The Sligo / Mayo coast boasts some of the most exciting sea fishing in Ireland. More than 400 miles (700 km) of coast gives every conceivable variety of ground, from superb strands, through broad estuaries to rocky shores with offshore reefs. And that’s just the mainland. Islands abound and, beyond them, the deeper waters of the Atlantic Ocean. The 50-fathom line is within easy reach of most of the ports.
This guide describes the coast from Mullaghmore, a headland jutting out into the ocean on the coast of Co. Sligo, then southwards around the coast to Newport, at the head of the island-studded inlet of Clew Bay. It includes the Moy estuary, the mountainous Achill Island and the Mullet peninsula which shelters Blacksod and Broadhaven Bays and. Small, but popular, holiday resorts are plentiful – providing an endless variety of accommodation from intimate guest houses to luxurious hotels.
Nearly all of the fifty-odd species on the Irish Specimen Fish List can be caught regularly and no fewer than eight of the Irish Records have been landed in the North Western Region. Besides good roads and comfortable accommodation, everything that the angler can want is readily available. Tackle dealers not only provide gear, but are steeped in local knowledge and delighted to share it with their customers. Fully equipped licensed boats for inshore and deep-sea angling are available around the coast.
Deep Sea Angling: Charter boats based at Westport and Newport. Some excellent general fishing for blue shark and a wide range of species off Clare Island . The bay itself is a major competition venue hosting many festivals each year. One of the best centres for common skate, tope, huss and ray.
Shore Fishing: Some productive marks on the south side of the bay i.e. at Bertra. Catches here include mackerel, dogfish, bull huss, thornback ray and occasional bass and sea trout. The pier and headland at Old Head will see catches of pollack, mackerel, dogfish and flatfish. To download a map of Clew Bay click here [.doc, 1MB]
Small Boat: This is an excellent area for small boat anglers who can expect tope, huss, ray and an excellent chance of a common skate up to 200 lbs.
When to Fish: The best time for common skate is September to November but they can be caught early in the year. Wide range of species at Clare Island – May to October.
Comments: The best common skate centre in the country with one charter boat recording 50 in one season. An ideal competition centre.
ACHILL AND BELMULLET & KILLALA
Deep Sea Angling: Charter boats at Achill & Blacksod on the Belmullet Peninsula and at Killala and Enniscrone in Killala Bay. Sheltered fishing is available in Blacksod Bay and Achill where catches include tope, ray, huss and dogfish. On the outside marks off Achill and Belmullet are some of the best areas for variety fishing in very deep water.
Shore Fishing: There is a choice of beach, rock and pier. The beaches on Achill and Belmullet fish well at night for flatfish and dogfish. The hotspots are Keem, Keel and Portacloy where catches of ray turbot, flounder, dogfish, plaice, gurnard and wrasse have been recorded. Ddownload a map of Bellmullet [.doc, 1MB].
Small Boat: In the sheltered waters south of Achill and Blacksod Bay and Broadhaven Bay, small boats have ideal launching facilities and catches include ray, huss, dogfish and tope.
When to Fish: May to October for general species. July to September for blue shark. Tope July to August.
Comments: This area has always been renowned for its many and varied fishes and it is possible to record up to 20 different species in one days fishing. Irish record tub gurnard, red gurnard, halibut, electric ray, porbeagle shark, blue shark held in this area.
SLIGO TO KILLYBEGS DONEGAL BAY
Deep Sea Angling: Charter boats are based at Rosses Point , Raughley Pier, Mullaghmore and Bundoran, Killybegs and Teelin. Blue fin tuna have been caught in Donegal Bay. Other species caught frequently are pollack, ling, coalfish, spurdog, gurnard etc.
Shore Fishing: St. John’s Point on the eastern side of Killybegs is a popular hot sport for mackerel, pollack and specimen size ballan wrasse. The beach at Fintra sees catches of sea trout, dogfish, codling and occasional ray. Teelin Pier for conger. Download a map of Ballina [.doc, 1MB]. Download a map of Donegal Bay [.doc, 1MB].
Small Boat: The Mountcharles channel leading into Donegal town is a traditional mark for tope in sheltered waters. The inshore waters of Drumcliffe Bay and Ballisodare also see catches of tope, ray, huss, dogfish and flatfish.
When to Fish: September to December for blue fin tuna. July to October for blue shark. May to November for all other species.
Comments: Donegal Bay is quite exposed and sheltered fishing in bad weather is limited. In the year 2000 the first blue fin was boated on rod and line. The Irish record blue fin tuna of 440kg held here.