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Mayo is such a vast county, we have broken it in three sections;- Achill Island & Clew Bay, around Belmullet and finally the seas around Killala Bay. A red spot indicates a known shore mark with recent information available. A yellow spot indicates a known or suspected mark but with no recent data available... where a pioneering spirit and a report is needed! Double click on the thumbnail photograph to access the high resolution photograph (courtesy of the Marine Institute). Some marks have individual pages with far more detailed information and recent reports available...
If you have fished here recently, please feel free to email us on how you got on...
General Overview and History of the Area:
Clew Bay was the most famous Skate fishery in the UK and Ireland. It suffered a drastic decline due to commercial over-fishing and a failure to implement catch and release in past decades. Thankfully the Skate population has stabilised and may even be recovering albeit very slowly. In late 2002, Alan Yates caught a skate estimated at 200 lbs further south near Clifden on John Brittain's boat. The "sad news story" of the loss of Skate from Clew Bay has served to overshadow the remarkable fishing available in this unique ecosystem, as evidenced by these shore marks, some with their own pages... there are over forty species available and twenty in a day off a boat is definitely possible. Clew Bay is definitely a significant nursery area and we would ask all local and visiting anglers to practice catch and release in order to ensure the future of the fish stocks.
|1 - Kilary Harbour Located on the border between Mayo and Galway in majestic scenery, Kilary Harbour is Ireland's only true fyord. It is remarkably deep, and whilst most of the fishing is done from the Galway side, with the youth hostel a known mark, a short cast from either side will land you in deep and pristine water! A road runs alongside the fyord. Species & Techniques: Dab, Flounder, Pollack and Coalfish are a possibility, mostly taken on pasternoster or similar rigs. Float fishing will take Wrasse (all year) with Mackerel in season. As with most of the Mayo coast, sand eel shoal in millions into shallow waters from May on. It is popular with scuba divers, kayakers, and water sports enthusiasts, so aquatic "traffic" can be heavy in summer.
|2 White Strand This pristine and massive white sand beach is largely left to the sea birds and the intrepid families that suffer the road down during the summer. Although it screams Bass, these western beachers are often remarkably sterile and short of fish. Species & Techniques: A small stream and pool to the left hand side holds large shoals of Mullet of varying sizes, and the small rock platforms that flood on an incoming tide would seem to offer excellent Bass options. Flounder are a distinct possibility given the fresh water, with the potential for flatfish like Dabs and Plaice, and Bass in any medium to big surf.
|3 Roonagh Piers This deep water harbour is where the ferry to Clare Island departs the mainland. (A) The larger new pier offers access to deep water and very foul ground. (B) The inner pier offer easier fishing for smaller fish (very sheltered). Species & Techniques: Pollack Coalfish and Mackerel are a possibility for spinning and feathers. Wrasse are present all year round. Conger and Bull Huss are definitely a possibility over the rough ground. There are reputedly some good marks on the rocks to the west of the new pier, but they should only be approached in very calm conditions. That is the Atlantic Ocean! The new pier has just been extended by another 30 metres, offering deep water access. July 2004. Aerial Photograph
|4 Old Head There are effectively two marks her, the very tidal pier which gives access to fishing over sand (first place we ever caught a Lesser Weeverfish!), and some rock platforms located behind the wooded headland... accessible via the path and over several stiles. Species & Techniques: The pier gives access to sand and mixed ground but we have always drawn a blank on it, bar that Weeverfish. One imagines that Flatfish, Bass and Ray are possibilities there. Worm baits are best, although ragworm in scarce on the west coast. The rock platforms are known to give access to Conger and Bull Huss, Pollack, Wrasse, Coalfish, Mackerel and Garfish in season, on sandy stretches Flounder and Dab, and the occassional Ray in summer.
|5 Kinsallagh Rocks & Lecanvey Pier Both these marks are located on the main road from Westport out to Louisburgh, and I have fished both without success. Species & Techniques: Spinning and feathers will catch Mackerel in season, with Wrasse, small Pollack and Coalfish a possible catch at Kinsallagh. Lecanvey gives access to sand, with the possibility of Flatfish. The beach under the cliffs nearby might be worth it...
|6 Bertra Strand Akin to the Old Head, this harbours two distinct and different marks. The beach itself offers Flatfish and supposedly Bass around the rocky spine in the middle. Spinning with bass bullets around the rocks on the left hand side might work. There is never a large surf on this beach, even in winter! At the far end of the beach, a good walk, you find a very deep channel nestled under a ridge of loose stones. A very swift current races through this channel either side of high and low tide. Species & Techniques: A slack water pool to the east of the channel reputedly holds Monkfish and even Skate! The channel itself will give you Mackerel in season and large Flatfish at slack water at its western end. We can not stress how strong the currents are and thus how dangerous entering the water here might be... never fish alone.
|7 Rosmindle and Rosmoney In this maze of shallow creeks and islands to the north of Westport, there are a couple of small harbours and anchorages like Rosmindle. Species & Techniques: These marks offer Mullet, Dogfish, Flatfish and Gurnard all from the shore for the hardy pioneer. You might also pick up a Bull Huss near darkness. Great spot for watching sea otters...
|21 Rossanrubble My thanks to John O'Brien from the Waterford Angling Centre for information on this mark. A tricky spot to find, you will need the Ordinance Survey map of the area. Take the N59 south from Newport heading towards Westport, and you will find the turn to the right well signposted. Drive all the way down to the first mudflat/bay and follow the road left. At the junction turn west and drive to the end. Drive through the gate and cattle grid and up the hill - there is informal parking near the barbed wire fences. The best mark is down the fields heading south, about 100 metres inland from the ruined pier and slipway. There is not much room at high tide either! Species & Techniques: It is a relatively deep channel, with a wide fringe of small rocks, shingle and seaweed that requires careful handling when you have a fish on... Thornback Rays and Bull Huss are the main species targeted. It looks fabulous Bass country but there were none to be seen or found. Casting onto the sand in mid channel only located more crabs. Probably a low water mark. July 2004.
|8 Burrishoole Channel Alongside the famous ruined abbey, past Newport on the road to Mallaranny, you can fish the channel leading to Lough Furnace. Species & Techniques: Flatfish, Mullet, Salmon and Sea-trout (increasingly rare) are all possibilities with the former species to the fore... try using local lugworm and clam.
|22 Rosmurrevagh Our thanks to Martin Soar for pioneering this new low water mark. To access it park at the beach on the golf course at Malranny (see below) and walk east across the sand into a stone and pebble / sand beach, which is an excellent lugworm bed (clearly you could dig fresh bait here on the way across if you time it right). The next cove is full of boulders that will flood at high water but you can cast from there onto a clean sea bed, certainly sand and possibly shingle / gravel. Species & Techniques: In two sessions Martin reports that they did not have a single cast without a bite, with mainly Dogfish coming to the shore. Several Bull Huss were taken as well, and there is excellent Bull Huss in this area, well into double figures on the stronger tidal runs at Rossanrubble (above). One would expect to encounter Flatfish of all varieties and possibly Gunard. This is one of the main entrances to Newport Harbour and Lough Furnace so you can expect to find Salmon and Sea Trout running close to the shore. A bit of spinning or sand eels might produce good results. Based on the description I would expect to find Conger Eels and Wrasse close in, although probably not to any appreciable size this close to sand...
|9 Mallaranny Also known as Mulranny, and akin to the Old Head across the Bay, this harbours two different marks. The beach itself offers Flatfish (especially near the stream exiting the golf course) and the odd Bass. This beach can produce a large surf so care is needed! Just past the town, the coast road will lead you out to the pier, a tidal harbour that offers access to Coalfish, Pollack, Wrasse, Codling in the winter, with Mackerel Garfish and Greater Sandeels (Launce) in the summer. On high spring tides, the road to the harbour can flood out completely - you have been warned. Some recent remedial work has raised the seabed around the pier so that it only fishes around high water. Species & Techniques: Standard beachcasting equipment is required for the long strand, with watch leads a good addition. Spinning and feathers will take Mackerel but the Pollack and Coalfish from the pier prefer fresh or frozen sandeel, with squid, lugworm and hokeye lures as backups. The foul ground offers strap Conger, LSDs and Bull Huss.
|10 An Corraun This windswept treeless headland offers several rock and shore marks (easily identified by the concrete steps at the roadside) or by the flat rocks further along sliding slowly into the sea under cliffs. It is a tricky spot to fish off as localised hotspots give great fishing in an otherwise barren sea! These are noted shore angling marks, with mixed ground ranging from sand to heavy weed and rock available at any stage in the tide. Species & Techniques: Mackerel, Wrasse, Garfish and small Pollack can be taken on floating gear in exceptionally clear water during the summer - you can actually watch the individual fish bite! Bottom fishing into the sandy marks between rocks will produce Flatfish and the occassional Ray in calm weather. Seatrout and Salmon are a possibility with smaller spinners and in particular sandeel baits. It hosts several competitions each year, and with views across the bay to Croagh Patrick and Clare Island it has to be one of the most breathtaking fishing marks in Ireland.
|11 Cloghmore Harbour Akin to the deepwater channel at Bertra Strand, a very deep mark nestles inside this natural harbour. A vicious current races through this channel either side of high and low tide, and the best fishing is on the edge of this current (B). Species & Techniques: Pollack up to shore speciment weight, 8 lbs (3.5 kgs), follow the tide in and are readily taken on hokeye and imitation sand eel lures - often at more than one at a time! Sandeels often shoal in vast numbers under the jetty, and can be picked up for fresh bait using small feathers, but only at dusk! Sea-trout are available on small spinners like german sprats at the point under the fish factory (A), but keep the spinner skipping along the top of the water - it is shallow and very weedy. Watch for the otters too. I have no doubt that big Conger and Dogfish patrol under the pilings. It is permanently lit at night but the jetty is very exposed. There is a deep hole directly south off a long cast (C). Aerial Photograph July 2004.
|20 The Shipwreck Gully A recent adventure, thanks to John Johnstone, skipper of the MV Lady Clare, this is a wonderful if precarious mark. As you round the south of Achill on the Atlantic Drive from Cloughmore, you will find a breathtaking view and a curious set of rusty iron structures on the foreshore. There were once used to salvage most of an old wreck that lies in a very deep gully that cuts right in to the road. This marks should only be approached in calm weather. The access is from the western side, down heavily eroded and difficult rocks. The sea can be savage here with very large Atlantic swells on even the calmest summer's day. The remains of the wreck lie in the gully and effectively break it in two, with relatively calm water inside and wild white water outside. Species & Techniques: The cheapest method is float fishing and this will bring Garfish, Mackerel, Pollack and Wrasse however there is some depth of water here. More typically you leger a large bait on a rotten bottom rig, and with heavy tackle, for the resident Conger. All the above species can be taken in the same manner, and there is the possibility of a Gurnard, Coalfish, Whiting, even a lost Haddock or Codling. Once again having fished the mark on a dropping tide, I would recommend caution and someone on the lookout at all times as the wave action is extremely unpredictable and dangerous.
|12 Keel Strand This beautiful beach offers its best fishing, mainly for Flatfish and the odd Bass, at very low water. The best mark is under the cliffs at the far end near the "cathedral rocks". You could combine this low water mark with the high water mark at Keem Bay, with Purteen Harbour as a backup.A road leads the way... Species & Techniques: In late 2003 the master anglers competition was held here. Flounder was the most common large fish caught, with several Bass reported, one to 7 lbs, and Turbot (mostly very small) also taken in the surf. A few decent Turbot were recorded. Baits used included ragworm, lugworm, clams, crab, mackerel, squid... in fact everything and oddly enough, no single bait or cocktail was found to be more effective than any other...
|13 Purteen Harbour Again there are effectively two marks available here. Outside the harbour the rocks offer excellent rough ground fishing in calmer conditions (A). They are extremely dangerous in large swell conditions - please avoid them. The inner harbour (B) offers a remarkably wide variety of fishing... Species & Techniques: The foul ground mark has Bull Huss, Conger, Pollack, Coalfish, Cod, various types of unusual smaller fish. For distance casters, face the island and reputedly, there is a sandy stretch holding Rays and Flatfish. The inner harbour, and I mean inner (!) offers Ballan and Cuckoo Wrasse, veritable rafts of Flounder on an incoming tide, and big Mullet that will happily take the lugworm destined for a flatfish. Conger up to 15 lbs (7 kgs) patrol the harbour during the day and especially at low water! Fishing off the pierhead is precarious but offers the opportunity to use spinners and feathers. If the Mackerel are in, you will catch them. Aerial Photograph. July 2004.
|14 Dooagh Rocks As the road from the village of Dooagh climbs up the cliffs heading for Keem Bay, you can wander down to the headland and fish into extremely deep water, albeit from dangerous rock marks. You can also access this by walking west along the shore from Purteen Harbour. An Admiralty chart will show you where the deep water mark is located. These marks must never be used in heavy weather or high swell conditions. Species & Techniques: We have no recent reports of people fishing off the marks here, but they have a tradition of producing large fish across a wide range of species, mostly over very foul and rough ground. Bring lots and lots of tackle, and even more junk leads! The grassy slopes leading down to the rock platforms are longer than they look and extremely dangerous: - slick in dry weather and decidedly boggy and sticky after rain. Throw in a steep gradient and the odd rock and you have a mark the demands respect.
|15 Keem Bay For a bay that produced the Irish record Porbeagle Shark - only 365 lbs - it gets remarkably little attention. There are three marks, one directly out in front of the stream (near a large rock), with Flatfish and particularly Flounder the main attraction. This sandy mark has produced the odd shore caught Tope, and can also produce Thornback Ray on warm still evenings - it is reputedly an excellent venue for night fishing. From the rocks on the right hand side (as you face the sea) you need to clamber down to the first "point" and you can fish out past the weedy margins onto sand, or float and spin from the rocks. On the left hand side, a very steep climb down from the "Ametyst quarry" through bracken - care needed - leads to a small cove/beach marked with two tidal rocks on the right hand side. It can not be accessed from the main beach, and fishes best (onto sand) for the first two hours of the flooding tide. Finally although the main beach is popular with holiday makers you can fish reasonably well from the left of the large rock. Some people feel the beach marks fish best at low water (the three hours down and back up again) whereas I have found the rock mark fishes best at high water. Species & Techniques: Big Wrasse and Pollack will fall to float fished 'organic' baits, with Mackerel in season taken off the rock mark. Lugworm on a standard paternoster will produce the Flatfish, with the option of switching to mackerel or half a flounder for Dogfish or Ray... Fishing two rods on this mark is a very good idea. Conger and Bull Huss a possibility on the right hand side.
|16 Dugort Harbour In the north of Achill Island lies Dugort Pier. This handy pier fishes best at high tide, and as the distinct advantage of being sheltered for the standard southern and western winds by Slieve More (literally translated as "the big mountain") at its back. It gets fished when the other marks are full of wind... so to speak. Species & Techniques: Mackerel in the summer are commonplace, mainly on spinners, feather and floating gear. The bottom is mized, mainly sandy, and has produced Rays, Flatfish and red Gurnard in decent numbers in the past. We have no recent reports bar Mackerel.
|17 Bullsmouth We are seeking a pioneer here, for the Bullsmouth as it is known offers a strong tidal race over sand and mud, with the whole of Achill Sound emptying in and out through this and Cloghmore Harbour at the far end. The second leg of the master angler competition in late 2003 was held on several small beaches in this general area, but all the competitors were plagued with pin whiting. Dabs were the most common catch. Species & Techniques: Clearly flatfish are a known species now, but we would suspect that mullet (large shoals seen in the sound in the summer), gurnard, and whiting are possible with possibly ling and haddock likely to be in residence in the big tidal races.
|18 Achill Sound If you want to target big Mullet, the muddy banks alongside the channel at the main town is a key spot. Mullet swarm around here and dig out marine worms in the soft mud and sand. The rapid tidal race might also produce other species as the Sound undoubtedly acts as a breeding ground and nursery for bigger species like turbot, skate and others like whiting and gurnard. Species & Techniques: Although my friends in the UK find it hard to believe, the only bait worth using for Mullet on Achill island is lugworm and presentation is usually on a pennel rig made up of twinned small size 4 hooks - there are more specimen fish over the 5 lbs (2.2 kgs) limit in Achill than you would know what to...
|And now for something completely different...
|19 Clare Island Ask any of the local skippers where the best sea angling in Clew Bay is and one place that always comes to the fore is the deep waters under the cliffs of Clare Island. For the record the other three marks are Deacy's rock on the way from Cloughmore Harbour to Clare Island, Dysaghty's rock off Achill Island out from Purteen Harbour, and for the hardy amongst you and only in a big boat, the Bills Rocks out in the Atlantic Ocean. If you want to completely different fishing experience, however, take the ferry to Clare Island, book yourself into a B&B, buy yourself a few pints at the hotel (the only hotel!) and get chatting with the locals. Species & Techniques: Rumour has it that the beach fishing is good, that there are still Sea-trout available and that the rock fishing is spectacular, and you do not have to commit suicide on the massive Knockmore sea cliffs, but rather stick to the easier marks on the southern shore - or so we've been told!
There are a load of other other marks here, like the beach at the mouth of the Carrowmore river outside Louisburgh (Flatfish, Bass, Mullet, Sea-trout and the odd Salmon), the multitude of channels and fast filling saltwater creeks stretching from north of Westport to Newport and beyond (crammed full of lugworms, clams, crabs and sea otters), the small Mullet filled harbours at Dooega and An Corraun village, or the virgin unexplored north west coast of Achill Island, no roads, and wild extraordinary mountainside loughs.