Brown trout: 17 March to 30 September
Salmon and sea trout: 17 March to 30 September
The River Suir is renowned for its game angling, holding both salmon (Salmo salar) and brown trout (Salmo trutta). This guide deals primarily with brown trout angling and its purpose is to assist both Irish and visiting anglers by providing as much information as possible on trout stocks within the catchment and by outlining where the best fishing is available. The season runs from 17th March to 30th September inclusive. Where left bank and right bank are referred to, this means left and right when looking downstream. We hope that the information contained in this booklet will help to make your visit to this beautiful river a rewarding experience.
When fishing the River Suir, you will often need to cross farmland and access is courtesy of the local farmer. Please respect their property, crops and animals, light no fires or leave any litter and leave gates as you found them. When parking make sure that you are not blocking gates.
Description of the Suir Fishery
The River Suir Catchment drains an area in the southeast of the country of approximately 3546 km2. This represents about 4% of the land area of Ireland. The Suir main channel and its tributaries flow mainly through counties Tipperary, Kilkenny and Waterford, though very small pockets of the catchment are within Limerick and Cork. The River Suir rises in the Devils Bit Mountains near Moneygall (North of Templemore) and flows in a southerly direction until meeting the Knockmealdown Mountain range where the river changes its course northwards. Further downstream its course is again altered, where, at Knocklofty, the river turns east passing north of the Comeragh Mountains and continues to flow on through Waterford City until it enters the sea at Waterford Harbour. The river is tidal to a point upstream of Carrick-on-Suir.
The river is a paradise for both the trout and the angler. Unlike most rivers, it cannot easily be divided into distinct ecological zones. Almost its entire channel from Templemore down to the estuary at Carrick-on-Suir is a continuous series of shallow and deep (< 2.0m) glides interrupted occasionally by shallow riffles. It simply increases in width as one proceeds downstream, remaining relatively shallow and maintaining its very good trout carrying capacity over practically its entire length. It has many tributaries, which drain large areas of limestone and these give to the river as a whole, most of the best characteristics of a chalk stream.
A few tips in the successful angler’s approach: A standard dry fly rod (9 - 91/2 ft.) which has an A.F.T.M. rating of 5 – 6 is ideal. Most anglers use a standard double-taper floating line. A 4 lb (1.5 kg or 2 kg) B.S. leader tip is desirable in most situations. You may hook more trout with lighter nylon. A very light (2 lb or 1 kg B.S.) leader point should only be used when fish are taking smuts or midges.
Chest waders and a wading stick are an essential part of an angler’s tackle when fishing the main Suir channel. In most areas the river bed is a stable stone / gravel / sand matrix which is reasonably firm. Remember that this is a big strong river and anglers wading should always be careful particularly in high water levels. In addition it is advisable for the angler to bring layered clothing, as the weather can change from being very warm in the morning to heavy rain in the afternoon. A waterproof wading jacket is a must.
Although the trout stocks are abundant, remember that this does not make them easy to catch. They are extremely selective, so fine leaders and small flies are the norm. This is not due to over fishing, it just appears that these have always been very smart fish. The River Suir was deemed to surpass the celebrated chalk streams the Test and the Itchen by Lord Grey of Fallodon. In his book “Fly Fishing” first published in 1899, he wrote of the River Suir when he fished it in 1880 “in May and in June it might be the finest dry fly fishing in the United Kingdom”. However, the fishing on Irish rivers is challenging. The rivers have abundant fly life therefore making the trout very selective and they often refuse a fly. Lord Grey also wrote “There were trout visibly and audibly rising, which had never seen an artificial dry fly…. They defeated me utterly. I walked and knelt and waded and laboured and perspired under August sun without success.”
Hatches & Flies on the River Suir
Insect hatches on the River Suir are prolific, with good hatches of BWO, sedges, spurwings and many other olives. The hatches have declined in recent years as with most rivers, however during warm balmy evenings the river and its tributaries come alive with trout.
The highlight of the angling season is the “Evening Rise” during the summer months from mid May until the end of August, From 7pm onwards, the river comes alive with spinner falls and hatches, for example in the earlier part of the evening the angler can encounter BWO duns, followed by some spinner action, and after that if conditions are right a hatch of sedge. It is a technical river to fish, with lots of slow pools and “slick” water with conflicting currents, making it hard to achieve a long drift. This adds to the mystery and beauty of the river, making the Suir a fascinating river to fish.
Five flies which we’d recommend in an angler’s box on this river are pictured below. Having these flies in various sizes would cover most fishing situations. Where possible, local knowledge should be sought as to the correct fly to use.
River Suir Catchment
TEMPLEMORE - THURLES - HOLYCROSS
Templemore and District Anglers hold most of the fishing from the headwaters north of the town of Templemore downstream to the north side of Rossestown Bridge. Angling on the above mentioned stretch may produce trout averaging 30 – 40 cm. Best suited for angling in the early morning and at dusk.
Similar angling conditions apply to Thurles, Suir and Drish Anglers Association. Their waters extend from Rossestown Bridge, through Thurles town to the upstream side of the bridge at Holycross village. A section of the Drish River extending from the confluence with the River Suir up to Authlumen Bridge is also inclusive.
The stretch of river from Turtalla Bridge (N62) which is downstream of Thurles town extending for approximately 400 m holds a nice stock of trout up to 30 cm.
The next section on this River begins at Cabragh Bridge (south of Thurles town) which extends for 200 m. Here the angler can expect to meet trout between 20 - 30 cm.
HOLYCROSS - GOLDEN - NEW BRIDGE
The Suir waters of Holycross / Ballycamusk Anglers Club extend downstream from Holycross Bridge (R660) to the townlands of Ballycamusk / Nodstown North. It encompasses a stretch of the Clodagh River from the Railway Bridge downstream to the confluence with the River Suir. The angler is likely to encounter trout up to 50 cm in this fishery. When wading, the angler may encounter some deep holes within the Two Fords Bridges (left off of R660) area even in low flow. Both wet and dry fly fishing areas are dispersed throughout this fishery.
The Clodagh Anglers control the fishing on the right bank of the River Clodagh from the Railway Bridge upstream to above Annfield Bridge. From the Suir-Clodagh confluence down to Ballycamusk Ford is an excellent dry fly fishing area holding good stocks of trout up to 40 cm. Please note that angling on this fishery is strictly confined to fly fishing and there is a daily bag limit.
Ardmayle Fishery is a private fishery within the main River Suir channel running for approximately 1.5 km upstream of Ardmayle Bridge it is known to contain large trout, reportedly up to 40 cm.
Cashel / Golden / Tipperary Angling Association control both banks from Camus Bridge (R505) to Suir Castle (after Ballygriffin Bridge). They also share the west bank from Suir Castle to New Bridge (Suirville) with the Cahir & District Anglers. Downstream of Camus Bridge in the area known as Castle Lake, trout may prove difficult to catch.
The Multeen River has good stocks of brown trout that seldom exceed 25 cm, but regardless provide excellent sport particularly, at evening time or after a fresh spate.
With the correct conditions prevailing, waters from Mantle Hill, especially from the confluence of the Multeen River downstream provide excellent dry fly fishing, mainly in the evenings. The stretch from Athassel Abbey downstream to New Bridge contains some excellent trout of up to 20-30 cm. There are a number of weirs in this area where the occasional large trout may be lurking.
NEW BRIDGE - CAHIR
The River Suir from New Bridge to Knockacolla is a broad slow winding river with fast shallow glides, riffles and infrequent pools. It contains good stocks of trout up to 25 cm. Approximately 6.5 km north of Cahir in the Ballydrehid / Knockacolla areas the combined Rivers Ara and Aherlow form a confluence with the River Suir.
The River Ara provides angling from above Killshane downstream to its confluence with the River Aherlow. The waters around the Killshane area and downwards are a series of glides, riffles and pools.
From the village of Bansha (N24) downstream is a continuous glide, with some riffle areas and few pools. Overall this is an excellent angling stretch. With trout stretching in length up to 28 cm, one can have a quiet, enjoyable summers evening with a small fly rod, proper presentation and the right fly. The Ara Angling Club controls the waters of the River Ara.
The River Aherlow may be described as a spate river, which runs through the scenic Glen of Aherlow. It holds large numbers of trout up to 20 cm. The best angling sections are regarded in the upper stretches around the Galbally area, and the lower reaches downstream of Cappa Old Bridge.
The Aherlow Angling Club exists on the section from Rossadrehid to its confluence with the River Suir. The water from Knockacolla to Cahir consists of a deep channel, which contains limited numbers of good adult trout. Cahir and District Angling Club control the fishing on the right or west bank from Suir Castle to the Bakery Weir north of Cahir. Downstream of Cahir town for 200 m the fishing is not available at present. Cahir Angling waters continue from that point downstream.
SWISS COTTAGE - ARDFINNAN
Angling controlled by the Cahir Angling Club continues from a point 200 m downstream of Cahir town to Garnavilla Ford. It is an excellent trout fishery. The river is broad at this point with a brisk flow and has an average depth of approximately one meter. The banks are quite safe and offer no hindrance, with access to the river for the purpose of wading being achieved quite easily. Great quantities of rocks are placed around the river bed and they provide some very good cover for the trout. There is an excellent population of trout along this stretch some of which are up to 30 cm and more. The fishery extends from above the Swiss Cottage to Carrigataha on the right bank, and Garnaville on the left bank, and all anglers are restricted to fly only.
Shamrock Lodge is a private fishery that is located on the left bank upstream of Rochestown and it hosts some good fishing. Long shallow glides downstream of Rochestown, contain stocks of trout of up to 30 cm.
Downstream to Ardfinnan, a deeper channel exists and contains moderate stocks of trout. The right bank is not particularly user friendly so caution must be exercised. During the summer evenings, this stretch is best fished using sedges, for trout which frequently exceed 30 cm. Within that stretch 1km up-stream of Ardfinnan Village, Suir Valley Fisheries control the fishing on the left bank.
Ardfinnan Anglers Fishery stretches to a point 600 metres (approximately) up stream of Ardfinnan Bridge (R665) and extends downstream to Clocully. This fishery contains excellent stocks of trout up to 30 cm.
CLOCULLY TO CARRICK-ON-SUIR
The River Suir from Clocully to Carrick-on-Suir is a combination of deep pools, fast glides and varying widths and depths.
From Clocully to Ballydonagh, a consortium of private landowners control the angling, these are all private fisheries. This stretch also includes parts of the River Tar and River Nire, which contain good stocks of trout of up to 30 cm.
The waters between Ballydonagh approximately and Whitesford are controlled by Clonmel and District Salmon and Trout Anglers Association.
A private fishery exists from Whitesford downstream for approximately 2.5kms on both banks. This stretch and other areas are controlled by Clonanav Fly Fishing Centre. Angling from Knocklofty Bridge up stream to Clonanav fishery is private.
Clonmel & District Salmon and Trout Anglers control waters from Knocklofty Bridge to Marlfield.
Waters from below Clonmel & District Salmon & Trout Anglers known as Marlfield down to Gasworks Bridge is privately owned.
Fishing is free between the bridges in Clonmel town.
Clonmel & District Anglers manage a small reach below Clonmel town to Sir Thomas’s Bridge.
Suir Valley Fisheries control the fishing on the left bank immediately below the confluence of the River Anner for approximately 3 kms. The fishery also operates a reach below Poulakerry for approximately 1.5km of the left bank. Clonmel & District Salmon & Trout Anglers manage a stretch of the left bank from below the old graveyard in Killsheelan to the Merc Sharp Factory.
The stretch from Duff Castle to Miloko on the left bank is under the auspices of Carrick-on-Suir Angling Club. Fishing is free from Miloko to within the town of Carrick-on-Suir on the left bank. Churchtown Syndicate have some fishing on the right bank.
Andrew Ryan, Clonanav Angling Centre and School
Guide and instructor for salmon and trout STANIC, APGAI-Ireland, FFF
Notes: This school is located near the Waterford/Tipperary county border and many streams in these counties are fished. Tuition from APGAI and STANIC listed instructors in this approved fly fishing school. Local Waters include the River Suir and its tributaries the Nire, Tar and Annar - famed for top class dry fly fishing. Salmon fishing on the Blackwater. Tackle hire and tackleshop on site.