It has been another wet winter’s week, with above average rainfall everywhere. The driest location compared to the climatological average was at Belmullet in County Mayo, although it wasn’t dry at all with 25.7mm of rainfall, 107% of the average. With this in mind, it has been another long, dark winter for trout and salmon anglers, who have to sit through the annual closed season patiently and watch on as coarse, pike and sea anglers get their fishing fix throughout the winter.

Trout and salmon fisheries have been opening in stages though, as they do, and this week many trout anglers finally got their fix, as Corrib, Mask, Conn and a whole host of other fisheries – both river and lough – opened for trout angling around the country on Thursday, February 15th.

It is on Lough Corrib that we begin this week’s angling report, where opening day conditions this year were relatively benign, a mild overcast day with light to moderate southwest breezes and the odd passing shower – perfect for early season fishing! Angling guide Jasper Matthews didn’t take long brushing off the cobwebs as he landed a smashing ferox trout – estimated at 15lbs or more – on the troll.

On the salmon scene we have a couple of ‘first fish’ for 2024 to report. Tomas Ryan from Cong headed to the Bundorragha river for a morning’s fishing on February 11th, and he managed to hook and land a beautiful fish of 15lbs or so on a Willie Gunn – a great fish for Delphi to get off the mark for 2024. Conditions have been more or less perfect since opening and fishery manager David McEvoy expects more fish to follow soon. On Lough Currane, the first salmon of their season fell to Tommy Duggan of Kilkenny on February 15th, as he fooled an 8lbs fish on the fly.

First Delphi fish of 2024 is released

Plenty of action this week for the predator anglers out there as pike are feeding well before the spawning season. The Limerick County Pike Anglers headed to Roscommon where a fine 18lbs fish was the highlight of their club competition. Nineteen of the Newbridge and District Pike Anglers took part in their club event, where trying conditions saw just nine pike landed – but the disappointing lack of fish was offset by the craic and banter of meeting up for the first time in 2024. Young Anthony O’Neill was back on the banks of the Barrow canals again this week with his private fishing guide – this time they tested out their rods with plump perch and well fed pike. Early starter Stephen McDonagh travelled to a Cavan lake in his latest search for a specimen – his most recent upload on the Fishing with Steve YouTube channel talks us through the action.

Plump pike for Anthony

Winter leagues are nearing their final rounds for the coarse anglers out there and it hasn’t been an easy winter for good weights. With everywhere flooded and a rising river, it was back to the old faithful section at the rowing course at O’Briensbridge for the Munster Coarse Anglers, where big numbers of small silvers was the winning formula. The Erne Anglers had to contend with a fast flowing River Erne for round 7 of their league, with very cold water due to the recent snow melt and, over in Monaghan, the CM Lakelands Club had Damian Foltyn continue his great run on Lough Muckno.

Many small silvers please

To the tides now and skipper Sean Maguire has a new boat in the water for the 2024 season – the Isle of Aran. Sean and a crew got out on the Shannon Estuary for a few hours to christen the new boat, and that they did, with some nice ray, dogs and whiting. Wicklow skipper Kit Dunne has published his report from the 2023 season, recording 30 different species and 79 specimen fish overall – not too bad at all Kit! Rebels SAC were back in Monatrae for their third outing of 2024 where they welcomed some new members to their club, but the biggest sea angling event in the past week was the Irish Federation of Sea Anglers Master Angler 2024 event in the south east. When all the cards were marked after the last of three sessions, Fiona Ryan from Tralee Bay SAC and David Farrelly from South Shore SAC were crowned Master Angler 2024. Both Fiona and David will go on to captain the Irish teams at their next world championships – congratulations to them.

For the book club this week we have news that, after selling out much quicker than anticipated, the Irish Specimen Fish Atlas is back on sale and you can pick up a copy on the ISFC web shop here. The Fish Atlas is a production of the Irish Specimen Fish Committee who have compiled the data gathered over many years of specimen awards and the good news is that the Irish Specimen Fish Committee Annual Report for 2023 has also now been published, with both online and hard copy versions available.

For the podcast addicts we have an Ireland on the Fly double whammy this week as Tom and Daire talk about fishing in the early season and why wet fly tactics work for guide Dave O’Donovan on the Awbeg River. The Ireland on the Fly team are also launching the first of a new monthly Masterclass webinar series on March 14th with Mike Keady on Early Season Buzzer Tactics – so don’t forget to sign up to that!

In other news…

We’d like to give a special mention this week to Philip Gordon of the Lough Ree Lanesborough Angling Hub who is the County Roscommon winner of the Federation of Irish Sport Volunteers in Sport Awards 2023. 

Philip has been an angling coach for over 30 years in Ballyleague, Lanesborough and Athlone – and this award recognises his outstanding contribution to the sport – especially in the area of youth coaching.

Inland Fisheries Ireland are proud to have sponsored novice coaching events organised by Philip and the Lough Ree hub over the years – as well as hundreds of other events held by clubs all over the country – and without the volunteers, like Philip, who work tirelessly to promote youth coaching and novice events up and down the country (not to mention open days, competitions, festivals, national teams, club events and all the rest) Irish angling would be in a much worse place today.

So this week our Catch of the Week goes to all of those fish caught thanks to the efforts of Philip and the countless other volunteers around the country who make these events happen – a big thank you to all.

And now the weather…

Cloud will thicken from the west on Friday night with patchy light rain and drizzle spreading countrywide and increasing from the west towards morning. Lows of 4°C to 9°C in southerly winds.

A largely dry start in the east on Saturday but rain will spread countrywide by the afternoon in fresh southwesterly winds. Highs of 10°C to 13°C. Further rain overnight on Saturday, heavy in some areas. Mist will form in places, lows of 8°C to 10 °C.

Sunday will be a drier but showery day with spells of sunshine developing. Highs of 11°C to 14°C in light to moderate westerly winds. More rain is forecast for Sunday night. A mostly dry Monday and Tuesday with showers. Some bright or sunny spells but mainly cloudy. Highs of 9°C to 12°C. More rain is predicted for the mid-week period.

Make sure to check the forecast before going afloat and if you’re going to sea, don’t forget to check the tides.

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

IFI Staff
Catch, Photo, Release

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