as it moves into Leinster with the southeast of the country staying largely dry. A clearance will follow with bright and occasional sunny spells and scattered showers in the north-west, extending southeastwards through the afternoon. Highest temperatures 15 to 18 degrees in a fresh southwest to west wind. A generally dry start over much of the country on Saturday with sunny spells and occasional showers in the north-west. However, cloud will build from the west through the morning with persistent and occasionally heavy rain developing in the north-west by evening. Rain will clear in the west on Sunday and the day will be mainly dry with above-average temperatures. This warm and mostly dry period should extend into the first half of next week.

Safe fishing to all this weekend and tight lines, especially here in Ireland.

Shane O’Reilly
Catch, Photo, Release

If you have an angling story to share with the Irish Angling Update, please send it to [email protected].

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