Carlingford Lough is a relatively shallow, rich sea lough opening on to the Irish Sea. It forms part of the boundary between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Several rivers and burns run into it. Along the northern shore where the Whitewater river flows into the lough are many skerries (small islands) that have shallow channels running between them. As the tide ebbs and flows fish use these channels to hunt for shrimp, baitfish, marine worms and other food sources. All around the lough rocky outcrops can be found along the beaches. These also provide a source of food as many prey items will use the security of the rocks and crevices to avoid becoming an easy target for a predator.
Details of charter boat hire are provided in another part of this guide.
Sea angling tackle is different for boat and shore fishing.
When shore fishing with bait, a fairly heavy weight has to be used to keep it anchored in tidal currents and waves. An overhead cast of no more than 30-40 metres will usually reach the deeper water (or the surf zone, if fishing a beach) where the fish are. A specialised beach casting rod and reel helps but heavy spinning or carp gear can suffice to get started in this sport.
When fishing from a boat the fish are often directly below and there is usually no need to cast - just let the line run out. Traditionally, rods were shorter, stiff and strong to cope with the bigger fish that could be caught from boats. However, of late boat angling has undergone a shift to longer, more sporting light rods. Light tackle boat fishing is now the norm in many places and allows better enjoyment of the fishes fighting abilities.
Saltwater fly-fishing is also a rewarding method for targeting sea fish in Carlingford lough such as mackerel, mullet, pollock, sea bass and sea trout from the shore. A heavy freshwater outfit around the 10' #7 or 8 weight class fitted with either a floating or intermediate line is ideal. Leaders should be much stronger than those used in freshwater, with 10 or 12lb being a good compromise between diameter and strength, and do not need to be much longer than the rod you are using. Streamer, baitfish or shrimp patterns should be used in various weights, with different styles of retrieve, to locate the approximate depth the fish are feeding at. Always remember to rinse your rod and reel thoroughly after use in saltwater to avoid accelerated corrosion and subsequent damage. If fishing from a sandy position a line tray will help avoid abrasive grit and sand getting onto the fly line and causing damage to the line, reel and rod rings. It will also help when re-casting as your retrieved line will not be drifting on the current (if you are wading) or trapped around debris on the ground and in the water.
Kayak Angling - There is growing interest in angling from specially designed kayaks - lake, sea, tidal river etc. If you wish to receive updates on this discipline, contact the Loughs Agency.