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Are you thinking of planning that special, action packed salmon fishing holiday in Ireland – call or email us today for an unforgettable experience.

Listed below is a brief description of how to go about catching that record breaker!



Scientific name: Salmo trutta.


Salmon fishing here in Ireland are mainly done in Rivers or Loughs - River fishing in Ireland is usually divided up in beats – these are managed by either clubs, private fisheries or Regional Fishery Boards.

Lough fishing is mainly done from boats – this is to maximise the fishing ground covered.

Most rivers get a run of salmon from Spring until Autumn. Salmon can be caught in Irish waters from January through to October. The bigger fish known as ‘Springers’ tend to run in the early months of the year and weigh an average of nine pounds. The biggest run of salmon comprise of grilse or summer salmon. They are the most sporting of game fish and are swift, acrobatic and ready takers of a well presented fly or lure. They weigh from three to six pounds and are widely found throughout the country. The timing of the main runs varies between river systems but most begin in June. This is when fisheries like the Moy in Mayo and the Munster Blackwater in Cork can provide spectacular sport in a natural setting. Irish grilse runs are some of the hardest fighting in Western Europe and offer the salmon fisherman the best chance of success.


A silvery fish with steely blue spots on fresh fish. Quite similar to fresh run sea trout (Salmo trutta) one simple means of identifying salmon is to try to pick the fish up by the root of the tail. The salmon has a distinct narrowing here which allows it to be handled easily.  In the sea, adult salmon feed upon small fish and crustaceans, particularly sand eels and juvenile herring. In freshwaters, adult salmon do not feed and must spend several weeks or months travelling to the spawning streams without nourishment. Young salmon feed upon small invertebrates, particularly freshwater shrimps and caddis larvae.


The Atlantic salmon move between freshwater and seawater during their lifecycle, as they spawn in freshwater rivers and then migrate to sea. Adult salmon typically return to spawn in their natal rivers after spending up to 3 years at sea. Some die after spawning but a number survive to spawn a 2nd or 3rd time. Wild Atlantic salmon are severely depleted over much of their range, as well as around Ireland. There may be several reasons for this, not least overfishing.


Where to find:

Irish Salmon rivers include the following : Blackwater (Cork), Moy (Mayo), Bandon (Cork), Suir, Nore, Ilen to name a few – for a more detailed list – contact us for more information.

Salmon Loughs include: Corrib, Gill, Conn, Cullin – again, please contact us for a more detailed listing. 


Bait Fishing / spinning for Salmon:

The main bait fishing techniques are shrimp/prawn and worming, these are also very effective when the river is in flood.

In the early season one might use 3in Devon Minnow or large Toby’s, these being fished slow and deep to get to where the fish are lying. At present the favoured spinner in Ireland would be the Flying ‘C’, red and black are the most popular colours.

Fly Fishing for Salmon:

The classic way to fish for salmon is with the fly. As a rule – bigger flies for flood rivers. Popular river flies include Curry’s Shrimp, Stoats Tail, Hairy Mary, and Ally’s Shrimp. A single fly is usually used on rivers where up to three flies are used on loughs. Lough flies include Green Peter, Connemara Black, Shrimp Flies.

Angling methods are subject to national and local regulation.

Specimen Weight: 20Lb

Record Weight: 57Lb

Fishing for and catching a Salmon is a dream for many anglers – contact us on info@ifish.ie to make this a reality!

Sea Trout

Sea Trout

Name: Sea Trout

Scientific Name: Salmo Trutta


Sea Trout, or “White Trout” (Gaelic: an breac geal) are sea-going brown trout and is a popular target in rivers and coastal waters around Ireland.

Easily recognised by bright silver sides, white lower fins and loose, easily detached scales. Some carry sea lice which drop-off in fresh water within a few days. After 2 or 3 weeks they lose the silver and appear like dull coloured brown trout, lacking true red spots. This is a muscular, rounded fish, with silvery colour and a variable amount of dark spots on the upper body, which can extend below the lateral line. In general, the sea trout is firmer than the salmon, and broader at the neck of the tail so, when held by the tail, a sea trout will slip through your hand, while a salmon could be held.


While at sea, sea trout tend to remain close to the coast, particularly favouring estuaries, or other areas where fresh water enters the sea. Sea Trout must return to freshwater to breed. Both fish await the right conditions to head upstream from the sea. At first, returning to spawn they may be about 350-450 mm in body length and weigh around 0.5-1.5kg. Older specimens, which may have spawned several times could be up to 15Lb. Adult sea trout lay their eggs in river gravels, the young stages live for 1 to 3 years in freshwater before emigrating (as smolts) to sea where they feed hard and return after varying periods as mature adults, homing to the rivers of their birth to repeat the cycle.


Where to find:

The best places are shallow intertidal, rocky ground where fast current sweep prey items of sand eels and sprats to the sea trout sheltering from the currents. The vast majority of sea trout caught by anglers are taken from rivers by fly, spinning or bait fishing. But we all know that sea trout spend a lot of their time feeding in coastal waters.

In recent years, fishing for sea trout in the sea, particularly in sheltered estuaries has grown in popularity. Larger estuaries such as the Moy in Co. Mayo and the Erne in Co. Donegal can be tackled by boat and from various shore locations. As sea trout never move far from the shore, estuaries and rocky outcrops make up the bulk of their feeding areas.


Bait Fishing and Spinning for Sea Trout:

Fresh or frozen sand eel, mackerel strips can slowly be spinned or used on a float rig. Worm or shrimp fished on a “Paternoster” rig, and when the water is very low, could be float fished.

Spinning with small spinners, pirks or lures are also very successful – blue and silver are very good colours to use.  A bubble float with a team of flies could be effective as well.

Fly Fishing for Sea Trout:

The best flies to use for Sea Trout are Watson’s Fancy, Stoats Tail, Black Pennell, Bloody Butcher, Bibio, Connemara Black, Claret Bumble and Teal Blue & Silver. The best times are between dusk and dawn.

Angling methods are subject to national and local regulation.

Specimen Weight: 6Lb

Record Weight: 16.6Lb

Please always adhere to the following:

When afloat it is a legal requirement to always wear a buoyancy aid / lifejacket for safety

Access and Country Code

Irish waters are usually reached by passing through farmland and anglers are generally allowed this access by courtesy of local farmers on recognition of the Country Code. If in doubt please ask the farmer for permission to enter onto the land to fish the water.

Country Code

  • Respect farmland and the rural environment.
  • Do not interfere with livestock, crops, machinery or other property.
  • Guard against all risks of fire, especially near forests and during dry spells.
  • Leave all farm gates as you find them.
  • Always keep children under close control and supervision.
  • Avoid entering farmland containing livestock. Your presence can cause stress to the livestock & even endanger your own safety.
  • Do not enter farmland if you have dogs with you, even if on a leash, unless with the permission of the landowner.
  • Always use gates, stiles or other recognised access points and avoid damage to fences, hedges and walls.
  • Take all litter home.
  • Take special care on country roads.
  • Avoid making unnecessary noise.
  • Protect wildlife, plants and trees.
  • Take heed of warning signs – they are there for your protection.


Salmon fishing opens on January 1 on a handful of rivers and after that the remainder of rivers open on various dates in February, March, April and May. The majority of rivers close on September 30th but some rivers remain open for sea trout fishing to October `13.

Licenses and Permits

Licenses can be bought

Anglers are legally required to be in possession of a license when fishing for salmon or sea trout. Licenses can be purchased from a number of sources, including fishing tackle shops, IFI offices and some fisheries.

On purchasing a license anglers receive a copy of the Salmon Angling Regulations which provides information on bag limits, mandatory catch and release fisheries, open and closed fisheries, gill tags and how to return your completed logbook and tags. Licenses can be purchased for periods from 1 day to 1 year.

Salmon Licence Fees (2013)

  • All Districts (i.e. all Regions) Annual: €100
  • Juvenile (under the age of 18 years) All Districts Annual: €10
  • One District, Annual: €56
  • All districts, 21 Days: €40
  • All districts, 1 Day: €20
  • Foyle Area Extension: €80
  • Special local licence: €24

Foyle Area Extension Licence

An angler who has purchased a Lough Agency License and wishes to fish in the Republic, an additional ‘extension’ license, the Foyle Area Extension License, would have to be purchased at €80.

Special Local Licence

A special local licence is a salmon angling licence to fish special tidal waters as follows;

1. Erne - Ballyshannon

2. Owenea - Letterkenny

3. Owentocker – Letterkenny

4. Lackagh - Letterkenny

5. Owenmore - Bangor

6. Owenduff – Bangor


A licence does not confer the right to fish; a fishing permit is usually required and must be obtained separately. A fishing permit generally costs from €20 to €50 per day. Some of the more exclusive fisheries can be more expensive.

Licences can be bought here.

Salmon Angling Regulations 2013

Management of the Wild Salmon Fishery 2013

The Wild Salmon and Sea Trout Tagging Scheme regulates salmon and sea trout fishing in Ireland and is administered by Inland Fisheries Ireland. Please note that the regulations and bye-laws are subject to change. Contact your local Inland Fisheries Ireland office for information on individual rivers.

All salmon rod licence holders must affix a gill tag to all retained salmon (any size), or sea trout (over 40 cm).


There is an angling bag limit of 10 salmon (any size) or sea trout (over 40 cm) on rivers where you may catch and retain salmon (Table 1). The bag limits are subject to any quota allocated to a river and its tributaries.

Subject to the maximum annual bag limit of ten fish an angler may take:

  • A total of one salmon (any size) or sea trout (over 40cm) per day for the period beginning January 1st to May 11th (three fish in total may be retained for this period),
  • Daily Bag Limit: Three salmon (any size) or sea trout (over 40cm) per day from May 12th to August 31st (except where a salmon rod (one-day) ordinary licence is held, 1 fish),
  • Daily Bag Limit: One salmon (any size) or sea trout (over 40cm) per day from 1st September to the close of the season,
  • There is an angling bag limit of three sea trout (under 40cm) per angler per day (bye-law no. 887, 2011).

Please note that it is an offence to kill any sea trout in the Galway, Connemara or Ballinakill Fisheries Districts including at sea from Hags Head in County Clare to Clew Bay (and in any waters flowing into Clew Bay) in the Bangor Fishery District south of a line drawn due east and west through Achill Head.

After the daily bag limit has been taken, anglers are permitted to fish catch and release, using single, barbless hooks and anglers may not use worms. The killing and possession of foul hooked fish is prohibited.

On rivers where catch and release is permitted (Table 2):

  • anglers may not use worms,
  • anglers must use single, barbless hooks,
  • the fish must be handled carefully and should not be removed from the water prior to release.

On all other rivers (Table 3) angling for salmon (any size) and sea trout (over 40cm) is prohibited.

  • The River Avoca prohibits the taking of any sea trout (under 40cm) as well as prohibiting the use of worms as bait and any fish hooks other than single barbless hooks in angling for sea trout (under 40cm) (bye-law no. 890, 2011).
  • The River Slaney provides for catch and release from 17th March to 16th Sept. Anglers may only use single barbless hooks with artificial fly only upstream of the old bridge, Enniscorthy and prohibits the use of worms, downstream of the old bridge, Enniscorthy (pending bye-law).
  • The River Munster Blackwater season is extended from 1st - 12th October on a catch and release basis using artificial fly only (pending bye-law).
  • The River Suir provides for catch and release up to 11th May and is open for angling from 12th May with a bag limit of 1 fish per angler per day and no more than 5 fish for the season (pending bye-law).
  • The River Feale provides for catch and release up to 11th May and is open for angling from 12th May with a bag limit of 1 fish per angler per day and no more than 3 fish for the season (pending bye-law).
  • The River Tor and its tributaries are closed for angling for all species of fish (bye-law no. 311, 2011).


Anglers can obtain their licence from Inland Fisheries Ireland, any rod licence distributor or online at www.salmonlicences.ie. On payment of the rod licence fee, the angler will be given:

  • The relevant rod license.
  • A logbook.
  • 3 gill tags where a salmon rod (annual) ordinary, juvenile, district or 21-day ordinary licence is issued up until 11th May and a further 7 gill tags (issued in lots of 3 or 4) from the period 12th May to 30th Sept up to a maximum of 10 gill tags in total provided they demonstrate that they have completed their logbook appropriately.
  • 1 gill tag where a one day ordinary license is issued up until the close of the season.
  • A business reply envelope for return of the logbook and unused tags to the relevant Inland Fisheries Ireland office.
  • A plastic wallet for the logbook.


The tag to be used by anglers is a blue plastic self-locking device (an additional brown tag is also required for certain rivers – (refer to Table 1 – Open Fisheries 2013) to ensure angling quotas are not exceeded. Contact the relevant IFI office for details on how to obtain brown tags). Each blue tag is embossed with a code identifying where the tag was issued, the year in which the tag can be used, a security code and a tag serial number.

  • Anglers should carefully note the following concerning the use of these tags:
  • Each rod license holder will be issued tags for his/her use only. Tags are not transferable between license holders.
  • These tags shall not be re-used.
  • One tag shall be attached to each salmon (any size) and sea trout (over 40 cm) caught and retained.
  • Tags must be attached immediately on landing the fish.
  • Tags shall be attached through the gill opening and mouth of the fish and securely double locked around the gill cover.
  • Additional tags shall be issued on presentation of logbook information showing that the license holder has used the gill tags issued to him or her, subject to bag limits.
  • Lost and accidentally destroyed tags may be replaced upon presentation of a signed declaration completed by the angler and signed by an Authorised Officer of Inland Fisheries Ireland.
  • Gill tags shall only be removed from the fish at the time of processing in accordance with the Tagging Scheme Regulations. For the purposes of this scheme processing includes: smoking, marinating or cooking the fish, gutting and freezing the fish or cutting any steaks, cutlets or portions of the fish.


On receipt of tags the angler will also receive a logbook. Details of the gill tags issued to an angler will be entered into the angler’s logbook by the issuing agent.

Each angler shall:

  • Have the logbook in his/her possession while fishing for salmon or sea trout.
  • Record all details of their catch in their logbook immediately after tagging the fish.
  • Make a catch record even if the fish is released.
  • Record details of any lost or damaged tags.
  • Declare lost or damaged logbooks to Inland Fisheries Ireland.


In accordance with the Wild Salmon and Sea Trout Tagging Regulations anglers are required by law to return their completed logbook (even if there is no catch recorded) and all unused tags to the issuing office of Inland Fisheries Ireland by the 19th October 2013. A business reply envelope is provided for this purpose. Anglers are required to obtain proof of postage and to retain such proof for 12 months.


Anglers are prohibited from selling salmon (any size) or sea trout (any size) caught by rod and line.

These guidelines have been prepared for information purposes only and do not purport to be a legal interpretation. The holder of a rod license should familiarise himself or herself with section 69 of the Inland Fisheries Act, 2010 (No. 10 of 2010), the current Wild Salmon and Sea Trout Tagging Scheme Regulations and the Salmon and Sea Trout Conservation Bye-laws.


For information on Salmon Fishing Trips – contact us on: info@ifish.ie


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