Salmon season March 1 - September 30
The River Feale is among the outstanding salmon and sea trout rivers of Ireland. The River rises in the mountain district of North Co Cork and flows westerly for 75 km (46 miles) through the county towns of Abbeyfeale and Listowel and enters the sea south of Ballybunion. For the final 10 kms (6 miles) of its course, it is known as the Cashen River. Throughout its meandering journey to the sea it flows through a picturesque landscape of heather bog land, fertile valleys and rolling hills. Its main tributaries, flowing from both North and South, combine to add in excess of 160 kms (100 miles) of fishable waters.
The Feale is a fast flowing spate river subject to flooding during periods of persistent rainfall. The lower section is dominated by large deep fish-holding pools and an important feature of the upper river and its tributaries is the frequency with which deep holding pools occur. It is presumably this latter feature that makes it such a good fishery so far upstream. At the bottom, it is tidal almost to Finuge Bridge and rod and line fishing ends about 3 kms (2 miles) below the bridge. In times of low flow the water runs clear but takes on a dark peat stained appearance in a spate.
This is a large river, with a gravel bed and overgrown, steep banks on many stretches. Wading is necessary in places, especially for fly fishing. Body waders be of great help and a wading staff essential.
The River Feale gets equally good runs of salmon and sea trout. In a good season it is estimated that the river produces at least 1500 salmon and grilse and well over 2,000 sea trout to rod and line. There are fish in the river from opening day on March 1st and the best of the spring fishing is up to mid April depending on water levels.
Grilse begin showing about mid June and there is always a dramatic improvement in mid July, with very good fishing for larger fish from mid August to the end of the season in September, in suitable weather conditions. The spring salmon average about 9lbs and the grilse about 5lbs. The best of the salmon fishing is from the tide up to Abbeyfeale. The sea trout tend to run quickly quickly through the middle stretches and the best fishing is considered to be either below Listowel or above Abbeyfeale in the Brosna/Mountcollins Club water. All legitimate angling methods are allowed, with spinning, worm and fly being most popular for salmon. The Feale is the home of the 'Lane Minnow' which is made locally, and is a highly successful bait, although traditional Devon minnows and spoons are also popular. In recent times the Flying 'C' in various colours has proved a remarkably effective bait in all conditions. The popular salmon flies are Garry Dog, Blue Charm, Lemon & Grey, Thunder & Lightning, Hairy Mary, Ally Shrimp, Wilkinson ( for a bright day) and of course a local dressing widely known in the locality as the 'Halpin' which is said to be an excellent fly on the river late in the season. It is available in all the local tackle shops.
SEA TROUT FISHING
Sea trout enter the system from early May and provide sport right through to September. The bigger fish arrive early and the peak of the season is from mid June into August. They range in size from 0.5lb to 6lbs, averaging 1-1.5lbs. Many seatrout are taken downstream of Listowel spinning. The best fly fishing is had above Abbeyfeale. Night-time fly fishing can be very effective. Flies fished are Silver Doctor, Butchers, Black Pennell, Peter Ross, Teal and Silver, Thunder & Lightning just to mention a few. Medium sink fly lines are generally used.
CLUB WATERS: About 50% of the main River Feale and the Smearlagh River is controlled by 5 angling clubs. These clubs are some of the best angling waters and each club offers day tickets for visiting anglers. The rest of the Feale and its tributaries are effectively open waters, but it is recommended that local advise and direction be sought before accessing any stretches of the system. All club waters are signposted and some club stretches may vary annually.
Killocrim/Finuge Angling Club control approximately 6.5 kms (4 miles) of water downstream of Listowel. Good salmon and grilse angling and fair sea trout angling as the fish run through. 'Fly only' is the rule on a stretch of water at Finuge Bridge. Day and evening permits are available from Dan Joy Tel: International +353 68 40310 Tel Ireland 068 40310.
The North Kerry Anglers Association has access to about 15 kms (9 miles) of fishing in the vicinity of Listowel on both the main river and its tributary, the Smearlagh River. Salmon and grilse fishing with good sea trout. The town stretch has some beautiful salmon pools which have been recently developed, and this stretch also provides some very good sea trout fishing. contact North Kerry Anglers Association PRO Mr Jim Horgan Tel: Outside Ireland +353 68 23848. Inside Ireland 068 23848 Fax International: +353 68 21504 Fax in Ireland 068 21504
Brosna / Mountcollins Angling Club' control about 13 kms (8 miles) of double bank fishing from below the Owveg River confluence, up past Mountcollins, to within a short distance of Ahuan Bridge. This stretch produces a small catch of grilse but excels as a seatrout fishery. The seatrout fishing here is best from mid May to September. Permits are available from Dan Shine at Tel International +353 68 44251 In Ireland Tel: 068 44251. Club Secretary Pat Danagher Tel: 068 44281
Weather conditions prevailing on any given day(s) can dramatically affect water levels on the Feale. Visiting anglers are advised to have contacts to let them know the condition of the river as water levels can adversely effect angling prospects.