New resort is opened

 

ANGLING NOTES:‘THIS type of development is what we need in rural areas to develop a natural product, to love nature and to understand the value of our water resource,” the Minister for the Environment, Phil Hogan, said at the recent launch of Southern County Fishing Resort, Garryhill, Bagenalstown, Co Carlow.

“It is important we get the opportunity to use this facility as a model to give much economic activity and boost of the type it deserves,” the Minister says.

Ireland’s newest fishing resort and wild-life park is set to take trout angling to a new level with 45 acres of beautifully landscaped surrounds, three lakes and great views.

As I turn off the M9 at Exit 5 towards Garryhill I have mixed feelings as to what lies ahead. On entering the grounds my misgivings are quickly extinguished as I’m bowled over by the enormity of the resort. I take time out to explore.

My first port of call is the wildlife park. Situated in an area of natural open habitat, the park is home to wild boar, donkeys, Jacob sheep, tortoises, chickens, rabbits, fox, American turkeys, to name a few.

The Old 97 train ride is surely unique to this country. From the comfort of your own carriage, you can take in the views and different wildlife as it huffs and puffs along the 3km roadway within the estate.

Next stop, the fishing lodge – fully equipped with tackle shop and lounge. A verandah overlooks the lakes and waterfall. Outside, on the hill, a Waterford camping group of 12 camper vans sit in the background.

But fishing is the main attraction today. There are three lakes, all stocked with high quality rainbow trout grown from the hatchery on site. I’m told Southern County is the only fishery in Ireland to provide this service.

Spinning and/or float fishing is allowed on one lake to meet the requirements of juniors and novice anglers. Bait and rod hire are available. The remaining two lakes are fly only.

Before launch proceedings get under way, I try the smaller lake of the two for 20 minutes. Huge fish are turning within reach. Unfortunately, I fail to make contact. Fishery scientist Prof Ken Whelan, though, finds success with a Damsel pattern.

In his address, Pat Foley, proprietor of the resort, says: “Three years ago myself and my sons had a serious look at the situation. The steel industry wasn’t looking great so we decided to explore new roads.

“They decided to buy a couple of trains and I started developing the lakes and do what I had in my mind for a long time. I retired and handed the steel business over to the lads.”

Before departing, I try the big lake. Fish are rising for the Silver Horns. A size 12 CDC does the trick and soon I bank a beautifully formed and hard-fighting rainbow of about 1.5kg.

To my right, John makes contact with a fish that takes him to the backing line. It weighs about 3kg. In the space of 30 minutes I see at least six cracking rainbows landed and released.

Plans are afoot to form a fly-fishing club and provide facilities for anglers with disabilities. Southern County also intends to invite angling clubs from abroad and already a group from Finland has signed up to visit the resort.

Prices are reasonable at €20 per day plus one fish, and rates are pro-rata accordingly. For further details, contact 059-9104519, info@southerncounty.ie or southerncounty.ie.

“Not only have we broken the record for a season’s catch of 85, but we have also broken our record daily catch with eight salmon,” says Colin Folan of Lough Inagh Lodge Hotel.

“We are odds-on to reach the 100 this year and I am offering the lucky angler who catches the 100th fish a refund on his/her ticket, a free day’s fishing and a bottle of very good wine.” To book, call 086-8679459.