Gone Fishing with John O’Hare

If you can recall in the Christmas edition I mentioned the blackguarding going on in the Bay, whereby trawlers were fishing up as far as Dinish island and spoiling the waters for everyone else. Imagine my joy to be told that the Minister had signed a bill to stop it. Anglers and inshore fishermen were delighted at this turn of events, what a great Christmas gift for us all! (The other good news was the sacking of Jose Mourinho by Manchester United)
Our euphoria was shortlived when we were informed that the trawling ban inside a 6 mile limit only covered the big boats and, on top of that, it would not come into force until 2020 and could be open to legal challenges. Where does this leave our hopes of protecting Kenmare Bay from environmental destruction? Only time will tell.
Anglers know what it is to have their hopes raised only for to find them dashed in a very quick time. They agreed to allow the doubling of the price of salmon rod licences, which by the way they are still paying, to compensate drift nets fisherman. The idea being with the drift netting for salmon stop stopped there would be a big increase in returning fish to our rivers.
Did the plan work? Yes and no. Some of them were honest and fair and stood by the agreement, but some others stopped for a short while and started to net salmon again.
An angler, with a holiday home on the peninsula, was telling me that he was offered fresh wild salmon by one of these guys.
He said to the fishermen, ‘I thought that you were well paid to leave the salmon alone and stop catching them?’
‘We were too,’ was his response, ‘But that money is all spent now.’
If this story is true, and there are plenty of others like it of boxes of salmon being unloaded at fishing ports with a ready market for them, then where are we going? All we are doing is getting frustrated, upset and making enemies. This country of ours is chockablock with laws, rules and regulations but the enforcement of them leaves a lot to be desired.

This month, and over the Christmas season, I have seen several salmon in our rivers. Is this because of the mild, reasonably dry weather with low-water conditions? Or better still have more fish returned to spawn this year? Anyway, whatever the reason, it gladdens my heart to see them

It is hard to believe that it is 19 years since my good friend Sean M. passed away, the way he often said that he hoped he would go, ping like a light bulb.
A retired banker, humorous and witty, the love of his life was salmon and trout fishing. At one time he was based in Dingle and, knowing my family came from there, he told my wife that there were only two types of people living in that area, geniuses and idiots with no inbetween! Every time when we get a little bit hot under a collar, thanks to Sean, you can guess which one I am told resembled me the most.
As soon as the fishing season opened you would find his car parked at the edge of the river near the bridge, a lot of the time with his rod resting on the railing, his float and bait after drifting under the bridge to the bottom of the pool and then stuck in the shallows at the end, whilst Sean had dozed off to sleep without a care in the world. He was so laid-back.
One day I arrived as he played a fish, a good size salmon of approximately eight or nine pounds.
‘Hang on, I will land him for you,’ I said running down the steps to the platform, ‘Take him gently now Sean.’
I put my landing net ready to sweep up the fish when Sean’s line snapped and the salmon was gone.
Sean and I were both devastated at his loss.
‘Show me that line Sean until I have a look at it,’ I said. Cotton thread would have been a lot stronger, one pull and it snapped.
‘How old is the stuff?’ I asked. He could not say except to tell me it had worked fine for years.
I gave out to him, asking him had he a new line in the car, which he had in the pocket.
‘Get it then,’ I said, ‘And we will put it on.’
What did he give me? The older line wrapped around a cigarette packet that had been on the reel years ago. What could I say? It was not meanness, as a new spool of line is cheap, it was just carelessness on his part that lost him his fish.
Another time he got a flying C., which is quite a heavy bait, stuck in his finger and could not pull it out.
He drove himself to a local doctor who could not pull it out either and sent him off to Accident and Emergency in Cork University Hospital. He drove there in great pain, every bump in the road hurting him as well as the difficulty of steering. Why they did not nip the base off leaving the hook only in his finger I will never know
I could tell you 100 stories of humour about him, and maybe some other time, but for the moment, suffice to say I miss him.
This is the sad thing about growing old, all the good friends you lose, they cannot be replaced.

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