William's first salmon of the year is well worth the wait
Rod and Line
Bangor angler William Rainey has finally landed the first rod-caught fresh run salmon of the 2017 season from the River Drowes which opened for fishing on January 1.
It was William's first outing of the season and he tempted the 8lb sea liced fish on worm from the Mill Pool.
This is the latest date that the first salmon of the season has been taken from the river and also the lowest water level in which a first salmon has been caught at just 0.488 metres on the gauge, equivalent to summer levels.
William also saw a number of fresh running fish which may signal an improvement in what has been a worryingly slow start to the salmon season throughout the country.
As a measure to encourage the catch and release of more spring fish, the Drowes Fishery is offering a free day's fishing to all anglers who catch and release a fresh wild salmon and verify it with photo or video from now until May 1.
Drowes season ticket holders will receive a voucher equivalent to the cost of a day's fishing per verified catch and release fish.
Multi sea winter fish are vital to all fisheries, even to systems which comfortably meet their conservation limits and where a "harvestable surplus" exists such as on the Drowes.
These fish are mainly female and have more and larger eggs and thus greater spawning potential and egg viability.
The state is the largest owner of fisheries in Ireland, including some of the most prolific spring rivers, and it would be a welcome move if the state implemented some conservation incentives for multi sea winter fish in waters under its control.
Interesting statistics just released for the 2016 season at Carnroe on the Lower Bann show that the total number of salmon and grilse landed by anglers was 480, just 15 fish lower than the previous season.
In a month by month breakdown, March and April were blanks, nine fish were caught in May and 87 in June. However, the best month by far was July which produced 198 fish.
August was also good with 99 fish landed then September saw 46 fish and the season ended in October with a catch of 41 fish.