Donegal angler catches biggest ever sea trout in Donegal

The largest sea trout in the ocean off Ireland has been landed in Co. Donegal.

John Cunningham, of Killybegs, hauled an 11 lbs 1 oz whopper, more than five times the average sea trout in Ireland, from the shore off the Erne estuary in Ballyshannon, Co. Donegal.

A record Irish sea trout, 16 lbs 6 oz, was landed in the Shimna river in Co. Down in 1983 but 48-year-old John reckons his is the biggest one caught at sea, instead of inland in the rivers and lakes.

John Cunningham, a father of four, said the massive sea trout was the catch of a lifetime for him.

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 six lbs. Most sea trout caught in Irish waters weigh an average two lbs.

Sea trout visit inland lakes and rivers to spawn and then return to the ocean.

His prize sea trout was caught at the edge of the Atlantic within sight of old Wardtown Castle outside Ballyshannon.

John said most of the fishermen in the estuary use sand eels as bait for sea trout but he used the white belly of a mackerel and fished with a long beach caster rod.

It took him up to eight minutes to land the fish after hooking it. At 72 centimetres long, it was 32 centimetres over the limit to retain and it had to go back into the water for conservation.