Fishing fortunes improving in the region

It’s that time of the year again when angling activity is usually at its lowest ebb. Many local anglers are looking forward to the sun starting to shine after another long hard winter. Soon the steady trickle of mainly UK anglers that visit during the winter period will escalate, hopefully bringing in needed revenue to riverside guesthouses, public houses, restaurants and shops.    The steady upturn in sport over the last three years has seen more and more visitors returning to our shores not only to fish our wild river and lakes but also for the craic and to rekindle old acquaintences.    When sport plummeted in this country a mass exodus took place and anglers, as I have stated on previous occasions, moved on to pastures new such as Holland, Denmark and Sweden.    Although fish were caught in quantities almost all said a return to our shores would be a certainty providing the fish were back. The good news is many areas where fish had become as rare as rocking horse muck have now good stocks of healthy coarse fish.    A statement made by a member of the Shannon Regional Fisheries Board says it all. He stated that it is crucial we restore Ireland’s rivers and lakes from the ravages caused by a booming economy. This very controversial issue is now being addressed and the benefits are there for all to see.    It’s almost all good news this month. A full-page report in one of Europe’s leading angling papers brought a flood of emails and calls to yours truly not only from local anglers but also from anglers who are preparing to visit this summer.    It reported superb sport in the Lanesboro area but also stated that permits were required to fish there. It stated that a day ticket would cost the angler €11, a 21-day permit would cost €19 and a full season permit €37.    I decided to contact Brian McManus of the Shannon Regional Fisheries Board and ask what he knew of it. Brian was to say the least astounded and stated that there is clearly inaccurate information published here.    I can confirm that no day permits or any other permit are required for the Shannon at Lanesboro. Great news indeed for anybody wetting a line in that area.    Other good new is that Pollen are now thriving in Lough Allen. Populations of Pollen, Arctic Char, the ‘Croneen’ trout and smelt have been decimated by poor water quality. Another fact confirmed by our Fisheries boards. The Pollen, a survivor of the last ice age is a plankton eater and not generally caught on rod and line. Its habitat is deeper water, often over 100ft deep. It has a very low tolerance to pollution levels and is now only found in four of Ireland’s Loughs.    I spoke to Fergus Lynch of the North Western regional fisheries board who was happy to inform me that recent surveys carried out on Lough Allen showed a population of between 5000 and 6000 fish. These fish would not be thriving in the numbers that they are if the water quality was not of a high standard. Unfortunately the same cannot be said of Lough Ree and Lough Derg where surveys show Pollen are now facing extinction and stocks are now down to 5% of the original numbers.   The trout season is now upon us and returns can only improve as the weather improves. Two of my old mates, Mark Shields and Ciaran Sudway along with eight other hardy locals fished Lough Ree on the opening day of the season. I am reliably informed that the flow of fish to the boat didn’t quite match the flow of Dom Perpignan Champagne. Only one fish of about 2lbs came to the boat but I understand even taking into consideration the shocking conditions, a good day was had by all.    Adrian Cuffe reported sport of a little better nature. Fishing alone and using a small imitation rubber fish he banked trout of just over 4lbs, 31/2lbs, 2lbs and one a little under 1lb. All fish were returned alive to the water. I am convinced as the milder conditions arrives sport will improve dramatically and early disappointment for Ireland’s trout anglers will soon be forgotten. These days I tend to look out of my lounge window and if the clouds over Kilglass Lake look a little menacing I make the decision to sit in my office and work on the book I am writing.    A recent visit from another old pal, Nigel ‘Piggy’ Jelley saw me literally dragged out on to the banks of one of our local waters. Nigel, a frequent visitor from Leicester, England and famous for his voracious appetite gave me sufficient verbal stick that I had no option but to brave the diabolical weather.    The wind was almost gale-force as we approached the bank and the temperature was just above freezing. The results however proved to be worth all the weather could throw at us. Fishing a sliding float with a cocktail of worm and caster on the hook I landed a succession of bream between 1lb and 3lbs in weight. My catch was such that after a three-hour session I had difficulty lifting the keep net from the water.    A visit to Hanly’s, my local bar in Strokestown, on the way home where I also successfully landed four hot whiskeys finished the day off very well. If the coarse fish are prepared to feed under such conditions all looks well for the coming season.    Any information readers have, please forward on to me at