Atlantic Salmon Fishing in Northern Ireland - North Atlantic Fishing Northern Ireland

Atlantic Salmon Fishing in Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland has numerous renowned destinations for Atlantic salmon fishing. The majestic rivers, historical woods and breath-taking landscapes provide the perfect backdrop for anglers seeking an unforgettable fishing experience whilst surrounded by rural tranquillity.

1. The Rivers

Northern Ireland boast numerous rivers that once where teeming with Atlantic salmon returning annually, with some still having decent runs.

Some of the most famous ones include:

  • Mourne River
  • River Bann
  • River Faughan
  • River Foyle
  • Bush River
  • River Roe
  • River Derg
  • River Maine
  • Agivey River
  • River Strule
  • Moyle River
  • Six Mile Water 
  • Clady River 

For many years these rivers have provided ideal habitats for salmon, with their clear waters and abundance of food sources guaranteeing their return.   

2. The Seasons

Atlantic salmon fishing in N.I is seasonal, with different rivers having different peak times and open seasons. The fishing season generally starts in early spring and runs till autumn.

Angling is not permitted in the rivers during the winter months which is vital to the salmons reproduction

Spring is an exciting time as the salmon (springers) return to the rivers from the sea. The summer months offer excellent opportunities for good runs of  fish, while autumn is known for its spectacular bronzing mature salmon.

3. Fishing Techniques

Anglers can employ various techniques when fishing for Atlantic salmon Some popular methods include:

  • Fly Fishing: This traditional method involves casting artificial flies usually in the pattern of a shrimp and suited to each river and location to entice the salmon.
  • Spin Fishing: Using spinning lures like flying C's , Copper spoons and Toby's to mimic baitfish can be effective in attracting salmon. [not allowed on some rivers / check local rules & regs]
  • Bait Fishing: Blackhead worms are usually the best option with prawns being allowed on some beats. [not allowed on some rivers / check local rules & regs]

Each technique has its own unique appeal and can yield great results depending on the conditions and preferences of the angler. 

4. Licensing and Regulations

Before embarking on an Atlantic salmon fishing adventure in Northern Ireland, it is essential to familiarize yourself with the local licensing and regulations.

Different rivers may have specific rules regarding permits, catch limits, and fishing methods. Always Fish Legal with rod licence and appropriate angling area permit. 

It is crucial to respect these regulations and practice sustainable fishing to preserve the salmon populations for future generations.

5. Relentless 

From birth, eggs and juvenile Atlantic salmon (par & smolts) face threat from hungry predators such as humans, other fish, birds and invasive species.

The lucky ones that get to mature will face many man made obstacle's and tragedy's including dams, illegal nets and of late multiple agricultural and human waste overspills at an industrial scale when in our waterways. 

These fish will leave the rivers when ready, heading out to sea were they will feed, grow and mature returning when nature calls on a pair to lay and fertilise their own eggs.

Some salmon have been known and recorded returning to the same rivers to reproduce multiple times. 

Whilst at sea they face similar threats of pollution and disease from commercial salmon farms alongside the rapid growing presence of invasive species and predators like seals and cormorants being driven inland to estuaries and beyond in some cases due to depleting food sources. 

Commercial over fishing with nets to meet the current high demand brings bycatch, it being a massive threat to Atlantic salmon and most specimens in decline .    

6. Catch & Release 

Catch and release fishing in general has becoming more popular here in Northern Ireland with most anglers being of a conservationist mindset returning most specimens, even at sea.

This could be the influence of social media images were individuals demonstrate proper fish handling and return methods whilst getting a quick photo for proof rather than a dead fish every time.

On stretches where bag limits are allowed by the local authorities, may it be the Loughs Agency, D.A.E.R.A or Club, limited tags for salmon and sea trout carcasses are handed out annually when purchasing an angling licence.

6. Hiring a Guide

For those new to Atlantic salmon fishing or unfamiliar with the rivers and surroundings, hiring a knowledgeable guide of the area can greatly enhance the experience.

A skilled guide can provide valuable insights, assist with technique selection, and increase the chances of a successful catch and release.

Additionally, guides are well-versed in river etiquette and conservation practices, ensuring a responsible and enjoyable fishing trip for everyone.


Atlantic salmon fishing in Northern Ireland still offers anglers one of many incredible opportunity's to connect with nature and pursue the elusive king of freshwater fish. 

Whether your just starting out a casual angler or a seasoned pro the rivers, seasons, techniques, regulations, local guides and knowledge available will contribute to an unforgettable fishing adventure.

[ Image may be subject to copyright ] | Get Hooked on the Outdoors 

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