You don’t need an ancestral connection to feel drawn to Ireland, though many of us have one, as I do on my mother’s side of the family. Whether you like traditional music, honest golf links, or pints of Guinness that truly taste better than the American imagination might suggest, there are ample reasons to make a “life trip” here. And now there is another reason: fishing. Whether you fancy spin tackle or two-handed fly rods, Ireland has something to offer every angler. And the action — particularly for Atlantic salmon and sea-run brown trout — is only getting better.
I traveled with Chris Santella, who writes for The New York Times. After our overnight flights landed at Shannon, we drove a few hours north to County Mayo, where we were met by Markus Müller and Bryan Ward of Inland Fisheries Ireland, who whisked us off to the River Owenmore, west of Ballina. Fittingly, I have never seen a riverbank draped in so many brilliant shades of green
The Owenmore is a “spate” river, meaning the fishery revolves around finite windows of opportunity dictated by Mother Nature and her desire to flood or not. The rains fill the river with water, which assumes a tea color because of the peat in the ground. Those currents prompt an instinctive migration of salmon that pulse in from the sea. There can be days or weeks when none of this happens. But when the conditions line up perfectly the river can magically turn on overnight.
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