What makes Ireland such a great fishing destination? A coastline of more than 5,603km (3,472 miles), thousands of lakes and ponds, countless creeks, rills, streams, and rivers -- those certainly don't hurt. Ireland's temperate climate and low pollution also encourage a high fish population, and low human density has put little pressure on that. It all adds up to fairly ideal fishing conditions.
The sport of fishing -- referred to by the Irish as angling -- is a cherished tradition. Festivals and competitions celebrate the many forms of this sport; for dates and locations, contact Tourism Ireland; you have to sign up well in advance to participate in most of the competitions. Among the festivals are Killybegs International Sea Angling Festival in July, the Baltimore Deep Sea Angling Festival (www.baltimoreseaangling.com) in August, and the Cobh International Deep Sea Angling Festival in September.
In the west and northwest, Killybegs is a center for sea angling, while Lough Corrib offers much to entice the freshwater angler. The Killarney area is a popular angling destination, as are the Blackwater River near Cork and Kinsale for sea angling. Also consider the Shannon River and its lakes.
The best all-round online resource for fishing in Ireland is the prosaically named Fishing in Ireland (www.fishinginireland.info). In addition to up-to-date details on licenses and permits , it also has a wealth of information on everything from local regulations, weather, and tides to locations suitable for anglers with disabilities. Tourism Ireland devotes a section of its website to fishing. Visit www.discoverireland.com, click on "Things to see & do," then "Activities," and then "Fishing."
A helpful brochure, Angling in Ireland, detailing what fish can be caught where, is available from the Angling Information Office at the Central Fisheries Board, Swords Business Campus, Swords, County Dublin (tel. 01/884-2600; fax 01/836-0060; www.cfb.ie). Another helpful resource, The Angler's Guide, is published by Tourism Ireland. Permits, licenses, and specific information can also be obtained from local outfitters or the Central Fisheries Board.
Fishing seasons are as follows: salmon, January 1 to September 30; brown trout, February 15 to October 12; sea trout, June 1 to September 30; coarse fishing and sea angling, all year. A license is required only for salmon and sea trout angling; the cost is €20 for a day, €46 for 21 days, or €120 annually. For information about permits, visit the Central Fisheries Boards website (www.cfb.ie). You can purchase fishing licenses at most bait and tackle shops. For all private salmon and sea trout fisheries, a permit is required in addition to the license, and it can be considerably more expensive. Prices vary greatly, from €10 to €200 per rod per day (depending on the venue and provider), although most permits run €30 to €40.
Many hotels have exclusive access to lakes and ponds, and will rent boats, gear, and ghillies (fishing guides) to their guests. Over a dozen such hotels have formed the Great Fishing Houses of Ireland (www.irelandfishing.com). Examples include Adare Manor in Limerick; the Delphi Lodge in County Galway; and Newport House Hotel and Enniscoe House, both in Mayo.
In Northern Ireland, you must get a rod license from the Department for Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCNI), 1-7 Bedford St., Belfast, County Antrim (tel. 028/9025-8825; www.dcalni.gov.uk), or in the Derry area from the Foyle Carlingford Irish Lights Commission, 22 Victoria Rd., Derry (tel. 028/7134-2100; www.loughs-agency.org). A permit may also be required; you can obtain information from local outfitters or the DCNI. A rod license costs £3.50 to £24, depending on the license provider and duration of license; day permits cost around £10. You can find a wealth of information in An Information Guide to Game Fishing, available from any office of the Northern Ireland Tourist Board.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.