15 Best Fishing Destinations in Ireland

Written by Anietra Hamper
Updated May 26, 2022
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Ireland is known for its brilliant green landscapes, historic castles, and seaside cliffs, but it has earned a reputation as a premier fishing destination. Ireland's scenic backdrop, mild year-round climate, and varied fish species in the coastal and inland waters is a draw for anglers from around the world.

Fishing off the rocks at Loop Head Lighthouse, County Clare, Ireland
Fishing off the rocks at Loop Head Lighthouse, County Clare, Ireland

Sea angling from any of Ireland's coastlines is an unforgettable experience, with opportunities to target different species, like shark or the prized Atlantic bluefin tuna. Inland fishing provides experiences like catching salmon, large carp, wrasse, trout, and pike with scenic backdrops worth the visit alone.

Discover the top places to cast your line with our list of the best fishing destinations in Ireland.

1. The Great Western Lakes

Anietra holding a pike in the Great Western Lakes
Anietra holding a pike in the Great Western Lakes | Photo Copyright: Anietra Hamper

The Great Western Lakes (or Lough, the Irish word for lake) are some of the last remaining wild trout limestone lakes in Europe. They are recognized for the quality of trout fishing. These lakes include Lough Corrib, Mask, Carra, Conn, and Cullin. The lakes are limestone based, making them highly productive due to their alkaline nature.

These lakes have excellent populations of wild trout, averaging one to two pounds and many over five pounds. The king of these lakes is the ferox trout, fast-growing fish that can easily top 20 pounds. Salmon fishing is popular in Corrib and Conn. Pike are found in almost all of the lakes.

Galway is the closest major city to these lakes for food and accommodations. Fishing is free, except for salmon license requirements, and guides are readily available on all the lakes.

2. Coastal Fishing

Killybegs Harbour
Killybegs Harbour | Photo Copyright: Anietra Hamper

Ireland is a spectacular coastal fishing destination that offers so many near-shore and offshore opportunities, from salmon and trout to Atlantic bluefin tuna. Besides the great fishing, the Irish Coast offers unforgettable scenery. Dolphin pods, birds, and whales color part of the experience, along with rainbows reaching into the rocky shoreline and off into the Atlantic horizon.

Ireland's South and southwest coast has some of the most diverse fishing in the country with several dozen species to target, like bass and blue shark and may types of locations, including shipwreck fishing.

Ireland's west and northwest coast is popular for deep sea fishing for blue shark, coalfish, tope, and catch-and-release Atlantic bluefin tuna if you fish with a permitted captain as part of a national tagging program. From the shore, some of the species you can catch include pollack, mackerel, and wrasse.

Ireland's East coast has great year-round sea angling and shore fishing for pollack, bass, dogfish, doc, whiting and mackerel, pollack, conger, bass, dogfish, tope, and sea trout, as well as cod, ray, and whiting.

Your best bet for successful fishing in Ireland is to hire a local guide in the area you are visiting. A great fishing resource is Inland Fisheries Ireland, the agency that oversees the conservation and management fisheries and is a reputable place to start your Ireland fishing research.

3. Cork Harbour

Cork Harbour
Cork Harbour

When you arrive in Cork Harbour, it is evident that fishing is a way of life here, which is why it is one of the best places for visiting anglers to target. This is one of the largest natural harbours in the world. Its unique characteristics, like a sheltered bay, indented shoreline, shallow mudflats, sandy beaches, and waterways that go from deep shipping channels to quiet creeks, make it an angler's paradise.

Cork Harbour in Cobh is a popular departure point for sea angling charters. Fly fishing anglers enjoy sport fishing for sea bass and mullet, which are the most common catch. Other species include the blonde ray, cod, pollack, conger eel, and blue shark, which can be found offshore from the mouth of the harbor.

Cobh is the main hub in the area, with a number of deep-sea charter boats offering day trips with guided fishing and all gear provided. You can also find small guided trips for one to three people on smaller boats targeting mostly sea bass.

4. Lakeland Fishery

Carp is a popular catch in Ireland
Carp is a popular catch in Ireland

Carp fishing is popular in Ireland, and one of the best locations to target them is the Lakeland Fishery in Ireland's north-central region known as the Lakelands. It is a quiet 15-acre complex with three lakes that anglers can use with a day ticket.

The largest lake, Heron Lake, is a scenic lake with 60 pegs and large numbers of tench. Summer is the best time to target them, when anglers can easily catch several dozen in one session and possibly catch some weighing over 100 pounds.

Mallard Lake is great for carp anglers and is often referred to as carp lake. While you can also catch tench, bream, and perch, the carp in this lake can be caught weighing up to 40 pounds. All the lakes are stocked, with the mature lakes producing sizable catches, so this natural setting makes for a pristine day on the water.

5. Lough Currane

Lough Currane
Lough Currane | Photo Copyright: Shane O'Reilly

The Lough Currane is often referred to as the jewel in the crown of Irish sea trout fishing. Lough Currane, in Waterville, Co. Kerry, is a large lake covering more than 2,500 acres set in the spectacular mountain surroundings on the Iveragh peninsula.

White-tailed sea eagles have been reintroduced here, so they are a regular sight while fishing. The lake is just upstream from the sea, giving easy access to the large numbers of salmon and sea trout that return every year.

There are also populations of wild brown trout. Lough Currane is known for its large sea trout that average four to six pounds. Fly fishing is the most common method on this lake, but trolling and spinning are also used.

6. The River Moy

The River Moy
The River Moy | Photo Copyright: Inland Fisheries Ireland

The Moy is Ireland's most famous and productive salmon river, with anglers hauling in more than 6,000 salmon a year. Spring salmon come into the river April through June, averaging nine to 10 pounds. July is the peak time for the salmon run on the River Moy, but smaller summer salmon, called grilse, return in large numbers beginning in June.

The most common methods for fishing on this river are fly fishing, spinning, and bait fishing with worms. There are certain stretches of water that are more suitable for each method than others. Out-of-towners can usually get advice from a local bait shop and from Inland Fisheries Ireland. You will find a number of private and club-owned stretches along the river, but most offer permits at a reasonable price.

Nearby accommodations in Ballina or Foxford range from bed-and-breakfasts to five-star hotels. Mount Falcon Estate is a luxury accommodation surrounded by natural parkland, with private fishing on the river right from the property.

7. The River Boyne

The River Boyne
The River Boyne

The River Boyne is one of the most productive wild trout rivers in Ireland, providing exciting fly fishing and an abundance of fly hatches. The river sits in the Boyne Valley surrounded by rolling farmland and marshy meadows. Some of the tributaries are renowned trout fisheries, especially the Kells Blackwater.

The wild trout average one to two pounds, with many that are three pounds or more. More impressive than the size of the trout is the quantity of fish in this river, which is why it is so popular with anglers.

Salmon also run the river and provide good sportfishing. Fly fishing for salmon is popular on the Rover Boyne, and it is not uncommon to catch these stunning fish weighing in the double digits.

Fishing clubs and private owners control sections of the river, but permits are available for most stretches of the waterway. Some of the closest towns to the River Boyne are Drogheda, Slane, and Donore, where you can find lodging, supplies, and food.

8. Galway Bay

Galway Bay
Galway Bay

Sea fishing in Galway Bay is as fantastic for the fishing as it is for the stunning Irish scenery. Charter boats operate out of Rossaveal and Spiddal for easy access to the outer bay. The best spots are the Aran Islands with their stone wall fields, and farther south along the rocky Burren coastline beneath the majestic Cliffs of Moher.

Blue and porbeagle shark are regular catches, with a variety of other species available, like pollack. If it fits into your schedule, plan some extra time to stop for lunch on one of the Aran Islands to soak in the view. This area invites some of the best shark fishing in Ireland.

9. Upper Lough Erne

Upper Lough Erne
Upper Lough Erne

Some of the best pike fishing in Ireland is on Upper Lough Erne, which borders the Republic and Northern Ireland. The rolling countryside is a stunning backdrop for the fertile lake that regularly produces pike in the 20 to 30 pound range. Other species include sea trout and brown trout, perch, and salmon.

You do not need to worry about passport or customs checks on the border, but you will notice different color road signs. Fly fishing, lure fishing, and trolling are successful methods on Upper Lough Erne. There are lodges in the area of Kilmore Quay, which is a small fishing village. Some of them, like the Watermill Fishing Lodge, cater to anglers by providing fishing equipment on-site and a fleet of boats and guides.

10. Ireland's Lakelands

Ireland's Lakelands
Ireland's Lakelands

While the Lakeland Fishery is often targeted for carp, the broader Lakelands region is where anglers going after many species can find a honey hole. There are hundreds of large and small lakes that provide a wide variety of fishing for coarse fish and pike.

Two of the largest rivers in Ireland, the Rivers Shannon and Erne, are located in the central plain of the country. Together, they cover a large region, from County Cavan in the north midlands to Limerick in the Midwest. Both rivers include a large number of lakes, which are referred to as the Lakelands.

Bait anglers come here for the big schools of bream, roach, tench, and rudd, which provide an ample food source for the large pike that are caught here. The vast stretch of waterway on the Shannon is the Lough Derg that covers 29,000 acres. It is easy to hire a reputable guide in this area because it is known for excellent pike and coarse fishing.

11. West Cork

West Cork
West Cork | Photo Copyright: Kevin Crowley

West Cork is a scenic region along Ireland's Wild Atlantic Way tourism trail, with beaches, bays, and estuaries that are all prime spots for fishing for sea bass and other species. Kinsale is a delightful town renowned for its many restaurants overlooking the harbor, where deep sea charter boats can take you to fish for monster coalfish, cod, and pollack.

There are many shipwrecks in the area that provide excellent habitats for various species. Fishing along the coastline is popular for sea bass by spinning, bait fishing, and fly fishing. The River Ilen is popular for salmon (February-September) and sea trout (February-October). A great place to stop for seasonal fishing information from the locals is at the Halfway Angling tackle shop, on the road between Cork and Clonakilty.

12. The Dingle Peninsula

The Dingle Peninsula
The Dingle Peninsula

The Dingle peninsula is one of the most spectacular locations along Ireland's Wild Atlantic Way. It is located in the far southwest region of Ireland. The coastline is varied, ranging from long stretches of golden sand on the Atlantic surf beaches intermixed with rocky shoreline and towering cliffs.

The Dingle Peninsula is a great fishing area because it is popular for both shore angling and sea angling, giving you the opportunity to try both while visiting. From the late spring into the fall months, you can find plenty of wrasse, bass, and pollock to target from shore.

Sea fishing from the Dingle Peninsula means you can target some of the greatest variety of species that you will find anywhere in Irish coastal waters. These include sea bass, blue shark, and several species of ray, including sting ray that grow to more than 50 pounds.

13. Connemara Region

Connemara Region
Connemara Region

Connemara is a mountain region west of Galway with an abundance of lakes. This spot is a salmon angler's dream. Spend an hour or two in Galway looking over the Salmon Weir Bridge, where polarized glasses will let you see the schools of salmon in the swift flowing River Corrib below.

If you go an hour west by car in the rugged mountains, you will find deep glacial lakes that are home to hearty salmon and sea trout that return every summer. The fisheries of Delphi, Erriff, Kylemore, and Inagh, produce good catches of both species every year. These are mostly fly fishing locations.

14. Lakes of Killarney

Fishing at sunset in a lake near Killarney National Park
Fishing at sunset in a lake near Killarney National Park

The Lakes of Killarney are not only great for fishing, but the scenery near Killarney National Park is unforgettable and representative of some of the most natural landscapes in Ireland. There are three lakes in this system in southwest Ireland that are part of the River Laune catchment providing another great fishing opportunity.

The River Laune is especially popular for fly fishing for salmon, brown trout, and sea trout. There are some regulations for sea trout and salmon on the river, so you should review these before going out on the water. Fishing is free for anglers on the following lakes: Lough Leane, Upper Lake, and Muckross Lake.

The closest towns for food and lodging to the Lakes of Killarney are Killarney, Beaufort and Killorglin.

15. River Drowes

The River Drowes in northwest Ireland is important to mention because it is where some of the first salmon arrive each year in Ireland. It is one of the only rivers that opens for fishing on January 1, and where the spring run of salmon usually arrive early and last through April.

The early salmon makes the River Drowes a popular spot for anglers in January, so much so that it has become an event for the locals. There are 81 pools along the river, so there is plenty of room for anglers who want to join in the fun. While there are brown trout in the river system, most anglers come for the spectacular salmon.

Map of Fishing Destinations in Ireland

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Other Places to Visit in Ireland:During your angling trip to Ireland, be sure to carve out time to enjoy some of the top attractions and areas like the Cliffs of Moher and the Ring of Kerry. You will want to review some of the best places to visit in Ireland and some of the charming small towns with winding streets and rewarding cultural experiences.