Fly Fishing In Ireland Great Fishing Houses of Ireland

The Rivers

River Erne


Salmon, Sea-trout and Brown trout: 1 March to 30 September

The River Erne rises in Beaghy Lough, 2 miles south of Stradone in Co Cavan, and flows 64 miles through Lough Gowna, Lough Oughter, and Upper and Lower Lough Erne before meeting the sea at Ballyshannon. For 30 miles from Crossdoney in Co Cavan to the town of Enniskillen it is difficult to distinguish the river as it winds its way through a thousand interconnected loughs or parts of loughs nestling among the drumlin hills of Co Cavan and south Fermanagh.

It is a river that has seen many changes to its fish stocks in the last forty years.

The building of hydroelectric power stations at Cliff and Ballyshannon (work began in 1945 and the first power station was commissioned in 1950) caused the eight famous salmon beats from Belleek to Ballyshannon to be flooded and the mighty run of salmon into the Erne has now declined to such a tiny trickle as to be of little angling value except for the few fish that are occasionally caught below Cliff when the power station is generating.

Roach first appeared in the river in 1963 and there was a massive increase in the roach population in 1968. This increase could well have had an adverse effect on trout stocks, which went into decline at that time. Water pollution became a major problem in the 1970s and up to 1987. Since 1987 the pollution problem has been well controlled, the roach population has declined dramatically and trout stocks have made a welcome return and provide exceptionally good angling once more, both on the Erne itself and its tributaries.

Excerpts taken from "Trout & Salmon Rivers of Ireland, an angler's guide" by Peter O'Reilly.