'Fish of a lifetime' -- angler lands whopper sea trout
AN unusually large sea trout has been caught off the Co Donegal coast with a special bait.
John Cunningham used mackerel to entice the 11 lb 1 oz whopper, which was more than five times the size of the average sea trout caught in Irish waters.
He caught the huge trout while fishing from the shore off the Erne estuary in Ballyshannon, Co Donegal.
A record Irish sea trout, 16 lb 6 oz, was landed in the Shimna river in Co Down in 1983 but John reckons his is the biggest one caught at sea, instead of inland in the rivers and lakes.
The trophy trout will be officially branded a specimen fish by the Irish Specimen Fish Committee. For a sea trout to become a specimen it must weigh over 6 lbs.
John, a father of four from Killybegs, Co Donegal, said: "For me it's the fish of a lifetime. I couldn't believe the size of it."
The 48-year-old, who works a heavily restricted pelagic fishing season seeking mackerel and herring from a Killybegs trawler and who also is an employee of the Marine Institute, Galway, spends the remainder of his time as a sports fisherman.
It took him up to eight minutes to land the fish after hooking it.
At 72cm long, it was 32cm over the limit to retain and it had to go back into the water for conservation.
The sea trout is described as a "very gamey" smaller cousin of the salmon.
But whereas salmon remain in fresh water once they run a river, sea trout may run in and out a number of times.