Red Bay reels them in


ANGLING NOTES:WITH more than 25,000 claims recorded since its inception in 1955, the Irish Specimen Fish Committee database is one of the most valuable and long-running sources of information of its type in the world.

Great credit is due to the committee for its dedication over the past 56 years, which culminates annually with a presentation of awards. Each year the report is eagerly awaited by anglers who endeavour to catch and record the biggest fish of each species.

The 72-page glossy report for 2011 is beautifully presented with more than 50 colour photographs and catch details for 587 specimen fish including four new records. This is a far cry from, say, the 1983 report of dull unassuming type and not a photograph to be seen in its 32 pages.

Renowned specimen hunter Terry Jackson made the headlines with a new record roach/rudd hybrid of 2.1kg caught in the River Lagan, Co Antrim, on maggots. Terry went on to record six similar specimens from the same venue. His record roach of 1.425kg from Drumacritten Lake in Co Fermanagh 10 years ago still remains intact.

Red Bay in Co Antrim continued to set the pace for many of our marine species. Jan Vrieswijk from Holland created a new record for blackmouth dogfish of 1.33kg and Albert Koawenhourn, also from Holland, pipped the one-year-old record for spur dogfish by just 0.17kg. Of the 107 specimens claimed, 78 were caught in Red Bay.

Having received sufficient numbers, the specimen committee has added a category for thin-lipped mullet and Noel Lane stepped up to the mark with the heaviest at 2.83kg from Cork Harbour in September.

The annual presentation of awards will be held in the Red Cow Moran Hotel, Dublin, on Saturday, March 3rd, at 2.30pm sharp.

* In unique circumstances, the first wild Atlantic salmon of 2012 was caught on New Year’s Day on the Liffey at Islandbridge in Dublin. This was special in that the river is technically closed for salmon fishing because the fish count is below sustainable levels.

However, for survey reasons, under Section 59 of the Fisheries Act, Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) opened the fishery for one day only to Dublin and District Salmon Anglers on a catch-and-release and barbless hook basis.

It was 9.45am when Declan Briggs from Liffey Park, Lucan, connected with his bar of silver on a Yellow and Red Wooden Devon lure, fishing from the point of the island at the weir.

Fisheries officer Joseph Delany was on hand to verify the salmon and estimated the fish at about 3.6kg (8lb). Following photographs, it was released unharmed to continue its journey upriver.

“I’m a member of the club for 47 years, going back to when my father brought me as a boy. This is my first time to catch the first fish. I’m absolutely delighted,” Declan said.

The long tradition by Dublin Salmon Anglers was maintained with up to 30 people enjoying the festivities of food and song, and a tipple of Guinness to welcome in the New Year at Islandbridge.

“It was another remarkable day for the three salmon rivers of Dublin, along with the discovery of salmon in the Tolka in 2011, now the Liffey has produced the first salmon of 2012,” said IFI chief executive Dr Ciaran Byrne. He urged anglers to continue to support conservation measures and thanked the club for their efforts to date.

Meanwhile, for the second year in succession, Ian Martin from Co Tyrone caught the first salmon on the Drowes in the northern region, also on New Year’s Day, on a Collie Dog cone-head tube fly from the Middle Blackwater at 12.10pm. The fish weighed 3.6kg (8lb).

Since the lifting of driftnets in 2006 and various conservation measures, there has been an improvement in the numbers of salmon returning to Ireland’s 168 indexed salmon rivers. The 2012 salmon regulations are available on