A step closer to spring

Posted on: 8th March, 2016

Category: Sport & Fitness

Contributor: Jim O'Donnell

Jim O’Donnell is a fishing guide based in Courtmacsherry. You can send your fishing news and photographs to Jim by text or by email to 087 3388626 jim@jimodonnell.ie. To find out more about Jim’s guided fishing trips check out www.jimodonnell.ie.

Pictured above: Ian Walker with his specimen sea trout.

Another month passes. Trying to stay positive for the second month in a row…the good news is that spring is a month closer!

Apart from the odd codling from the shore for those that dare, most sea fishing has been off limits for most of the past month and boat fishing has certainly been a ‘No Go’ everywhere.

But, as I mentioned last month, if you’re a proactive angler who is always willing to turn his hand to something else, all is never lost and as February marks the start of the River season, this month seemed a good month to look at some of the Counties Salmon and Sea Trout fishing.

On February 15, many of the counties rivers, and the clubs that manage them, opened their fisheries to anglers for the first time in 2016, so this month I managed to collar all round good angler and club secretary of the Bandon Angling Association, Jason Nash, to give the low down on West Cork Game fishing and the River Bandon.

The River Bandon

Rising in the Shehy Mountains of Dunmanway, the Bandon River meanders its way south east wards to the coastal town of Kinsale. Whether you’re hoping for the dainty sip of a brown trout, the electric slam of a sea trout or the unmistakable draw of a salmon, its fast runs and relatively shallow, gravelly pools, are perfect for all types fishing. Bandon Angling Association possesses fishing rights to approximately eight miles of unspoilt double bank fishing on the Bandon River. Our waters stretch from west of Innishannon, at its confluence with the Brinny River, to upstream of Desert Bridge, just outside Enniskeane.

Opening day of the new season on the Bandon was on February 15 and with it came refreshed enthusiasm and vigour. We hoped for more rain in 2015 after the droughts of the previous two years and we certainly received it! For the majority of the summer the river was in beautiful condition for salmon fishing, with the best action coming in July and August. Some anglers enjoyed very good sport, with the bulk of the catch being made up of grilse (salmon which have spent one winter at sea, averaging four pounds). We witnessed an improved run of sea trout with some beautiful fish amongst them. Catch of the year went to Ian Walker who caught an excellent specimen, which he sportingly released, weighing nearly seven pounds. It is so encouraging to see fish of this calibre are still very much there. Several anglers also experienced excellent brown trout fishing when conditions suited, both in quality and quantity. The average trout encountered weighed 12 ounces, but better fish to four pounds were also reported. As fly fishing is the only method permitted for trout on club waters, some great sport can be enjoyed.

Visitors are welcome to fish our waters throughout the season, until it closes on September 30. Members and tourist anglers alike are free to roam the river once a club permit is acquired. Along with permits, a state license is also needed to fish for salmon and sea trout. These can be purchased from most local tackle shops. Up-to-date catch and river level information can be viewed on our regularly updated website, www.bandonangling.com, and Facebook page: Bandon Angling Association.

There is much to look forward to in 2016. The summer of 2015 finally saw the commencement and completion of our river works plan. This work consisted of enhancing angling potential and counteracting erosion on six pools upstream of Baxter’s Bridge. Already, the work has proved extremely successful with several salmon caught. A new website is in the pipeline, offering people an enhanced interactive experience. We are launching a guiding service, which will be of immense interest to tourist anglers. To improve your chances of catching a salmon or trout, our guides can show you the best pools and how best to fish them. Also, ladies world fly casting champion, Glenda Powell, will be making her annual visit where she will be instructing youths and seniors in the art of fly casting. This event has become hugely popular and is usually run in April or May. Further details of our guiding service and Glenda Powell’s visit will be available on our website shortly.

Other rivers in West Cork

Further to fishing on Bandon Angling Association waters, fisheries also exist in Enniskeane, Ballineen and Dunmanway. Excellent fishing can be enjoyed throughout the season on these waters, be it for salmon or brown trout. For information on fishing and permits, contact Inland Fisheries Ireland Macroom at 026 41221.

Throughout West Cork, we are blessed with several productive game fisheries, which all have the potential to produce some memorable moments. Just west of the Bandon, the Argideen, meaning ‘Little Silver Stream’, is a very productive sea trout fishery. Anyone looking for a challenge should give this little river a go. With some patience, perseverance and careful planning before a cast is made, the rewards can be great.

Further west along the Wild Atlantic Way, the River Illen flows through Skibbereen and enters the sea at Baltimore. Salmon fishing here is best on a dropping flood, with the main run of salmon entering the system in July. Successful sea trout fishing can be enjoyed under the cover of darkness on warm summer evenings. The River Illen Anglers Club manage a large portion of the fishing and permits can be acquired through their website, www.riverilenanglersclub.ie.

Venturing ever deeper into West Cork, Bantry is home to a variety of small spate rivers. To be in among the salmon and sea trout, good timing after a fall of rain is necessary. Again, the main runs of salmon appear from June to September. Rivers here include the Coomhola, Owvane, Mealagh, Glengarriff and Adrigole (the latter is a Catch and Release fishery only).

For brown trout fishing enthusiasts, as mentioned above, the Bandon provides excellent fishing, but the Sullane in Macroom should also be paid a visit. This is a well-developed fishery, with good access throughout its length. For information on fishing and permits on all of the rivers mentioned above, contact Inland Fisheries Ireland Macroom at 026 41221 or look up their website www.fishinginireland.info.

Tight lines for 2016

Jim

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