Fishing is at a virtual standstill here in Ireland despite the overwhelming urge anglers have to take to the waters and wild. The 2km restriction is part of the reason, and the shared sense of social responsibility makes up most of the rest.

While angling is at a standstill, nature is not. The seasons are moving on and the sights and sounds of spring are already giving glimpses of our summer to come.

Already we have the first wave of African birds returning to our shores, swallows, martins and swifts have all been spotted across the country. These determined travellers time their arrival in Ireland to coincide with the abundant hatches of flies. Food for fish too, particularly our trout. It is no small wonder that so many anglers associate these migrants with the trout season.

The first cuckoos have also been heard. Sitting in a lake boat casting to rising trout while listening to a cuckoo call is one of the most special experiences in angling. It is sad to think that I may have to wait a full year to enjoy it again.

Besides the chirruping and cuckoo calls of these birds, there is a definite hum in the air. Our hedgerows are bursting into life with leaves budding and flowers blooming. The blackthorn, apple and cherry are all out, brightening our every view, even when the sun is hidden in the clouds. The heady scent of coconut from the golden hordes of whins accompanies me on my daily walk around the island. And the bees are feeding greedily. The hum and buzz of these busy workers is as much a mark of the season’s progression as the birds and blooming flowers. Of course there’s more than bees feeding on the flowers, and the flies and beetles that visit each petal strewn ditch all complete the web of life.

In the next few days the hawtorn or whitethorn will come into flower. They bloom across the country in waves, and the timing always seems to mark the best hatches of mayfly in the near by lakes. Lough Derg will be seeing its first hatches of these ephemeral flies by the end of April.

Sea anglers have their own cues. The storm ravaged shores become repopulated by sea weeds, and many coastal birds change their winter plumage to a brighter summer feather. The sea temperature rises above 10 degrees centigrade and suddenly shore angling sees the summer species return. Already mullet can be seen moving in decent shoals. It is easy to imagine the wrasse that must be patrolling the cliff bases and rocky shores. The pollack mixed in amongst them and the bass roving with the tides…

Oh to be free to roam with a rod…

For a little more reflective reading why not join Dan O’Neill, Fishery Manager at Mount Juliet, as he casts an eye back at when he was starting out in the angling world and discovers some even older memories…

Covid-19 updates

Keeping to the theme of last week’s update, here’s a look at how the fishing was going this time 4 years ago…

Irish Angling Update –  21 April 2016

There was a lovely bit of settled weather at the end of last week and many fisheries benefited from the warm, calm days we experienced. Chief amongst these were the charter boats, particularly off the Cork and Clare coasts. Many of the rivers are still not quite back to normal following the last fall of rain and the cold conditions, but things are improving for coarse, pike and game anglers too…

Salmon fishing reports

There were at least 22 salmon caught on the Drowes last week. Amongst the fish were a few in double figures and and an early grilse of 4lb. The Ballisodare Angling Club had some great fishing to mark the opening of their waters and the river conditions meant that fish were taken on fly and spinning. Over 30 fish were caught in the first 10 days of their season. The Moy has seen a small improvement in fishing and as levels continue to drop fishing should continue to get better. Meanwhile, out on the estuary the first sea trout of the season have been reported. One of best performing fisheries last week was Carrowmore where 24 salmon to 16lb were reported, half of which were returned. The Delphi fishery had their most productive week of the year too and 12 fish were caught.  Moving down the west coast to Galway, and at the Galway Fishery itself there were 4 salmon landed to 14lb. There are clearly some good fish in the system as 4 other salmon were lost on Monday alone. The Feale continues to produce a few salmon. After last week’s floods the river came into good order and produced some nice fishing on spinner and fly. Since last Friday, 3 more fish have been caught but the river is running a little low now. Lough Currane had a couple of good days in the last week too and 8 salmon and a couple of good sea trout, one over 6lb, were reported from the lake. The Bandon Salmon Anglers report a steady trickle of salmon scaling the river all the time. Prospects there are great as the water is dropping slowly, tides are building and cloudier conditions are forecast. Water levels on the Lee were high for all of last week and only 5 fish were reported, 3 from the ESB fishery at Inniscarra.

Trout fishing reports

Anglers reported a quiet enough week on Corrib, with the Duckfly finished and the Olives yet to hatch in significant numbers. Although the weather remained extremely cold on Mask, there were good hatches of small Cinnamon Sedge on a daily basis and a few hatches of Olives, which resulted in plenty of surface activity. Lough Derg’s trout are coming to trolled minnows and wet flies and anglers’ attention there is on the impending Mayfly hatch. The trout fishing on Lough Sheelin was not as bad as might have been expected given the heavy rain, hail, frosts and insidious cold conditions. The reported catch was well up on previous weeks at 55 trout and and better fish are beginning to show. Many of our rivers and streams will have fished a little better during the warmer days just gone by, and the return to cooler conditions is unwelcome. Anglers will probably encounter smolts on their run to the sea and are asked to unhook and handle these young salmon carefully as they set out on the next part of their life-cycle.

Pike fishing reports

There have been some great pike to over 1m reported by some of the guides on Lough Derg over the last week or so. Good fishing was also reported from some the east Clare lakes though there are a lot jacks in the catches too. In the Cavan area, water levels are high and temperatures are low. Although there have been plenty of reports of jacks and small fish not too many bigger pike are being reported at this time.

Coarse angling reports

Sunday was cool and breezy in the South East but coarse anglers at Oaklands managed some good weights at a competition there. The winning bag was 62lb, and second place bagged 55lb. The fishing has been tough with a small improvement as we move past the mid-week mark at Portumna’s Waterways Ireland Festival which started on Sunday. The heaviest bag on day 1 was over 29lb but since then top weights have been closer to the 15lb mark as the Shannon still is heavy enough. On Muckno the Trapper Championship was fished by 55 anglers who were encouraged by the continuing improvement of weights there, as the lake slowly warms.

25lb anglerfish
A 25lb anglerfish wins Catch of the Week for the charterboat Silver Dawn out of Kinsale

Sea angling reports

Following what was a decidedly wintry week, the weekend was a bit of welcome relief. In particular, the charter boat skippers were happy to be out on the water. Mike Dennehy of Silver Dawn reported some exceptional fish on wrecks south of Kinsale. Amongst the fish were specimen coalies and and even a 25lb anglerfish, which makes a very worthy Catch of the Week. Some of the West Cork charter boats were also out and reported a good mix of pollack, wrasse, coalies and cod. A 5lb sea trout on mackerel feathers for Tom Collin’s Loc an Iasc in Union Hall was something we’ve not reported before. The weekend also saw the Clare Dragoon and Lady Gwen II out off the Clare coast. Both reported a mix of fishing with a good range of species landed for the time of year. Shore anglers reported some enjoyable fishing from Mulranny Pier last week with several species landed including some good flounder and a conger. Down in Cork Harbour the first report of mullet this year was sent to the office, which is a late start for this popular species. There are also reports of bass in the harbour from shore marks. Along the north east coast good flounder fishing was reported though the main quarry, bass were absent.

Unfortunately, it looks like the colder weather is returning. Saturday will be a cold day in a moderate northerly breeze. It will be mostly dry with isolated showers, mainly in the north and east. Top temperatures of just 9 to 11 degrees.  Sunday will be mostly dry with scattered showers in the north and northwest. There will be good sunshine at first but it will become cloudier later. It will continue to be cold in a light to moderate northwesterly breeze. Top temperatures again just 9 to 11 degrees. The cold weather will continue into the early days of next week with scattered showers and sunny spells. Winds remaining mostly moderate north to northwesterly. Nights too will be cold and frosty. I counted 8 swallows in the garden this morning. It seems that any number of these cheery fellows do not a summer make.

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

Myles Kelly

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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Casting lesson
Bandon Angling Association welcomed fly fishing instructor Glenda Powell to their waters at the weekend. In the morning Glenda taught the Juniors the basics of fly fishing. In the afternoon she taught spey casting techniques to the Seniors. A few fish were caught on the river last week which was also welcomed by the club!