Aptly called the Golden Vale, the 75-mile Blackwater valley offers the angler a rich choice of salmon from the Irish Sea and coarse species from innumerable loughs and two canals.
When the angler in Ireland has tasted the fishing in the Blackwater Valley, he can try two defunct canals that run parallel across the middle of the country—the Grand and the Royal. Both canals start from Dublin and both are stocked with perch within the city’s boundaries.
Despite this few people fish within Dublin as fishing, generally, is not well organized. Prosperous, a hamlet on the bank of the Grand Canal and about 20 miles from Dublin, is the first location to be properly designated and cared for as an angling station. Fishing there can be very good at times, although there is evidence that the canal’s fishing is on the decline. Catch figures for competitions at Ticknevin, not far from Prosperous, show that there are less fish with a serious loss of rudd in recent years. In 1971, for example, 79 anglers taking part in three competitions caught some 6,446 fish, made up of hybrids, bream, rudd, perch, pike and gudgeon. The ratio of bream to rudd was one to 200. In 1975, however, 34 anglers took only 86 fish with only two rudd taken for every bream.
Prosperous has had several touches of pollution and has recovered, though it still has to get back to former health. When a canal bank broke at Killane, Co Offaly, in 1975, Inland Fisheries Trust in a rescue operation saved thousands of bream, rudd, pike and perch, thus demonstrating that the canal has great potential, even if the 1971 ratio of one bream to 200 rudd has changed to four bream to one rudd. The Grand Canal from the point where it branches off at Roberts-town, runs south for 30 miles past Monasterevin and Athy and then links up the the River Barrow and continues to Carlow, Bagenalstown and St Mullins, where it meets the tide. At any of these towns, and especially between them, there is bank fishing water. It is not well organized, so the enquiring angler may find himself a bit lost, but a few contacts can help. For further details contact: Mrs E O’Farrell, Prosperous; Mrs M Corbett, Vicarstown; Martin Hughes, Athy.
The main Grand Canal, going west to join the River Shannon at Shannon Harbour, has fair coarse fishing at Robertstown, Allenwood, and westwards at Edenderry and Tullamore. Pollution and disturbance by passing boats, with heavy weed growth in warmer months, are obstacles to enjoyment and good results, however. Eight miles from Tullamore, Pallas Lake, at Blue Ball on the Birr-Tullamore road, is primarily a trout water, with many rudd still remaining. It is also amply provided with fishing stands, since boat fishing is not allowed.
The River Brosna, running parallel to the Grand Canal for 20 miles or more westwards from Tullamore, has been partly developed for trout, but coarse fish stocks are strong. Unless you know the river well, however, it is difficult to exploit.
The River Blackwater enriches four counties and its 75-mile valley is known as the Golden Vale. In Co Cork, from Mallow to Cappoquin, it is a prime coarse fishing river, with large stocks of true roach and dace. Fermoy is a good centre: the banks here within a mile downstream of the town centre were cleared for an international contest. Upstream for four miles there is good bank fishing in the broad medium-flow river. It is best known for salmon, but also has a splendid coarse record. For further information contact Jack O’Sullivan, Patrick Street, Fermoy. Coppoquin is said to be the Irish home of roach since 1889 when the first stocks were introduced as bait fish. It is thought that pike anglers released their imported livebaits into the river when leaving. The Irish specimen roach of 2lb 1334oz was caught in Cappoquin by Lawrie Robinson of Leeds in 1970, and virtually all the other specimens have been caught there or at Fermoy. Lately, Cappoquin has been dropping out of the specimen list, not because the fish are fewer, but owing to a shortage of help for weighing and documenting catches.
Cork city has a most unusual fishery for carp—the Lough, a small water on the edge of the city. In 1976 the seven specimens caught, from 15lb lloz to 10lb 2oz, all came from the Lough, and nowhere else in Ireland. These specimens are caught regularly by junior anglers, who put them back with loving care, and gain medals from the Irish Specimen Fish committee for them. Carp have been introduced to other Irish waters, notably into the Grand Canal at Prosperous and in the Cavan lakes, but they do not show up on hooks. Reservoirs at Car-rigadrohid and Innishcarra, six miles from Cork city, are both excellent perch waters.
County Clare has a wealth of lakes that are virtually unknown except to local people who show little interest in angling. Tulla, about 10 miles east of Ennis, is said to have 1,400 acres of lakes within easy reach of the town, with fishing in 40 lakes, 10 of them within four miles of the town. Most of the lakes have fishing stands. They are small lakes, around which one can have plenty of freedom to find different angling spots in the same day. Doon Lake (120 acres) three miles from Broadford, is good for bream and also has small perch, big pike and some rudd. Boats are also available.
Corrofin, 10 miles northwest of Ennis, is the centre of another cluster of lakes. Lake Inchiquin, half a mile from Corrofin, although reputedly a trout lake, still has pike, perch and tench. Atedaun Lake has pike and perch, and Rinroe Lake, three miles from Corrofin, has tench. There are, however, too many lakes to detail them with fairness, and the angler wishing to fish them would be advised to contact P Neylon and Naoise Cleary in Corrofin.