Irish Salmon and Seatrout From a Boat.

I love fishing for salmon and seatrout on the loughs. There's nothing more exciting than seeing a large fish following dabbled flies, sometimes right to the boat, before rolling over them and taking line off the reel in reems. Other takes can be on a long line and everything will lock up tight. When you lift, there's a few seconds when you don't know whether you have a pound trout or a double figured salmon. The takes are exciting, especially when the water erupts with an acrobatic, large, fresh fish. Fishing from a boat in the right conditions has a charm of its own. Fly choice is wide - it always amazes me what a salmon in a lake will go for. On Lough Conn for example, when fishing for trout, I've seen salmon taken on dry mayflies.  You could have the nicest salmon patterns on and you end up getting your fish on a small pennel or bibio. Other times it’s a large muddler, coming through the wave like a motor-powered boat, that the salmon can't resist a go at. Choosing the best patterns depends on the time of year. They range from traditional seatrout wets like teal blue, silver and butchers. Mallard and claret, Connemara blacks are also good options. A muddler on the top dropper or a bushy green peter will work as a dibbling fly. On the point, a salmon pattern shrimp fly (or the likes) can be a great anchor pattern and help cut through the wave.  Blue and black flies with silver ribs are popular but fluorescent yellow and oranges can also produce a result.  I know of some lakes were fritz patterns have been really useful, late in the season, but would not be common place. 

My Top Tips Are

- Find a good guide and listen to them. Many people go to the expense of traveling but then try to work it all out for themselves. You can share a boatman between two people and it will increase your chances significantly.  

- Don’t have hard and fast ideas about where you want to fish; disregard stories of monster fish or big days. Go where the fish are - listen to the locals or your guides advice. This will ensure you are 'on' the fish. Once you're on the right lake, at the right time, you’re in with the best chance.

- Be Flexible. If possible, communicate with your contacts and ask when is best to come; wait until the lakes are in good order before you go. Some destinations fish better with different wind direction, so keep this in mind as locals will take this all into account. Just because you had a good time in one place, one day, doesn’t mean it will suit the following day.


- A 10ft trout rod throwing a 7 or 8 weight is fine. You can also use as small as a 9.6ft.  An 11ft can be very useful, especially for long leaders and dibbling flies through the waves.

- The best lines are floaters or a sink tip. An intermediate and sometimes a medium sink can be effective. These lines will definitely cover all requirements; you will find the floater or sink tip will provide for most of your fishing.

- Fly choice varies and we tend to send a variety of selections, as part of our fly club, for this style of fishing. From the very small JC seatrout patterns to bushy bobs, the often favourited leggy bumbles (that are unique to our range) and some of our large dabblers;  are all guides favourites.  Their are so many variations and specialist patterns for this kind of fishing that keep it fun.  If you need more help, come check us out.

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 Some specialist palmered patterns for lough seatrout and salmon on Salar singles 

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North Donegal

Donegal has expansive stretches of water and the most well-known rivers and lakes tend to get most attention. But some amazing fishing is available,  at the right time of the year, on some smaller spate lakes. I've fished a bit with John McLaughlin of Letterkenny, who has an extensive knowledge of where, and more importantly when, to go to these lakes for both seatrout and salmon. The systems he recommends and guides mostly on, are Lough Fern, Lough Veagh and Glen Lough. Lough Fern doesn't get publicised as much as it used to but it still produces springers for anyone wanting to target them. One of the earliest spring rivers in Europe, the Leannan River, when open, produces fresh fish right from the 1st of January. It flows out of Lough Fern and all the spring fish make their way through it to the Lough. John told me of an old picture of 3 boats, early in the season, all hooked into springers at the same time. Although this is not likely to happen today, there is still a significant run of spring fish through the system. The Glen Veagh system starts to fish from May onwards. Glen Lough will fish first, as it is further down the system, and later in the season you can fish the Lough Veagh in the striking Glen Veagh National Park. Seatrout weighing up to 5lb can be expected and a good average size, of around 1.5lbs to 2lbs, is common place.  John also has access to rivers and can be flexible, to ensure you get the best chance of success. Most of this fishing is well within an hour of Letterkenny.

Email [email protected]

Tel +353 (0) 872929888

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Lough Inagh

The lake is located in the beautiful Connemara National Park. The Inagh fishery still sustains a great run of salmon and seatrout. Talking with the local guide, Colin Folan, he affirmed that the seatrout numbers have been good over the past few seasons. Even though the dry weather last year held things up a little, there was still some fishing to be had.

The Inagh fishery is part of a larger spate river system and acts like a basin, filling up and bringing fresh fish into the lake with a flood. This is the best time to fish on the lake. Traditional lake style fishing, from a boat, is most productive method. Wet flies, from traditional seatrout patterns to more traditional lake pattern, such as dabblers,  bumbles and the famous silver daddy, all have their place. Time of year, light conditions and the right wave, all have to be taken into consideration when making your fly choice. The guides based at the lake will be able to help refine fly-choice for anglers on the day, as they spend most days on the lake when the fish are in. The Inagh fishery also have some nice river fishing in the Green Point River and the Derryclare Butts. You can either rent a boat from the Lodge and, if you have experience, brave it yourself or more advisably, take a guide. It's helpful to know you can fish 2 from a boat, so one guide can assist 2 anglers. Colin Folan is one of the main guides on the system and knows what is happening in the fishery. He is oe of the resident guides at Inagh Lodge and keeps everyone right.

Best time of year for Inagh

May - September (June - September being the preferred time.)


Recess, Connemara (Ireland)

Tel.:+353 95 34706

Email [email protected]

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Carrowmore Lakes and Beltra System

The Beltra and Carrowmore lakes are great places to get an early start to the season, providing salmon from March onwards. Carrowmore Lake is situated near Bangor Erris. Beltra is beside Newport House, in the small town of Newport in breathtaking County Mayo. It holds a healthy stock of spring salmon and it's not uncommon for an angler to catch 2 or 3 spring fish in one day, early season, when the conditions are good and fresh fish are in the system. This tends to be after a flood with a southerly breeze on the lake. In the summer months grilse and seatrout can be caught and give good sport to the end of the season. Newport house will support you with everything you need, from guides to accommodation. They also have a private part of the Beltra lake and access to the Newport River if you would like a change from the lake. I've had great early-season success on the Beltra lake, guided by the famous Eamonn Kennedy and can't recommend it enough. There are few fisheries you can go to early April, catch a 7lb and a 10lb fish in the same day and the guide treats it as common place! That was my experience of the lake; when it comes on, it's plentiful. I have friends who had 5 spring fish in the boat, between 2 of them, in the early season! Carrowmore Lake is similar. It's worth talking to the guides and taking their direction; they will know which lake is producing fish at any given time or weather condition. Newport House are a great contact for this. They will organise boats and guides for both lakes and a wide variety of other fishing in the area.  Greenisland co op also own fishing right on a substantial amount of the Lough Beltra and cn provide boat hire and access to the lake. I have added a link to their web page for further inormation. 

Newport House
Newport, Co. Mayo, Ireland

00353 (0) 9841222

Email [email protected]

Greenisland Co op

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Kylemore Lakes

The Kylemore Lakes are 3 lakes, situated an hour from Galway (approximately) and close to Letterfrack, beside Kylemore.

The lakes get both seatrout and salmon. Salmon run from March to the end of the season, depending on water levels. Sea trout start in June generally. August is often the peak for both. The guides on the lake have informed me that “A straight west wind at around 20km/h, a day or two after a spate on the river, is best but any good breeze that is mainly east or west will fish". Kylemore House School of Fly Fishing offer lessons (beginner and intermediate levels) for anyone wanting to build their confidence and give it a go.  Jasper is the best person to contact and you can reach him at the number below. 

Kylemore House School of Fly Fishing also offer boats, guiding or can organise accommodation in Letterfrack. Any package can be arranged to meet your needs.

Contact the fishery for further info and booking on.

Kylmore House School Of Fly Fishing

Kylemore Connemara Galway

Fishery Number +353 (0) 876031975

Jasper +353 (0) 83 8595354

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I have added some useful contacts, if you're planning to fish some of these destinations, with or without accommodation. Sharing between 2 people makes boat hire and guiding very affordable.

Donegal Area 

John McLaughlin Donegal 

Email [email protected]

Tel +353 (0) 872929888 

The Bridge Guns and Tackle (provide guiding across all of donegal)

19 Butcher St, Strabane, BT82 8BJ

028 7188 0826


Newport House

Newport, Co. Mayo, Ireland

00353 (0) 9841222

Email [email protected] 

Galway And Connemara 

Lough Inagh Lodge Hotel

Recess, Connemara (Ireland)

Tel.:+353 95 34706

Email [email protected]

Kylemore House School Of Fly Fishing 

Kylemore Connemara Galway

+353 (0) 876031975

Also worth a look in, Screebe House from mid-summer on, depending on water levels.

Rosmuc Galway GA1 Connemara Ireland 
+353 91 574110
[email protected]

Ballynahinch Castle, Ballynahinch, Connemara, Co. Galway

Tel: +353 (0)95 31006 
Fax: +353 (0)95 31085
Email: [email protected]

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