Distribution of Irish Pike
Pike are very common in Ireland but are most prevalent in the North, North East, and Midlands areas. They can be found to a lesser extent in the South, South West and West of Ireland. There are hundreds of loughs varying in size from a few hectares to thousands of hectares and many thousands of kilometres of rivers for pike anglers to explore. County Cavan for instance can boast of 365 lakes alone of various sizes all of which are connected to the River Erne and offer good pike fishing. Starting from the lower Lough Erne system at Enniskillen in Fermanagh, through to Upper Lough Erne, the Shannon Erne waterway connects to many major pike fisheries though Cavan and Leitrim onto the River Shannon and its many major lake networks and tributaries. The development of these navigation systems has allowed anglers to access these waters by cruiser or by small boat. Major pike fisheries on the River Shannon include Loughs Allen, Ree, Derravarragh and Derg and its tributaries the Rivers Suck and Inny. Either side of this midland group of fisheries, there are many pike lake systems to be found in counties Monaghan and Clare. In the south, the River Barrow, produces many specimen pike annually and holds the current river record of 42 lbs. (19.0 Kg.). Our network of canals which link Dublin and the River Shannon can also produce some great pike fishing in nice relaxed surroundings with a safe and easily accessible towpath to fish from. In the north, there is some fine pike fishing on rivers like the Bann and on small lakes like Lough Beg (above Lough Neagh), the Oaks fishery outside Derry and Clay lake in Armagh. No matter where you are based during your stay in Ireland you are never too far from quality pike fishing.
Folklore and Fact
In Ireland, there are many stories and legends of great Irish pike including pike of 92 and 90 lbs (42 & 41 Kg.). reportedly captured in the late 1800’s on Lough Derg and on the River Shannon at Meelick. In 1920, the one time Irish record pike of 53 lbs. (24 Kg.) was taken on Lough Conn and this fish was also a European record for many years. Due to the strict criteria currently laid down in relation to the capture of record and specimen fish in Ireland, this record fish was removed from the list in the early 1970’s. Many angling books written about pike fishing in Europe always contain a chapter or two extolling the virtues of Irish pike fishing with a recommendation that “a visit here is a necessity to sample some of the best pike fishing in Europe”.
The official rod-caught records for Irish pike are 42 lbs. 12 ozs. (19.39 Kg.) for a lough fish, and 42 lbs. (19.05 Kg.) for a river fish. Irish pike generally grow faster and mature earlier than their European counterparts due to the excellent habitat and the quantity and quality of fodder fish. In some good rich Irish waters pike in Ireland can reach 20 lbs. (9.072 Kg.) in their 5th year and 30 lbs. (13.608 Kg.) in their 7th year.