Coarse Fishing In County Kerry

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County Kerry is famous for its salmon and seatrout rivers. Fishing for Atlantic salmon is generally easily accessible and reasonably priced. The biggest fish, ‘springers’ usually run in the early months.

Throughout the season, many fish are caught in double figures with some reaching the early 2Olbs mark.

Grilse, smaller salmon which appear in the summer months from around early June, are swift, acrobatic and ready takers of the fly. They are distributed throughout most of the rivers and can be caught in large rivers such as the feale and the Blackwater and also the many small spate rivers.

Salmon can also provide fine sport while lake and lough fishing. Generally, salmon take best when fresh in from the sea, or just when the water is clearing after a flood.

The single most important element in salmon angling is finding where the fish are. In rivers this means knowing the lies, the places where the salmon rest. This knowledge remains the key to catching fish.

Visiting anglers should seek the help of a local experienced ghillie, especially when planning to visit big rivers.

These are rivers which can require deep wading in order to cover the lies effectively. Not only will your ghillie advise you of the most likely spots where fish may be located, but also what flies or spinning lure will work best and advice on wading down the river safely.

Seatrout also run most of the salmon rivers making their appearance usually from late June to August as they return from feeding in estuaries and coastal waters. Size varies from 8oz to exceptional specimens of over 6lbs. Many seatrout anglers prefer to fish at night than during the day when the trout seek cover.

Small spinning lures are a firm favourite with anglers targeting seatrout during the day. As with salmon they can be readily caught in receding summer floodwater.

Over the years a special range of flies has been developed for County Kerry salmon fishing with the shrimp fly being perhaps the most notable of these.

They exhibit a wide range of colours and hook sizes and are selected depending on water conditions and the particular river the angler is fishing. A size 6 or 8 fly is more suited to spring fish whereas smaller sizes down to 16 would be used for grilse in summer’s low water conditions.

Brown trout.

The native Kerry Brown trout can be found in almost all rivers, lake and lough systems. In County Kerry it is a fish of an infinite variety of colours and sizes according to its environment.

The acidic water from bogland produces small but brilliantly coloured fish whereas the trout from limestone lakes and loughs can reach up to 2Olbs.

County Kerry Trout Fishing is largely governed by the rhythms of the fly hatches on both lake, lough and river. The main hatches of duckfly emerge in late March and April and herald the start of the dry fly fishing.

May is one of the best months for the angler with the appearance of mayfly and what many regard as the most exciting of the lough fishing.

Lake olives, hawthorn and sedge also have their own timeslots. Again, the importance of having Kerry fly patterns cannot be emphasised enough for both wet and dry fly fishing.

An angling holiday in County Kerry is not only a time to catch fish and learn about new waters, it is also an opportunity to hone new skills and refine existing ones.


Tackle and equipment.

Several towns in County Kerry have fishing tackle shops where leader material, flies and other equipment may be bought.

The bigger towns have shops with a full range of rods, reels and clothing. Irish fly patterns may also be bought in these shops.

Tackle shops can be excellent sources of angling information, especially local information, and will usually supply fishing permits for local waters.

For a list of tackle shops in County Kerry visit Kerry Fishing Secrets.

Licences and permits

A state licence is required for salmon and sea trout fishing. A range of Iicences are available depending on the areas the angler wishes to fish, the duration of the visit and the age of the angler. It is a requirement to tag salmon and sea trout taken for the table.

Tags, together with a small logbook, are given along with the state licence, available from fishing tackle shops and Regional Fisheries Boards. The price and duration of the licence varies and the Central Fisheries Board website ( includes details of costs and bag limits for the the County of Kerry.

A licence does not confer a right to fish in any water. This requires a fishing permit which must be obtained separately. The majority of waters are either owned privately, or by the state.

A fishing permit issued by the owner gives the possessor a right to fish for varying periods ranging from a day to a season. Some fisheries do not require permits.


County Kerry waters are usually reached by passing through farmland and anglers are allowed this access by courtesy of local farmers. They will give a warm welcome but please respect their property. Close all gates and take your litter with you.


Some of the Kerry inland waters are very large and become dangerous in high winds; they may have reefs or rocky shoals which can be hazardous even on a calm day.

It is essential to be familiar with such waters so hire a ghillie or guide for the first few days of the trip. A lifejacket should be worn by each angler in the boat.


In Kerry, as elsewhere, conservation is necessary to protect the variety of fish, especially native species, in our waters. Trout and salmon angling is fishing for sport, the enjoyment being in the challenge and not the size of the catch.

It is fundamental to the survival of our brown trout and salmon fisheries that they are managed and used in a sustainable manner.

Anglers are urged to limit the number of wild fish they kill and to return all others to the water carefully and safely. For more specific information on bag limits, contact the licensing authorities. Most local operators and tackle shops will provide guidance.

There are now bag limits for spring salmon, and grilse, and all fish caught must be tagged with a tag provided with the anglers log.

County Kerry has some of the most lightly fished lakes and rivers in Europe, and its free almost everywhere. The landscape is littered with lakes and drained by many rivers, with thousands of superb locations for coarse angling.

With so much space, it is a common experience to find yourself in a corner of a Kerry lake with not another angler in sight.

The scale of Kerry waters varies dramatically. What they all have in common, big and small, is their wonderful wealth of fish life.

Although there is no close season for coarse fishing in County Kerry, it is worthwhile to remember however that some species are most active in the warmer months.

Fish, which actively feed throughout the year principally, pike, roach and perch can be caught in every calendar month.

Tench, bream and rudd are most active in the warmer months and have a natural season lasting from about April to October.

Most Kerry rivers lakes and loughs are subject to seasonal rhythms of high and low water. Winter floods may put some rivers out of fishing condition from time to time.



Bream are one of the most common fish in Kerry waters with shoal fish averaging 2 to 5lbs. They can grow to over l2lbs. Shoals of adult fish (slabs) are often huge and much sought after by the coarse angler with many catches of over 10lbs taken annually.


Rudd grow especially well in big peaty rivers and in shallow clear limestone lakes and loughs, where shoals of rudd can be seen cruising near the surface. The biggest specimens, fish over 3Ibs, have been caught by targeting large individuals from a boat.


Roach are the most prolific of fish all over Ireland. Along with bream and hybrids, they attract anglers from Britain and Continental Europe to major annual angling festivals and can be caught all year round, even in very cold conditions.


Among Kerry coarse fish, the tench is greatly prized. It is widely distributed throughout the lakes, loughs and rivers.


The perch is found all over the County of Kerry in all types of waters and in all sizes. In fact, it is the most common of Irish fish and anglers often catch perch inadvertently while fishing for other species. The specimen weight is 3Ibs.


Introduced to lakes of large estates hundreds of years ago carp have a limited distribution with 7lbs being a typical weight.


The best chance of hooking a specimen eel is just after dusk and before dawn.

Pike Angling

Despite its awesome teeth and antisocial behaviour —cannibalism for instance — the Kerry pike is a wonderful fish and needs gentle handling. Be kind to your pike and put them back carefully.

Beautiful, wild and uncrowded, the Kerry countryside might have been designed with the pike angler in mind. An abundance of magnificent pike can be found in a huge variety of locations throughout the County, from a seemingly endless network of rivers to lakes and literally hundreds of loughs of all sizes.

You can choose between fishing in a small lake amidst idyllic scenery or boat fishing on one of the enormous fish-rich loughs that can be as smooth as a lagoon or, when the wind whips up, like an inland sea.

Heavy weight pike abound throughout the county in such prime examples of wild Kerry waters

Some pikers insist that the smaller the lake the better chance there is of taking a specimen fish. On the other hand the greatest concentrations of coarse fish in Kerry are in systems of the where the fodder fish are plentiful, that’s where the pike go.

The pike, the most predatory of European freshwater fish, is a quarry that fascinates both the professional and amateur angler. The large ones are truly impressive and our rivers and lakes produce some very big pike annually.

It is because of the quantity and quality of the shoals of fish which the pike prey on that Kerry pike grow fast and mature earlier than in some other European countries.

Kerry pike begin to pair in February and move into shallow margins to spawn in the spring. Many of the biggest pike are captured just before and after spawning time.

Pike are a little less active in winter but can feed aggressively at specific times during the day and sport can be outstanding.

Small sheltered lowland lakes, loughs and rivers can also produce big pike but are also very attractive for lure and fly fishing. They can also be very important reserve waters for those days when high winds and water levels render the larger venues unfishable.

If you take a boat out on a big lake which are many miles long you need to approach them with detailed background information. Pike move around these loughs and it is important to locate them as they follow shoals of the fish they feed on or go to their own spawning beds.


County Kerry is famous for its hard fighting and prolific numbers of hybrids, namely the roach bream hybrid and the rudd bream hybrid both growing up to 8lbs.


It is vital to get angling information on the venues where you wish to fish. This can be obtained from the local Fisheries Board. The Central Fisheries Board produces regular coarse anghng updates for the Republic of Ireland. Information should also be available in guest accommodation.

If you are fishing for bream, roach, hybrids etc. several days will be needed to allow pre-baiting sufficient time to work, although this is not always necessary on the more popular stretches of water as fish tend to stay in the areas where they have been fed

In the areas where they have been fed by previous visitors. On a river or lake careful plumbing should be done beforehand to find features where the fish will concentrate to feed.

Pre-baiting requires a mix of brown crumb and some continental groundbaits laced with squats etc. It is important to have ensured sufficient quantities of grooudbait/hookbait for the fishing session, as Kerry waters have big shoals which require a lot of feed to hold them in front of the angler.

When photographing the catch at the end of the day it is better to select some of the bigger specimens from a large haul than to spread all fish on the ground and risk injury to them, and return the fish to the water as soon as possible.


County Kerry’s network of tackle shops are mostly located in main angling centres, and offer a wide choice of coarse angling baits: maggots, casters, worms, brown and white crumb, a range of continental groundbaits, hemp, flavours and additives.

Boilies are available at some outlets. Bait and groundbait can be ordered in advance of your holiday, either through specialist angling guesthouses, or directly through suppliers. Tackle shops also carry a range of frozen deadbaits for pike and artificial lures.


Access to land on angling waters may be on private property. Fishermen should take care to ensure that the necessary permission is sought from landowners. On many developed fisheries, normal access is over stiles with nearby parking provided. Fishery Board coarse angling maps show proper access points to good angling stretches.


Some County Kerry inland waters are very large and become dangerous in high winds; they may have reefs or rocky shoals which can be hazardous even on a calm day. It is essential to be familiar with such waters and their hazards before going afloat unaided; a ghillie or guide should be hired for the first few days of the trip. A lifejacket should be worn by each angler in the boat.

Licences and fishing permits

The angler is legally required to be in possession of a licence when coarse fishing in County Kerry. A licence does not confer a right to fish in any water. This requires a fishing permit which must be obtained separately.

The majority of waters are either owned privately, or by the state. A fishing permit issued by the owner gives the possessor a right to fish for varying periods, ranging from a day to a season. Some fisheries may not require permits.


In County Kerry as elsewhere, conservation is necessary to protect the variety and quality of fish in our waters. You should keep this in mind while still making the most of the good sport on offer.

In coarse angling the use of large finely meshed, knotless keepnets is encouraged (pike should be kept in specially designed sacks) to retain fish for weighing and photographing before returning them alive to the water.

Protective legislation in place for coarse and pike fishing throughout Ireland, north and south, states that:

1. It is illegal to fish with more than two rods.

2. It is illegal to transfer live roach from one water to another.

3. The use of live fish as bait in Angling competitions and festivals

Many coarse angling competitions and festivals are held in the main fishing centres. Daily competitions and many week-long festivals take place on lakes, loughs, rivers and canals in almost every week from April to October. They are usually regulated according to strict conservation rules with fish being returned after weighing.

The week-long festivals offer the chance of big catches, prizes and lively local entertainment which will include music, dance and other activities.

For information on angling festivals visit the local Fisheries Board website or ask at the tackle shop.

Specialist Accommodation Coarse angling tends to be organised around centres where angling tourism has been highly developed.

Whatever type of specialist angling accommodation you choose — from hotels to self-catering cottages — all provide a variety of services. Most of them have facilities for storing and drying clothing. Fridges, freezers and cold rooms where anglers can store their bait are now common.

Most accommodation providers will help angling guests by scheduling flexible meal times and supplying packed lunches. Some have boats with engines on nearby lakes and loughs for their anglers. All will have literature on local angling venues.

Also Go-To

County Kerry Sea Fishing 

Kerry Salmon 

Coarse Fishing In Kerry 

Fishing In County Kerry

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