Islandbridge revisited


ANGLING NOTES:THE FIRST salmon of the year for 2012 from the River Liffey on New Year’s Day conjures up several interesting questions. For a river that has remained closed for salmon angling for the past five years surely this was a remarkable achievement and one that requires closer scrutiny by fisheries scientists.

The decision by Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) to open the lower reaches at Islandbridge on New Year’s Day for survey reasons under Section 59 of the Fisheries Act was well received by Dublin and District Salmon Anglers (DDSA). However, it must also be heeded as an important step on the road to recovery.

Keeping in mind the following points, is it not a reasonable assertion to assume that the Liffey could open for catch and release, even on a part-season basis, for salmon angling as and from next year?

First, the validity of the fish counter at Islandbridge is questionable as a true measure of salmon returning to the river. My understanding is that many fish bypass the counter particularly at high tide and flood conditions, and instead opt to move upriver via the easily managed weir.

From there they can proceed into the River Rye and thereby stop short of the second counter at Leixlip. The Rye, certainly up to the cascade in Carton Estate, holds an abundance of spawners each year.

Second, it must be accepted that most anglers, and particularly club anglers, do serve as watchdogs along the riverbank on a daily basis. Their very presence would act as a deterrent to would-be poachers.

According to DDSA chairman Eugene McGrattan: “Since the river closed for salmon angling in 2007, our membership has dwindled from 200 members to just 68. You can’t expect anglers to pay a membership fee and not be allowed to fish,” he says.

Finally, if the river were to open for catch and release, it would generate a substantial amount of revenue in terms of salmon licences. “The conservation limit for the Liffey is 4,391 salmon. On average, salmon over the past five years are at 20 per cent of their limit in the Liffey,” according to Dr William Roche, IFI senior research officer.

* The Drowes has recorded just the one salmon on opening day due to very high water levels that rendered the river virtually unfishable. However, fisheries owner Shane Gallagher says: “Levels are beginning to return to normal and we expect conditions to be near perfect this week.”

* Visiting the Geological Survey of Ireland (GSI) stand at the BT Young Scientist Exhibition in Dublin’s RDS last Thursday, the Minister for Natural Resources, Fergus O’Dowd, announced a programme of applied research that will support more than 20 high-end jobs in 2012.

The research is part of Infomar, the national marine mapping programme, being conducted by GSI and Marine Institute and funded by the minister’s department.

“The 23 projects being funded under Infomar range from evaluations of tidal energy sites to studies of Dublin Bay,” the Minister says.

* To kick-off the new salmon fishing season at Delphi Lodge, Michael Wade and his staff are offering free fishing for the first three weeks of February to guests who stay in the lodge. Non-fishing partners can stay for half price.

“We look forward to welcoming the ‘earlybird’ anglers eager to wet a line after the long winter,” he says. The lodge is open Thursday, Friday and Saturday throughout February. However, enquiries are welcome for groups of six or more.

For bookings, contact 095-42222 or

* One of the largest angling shows in Britain takes place this Saturday and Sunday in the Royal Norfolk Showgrounds, Norwich. Thousands of fishing-related products will be on sale at the British Carp Angling Show.

Admission is £10 (€12). For more information, call 0044-1702-549623.