Angling Advisory: Fish under “distress” due to high water temperatures and low water levels


Anglers in Ireland asked to voluntarily stop using ‘keep nets’ & anglers that practice ‘catch and release’ fishing are asked not to fish until adequate freshwater has fallen and water temperatures have decreased

Inland Fisheries Ireland, which is the state agency responsible for the protection and conservation of freshwater fish and habitats, is concerned that many rivers may be in drought conditions because of the current heatwave.

As a result, anglers are being asked to voluntarily stop using ‘keep nets’ until conditions become more favourable, as these nets may cause unintentional distress to fish. In addition, anglers that practice ‘catch and release’ fishing are asked not to fish until water temperatures have decreased and adequate levels of freshwater has fallen.

Low water levels at River Dodder in Dublin 24.07.21

Dr Gregory Forde, Head of Operations at Inland Fisheries Ireland explains: “It’s a sad reality that low water levels and high water temperatures can lead to fish kills, especially as there is less oxygen in the water to allow fish to breathe.  Once the water temperature exceeds 20 degrees centigrade, salmon and trout suffer and are distressed. At present, temperatures are dangerously high and fish kills may be unavoidable. In Lough Sheelin in County Cavan for example, the water temperature recorded by Inland Fisheries Ireland was over 26 degrees centigrade this week. In some instances, moving fish in and out of the water may also prove too stressful.  That’s why we’re asking anglers practicing catch and release fishing to consider taking a break from fishing. We’re also asking anglers to voluntarily stop using ‘keep nets’, until conditions become more favourable.”

Inland Fisheries Ireland is appealing to anglers, the farming community and the general public to report any sightings of fish under distress, which may be caused by higher water temperatures combined with low water levels.

Forde added: “Inland Fisheries Ireland staff are continuously monitoring water bodies, such as rivers and lakes, for any signs of fish under distress in shallow water or drying out rivers and streams. We’re encouraging the public to report any sightings of fish under distress to our 24 hour confidential hotline on 0818 34 74 24 so we can respond as quickly as possible to help rescue or relocate these fish.”

Inland Fisheries Ireland is supporting Irish Water’s appeal to reduce water usage as much as possible. As water source levels are dropping, the state agency is reminding landowners that abstraction of water from rivers and lakes should be carried out in a sustainable manner to ensure sufficient levels are available for other water users and to protect the aquatic habitat.

It is also timely to remind all those using pesticides that these should be used only as a last resort, always in accordance with product instructions and always respecting statutory ‘no use’ zones, being mindful at all times of proximity to water bodies such as ditches, streams, ponds, rivers, lakes and springs. Even a very small amount of pesticide can be highly toxic to the aquatic environment, Inland Fisheries Ireland has said.

To report sightings of fish under distress or fish kills, members of the public are encouraged to call Inland Fisheries Ireland’s confidential hotline number on 0818 34 74 24, which is open 24 hours a day.