Shane Gallagher from the Drowes Fishery reports on a very disappointing start to the salmon season…

The first month of the 2017 salmon season in Ireland has drawn to a close without a single fish having been verified reported anywhere in the country. This is the first time no salmon have been recorded in Ireland in January since the days of the Boards of Conservators, the forerunner to the Fishery Boards and present day Inland Fisheries, which predates the foundation of the state.

Making a cast no the Upper Mill, River Drowes

Since the start of the season here a number of fresh fish were reported lost. One angler reported catching and releasing a small sea liced fish from the Mill Pool but this fish could not be verified by photograph or video.

The reality of early spring fishing in Ireland is that more people have played golf on the moon than have caught a fresh salmon in Ireland this season. Last year’s Autumn run was poor to non existent. Last season’s grilse run, while improved came after 2 poor grilse years in 2014 and 2015. It is difficult to remain optimistic about the future of salmon angling in Ireland when more than half of the rivers are closed including once mighty rivers like the Slaney. Salmon licence sales have almost halved since 2002 and you only need look around the river bank to see how many young people are taking up the sport.

Summer levels at Red Roof on the Drowes, 31/01/17

What can be done? We can start by stopping looking for others to blame. That we have allowed Irish salmon fishing to deteriorate to such an extent is a failure of fishery owners like myself, angler representative associations and Inland Fisheries.
The last time there was any unity of purpose among those who care about Irish salmon it culminated in the successful campaign to end the Irish mixed stock fishery. The last year of drift net fishing in 2006 saw a harvest of just over 70,000 salmon. Despite great expectations the last ten years have seen a further steady decline in salmon numbers across the country.
The imperative now is to (1) Identify conclusively the causes for the continued decline in salmon numbers. (2) Identify how best these causes can be effectively addressed (3) Implement the management policies needed to address these issues, be it at a marine or catchment level.

The one positive that may come out of the dearth of salmon in Ireland this season is that it may be the impetus needed for people to sit up and take notice that we can no longer take the presence of Irish salmon for granted.

Tight lines to all venturing out to wet a line for the first time tin February. Undoubtedly the first salmon in Ireland will turn up soon, maybe even tomorrow. What we really need to focus on now is not when the first salmon in Ireland is caught but ensuring that we are not the generation to catch the last.

Shane Gallagher
Drowes Salmon Fishery

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The Drowes Fishery is one of Ireland’s premier spring salmon and grilse fisheries. The river is some 5 miles in length, with over 70 named pools, flowing from Lough Melvin at Lareen Bay and entering the sea at Tullaghan, just outside Bundoran. The Drowes has a wide variety of water suitable for all fishing methods, including several miles of good fly water and deeper slower moving pools suitable for spinning and bait fishing.

For information and bookings on the Drowes Fishery & Lough Melvin see
Tel: 071 9841055 (8am to 12 noon).
Mob: +353 (0) 87 8050806