Sligo and Donegal offer some of the best fishing to be found anywhere in Ireland whether its river or sea fishing. There are numerous locations where multiple species can be fished for and some very notable salmon fishing rivers and in-land waterways. There are also numerous locations where sea fishing charters are provided and if the mood takes you, you could always just fish from the shoreline.
Lough Gill and its islands were the inspiration for world famous local poet, W.B. Yeats. The lake itself is 5 miles long by 1 mile wide and is fed by the River Bonnet on its eastern side and drained by the Garavogue River on its western side. This picturesque lake is surrounded by forests such as Slish Wood, Dooney Rock and Hazelwood. A large portion Lough Gill is in Co. Sligo but part of it stretches into Co. Leitrim.
Lough Gill is best known as a trout and salmon fishery but it holds a large population of pike as well as perch and a good stock of bream. Boat hire is available in Sligo town and the lake can be accessed from the Garavogue River that flows through Sligo. Boats can also be hire a various locations surrounding the lake.
Glencar Lake & Drumcliff River
This lovely lake, south-east of Benbulben is approximately 2 miles long by 0.5 mile wide. Situated in a deep valley to the north of the N16 Manorhamilton-Sligo road, 5 miles from Sligo, it has a spectacular waterfall at its north-east corner. The lough has a resident stock of small brown trout and gets a really good run of seatrout and a fair number of salmon, both spring fish and grilse. The average size of the sea trout are purported to be in the region of 1.5 pounds and according to local anglers, the lake produces the largest sized sea trout in the west of Ireland. The best trout caught in recent years weighed 6.5 pounds while the best salmon caught weighed in at 22 pounds.
The Drumcliff River empties Glencar lake into the sea and is an excellent salmon fishing location. There are numerous spots along the stretch of the river that can be fished from the shore. Both the river and lake can yield good fishing all season long.
Ballysadare River’s 5 mile stretch of water punches above it weight compared to other well known salmon fishing rivers in Ireland. The river is one of the shortest yet one of the most productive in the region. With the Unshin River, the Owenmore River and the Owenbeg River as three of it’s tributaries, it drains an area of 252 square miles, which includes Lough Arrow and Templehouse Lake. The best fishing to be is to be found in the tidal section of the river known locally as “The Butt” just below the falls but the river above the falls is almost on a par.
Ballysadare River is consistent in the fact that it offers very productive fishing throughout the entire fishing season. The salmon fishing is controlled locally by the Ballysadare Fishing Club and it is due to their efforts and conservation methods in conjunction with the fisheries board, there is a very healthy run of spring salmon in the river from April to mid June, and in June – July the peak of its large grilse run is seen. There is some very good sea trout fishing in the estuary in the evenings on a rising tide also.
The River Drowes is situated just a short drive outside Bundoran and consistenly offers some of the best salmon fishing found anywhere in the region. This river regularly produces the first salmon of the year and is usually caught on January 1st. Its not unheard of for up to 250 anglers to be fishing the river on opening day and its very rare that no salmon would be caught on the day.
The river runs for approximately 5 miles and drains a 103 square miles square area into the Atlantic Ocean and usually maintains good water levels throughout the season as its fed from Lough Melvin. There is a good run of spring salmon from January 1st on through April and May and into the Summer months with the main grilse run starting around the end of May peaking around June/July.
The Duff River
The Duff or Bunduff River, which meets up with the Ballanaghtrillick River along its course, runs out of the Horseshoe Pass for a length of 14 miles from the Glenade Valley into Donegal Bay, just north of Mullaghmore, but the lower 3 and a half miles of the river is the most fished. The river is also a very prolific and productive salmon river and gets a good run of summer salmon and grilse. The fish start to enter the river at the end of May with the peak of the run in July / August. With good water levels it can fish through to the end of September.
The Duff can fish very well depending on the conditions especially after heavy rain. Most anglers choose the deep pool below the falls close to the sea. Once a flood has let fish run the falls there is some good fishing available above the falls and also some good water upstream of the main road bridge. Anything between 300 and 500 salmon are caught in a season. The river is open from 8am-9pm and all legitimate methods are allowed but spinning is prohibited in low water.
Sligo’s coastline stretching from Mullaghmore to Easky gives every conceivable variety of ground, from superb strands, through broad estuaries to rocky shores with off shore reefs, and that’s just the mainland. There are numerous Islands abound and beyond them the deeper waters of the Atlantic Ocean.
There are fully equipped licensed boats for deep sea fishing which are available around the coast where experienced local skippers will guide you. Bottom fishing is available all year round for a great variety of species. There are several reefs with abundant pollack and wrasse. Blue shark fishing is also available from selected charters. Group and individual rates for full day, half day and evening trips are available also from selected charters and most charters provide equipment for hire on the day.