As we wind down to the Christmas break, it’s fair to say that Santa might have a following wind on his Christmas Eve trip from the North Pole to Ireland if current conditions prevail… The country is currently being hammered by gales from the northwest, which might make for a bumpy ride and could even knock a few presents out of his sleigh. In general, it has been much milder and drier than normal over the past week, with mean air temperatures up to 4 °C above average, and rainfall well below normal for most of the country. So, it’s been nice fishing weather, but fishing reports are a bit thin on the ground this week as many anglers swapped their rods for shopping trolleys (or digital baskets). Luckily we have padded the report out with a few ideas for stocking fillers, just in case anyone is looking for that last-minute present for the angler in their life.

Now that we have moved past the shortest day of the year, we can begin to look forward to new beginnings, and the news from our rivers around the country is that our wild brown trout are already doing just that! This is the prime spawning time for our trout population, and many have made journeys from our lakes up to the rivers and streams that feed them, in search of the gravel beds they need to deposit their eggs. Once there, they will use their tails to uncover a fresh patch of gravel, known as a redd, and an example of this can be seen in the photo below from a river in the midlands.

Wild brown trout redds on a midlands river

The winter months are also prime time for pike anglers, and some pike angling clubs will be winding down their yearly club competitions around now. One such group are the Limerick County Pike Anglers, who are regular contributors to this eZine, and they donned Xmas jumpers and hats for the final outing of 2023. The fishing wasn’t bad, and Gavin Cashin won the day with a bag of 19lbs+, but the highlight of the day was the prizegiving in the pub later, where Santa even turned up to lend a hand. Whitewood PAC held the penultimate round of their league at a venue in Cavan at the weekend, and they had a busy day, as they recorded 208 pike including a couple of good doubles. Joey McParland was the angler of the day with 32 pike for over 72lb. Staying in the Cavan area, for anyone looking for a bit of insight into targeting pike at this time of year, Norbert Renaud of L’ile Vert Fishing Lodge has posted the second part of his video on pike fishing during the colder months. Norbert likes to stick to fishing with lures at this time of year, and he shares some tips and tricks on tactics that have brought him success.

Limerick County Pike Anglers wrapped up their league last weekend

Moving to sea angling, and the ever present Killybegs Mariners held a closed competition last week, where club members competed for the Joe De Burca Cup. It was a pleasant day for angling, with flatties and turbot the mainstay of catches, and Daragh McGuinness took the trophy with his catch of 4 turbot and 3 flounder. Their next outing is an open competition charity event, and this year, they are raising money for the Donegal to Galway cancer bus service run by the Good & New charity and also for the RNLI Bundoran Lifeboat Station. At the other end of the country, the West Cork & District SAC held the final fixture of their 2023 calendar in the Youghal area last weekend. Conditions were great, with a nice bit of surf and little or no weed, and the fish were obliging, especially the painted ray that appeared in good numbers. Stephen O’Donavan was the winner on the night with 15 fish, including a couple of nice double shots, placing him at the top of the rankings. Junior angler Laim Davis also put in a fine performance with 12 fish for 557 points, which would have placed him third in the senior competition, and was more than enough to win Liam this week’s Catch of the Week.

painted ray
Liam Davis, with a nice Painted Ray wins this week’s Catch of the Week

To coarse angling now, and a couple of angling clubs were on the banks of Lough Muckno last weekend fishing club matches and by the sounds of it, it was tough enough going. First up, CM Lakelands fished the second round of their feeder league and found fishing to be patchy, with Darren Fairhurst winning out with just under 4kg. Lurgan Coarse Angling Club didn’t fare any better as they fished their annual memorial match, and it took just 2.5kg for Johnny McKinley to top the rankings for that event. Fishing was equally slow at the other end of the country as Munster Coarse Anglers fished a match at O’Briensbridge, where Ian Kelsey managed a nice 7.5lb bag of skimmers & hybrids to win, but some other anglers struggled to conjure up a bite.

A mixed bag on Muckno

As we approach the new salmon fishing season, Glenda Powell of Blackwater Salmon Fishery and Glenda Powell Guiding was on to tell us about an exciting development for salmon anglers in 2024: “The Fish Live Learn with Glenda Powell, Irish Salmon Challenge” where Glenda is offering a trophy and other prizes to the angler who catches and releases the largest salmon on fly on the island of Ireland. Glenda also posted a calendar of events for the coming year with numerous dates for fishing and casting lessons and Christmas vouchers for anyone looking for a last-minute present.

Irish Salmon Challenge 2024

In other fly fishing news, Peter Driver of Piscari Fly reports that the mild weather of late is encouraging some top water action on both Ardaire Springs and Laois Angling Center if anyone fancies wetting a line over the Christmas break. Peter was also back online with his live fly-tying show at the weekend, where he focussed on lighter beaded nymphs for Eurodinking, before heading off ‘down under’ on an Australian fishing adventure. And we also have two episodes of the popular Ireland on the Fly podcast to report this week. First up, Tom and Daire talk to Tom Bie, editor of the popular US fly fishing magazine The Drake. Tom is a regular visitor to Ireland, and he discusses some of his experiences while fishing over here. The guys have also put together a second volume of their ‘Most Memorable Fish on the Fly’ series, where some of their guests over the year bring you on a journey across lakes, rivers and oceans to tell the story of the fish that means so much to them.

Other News

In other news, we would like to remind angling clubs, groups and associations that the 2024 Sponsorship Programme is now open, and applications for funding can be submitted up until Jan 19th, 2024.

For those searching for a last-minute present for the angler in their life, we have been collating a list of fishing-related stocking fillers, with plenty of vouchers for guided fishing, tackle shops, charter boats etc. There’s sure to be something in there to put a smile on an angler’s face on Christmas Day.

Finally, we would like to wrap up by saying a big ‘Thank You’ to everyone who has contributed to the eZine in 2023. We send the Irish Angling Update out to over 16,000 email subscribers each week to share the latest news in Irish angling and we could not do it without the help of all of the guides, ghillies, clubs, federations, fisher folk and Inland Fisheries Ireland staff who send us wonderful photographs and angling reports to our dedicated [email protected] email address – so thank you all! 👏👏👏👏

And now the weather

It will remain windy today, with fresh to strong northwest winds and some outbreaks of rain and drizzle. Tomorrow will be mild, breezy and cloudy, with some rain moving in from the northwest in the afternoon. Saturday night will be wet and windy, and it will remain like that into Sunday morning, with some heavy rain possible in western counties later in the day. Christmas Day will be cloudy and wet to begin, with freshening winds bringing some heavier rain as the day progresses. No shortage of gale and small craft warnings in operation so do check the forecast if you’re thinking of fishing.

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

IFI Staff
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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