When St. Patrick’s Day rolls around, it signifies a change in pace for the angling year. Greater sunshine and longer days mean that water temperatures should be starting to rise, making fish that bit more active; and then there’s more daylight for anglers to make the most of a day’s fishing. But, while mean temperatures were slightly higher than average for the past week, the heavy rainfall and generally dull weather meant that it didn’t always feel that way.

St. Patrick’s Day is also the first Bank Holiday of the year when it’s possible to fish for a wide range of species across much of the country. While sea, pike and coarse angling are available to us year-round, trout and salmon fishing is restricted to specific ‘open seasons’, and our national holiday is the day that a number of these trout and salmon fisheries open for business. It’s also the day lough anglers earmark as the start of the period where you can reasonably expect to see the first big hatches of fly, the fabled ‘duckfly’. So for anglers, St. Patrick’s weekend is often about a lot more than parades and pubs…

So it was in Dublin, where St. Patrick’s Day marked the opening of the season on two of the capital’s trout rivers: the Tolka and the Dodder. There has always been a great buzz about the opening days on these fisheries, and the angling clubs work hard to get the rivers in shape for the early-season anglers to enjoy a bit of sport. It was great to see a number of junior anglers out on the banks and a particular well done to young Tolka angler Jacob O’Leary who won the junior competition with a trout of 2lb 5oz.

Dublin delight, an early-season wild brownie from the River Dodder

In the west of Ireland, the Screebe fishery has seen some fantastic fishing for trout recently. Its proximity to the sea means that the trout are actively feeding earlier than on other fisheries and there have been plenty of fish over 3lb, with even better fish of 7lb and 8lb also coming to the net. Unfortunately, Dan O’Neill of Mount Juliet found that the recent rainfall made a mess of his plans for some opening day fishing on the River Nore. Luckily Dan had a trick up his sleeve and made a beeline for the King’s River, where, despite the river looking a bit on the brown side, he managed to prise a fish or two, to open his account for the season. Meanwhile, anglers up in Cong have a fine new facility, including a sheltered mooring for boats and a safe car park, that should give them every opportunity to make the most of fishing the Corrib this season.

Lily Down with a fine Screebe Trout

Carrowmore Lake has probably been Ireland’s foremost spring salmon lough in recent years, and fishing there got off the mark for the season, with Barry Doocey catching and releasing the first salmon of the year on St. Patrick’s Day. Not to be outdone, its near neighbour, Lough Beltra, also got off the mark for the year with a salmon for Vincent McHugh. The Upper Caragh Fishery produced another salmon last week as fishery boss Ralph Doppler took a decent fish, and, also in Co. Kerry, anglers fishing Lough Currane felt the blessing of St. Patrick with a number of nice fish landed recently.

salmon release
One goes back on Currane

In other salmon angling news, results of the second round of the brown tag draw for the River Lee are now available. Over in Wicklow, a new ‘Harbours to Headwaters’ project was launched to increase awareness about the biodiversity in the Avoca area and the importance of restoring salmon and sea trout stocks in the catchment. Finally, in the latest Ireland on the Fly podcast, IFI’s Markus Muller chats about the salmon fishing scene and describes some of the diverse types of salmon fisheries we have in Ireland.

Coarse anglers seemed to get the bit between their teeth last week as some notable catches were reported from around the country. It has been a week to remember on Inniscarra Reservoir in Cork, where some consistently good fishing was experienced by anglers. Firstly, anglers fishing the St. Patrick’s Day festival on the lake averaged out at a cracking 19kg per angler, with the winner Adrian Bus bagging a whopping 41kg+. Matches have continued over the past week with individual catches consistently reaching the 20kg+ mark, including another super catch in the forties, this time, Niall McKitterick topping the scales with an immense 44.4kg.

Niall with his 44kg+ bag

Fishing wasn’t quite up to that standard for Tulla anglers, where the stamp of fish was certainly on the smaller side, in fact, one could say miniscule… as it took 90 fish to make a bag of 4lb 5oz from Scarrif Harbour. Anglers fishing in matches in Portumna fared a bit better, with a few bags topping 10lb, but nobody getting close to the high bar set by Bruce Pennell the previous week, where he landed a truly impressive 31lbs 12oz. Young Anthony O’Neill wasn’t deterred when finding his usual perch spot on the Barrow canals occupied by other anglers. Moving a bit further down the bank, he spotted a likely lie next to a sunken tree, and with a trusty worm under a float, it wasn’t long before he had a perch on the bank. Some visiting anglers from Texas showed similar adaptability as they were lucky to have the fallback of the coarse lakes in Mount Juliet. 10-year-old Christopher Flanagan had been expecting to target trout on the Nore, but with the river in flood, he had to change tack and rig up for coarse fish instead. But he proved himself adaptable, and quickly got into the swing of things with his float tackle, landing his first ever Irish roach.

10-year-old Christopher Flanagan, well kitted out for St. Patricks Day, catches his first Irish fish

To pike angling now, and Senan Stanley went afloat on Lough Derg on St Patrick’s Day aiming to fish for trout and perch with small lures. He got a bit more than he bargained for though, as a couple of encounters with substantial pike proved rewarding and frustrating in equal measure. Targeting pike at this time of year can be tricky, as during the spawning period they can completely switch off the feed. But, as Artur Pike Seeker knows, patience pays off, and his persistence landed him a fine river pike of 111cm.

111cm pike
A super March pike for Artur

To sea angling now, and anglers fishing with Killybegs Fishing Trips had some real lunkers this week with numerous very chunky pollack on the go, one of which tipped the scales at a specimen sized 12lb. In the west of Ireland, Corrane SAC struggled with lots of weed as they fished a club competition at Whitestrand near Louisburgh. Fishing was slow as a result, with five flounder producing the top bag for Shane Gilvarry. In podcast news, the latest edition of The Lure Fishing Podcast features well known bass guide John Quinlan, who discusses his experiences running a bass guiding business in Kerry.

A lovely specimen-sized pollack on the Fiona Tee wins this week’s COTW

This week’s Catch of the Week was a real toughie… We had a 44kg+ bag from Inniscarra, fabulous photos of junior anglers with roach & trout, and a 111 cm pike from a river, all of which could have won COTW any other week. But this week’s prize goes to the specimen-sized pollack, as there’s only one or two of these caught per year, making it a pretty awesome fish.

In other news, a new online angling magazine called Predator & Salt has just been launched, and the opening edition focuses on fishing in Ireland. The magazine covers all aspects of the sport and should make an interesting read for any angler. Finally, IFI has won a community engagement award from the Economic & Social Research Institute (ESRI) for their IMREC project. The IMREC project uses an angler diary web app to turn anglers into citizen scientists by enabling them to easily catalogue and share their catch data.

And now the weather

Friday will be windy, with sunshine and showers, some of which will be heavy and possibly thundery with highest temperatures of 8° to 12°C. The westerly winds will ease overnight, and the showers will become less frequent. Saturday will bring spells of sunshine with some showers but a band of heavier rain moving into the southwest in the evening. Sunday will continue in the pattern of sunny spells and showers before Monday brings a colder snap, with frost and ice possible on Monday morning. Tuesday will see a more widespread spell of rain, and the weather will remain unsettled into Wednesday.

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

IFI Staff
Catch, Photo, Release

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