Caught in draft net dilemma


ANGLING NOTES:IT IS my understanding that a proposal is before the Minister of State for Natural Resources, Fergus O’Dowd, to extend the estuary draft net season from its current commencement date of May 12th to a start date in mid-April.

Fisheries on the Owenduff and Owenmore Rivers and Carrowmore Lake in the west of Ireland pride themselves on a valuable run of spring salmon. To bring forward the draft net season would have a detrimental effect on fragile spring stocks and the angling resource in the area. At a time when we are beginning to see the benefits of the 2006 drift net closure coming to fruition in terms of salmon returning to our lakes and rivers, is it not absolutely unreasonable to even consider such an application?

In the intervening five years, anglers have played their part by adhering to a suite of regulations and conservation measures adopted by the State. These include an annual bag limit of just 10 fish and a big swing to “catch and release” in an effort to protect stocks. In addition, the salmon licence fee was virtually doubled to €100. It must also be remembered that out of 141 rivers, the Standing Scientific Committee has assessed that 60 should remain closed because they have no surplus of salmon, and 32 should be classified for angling only on a “catch and release” basis.

Nevertheless, tourists continue to flock to Ireland each year for the purpose of spring salmon angling, greatly boosting the economy through spending on food, drink, accommodation, fishing permits etc. There is a raft of additional reasons why this proposal should not get an airing at this time, and I would urge the Minister to retain the draft net opening date of May 12th.

A statement from the Minister’s office last Thursday said: “While representations have been received from proponents and opponents of moving the opening of the draft net season from mid-May to April, there is no proposal for such a change currently under consideration.”

* Rod Robinsonreports from Waterville that fishing is pretty quiet. After the excitement on opening day, anglers don’t seem to be making much of an effort. Nine salmon have been caught so far, somewhat less than last year. “There don’t seem to be many fish in the system yet – I guess we need another flood,” joked Robinson. “The best so far, at 13.5lbs, was caught trolling by N Clancy out with local ghillie Sion Brain.”

* Carrowmore Lakeproduced a further four salmon over the past week. On Wednesday, boat partners Trevor Morrow and Stephen Brown had success, with Trevor landing a fresh-run fish of 8lbs, while Stephens’ salmon weighed 7lbs. Both fish were taken on the Jaffa. Last Sunday saw a further two fish caught with Frank Dooley boating one and Colin McClean, Scotland, the second of 10.5lbs. The four fish were taken at the Black Banks, Paradise Bay, Glenturk and mouth of the Glencullen River.

* The milderweather of late on Conn led to an increase in fly activity, coupled with an increase in angling effort, leading to greater catch returns. Some anglers enjoyed great success, with Joe Quinn of Cloghans boating 10 trout over three days, all on Buzzers. Five were over 2lbs, best 3.5lbs and all taken in the Bog Bay and Cloghans areas. Stephen Brown of Cloghans also had success with the Buzzer, with two of around 1.5lbs.

* A greatday was had by all at the Tolka River Environmental Alliance fishing competition on St Patrick’s Day at the section of river in Blanchardstown. Over 150 youngsters and adults turned out for opening day and, despite some heavy hailstone showers, many trout were caught and released. Prizes were sponsored by Dublin Angling Initiative/ Inland Fisheries Ireland.

Results: (Under-16s) 1 D O’Reilly; 2P McCartney; 3 C Kelly. (Under 10s) 1 K Duff; 2 P Kilmantavieious; 3 K Thompson.

* Deepest sympathyis extended to the family and friends of Michael Ruane from Salthill, Galway, who died last week after falling into the water while angling on Lough Corrib. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.