With a catchment area that covers the greater part of central Ireland, the River Shannon with its tributaries and loughs constitutes a vast coarse angling paradise.
The River Shannon is approximately 160 miles long, running south from a pothole at Derrylahan, Co Cavan, to a long estuary at Limerick, and then on to the Atlantic Ocean. The catchment area is 6,060 square miles, with tributaries of 1,130 miles.
The river bulges at places into great lakes (called loughs) and the incoming rivers and streams are fed by springs that rise in the rich limestone plains of central Ireland. It is a slow-flowing river: over almost 100 miles the drop in level is only 55ft from Lough Allen to Lough Derg.
The Shannon is now known as a coarse angling playground, but oddly enough, fishing only started, perhaps, with the increasing popularity of cruising holidays. The Guinness firm invested £lm in craft and encouraged French and German holidaymakers. They came equipped with bait and spinning rods, and were delighted to find very large pike, perch, bream, rudd and, in some special places, big tench.
Unfortunately their enthusiasm led them to unfortunate practices—those of handling five to six rods at a time, and of removing large quantities of pike from the river. Eventually, to preserve the pike fishing, a bye-law was passed in October 1977 limiting each angler to two rods.
In the upper reaches of the Shannon, Drumshanbo, in Co Leitrim, just south of Lough Allen, is the major fishing base, Lough Allen (18 square miles) has both boat and bank fishing, while Drumshanbo has 12 listed lakes for coarse fish within three miles of the town, with car and foot access points signposted. Two miles west of Drumshanbo, the fast water below the sluices at Ballintra Bridge is good for pike. Catches of pike to 30lb are common, and James Earley of Mount Allen caught a 36lb pike there. At Lough Allen, local angler P J Reynolds caught 12 pike weighing 117lb in half a day.
Most of the lakes around Drumshanbo have only bank fishing, but Acres Lake will be available to boat anglers when a disused canal going south from Battlebridge is reopened. For further details of fishing in this area, contact Joe Mooney, Drumshanbo, or B McGourty, Car-rick Road, Drumshanbo, who are always ready to help.
Carrick-on-Shannon is an important crossing point and angling centre on the River Shannon. A valuable angling tributary, the River Boyle, leads eight miles north-west to Lough Key, taking in Lough Drumharlow and Lough Oakport, both offering good boat fishing for bream, rudd, pike and perch. There are two stretches of bank fishing here with very good bream; one mile of bank from Knockvicar Bridge to Lough Key, and the Upper Boyle which feeds into Lough Key. Lough Key (six square miles) has pike, perch and rudd for boat anglers, with bank fishing in abundance around the lake, and 1 1/2 miles on the Upper Boyle towards Boyle town. For further information contact Maria Finlay at the Tourist Office in Boyle, or one of the local boat hirers who will always help.
Carrick-on-Shannon has a wealth of fishing from banks as well as from
Platforms located in reed-fringed pools in the town area. Cruiser traffic is busy here, but does not interfere with angling lines, except at narrow bridges. For more details contact the Tourist Office.
The Shannon then winds through Lough Curry for five miles to Jamestown, a good angling spot, with faster water and sluices. From here there is 3% miles of good bank fishing to Drumsna, but downstream the wildness of the Shannon becomes apparent and is perhaps best left alone by the angler.
Good angling starts again nine miles downstream. Just upriver of Roosky, the branching Carrandoe lakes offer good boat fishing and are large enough to accommodate many anglers. Roosky offers abundant bank fishing for bream, rudd and pike, and has numerous boats for hire on adjoining lakes. Downstream of Roosky to Lough Forbes there is good boat angling with bank sites on the northern shore where Rinn River flows in. For details of this area contact Mrs Duffy, Killianiker House, Roosky, Co Roscommon.
Strokestown is not situated on the Shannon proper, but is a fine centre for boat or bank fishing on at least 10 lakes. Notable among them are Lough Cloonfree and Lough Kilglass, especially good for boat fishing, and Lough Lea. George Gearty, Conner House, Strokes-town, can give details.
Fishing by the lock
Termonbarry and Cloondara, three miles below the Shannon outflow from Lough Forbes, are familiar angling locations with bank space % 8lb 12oz. Since 1970 Lanesborough has become widely known for big tench. Up to 1974 it had recorded 138 specimens to 7lb 13’ioz with at least that number since then. The fishing bank extends from the power station on the left bank into the lake. Contact Tony D’Alton, 24 The Green, Lanesborough.
Lough Ree, from Lanesborough to Athlone, is 20 miles long, with ex-pansions on both sides that are large enough to be called lakes. Most popular coarse fish species are found everywhere. The lough is fished from boats and cruisers strong enough to withstand sudden squalls. It can be a fearsome place in a storm and is not recommended to anyone with a small boat.
Most of Lough Ree boat angling, on both sides of the lock system. Cloondara, however, has recently become polluted.
From this point, the seven mile stretch leading to Lough Ree has mainly unnamed and unknown angling points where the banks are often unstable and the locality wild. Lough Ree is too big and uncharted to interest any but the most intrepid bank angler, except perhaps at Anchor Bay and Cureen Point.
Lanesborough, where the Shannon enters Lough Ree, has everything to recommend it as an angling centre. It is heavily fished, with anglers queueing up on some days.
In the town, fishing is on the left bank from the lake to the power station. At this point there is hot water effluent from the power station and early in the season the warm water attracts specimen bream, rudd, bream-rudd hybrids and perch. The Irish record bream-rudd hybrid, 5lb 13 1/2 oz, was caught here and no fewer than 38 specimen bream up to mainly for pike, starts immediately upstream from Athlone. There is also a lot of trolling in the mile-long river stretch. The banks around the lake are firm, especially in the west, with a notable rudd spot on Charlie’s Island, near the Jolly Mariner marina. Passing cruisers can be troublesome and boat anglers are advised to go three miles upstream to Lough Coosan and Lough Killinure, into a system of inner lakes holding plenty of bream, rudd, tench and hybrids.
Downstream from Athlone’s lock and weir, still within the town, there is bank space on both sides. The west side is particularly good as is a disused canal nearby. Boat owners pass idle hours fishing from decks for perch at the lock. Three miles south of Athlone, Wren’s Island has fine fishing from the main bank, but boat fishing is better. Big rudd live here. One of 2lb 12V&OZ was taken in 1976, as well as a 4lb ll’oz rudd-bream hybrid and a 6lb 2oz tench. Barry Brill, 31 Battery Heights, Athlone, or Aiden Gallagher, the secretary of the Athlone Anglers Association, can give you further information about fishing.
At Shannonbridge, 12 miles below Athlone, the River Suck flows in from the west. It is an important sport river, and Ballinasloe is very popular with anglers. There is abundant bank fishing for tench, perch and bream, while The Suck at Culliagh, Coreen, and upriver at Derrycahill are favourite places for bream and rudd. The hot water at Shannonbridge produces good bream, rudd and tench. Patrick Lawless, 4 Hillcrest, Ballinasloe, Shannonbridge or Dermot Killeen, Shannonbridge, can give more details about the fishing.
Banagher is 10 miles south of the River Suck inflow to the Shannon and 20 miles south of Athlone. It is a good centre with lots of bank, footbridges and platforms.
Portumna, at the north end of the vast Lough Derg, has a mixed reputation for coarse angling. Silt from the peat bogs is continually being washed down, and then stirred up by cruiser traffic, so that angling is stopped at certain times. This does not mean, however, that angling is always poor. The main disadvantage is perhaps that local knowledge, while being essential, is in short supply. There is no local club contact to give information.
Lough Derg (50 square miles) is so big that most of the Norfolk Broads could be fitted into it, and angling space left over. A lake for boat and cruising anglers, it is dangerous in sudden storms, and has shoals. Dromineer on the east shore and Mountshannon on the west are locations for modest bank and safe boat fishing. Cruising anglers should try fishing at anchor at Luska Bay, six miles north of Dromineer, for truly big pike.
Killaloe, mostly a marina area with heavy boat traffic, is not recommended, though an enquiring angler with time to spare could find surprises in many of the quiet, un-fished spots in the area.
The head race from Parteen, leading to the Ardnacrusha Power Station, has substantial stocks of perch, bream and rudd, with pike, while at O’Briensbridge, eight miles north of Limerick city, and at Plassey, there is an abundance of bream, rudd, hybrids and pike. Joe Maloney at O’Briensbridge can give more details of the area.