I began fishing at the tender age of seven after getting my first fishing rod for my holy communion. My father was an extremely busy man so getting out fishing was a rarity in the first few years. It really kick started when a man by the name of Michael John O’Shea became friends with my dad and began to take me fishing on the lakes in West Kerry. He was a superb fly fisherman and avid fly tier and honed my skills in fly-fishing to turn me into the angler I am today.
THE FEALE SYSTEM
The Feale is a medium sized spate that rises in the Mullaghareirk Mountains near Rockchapel. It generally fishes best in a dropping flood and fishing can be productive from Finuge in the tidal section all the way up to the upper regions of the river in Brosna.
There are five main clubs on the river, certain free stretches and others that are privately owned. The two main clubs in the Listowel area are the KIllocrim Finuge Fishing Club and the North Kerry Anglers, both of which have day tickets available. The fishing opens on the first of March and fresh sea liced springer’s can be expected from the opening day on. These Multi Sea Winter fish generally average from 8 – 12 lbs. and bigger ones nearing the 20lb mark are caught yearly.
In high water conditions spinning will often produce more fish. When the water recedes the fly angler can expect tremendous sport in the right conditions. From mid May onwards the grilse, or as they are known locally peel, make their appearance on the river. Furthermore the elusive sea trout will have started coming in bigger numbers coinciding with the peel run. Although there are often bigger sea trout caught during the spring most anglers generally don’t target them until late May or June onwards.
For the night owl the Feale is a treat offering exceptional fly-fishing both to the novice and more experienced angler. A favourite local method for sea trout is the bubble and fly.
The Dam at Scartleigh cross which is part of the Killocrim Finuge fishing club can be one of the best spots on the river if conditions are right. From opening day there are springer’s present here in good numbers and both spinning and fly-fishing produce good numbers of fish. This is where I landed the first salmon of the year in 2018!
The second hotspot would have to be the Joinings on the North Kerry Anglers Association waters. Fly-fishing and spinning are again the most productive methods and it generally fishes best between 0.7 and 0.55 on the water gauge. The spring salmon and grilse fishing here can be very productive with catches upwards of two – three salmon a day not uncommon.
Spinning rods from 7ft -9ft will more than suffice. Coupled with a decent reel loaded with mono from 12 – 15lbs will cover any situation. Flying C’s are the most popular spinning bait, with black and silver and red and copper the most prolific. If the water is dirty a Yellow Flying C is a popular choice.
Fly fishing rods varying from 11ft – 13ft 6’ will cover most eventualities. Skagit and shooting head lines can be very useful in the spring when using heavy sinkers and bigger flies. Scandi and switch lines come into their own during the summer months when the water drops off and temperature rises.
Best flies include, Dee Monkey, Park shrimp, Cascade and its variants work well in the spring. Come summer time look no further than a Bann Special, Calvin Shrimp and Curry’s Red Shrimp. Once autumn arrives an Orange Ally’s Shrimp, Octopus Shrimp or the local favourite the Halpin fly will serve you best. As for the Sea Trout look no further than a Teal, Blue and Silver, a Bloody Butcher, and Silver Invicta.
As of 2019 the Feale was made catch and release by IFI for the first time which meant all salmon and sea trout over 40cm must be returned. This law is reviewed on a yearly basis. Don’t let this deter you the river is probably one of the most productive rivers in Ireland especially in the spring and summer months.
Licenses are sold locally at New 2 You on Market Street where there is also some fishing tackle available.
The season runs from the 1st of March to the 30th of September.
For more fishing insights from James, you can follow him on Facebook here (Feale Salmon & Sea Trout Fishing)