Sligo is one of the best places in Ireland to fish as it offers access to some of the best salmon fishing rivers and lakes in Europe as well as course fishing and sea fishing. Boat hire is readily available as is tackle hire and guided fishing is also an option for someone looking for a bit of insider knowledge of the best spots to fish. There are lots of small lakes and hidden gems located throughout the county.
Species available locally include trout, sea trout, salmon, pike, bream and rudd to name but a few. Sea fishing is also available from numerous places throughout Sligo.
Lough Talt is a picturesque lake of approximately 200 acres, located in the foothills of the Ox mountains just a short drive from Sligo Town. The Ballina – Tubbercurry road (R294) runs right along the northeast shoreline which makes it easily accessible. Boat hire is available locally from the Lough Talt Inn or can be launched from the jetty just off the main road. Lough Talt can also be fished from the shore line which is solid and easily accesible. The trout here range in size from ¼ – ¾ lbs with the occasional one pound specimen caught. They are free rising and numerous, making it an ideal location for the young or inexperienced angler alike.
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.
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 Duff or Bunduff River joined by the Ballanaghtrillick River runs out of the Horseshoe Pass for a distance 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. Similar to Ballisodare River, it 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.All legitimate methods are allowed but spinning is prohibited in low water.
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.
The Drowes River
The Drowes Fishery is one of Ireland’s premier spring salmon and grilse fisheries and regularly produces the first salmon of the year due to the fact that it is one of the first rivers to open for the season, opening on January 1st. Its not unheard of for 250 anglers to be fishing the river on opening day and its very rare that no salmon would be caught on opening day.
The rivers course runs for approximately 5 miles, draining some 103 square mile catchment into the Atlantic and generally keeps good water levels right through the season, being fed by Lough Melvin. There is a good run of spring salmon from the 1st January through to April/May with some summer and autumn fish. The main grilse run starts around the end of May peaking around June/July.
The river holds a stock of small brown trout in which little interest is shown. Unusually Gillaroo up to 4lb are caught in June and July at dusk, mostly on small white flies.
Lough Arrow is one of the great Irish trout fishing loughs where trout average 1½lb and fish to 6lb and 7lb are taken on fly annually. The lough is located approximately 4 miles north-west of Boyle, with Ballymote 6 miles and Ballyfarnan 3 miles away. It is a limestone lough, incredibly rich and, while it has some feeder streams, it is mainly spring-fed. The scarcity of spawning and nursery areas is a limiting factor in trout production. It is no longer stocked and anglers should not expect big catches. What you get is quality trout, but fewer of them. There is public access at Brick Pier on the eastern shore, Ballinafad Pier on the southern shore and Rinnbawn Pier on the western shore.
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. Islands abound and beyond them the deeper waters of the Atlantic Ocean.
Fully equipped licensed boats for deep sea fishing 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.