Impact of Covid-19 pandemic seen in specimen fish returns

Angling notes: Two ‘notable’ fish caught in 2020, an angel shark and a 13.25kg salmon

A new Irish record smooth-hound of 12.02kg was established by John Hughes fishing out from Wicklow town last July.

A new Irish record smooth-hound of 12.02kg was established by John Hughes fishing out from Wicklow town last July.

 

It was a year unlike any we can remember with Covid-19 impacting on so many people’s lives. The impact was also seen in angling generally and in specimen fish returns, according to Robert Rosell, chairman of the Irish Specimen Fish Committee (ISFC), in his annual report for 2020.

Nevertheless, it was a relatively productive year with a total of 309 claims ratified, all by anglers resident in Ireland. Over 90 per cent of claims derived from marine species and almost 66 per cent were length-based.

The greatest number of claims were from two of the dogfish groupings, namely smoothound and spurdog. Once again, fishing out from Wicklow topped the list for smoothhound with 35 of the 45 specimens ratified.

One new record was established, a smoothound of 12.02kg caught in Wicklow in July by John Hughes from Dublin. The record for this species was broken several times in the past decade and is now close to the UK record of 12.76 kg, set in 1998.

There were two “notable” fish in 2020 – the first, an angel shark caught in the Shannon Estuary. This is the first record of this species, which is deemed critically endangered. It was first recorded by the ISFC for data recording purposes in 2016.

The second was a very large salmon, estimated at 13.25 kg, caught in the River Suir. Careful handling ensured both fish were returned in excellent condition to the water.

Claims

The pandemic forced the committee to postpone genetic analysis of shad and cyprinid scales. Some claims were received for both but the total number received did not warrant undertaking this expensive, fixed cost analysis. Claims for last year will be processed in 2021 or when we have received sufficient claims.

To expand opportunities and perhaps encourage junior anglers, consideration is being given to include some of the smaller species caught regularly. Acknowledging this fact, ISFC has introduced four new species.

In freshwater, gudgeon is now at full specimen status and three marine species, ie, shore rockling, short-spined sea scorpion and cork-wing wrasse are listed as species requiring more data.

Pat Gallagher proudly displays his 10lb (70cm) brown trout from Lough Sheelin.
Pat Gallagher proudly displays his 10lb (70cm) brown trout from Lough Sheelin.

In other committee business, Glenda Powell, leading fly-casting instructor and angling guide, joined in February 2021 and brings a wealth of angling experience and know-how.

In conclusion, Dr Rosell paid a special thanks to sponsors, IFI, Daera and all the anglers who keep the ISFC afloat.

*The May issue of Glenda Powell’s Fish-Live-Learn online newsletter is again packed with plenty of interesting topics. This month’s edition centres on Glenda’s advice on single-handed and overhead casting tuition for trout.

In addition, articles include Nymphmania in Ireland by Dave Coughlan; Sunshine and rainbows from Austria by Jan Kubala; Buzzers at the ready by Ned Maher; Irish Fly Craft by Jimmy Tyrrell; The Take, a poem by Neale Moss; Nutritious wild food for a pandemic; The Waterford Greenway and profile on Glenda.

For single-handed rod and overhead casting, Glenda offers the following advice.

Kit

Learning to fly fish can prove overwhelming because there is so much kit on the internet it can be confusing as to what to purchase.

Fly fishing should be fun and it’s important to keep kit to a minimum, ie fly rod, reel loaded with backing and appropriate fly line to match the rod. This is important as all items must balance from day one if they are to work efficiently together.

Spending time with a qualified casting instructor is also very useful to help understand the basics and to give advice on kit. The fly rod should be between 8 and 9 feet, close to the handle can be found the weight of line required to make the rod load.

If you are not sure as to which fish species or venue you may be fishing, then a safe bet in line choice should be 5-6 weight.

Any further questions, please contact: glenda@glendapowellfishing.com. Telephone: +353 87 235 1260.

*Angling got back to a flying start for Pat Gallagher last weekend with a “fish of a lifetime” trout of 10lb on Lough Sheelin. Fishing buzzers in the Bog area, the 70cm fish took all of 40 minutes to lift off the bottom and bring to the net. Following a quick photo and measure, this double-figure beauty was safely returned.

*Looking for a last minute getaway with the whole gang? Due to a recent cancellation, the Delphi Club in the Bahamas has a unique opportunity for a whole lodge booking at 20 per cent off normal rates from May 27th-June 3rd for all eight rooms.

Get in touch ASAP, at info@delphiclubabaco.com.

angling@irishtimes.com

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