Friday, January 27, 2017

100 River challenge and Forgotten Rivers OF Ireland

Last summer myself and a good friend of mine David O Donovan, took on a challenge that saw us fishing over one hundred rivers in one week. The challenge was not only to do this but to each catch a qualifying fish of 18cm in every river.
After several months planning and investigation we selected 130 out of 165 rivers that we looked at through out Munster and Leinster.  We got under way on the 28th of May 2016 at 3am and began back in West Kerry, ending up at one stage in North Meath. For the duration it took us to complete the challenge which was 6 days 5 hours and 50 Mins we drove nearly 2700 kilometers overall and slept just 15 hours for the week. it was the hottest week of the year with temperatures peeking around 26 to 29 degrees most days and the river were low, so there was several factors that made the challenge that bit more difficult.

When we were finished and reflecting back on a amazing week there was several things that I took for the experience and one was for me was that we would fish rivers that I and many other anglers would pass over and rarely imagine or attempt wetting a fly on. It is truly amazing how many stunning rivers we have in our country and how little they are fished. The majority of fly fishers including myself drive past some of these gems to go fishing on other rivers that we fish far to regularly because we think we will catch better fish on bigger or more popular waters and often overlook the small tributaries that have an abundance of catch-able trout.

The challenge was a fantastic experience one that I would recommend to anyone that is looking for something different to try with fishing rather than the usual competition, trip out West or to foreign shores.
A long the way we recorded every fish and location through out week, all the people that helped along the way, fly patterns that worked on every river and the most productive times we caught trout; which was between 4am and noon, the during the evenings the rivers and trout played hard. With so many photos and information we decided to make ourselves a book to accompany the memories of each river and the fish they were caught in, it is something that finished off a truly memorable fishing expierence.
The quality of the trout in these rivers was outstanding and we had many surprises along the way; fishing small overgrown streams that would produce fabulous coloured brown's and in good quantities and sizes. Rivers that ran through town centers to tiny brooks moving at speed down the Wicklow mountains, every one worth a exploring further. So for the coming season I have planned to revisit some of these gems and spend more time on their waters exploring the treasures and seeing whats around the next bend, as unfortunately during the challenge we had to rush through them quite a bit to complete in our allocated time frame, and that natural desire of the angler to try the next run was not to be.
As a competition angler the importance of fishing different waters to expand you knowledge of fish, water and ability is crucial to success, and from what I learned in last the year is that we have a variety of rivers here in Ireland that are often over looked or forgotten about that can offer the angler every challenge that he or she needs. For the week we only fished a handful of patterns and mostly the dry dropper worked best, so you don't need an array of nymphs or dries to go exploring, just a desire to get out and look for something different and most important look up now and again from watching the dry on the water to witness the amazing scenery that surrounds the river.
All I can say is what a week!!

If you would like any information on the challenge or rivers please feel free to contact me here.
Also we would like to thank every person that helped us out with permission to fish the rivers and gave us the locations of good beats, every fish was caught on barbless hooks and returned quickly and safely to the rivers. There was also a fundraiser attached to the challenge and again we would like to thank every person that donated to the Margret Murphy Memorial Fund.

Thanks for reading I hope you got some idea of the experience we had with this challenge..and I hope it encourages you to try that stream or brook that you drive over and often considered giving it a cast..now we are wondering whats next for this year....maybe a 1000 trout...who knows. 


  1. Have you considered making a video or book based on your fishing trip? As an American fly fisherman of partially Irish descent, I've always wanted to pursue trout "on the fly." What info sources or books would you recommend to me for identifying a handful of Irish trout streams? Thanks

  2. Hi Thanks for reading, yea would be nice to make a video or book but the cost is a bit much unless you had some organisation to fund it and to do it right would take a good bit of time. A good reference for river over here is Peter O Reilly's book called Rivers Of Ireland is always a good place to start. Thanks for Reading again.

  3. Wow. Simply wow. I fish around 10 rivers a year Leinster/Ulster mostly and thought I was doing well.
    100 in a week fair play, so what patterns did you use? If could chose just 1 dry and 1 nymph, what would you go for?

  4. Hi and thanks for reading the blog, I did the first 50 river with the same two fly's and if i had not ran out of them I would have done the 100 with them. i suppose it would depend on the time of year which fly's I would chose for this time of the year it was a simple pheasant tail, nothing special just coq de leon tail, copper wire rib 2.5mm copper bead and one turn of spectra dubbing behind the bead, as for the dry it was a hares ear klink with a both of purple dubbing as the thorax and a pearl rib with grizzle hackle, I fished them as dry dropper set up. which worked the best over the majority of rivers.