Fishing in Ireland, Uncategorized

Sunday in Mayo

No fishing (again). The weather has been settled for weeks now with no rain to speak of. The rivers have been reduced to shrunken rivulets and the salmon are still out at sea waiting for the weather to change. So today we went for a walk on the beach to make the best of the fine weather.

The Carrownisky is a small spate river which enters the sea at a strand of the same name. A ‘strand’ in Ireland is a beach, this one is a particularly fine example of a sandy beach. It is popular with surfers as it faces almost exactly due west and so gets some surf even in calm conditions.

We parked up on the high shingle bank near the surfers and walked along the firm sand under brilliant sunshine. These Atlantic beaches are inhospitable places and the only life we saw were a few sandpipers and an energetic Ringed Plover who ran along in front of us. The views across to Clare island and the far off Innish Turk were jaw-droppingly spectacular. Afraid my photo’s don’t do it justice.

We walked as far as the point where the Carrownisky River flows into the sea. The tide was dropping and the paltry flow from the river all but vanished into the gravel. It was easy to see why no salmon were able to run the river now.

The Carrownisky emptying into the Atlantic. It is ankle deep here

Helen beside the shrunken Carrownisky

The lake is in the distance.

The Reek in the background

It’s hard to believe looking at these photographs that the Carrownisky can be a fine little river on it’s day. A summer spate can see salmon run the river and the flats above the lake seem to hold them for a while and gives the angler a chance of a fish or two. The sea pool is also worth a few casts but it fishes better from the other side and access is an issue in high water.

The Sea Pool.

As for flies for this river you just need something small and dark. The best of the fishing is always on dark, windy days and a size 10 or 12 with plenty of black in it’s make up will do the business.

But today was all about the sun and the fresh air. We walked back to the car, chatting and taking in the views. The neoprene clad surfers dotted the waves near the car park, it was a day for their sport, not mine. Louisburg was quiet, despite the lovely day so we drove on to Murrisk where we stopped to take in the views from the foot of Croagh Patrick. Neither of us felt energetic enough to tackle the Reek today so we settled for a quick drink in Campbells fine establishment instead.

At the foot of the Reek

The well worn path up the reek

Let’s hope there is some rain this week, I am itching to get the rod out again!

Fishing in Ireland, sea angling, shore fishing

The end of the strand


Sunday presented a small window of opportunity to fish, but the timing was not going to be exactly as I would have liked. With few salmon around and the trout loughs in the doldrums decided that a couple of hours sea fishing was going to be the best option but the tides were a bit tricky. The low water marks around here generally fish for Huss and Thornies, but both of those species feed much more avidly in the dark. I was free between 6 and 9, meaning the fishing should just be getting going as I was packing up. So instead I opted for a short session feathering for mackerel off the point of Bertra.


My faithful old Daiwa reel

Truth be told, I had little expectations of sport. Reports suggested the Mackerel were holding in deeper water beyond casting range from the shore. My plan was to ambush some of them as they passed through the narrow gap at the end of Bertra beach. This has worked for me before but the fishing could never be described as hectic, just the odd stray fish now and again. I roped Ben on this scheme and we headed west into the setting sun soon after 6pm.

A new car park has been built at Bertra, a welcome addition as this is a very popular spot for tourists. The crowds were thinning out as we landed and trudged off up the strand in glorious weather.With hardly a breath of wind Clew Bay stretched out before us, shimmering in the heat.


The inner bay with Westport in the distance

The water rushes through the gap between the point of the strand and an island. Extremely strong currents mean entering the water is an absolute no no. I much prefer to fish here either side of high water, but there are usually a few fish hanging around at any state of the tide. We fished for a while with out success but the views more than made up for the lack of action.


Croagh Patrick



Sunset over Clare island

We had rigged up with feathers and were casting across the channel. The flow of water swept the terminal gear around rapidly, meaning there was a lot of casting going on. I lost two sets of gear on the bottom and floating weed was a constant pain. Eventually though Ben gave a shout and he reeled in a small Mackerel. Some 20 minutes later he repeated the exercise, this time with a larger fish. We fished on but no more bites were forthcoming. I took a few photos before we packed up a headed off.

Bertra is an interesting place to fish but I believe it is over rated in the angling guides. I have read about Skate and Monkfish being accessible from the shore at the back of the beach but nobody I know can verify these fish have ever been landed here.The beach itself is open, gently shelving and looks to be pretty sterile to me. I regard Bertra as a reliable mark for a few mackerel during the summer but there are many better marks around here. Having said that, the views are stunning and if you are a visitor to the area it is well worth  visit if you have family.

It was starting to get dark by the time we regained the tarred road heading for the car park. we had both worked up a considerable thirst so a short stop in McBride’s pub in Westport was called for. Hard to beat a pint of Guinness after a walk along the beach.



Well that has sorted out dinner tomorrow at any rate!

Ben kindly donated both Mackerel to a good cause (me) and I quickly filleted them and popped them into the ‘fridge when I got home. OK, so we didn’t catch a huge bag of fish, but it was 3 hour well spent in good company and in gorgeous surroundings. I’ll leave you with some more photos from the evening…………….