Angling Notes: Arrival of non-native pink salmon causes unease

Members of the public asked to report catches of the species to Inland Fisheries


Over the past two weeks there have been several reports of non-native pink salmon in Galway, Mayo and Donegal rivers. The species, which is of Pacific source, originates from the west coasts of the United States and Canada as well as Northern Asia.

Their appearance is of concern as it may impact Ireland’s own Atlantic salmon species. Catches have been reported on the Foxford Fishery, Coolcronan Fishery, Galway Fishery, Cong River and the Drowes in recent days.

Pink or humpback salmon are a migratory species, native to river systems in the northern Pacific Ocean and regions of the Bering Sea and Arctic Ocean. Outside of its native range, the species has established self-sustaining populations in rivers in northern Norway and the far northwest of Russia.

These populations are believed to have originated from stocking programmes undertaken in this part of Russia in the second half of the 20th century. In Ireland, there is no license to farm pink salmon.

Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) is appealing to the public to report catches with a view to helping to establish the abundance and extent of their distribution in Irish waters.

The species has a number of unique characteristics which are different to Atlantic salmon and can be distinguished by large black oval spots on the tail, 11-19 rays on the anal fin, very small scales, no dark spots on the gill cover and upper jaw extending beyond the eye.

IFI’s Dr Greg Forde, said: “The appearance of pink salmon in the West of Ireland is currently a mystery to us. It seems unlikely that these fish made a migration due to their small size. The concern is that when angling, anglers are only exploiting about 15 percent of the salmon stock so there are likely to be several more of these fish in rivers.”

Members of the public who catch a pink salmon are asked to contact IFI without delay and to record date, location, length, weight, photograph and kept for further examination. Reports can be made to the 24-hour confidential hotline number – 1890 34 74 24 or 1890 FISH 24. For further information download Pink Salmon Factsheet at

Catch and release reminders

CPRsavesfish stencils have been placed on a number of bridges and footfall locations across the country to enlighten the public towards the importance of catch and release in pursuit of a conservation-focused angling structure.

CPR (catch, photo, release) is an angling technique proven to contribute to the welfare of healthy fish stocks and to ensure future generations can enjoy the recreational and economic benefits of the fisheries resource.

Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) supports catch and release across all types of angling including pike, coarse, salmon and trout fishing as well as sea angling. The method results in positive survival rates for fish when caught using best practise methods.

Research carried out by IFI and Norwegian Institute for Nature Research in 2014 examined the survival of salmon after catch and release fishing in three Irish rivers – the Owenmore, Mulkear and Feale. Overall, 92 per cent survived post catch and release after tagging.

The stencils, which have been power washed onto pavements, are environmentally friendly and expected to fade in the coming weeks, can be found in each river basin district including Dublin, Cork, Galway, Limerick, Letterkenny and Kilkenny.

Suzanne Campion, Head of Business Development, said: “This awareness campaign aims to put angling on the general public’s radar by playing on the concept of CPR as a lifesaving mechanism and to engage existing anglers around the practise of catch and release fishing.”

See for more information.

Six salmon caught on Owenea River

The catch register on the Owenea River has recorded six salmon to date. Two of the better fish fell to Frankie Byrne with a 4.5kg salmon on Beat 5 and Michael McLoughlin for a 5.4kg fish on spinner from Beat 7.

On Melvin trout fishing picked up with rods reporting an improvement for the sonaghan. Although a large percentage were undersize, the bigger fish did make an appearance later in the week.

The Drowes continued to run at very low levels, yet despite this, an average of six grilse were caught each day. The majority came from the sea pools, understandable, given the low water levels. On Sunday, one rod reported five from the pools!

Going tough on Mask

Trout angling on Mask was almost non-existent over the last couple of weeks as many anglers focused attention on salmon and family holidays, according to Ronan Cusack.

Dorrie and Eddie Gibbons had a day on Mask and found it slow, finishing with Dorrie having one trout over the limit on wets. Local anglers Noel Moran and Ted Wherry fished wets and dries and apart from seeing plenty of mayfly around Collage Bay and Srah area, they too found the going tough.

Philip Comber and a German friend from the Old Stone Barn, Clonbur had two cracking trout totalling 3kg on dry sedge one night last week.

“With the world cup just around the corner, hopefully the fishing will improve in the next week or so,” said Cusack.

Cast a Line for Autism

The fourth Cast a Line for Autism fly fishing competition in aid of Irish Guide Dogs will take place on Saturday, 29th July, 2017 on Lough Corrib or Mask (your choice). Wetfly or dapping is permitted and anglers must choose their own partner and boat.

Registration will be in Lydon’s Lodge Hotel, Cong from 9 am with fishing 11am to 6pm. Entry fee is €50 per angler. Lots of prizes and finger food available at weigh-in. To date, the event has raised €11,000! Contact Dorrie Gibbons on (087) 938 3185 for further details.

61st World Cup

Entries are now being accepted for the 61st World Cup trout fly angling championship. The event will take place on Lough Mask from 3rd to 7th August, 2017 with fishing out from Cushlough Bay in Ballinrobe, Co Mayo.

There is a huge array of prizes including first prize of €3,000, 15hp Yamaha engine, Sage fly rod and reel and the world silver perpetual cup. Closing date for entries is this Thursday, 20th July and should include entry fee of €130 to Esther Sweeney, 30 Lakelawns, Ballinrobe, Co Mayo. Tel: 087-2222 867.

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