It's happy days at Islandbridge for the resumption of salmon fishing


ANGLING NOTES:THE words of the old Christmas song “Oh the weather outside is frightful, But the fire is so delightful, And since we’ve no place to go, Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow” echoed across Islandbridge on New Year’s Day as members of Dublin Salmon Anglers’ belted out the tune on the island to celebrate the reopening of the Lower Liffey on a catch-and-release basis following a five-year lapse.

While the snow may have eluded opening day this year, the craic and laughter was mighty as some 30 revellers tucked into a feast in the cabin with freshly cooked salmon topping the menu and a drop or two of the black stuff. Those who did cast a line had some heart-stopping moments bringing to the bank three kelts, one sea trout and a “possible” fresh fish of about 2.5kg for Robert Cording (before 11am), which unfortunately slipped the barbless hook at the water’s edge.

Declan Briggs, last year’s captor of the first salmon also kept his hopes high from first light until high water stopped play at midday.

However, it was the River Drowes in the northern region that stole the show. Fishing at the Blackwater section on the Leitrim side of the river, at 12.40pm, Timothy Dalton, Omagh, Co Tyrone, connected with his 4.5kg (10lb) bar of silver on a Red Flying C lure to claim the first rod-caught salmon of 2013.

As a member of Omagh Anglers’ Association, Timothy is a regular visitor to the Drowes, particularly on opening day. “This is the first time I have caught the first fish and I’m absolutely delighted. Celebrations will have to wait until the weekend because I have a HGV test over the next two days,” he said.

Almost simultaneously, Colin Gardiner from Lurgan, Co Armagh, stepped up to land the second fish of 2kg from the Wee Drain Pool on a Black Flying C. “There was less than a minute between the two fish being caught,” according to fisheries manager, Bill Likely.

The Drowes is a prolific salmon spring river, just 4.5 miles long with 55 named pools running from Lough Melvin at Kinlough, Co Leitrim, into the sea at Bundoran, Co Donegal.

Rarely does a year pass that the river fails to yield the first salmon. Over the past three decades its success rate is close to 90 per cent. For bookings, contact Shane Gallagher at 071-9841055 or 087-8050806.

To celebrate the reopening of the Lower Liffey, the group was joined by Minister of State for Natural Resources, Fergus O’Dowd; Inland Fisheries Ireland chief executive of Eastern River Basin District, William Walsh and IFI inspector, Martin Kelly. “It’s wonderful to see the close relationship and co-operation between the anglers and fisheries staff,” the Minister said.

The day was rounded off beautifully with the arrival of a currach with oarsmen Dave Kelly and James Walls on board. The two had rowed from Ringsend and stopped off for lunch and to join in the celebrations.

Helping conserve salmon

Applications are invited from clubs, fishery owners, individuals and commercial salmon fishermen to participate in the 2012-13 Salmon Conservation Fund – Contributors Scheme.

With an initial allocation of €200,000, the fund is available for projects to help conserve wild Atlantic salmon. Successful applicants will work closely with IFI to agree projects and can go on to secure Leader funding.

Details of the scheme can be had at fisheriesireland.iewhere you can follow link to Salmon-Management/salmon-conservation-fund-application.html. Closing date for applications is March 15th.