Press Release

Unique new book on huge fish caught by anglers in Ireland published

Irish Specimen Fish Atlas shows drop in numbers of large specimens in 40% of species 

Man holding a pike

Angler Sid Kennedy with large Pike

A unique record of very large fish caught and released by anglers in Ireland over the past 60 years has just been published. 

The 220-page Irish Specimen Fish Atlas covers 83 various species nationwide. It was compiled by the Irish Fish Specimen Committee, and supported by Inland Fisheries Ireland(IFI). 

The atlas presents information on the distribution and frequency of more than 27,000 individual specimen fish - about 420 per annum on average since 1955 - reflecting the quality of angling for distinctive large fish species in Ireland over time. 

Cover of book

Atlas front cover with Irish angler Stephen Brennan holding a large Gilthead Bream

Dr William Roche, co-author and Senior Research Officer with Inland Fisheries Ireland(IFI) commented: “The Irish Specimen Fish Atlas offers a different insight into fish populations here, and shows where quality fish - of many distinctive species - can be caught by anglers in the productive waters within, and around, the island of Ireland.

“This accessible publication identifies many Irish waters where and when big fish have been, and are still being, caught.  

“But it also reveals a drop in numbers of large individual fish in about 40% of species. Some ‘newer’ ones, such as thick-lipped mullet, are improving, but more ‘traditional’ species, including cod and salmon, are in decline. 

“The decrease in numbers of large fish of some species is concerning although not consistent across the board. The reasons for these declines are varied and complex. 

“For commercial marine species over-exploitation may be a factor. Non-commercial marine species are vulnerable to pressures such as being caught unintentionally as by-catch. 

“Pressures on freshwater fish vary from catchment to catchment, and may include deterioration of water quality, the presence of dams and weirs, and reduced habitat quality. 

“However, overall there are plenty of species providing quality specimen angling, and offering great scope for enjoyment of being outdoors and fishing on rivers, lakes and/or marine waters which characterise many parts of Ireland.” 

Man holding plaice fish

Angler Jim Clohessy with large Plaice

The A4 full-colour Irish Specimen Fish Atlas: Distribution and frequency of large angler caught fish 1955-2019 costs €29, including postage (for Ireland and NI). 

It is available to purchase on and further details can be accessed via