Angling notes: Depleted fish stocks not helped by those thieving seals

With over 60 years of angling under my belt, I suppose I can say without fear that I have caught most of the species in our European seas, rivers and lakes. That includes bleak from the River Mole (a tributary of the Thames), gudgeon from the Tolka at Ashtown and zander from the lakes of Tampere in Finland.

Beyond that, I could add bonefish and tuna and a few more exotic species. Wait, the elusive char still evades (but there’s still time!) The one regret I have is my failure to chronicle my escapades. No diary, just memories.

This scenario most definitely does not apply to Ronan Gormley. As professor at the School of Agriculture and Food Science at UCD, Ronan remembered to put pen to paper, summarising records of fish caught dating from 1952 to May of this year.

Young anglers

“My decision to keep an angling diary was two-fold,” he said. “Firstly, to inspire young anglers to keep a record which in later years they will treasure and, secondly, to highlight the decline in catch size and species and the necessity for positive action to halt the decline.”


He recounts each of the 63 years, from the bamboo rod and centre-pin reel era to the modern fly- and beach-casting rods, stretching from the Boyne in Co Louth to Killarney, and a plethora of locations along the way.

Some lessons were also learned, such as the need for patience and eternal optimism. His pet hates, including muddy water and thieving seals, are also covered in the 52-page e-booklet.

In 1987, he writes that no sea trout were caught in the Boyne or Nanny and only three brown trout for the year. Shortly after, there was an effluent spill in the Nanny and large numbers of spring sea trout and brown trout were killed, including some that weighed over 2.3kg (5lb). Wild trout stocks never recovered fully thereafter.

“Only 12 mackerel caught at Clogherhead during 2000 and I abandoned fishing there due to thieving seals. If 2-3 mackerel were hooked far out they were almost certain to be attacked by a seal. There was little opportunity to play a mackerel on a light line, as an attack was highly probably with loss of gear almost a certainty.”

The e-book can be found at: and can be downloaded free of charge.

Founder member

Alex Dickey, a founder member of The Pikers Angling Club, has died at the age of 85. Alex, who lived in Bangor, Co Down, began his angling career as a trout and salmon fisher on the Moyola and Sixmilewater rivers before turning his attention to pike.

On Lough Allen on September 30, 1974, he went into the record books – and local angling folklore – when he caught The Pikers first pike of over 13.6kg (30lb) while trolling a spoon bait near an island which was subsequently named Alex’s Island.

It was to be another 35 years before he would catch another 30-pounder – at the ripe old age of nearly 80. What a great way to end an outstanding angling career during which he caught 317 pike weighing more than 4.5kg (10lb), of which nine were over 11.3kg (25lb) and two over 13.6kg (30lb).

It is understood Alex’s ashes will be scattered on Lough Allen in accordance with his wishes.

Autism competition The second Cast a Line for Autism competition takes place next Saturday

in aid of The Sensory Garden (Cong National School). Choose your own partner and lake of your choice – Corrib or Mask – and practice dapping or wetfly fishing. Check-in is from 9am in Lydons Lodge Hotel, Cong. Entry fee: €50. Further details from Dorrie Gibbons at 087-938 3185.

The Irish Federation of Sea Anglers (Ifsa) shore teams achieved fantastic success at the recent Salc Home Internationals held in the Wexford/ Waterford areas. Against a strong contingent from England, Scotland and Wales, the senior team won gold, while the ladies, under-16s and under-21s took silver.

Coupled with a win in last month's boat championship in Weymouth, it augurs well for Ireland's chances in the Fips-M World Boat championships in Mullaghmore, Co Sligo in September.