Following a balmy warm spell at the end of March, the weather reverted to type in the first week of April as temperatures dropped off to normal levels for the time of year. We had a good blast of strong wind during the middle of the week, which will have tested the new season leaves poking out from our trees & shrubs, and made life difficult for anyone afloat in a boat. It was drier than usual though, meaning that many of our rivers are coming into good condition after the floods of winter.

The changing of the season during the March/April period is when atmospheric conditions and water temperatures conspire to trigger pike into spawning. Judging by reports from around the country, the pike have been hard at it in recent weeks and are now embarking on a post-spawning feeding frenzy. Irish and Belgian clients of Kevin Lyons at Melview Lodge found that pike were just beginning to come on the feed, with plenty of action from fish in the 90-100cm bracket.

A happy Belgian angler

Brendan Sharkey of PredatorFishingIreland also had some spectacular fishing for his clients, who managed 83 pike in a couple of days, including 13 fish in the 1m+ bracket. There were PB’s broken all around as angling guide Damien Culliney from Anglers Paradise brought a couple of his friends out on Lough Derg for a days pike fishing. Both Natasha and Bobby broke their pike PB’s, and then, just for good measure, Bobby demolished his previous trout PB (32cm) with a cracking wild brown trout of 72.5cm caught on light spinning gear. You don’t double your PB every week, so Bobby’s super catch wins this week’s Catch of the Week.

Stunning 72.5cm PB trout wins this week’s Catch of the Week

It wasn’t only Lough Derg that saw PB’s broken as angling guide Bodo Funke from Angling Services Ireland had experienced fly angler & fellow guide Stuart Wylie, out for a day. They knew the pike would be feeding hard after spawning, and after a slowish start, Stuart hooked into a fabulous pike of 110cm, which was landed after a thrilling fight on a fly rod.

New PB of 110cm for Stuart

The switch from March to April seems to have spurred the salmon into action too, as there was a marked increase in reports from fisheries around the country in the past week. The Boyne system has started to produce a few fish recently, including a fine spring fish of 18lb. And Vincent Appleby reports that April also started well for anglers on Lough Currane with a couple of fish landed on April Fool’s Day followed by a few more up to 11lb later in the week. Water levels came into good order on the Moy during the week, and a total of 7 salmon were recorded throughout the system, with the best being a 10lb fish caught by local angler John Fitzpatrick. A good splash of rain last Sunday night drew some springers into the system at Delphi, and as the water dropped after the flood, the fish came on the take, with Tuesday and Wednesday proving to be red-letter days. Meanwhile, it was Monday that saw the action down on the River Blackwater at Ballyduff as three fish were brought to the bank, including a fine fish for lapsed angler Michael Quirke who returned to the bank after many years absence to land an absolute beaut of a salmon. Monday was also the day for Westport angler Sean Moogan who landed a cracking 12lb salmon in Paradise Bay on Carrowmore using a Green Peter fished on a sinking line. Finally, up on the River Finn, a couple of nice double figure salmon were landed on the system during the week and the Glenmore Fishery reported their first fish of the year, a fine 10lb+ salmon which was carefully released.

We want to remind all salmon anglers that a draw for 38 brown tags for the Lower Lee will take place this coming Monday, 11th April. Any anglers that are interested in entering the draw are asked to email their request to Inland Fisheries Ireland at: [email protected]

Smiles all round! Paul O’Malley (left) and Peter Joyce, with Paul’s wild spring salmon of ~14lbs. The fish was released quickly after the photo

We are reaching the tail end of the duckfly season on our loughs, and fish were still feeding on them in most places last week when the weather allowed for it. On L. Conn, a calm start to the week saw good clouds of duckfly and anglers had some productive fishing with buzzers, but a cold wind later in the week saw hatches dwindle, and a switch to wet-fly tactics proved more profitable. Good duckfly hatches on L. Cullin saw Bernard Kennedy Jnr entice a fine 3.5lb wild brown trout on a Bibio, which was his best ever trout, and was returned to the water after a quick photo. Lough Sheelin trout, as is their nature, chose to ignore the plentiful hatches of duckfly and preferred to chase more substantial prey down in the depths, but those that were prepared to follow them got some good results using lures fished deep. The recent warm weather has seen an uptick in action on the River Nore as Dan O’Neill found out on a couple of early-morning sessions which saw the fish respond to wet-fly/spider patterns.

Bernard Kennedy Jnr’s Lough Cullin Trout, a new PB of 3.5lb

We would like to remind all anglers that salmon smolts are running our rivers right now, and they will often take a fly meant for larger fish. The smolts are very delicate and don’t respond well to handling, so make sure to take care if they turn up while you are fishing and try and release them with as little handling as possible. View the video here to see how to best release a smolt.

In coarse angling, the South Munster Polish Team were winners of the Munster Coarse Angling Council ‘Team of 4 League with a combined catch of 28.76kg as Inniscarra produced the goods on the day. They top the league ahead of the final round to be fished on Silvergrove Lake, Co. Clare. On the River Suck, Ballyforan & District Anglers report that the river is in fine fettle, with fish still bunched up in their winter shoals in the deeper water allowing for decent bags. Up on L. Muckno, Lurgan Anglers renewed their Club Angler of the Year competition after a 2-year Covid-forced hiatus, and found Concra Wood fishing very well, with only a few grams splitting the top six anglers. To wrap up the coarse angling section, the 45th annual Fermanagh Classic Fishing Festival takes place from Monday 9th May to Friday 13th May on the shores of Lough Erne. Registration is now open and can be done online here:

Johnny Mckinley of Lurgan Anglers with a L. Muckno bag

Pollock were biting well for clients fishing aboard the Fiona Tee out of Mullaghmore, and anglers had steady catches over the weekend with an odd drift producing cod as well. Pollack were also showing well in Galway Bay along with some nice wrasse, as both Galway Bay Charter Boats and Blue Shark Angling Galway got their seasons going with some reef fishing during the week. On the shore angling side of things, lure fishing guide Vincent Corrigan found that the Galway Bay pollock and wrasse were equally hungry close in, as an evening session saw him get a nice bit of action. Meanwhile, it was doggies that were the order of the day for Galway Bay SAC as they kicked off their club Master Angler competition on Renvyle stony beach in east Connemara.

A fine rust coloured Galway Bay ballan wrasse.

Calling all sea anglers, IFI are looking for recreational sea anglers to participate in a citizen science project to help understand the health of fish stocks in our coastal waters. By providing catch information as part of the Irish Marine Recreational Angling (IMREC) project, anglers can play their role in the long-term conservation and sustainability of the resource for future generations.

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The Irish Ladies Flyfishing Association committee will host a Casting Course of 6 sessions x 2 hours over a period of weeks. If interested, please email [email protected] with your name, email address and phone number to express your interest as soon as possible so programmes can be arranged and tailored to participants.

And now the weather

It will be cold today, Friday, with wintry showers of rain, hail, sleet and snow followed by a cold, frosty night with temperature dropping to 3°C in places. Saturday will begin bright but cool, but cloud will form later in the day in the northern half of the country. It will remain chilly on Saturday night and become more unsettled on Sunday as the wind picks up, bringing rain to the south and west. Heavier showers will come on Monday and Tuesday as the weather remains unsettled into early next week.

Safe fishing to all 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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