The eastern counties saw plenty of wet weather last week, with some heavy showers bringing rainfall that was 175% of the average for the time of year. The rest of the country fared better, with most places remaining dryer than usual. Last week was relatively mild for the time of year, with temperatures a couple of degrees above the norm, and it looks like it’s set to stay that way for most of the coming week. So, as we head into the February bank holiday (celebrating St. Brigid’s Day for our foreign readership), there’s plenty of incentive to spend some time on the water…

We kick off this week’s update with the sea angling scene, and to Wexford, where the 35th Irish Winter Shore Angling Festival took place last week. A total of 106 anglers from Ireland and abroad were registered for the event, which was fished across a range of Wexford beaches. After a tough first day, where lousy weather affected catches, things picked up for the second and third days, and after all the adding up, it was a UK-based angler, Saul Page, who topped the honours for this year’s festival.

Aaron Vambeck from The Netherlands won the best fish of the competition with this bass

Some welcome news for anyone looking to fast-track success at fly fishing for bass is that expert bass angler and ex-fishing guide Jim Hendrick is running a number of bass angling workshops throughout 2024. Jim has seen and done it all when it comes to Irish bass, and so has a wealth of knowledge to pass on to any aspiring saltwater fly fisher. On the club side of things, Galway Bay SAC have just released their competition dates for 2024, and they are welcoming new (and returning) members for anyone interested in joining an active sea angling club. Meanwhile, Galway-based charter skipper John Fleming was in touch to say he plans an early start to the season, with the first trips scheduled for the end of February, and he maps out his plans for the rest of the season for anyone looking to make a booking.

In coarse angling news, we begin our round-up in Northern Ireland where the VDE Baggers faced some stiff winds for the penultimate round of their winter league last weekend. Fished over a couple of venues, it was a test of pole angling skills, with Aaron Nabc Hutchman with 3.6kg pipping the post ahead of Michael Schopen on 3.44kg. Things are super tight at the top of the league ahead of this Sunday’s final match so it’s all to play for!

Aaron Nabc Hutchman with his winning bag

A bit further south now, to Lough Muckno, where 23 anglers lined out to fish the 4th round of the CM Lakelands Winter League last weekend. Fishing was consistent regardless of location on the lake, and the top three weights came from three different sections, with Irish feeder international Johhny McKinley winning with 4kg from Yellow Island. The Munster Coarse Anglers were back at O’Briensbridge for the 6th leg of their winter league to find the river running low and clear. The clarity made the fish a bit spooky, but most anglers caught between 15 and 30 fish. The pegs near the dam were the ones to be on, as they produced the better catches, and Ray, on peg 3, took advantage of this to take first place on the day. We wrap up the coarse angling news at Oaklands Lake, where anglers fished the 6th round of the Oaklands Winter League in relatively pleasant conditions. Marnel Popa made the most of his end peg placing to finish top weight with almost 21kg from peg 15.

To salmon fishing news now, and we are happy to report that the Drowes is off the mark for the season, with the first fish landed on Thursday morning from the High Bank. Well-known angler Colin Gardiner was the lucky captor, taking his fish on a yellow Flying C in wet and windy conditions. It’s not the first time Colin has landed the first fish of the season, and having suffered a stroke on the opening day of the season a few years back, it’s fair to say he got his just rewards for his perseverance. In the south of the country, the team from Cadence Fishing held an opening day get-together at the famous Careysville Fishery last week. Dan O’Neill reports the day’s events and some of the characters he met during the day.

casting demo
Glenda Powell giving a demo

In the latest edition of the Ireland on the Fly podcast, Daire and Tom speak to Neil O’Shea, who, like numerous members of his family before him, has been guiding on Lough Currane for many years. They discuss fishing for both salmon and sea trout on this iconic lake, and how you still have a good chance of a springer off the lake in the coming months. Unfortunately, the first salmon of the season is yet to arrive on Currane, as Vincent Appleby reports that wild weather has made fishing tough for most of that past week.

Some housekeeping now: we want to remind all anglers who had a salmon and sea trout licence in 2023 that their logbooks are now overdue for return. If you haven’t already sent them back, it’s time to do so now.

The latest issue of the Piscari-Fly newsletter brought the sad news of the passing of Peter Driver’s mother, so we wish him all the best at this tough time. Mark reported that fishing at Laois Angling Centre was tricky, but that fish were still to be caught if you were prepared to try a mix of tactics to find them. And for anyone looking for a bit of fishing & travel inspiration, Tipperary man John Lawlor has just published a book in which he talks about his angling adventures fishing numerous lakes and rivers, both in Ireland and abroad.

A Bow goes back at Loais Angling Centre

We have only one pike report this week, but it’s a good one! Ger Power brought his young nephews Adam (9) and Jamie (11) up to Belturbet at the weekend for a spot of winter piking. Wrapped up well against the nippy winter weather, things hotted up when Adam’s smelt deadbait was picked up, and when he struck into the run, it was soon apparent that this was no tiddler. Adam quickly got to grips with the fish, and on bringing it to the net, he was delighted to see that it was going to be a memorable day, and the pike was soon weighed in at 20lb. A quick photo was taken before the pike was returned to the water. It took me many years to get my first ’20’, so Adam’s feat of landing one before he reaches double figures himself, deservedly wins him this week’s Catch of the Week.

Adam's 20lb pike from Belturbet
Adam’s 20lb pike from Belturbet


And now the weather

It’s looking like the weather this bank holiday weekend will be reasonably good, with a lot of mild weather and not too much rain. Today will be mild and cloudy with highs of between 11 – 13°C. It will be mostly dry, with some scattered patches of rain and drizzle in places. It will be mild overnight and remain dull but mostly dry throughout Saturday. Sunday will also start dull and drizzly, but it will become sunnier as the day develops, with a freshening breeze from the west/southwest. The mild, dull weather pattern is set to continue into the early days of next week before becoming more changeable in midweek, as more persistent rain moves in.

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

IFI Staff
Catch, Photo, Release

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