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 Jan 31, 2009; 02:44AM - Ireland's Cork Blackwater
 Category:  Europe
 Author Name:  Ian Powell
Ireland's Cork Blackwater

Count-down to Salmon Opening Day on February 1st on the Cork Blackwater
The Cork Blackwater river was running very low for the time of year up until the 11th. January, when the first rain came.
Since then the weather has been very wet & the level has stayed very high.
The graph below shows the actual height & rainfall at Ballyduff.


This could be a perfect run-up to the start of the season as it is always good to have a flood in late January
to help encourage the first of the spring fish to run. We have already seen a few fresh-run fish showing,
but at this time it is difficult to know if they might be early fresh-run spring fish or late spawners.
What would really make it for us would be dry cold weather for the last week of January to help hold up the springers in the lower beats on the river.
For the first time ever, the first (two) springers of the year in Ireland have been taken on the Laune/Killarney Lakes.
The presence of springers so far south bodes well for the opening on the Blackwater which is only round the corner from Kerry.
The spawning run in the Blackwater system has been truly exceptional this year – one of the best for very many years.
It is also very encouraging to see virtually no diseased fish present in spite of the very high numbers of kelts in the river.
We all now wait with eager anticipation for the start of the new season.

 Nov 14, 2008; 03:10AM - The 2008 Season on Blackwater Lodge Salmon Fishery on Ireland's Cork Blackwater.
 Category:  Europe
 Author Name:  Ian Powell

It’s Summertime – and the Fishing ain’t Easy!
The 2008 Season on Blackwater Lodge Salmon Fishery
on Ireland's Cork Blackwater.

Adapting a line from George Gershwin’s famous song, Lodge proprietor Ian Powell looks at the catch statistics and explains how changing tactics helped to ensure great catches.

Fishery Records Tumble in 2008!
2008 will be etched in our memories as three long-standing all-time records were beaten this year.

August Catch
The first was the total catch for August which was 422 of which 209 were released.
The record had stood since 1992 and was 377.

One Day Catch
The second was the total catch for one day, which we broke on September 13 when no less than 55 salmon were caught for the day – 26 of which were released alive. The previous best day was 52 in August, 1992.

First Ever Salmon Caught!
The third was the number of anglers who caught their first salmon.
This was 61 which beat the previous best of 52 in 1998.
The number of first salmon caught expressed as a %age of the total rod days for the season
was also the highest ever recorded at 3.25, beating the previous record of 2.9 in 1992.

Season Summary
2008 was actually a very good season. The total number of salmon caught was 1,024.
Of these, 527 were released alive.
This was the second highest total recorded in the last 10 years, and the eighth highest since 1986 (23 years).

There were so many stories of great experiences on the river this year that we could never recount them all.
The highlight was probably the Van de Laar party from Holland who had just one day fishing guided by Glenda Powell. None had ever salmon fished before and four of them had never even fished. Starting fishing at almost mid-day, every single one of them had caught their first salmon by 3pm., two of them had caught two each & even the driver who was chauffeuring them for the day had caught one as well!

Then there was Fay Voysey-Moore & her son James from Devon who were here for a week in September. Neither had ever caught a salmon before, though were quite experienced anglers. It was Fay’s dream to come to Ireland to catch a salmon. And she did – 11 fish to 12 pounds for Fay and 10 for James. Her dream came true in style!

For the full report on the season with interesting tables of statistics please go to:

Catch Statistics
Within the lottery that is spring fishing, catches appear to be holding their own.
Our gut feeling would be that the spring run is improving slowly, but other factors such as
number of rods fishing and river conditions belie this fact.
There is a continuing downward trend in number of fish caught in May & June.
Here again, number of anglers plays a very significant part. Decimation of the grilse run by the nets discouraged a large percentage of visiting anglers. Obviously, we are expecting a resurgence of grilse now the nets are gone - but with these fish being predominantly 1/1 (one river & one sea year), we will have to wait until 2010 for the progeny of the 2007 run to return.

Grilse and autumn fish
It was blatantly obvious in 2008 that grilse run was even later, and in fact peaked at the end of August.
This helps to explain not only the good catch figures for August and September, but also the very poor ones for June, which was when one would normally have expected these fish to run.
- Over time, there is a definite improvement in catches, especially in the latter part of the season.
The 5YA & 10YA figures for August & September are growing steadily. However, this year, the majority of the fish caught in September were not autumn fish. Not withstanding the high water levels throughout the summer, we only started to see our fresh autumn run fish making an appearance in the lower beats on the last two days of the season.
One angler on Beat 3 caught six sea-liced fish all on fly on the last day.
Obviously, catch statistics are affected by not only the number of salmon returning to run the river, but also the rainfall & river height, plus of course the number of anglers actually fishing.

The Trends in Recent Years
Size of Fish
The average size of the fish in June & July increased even further in 2008 relative to 2007 and the averages for the previous years. In August & September, it was still above the 5YA & 10YA up to 2006 when the nets still operated, but fell below the 2007 figures. This was due the late grilse and autumn runs.

Weather and River Conditions
We thought that 2007 was a wet summer, but there was actually 54% more rain fell in 2008 compared with 2007. This obviously reflected even more in the river height.

Average River Height during the Season
During early summer & the backend, we can observe the following trends:
- Lower levels in April, May & June for the last 2 years.
- Very much higher levels in July, August & September this year.
- In 2007, the levels were higher than normal in July & August, but not to the same degree.
This explains why last year, we had such excellent results on the fly in August & September, as the river came down to a lovely fly height during this period. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case in 2008, as the water level was just too high at this time for good fly-fishing.

Percentage of Fly-caught Fish
Whilst we had a high percentage of fly-caught fish in July 2008, this was definitely not the case in August and September, when fly-fishing was virtually impossible due to high water.
The river level throughout the summer in 2008 was way above normal.
The figures for 2007 were not nearly so high, which explains the difference in the number of fly-caught fish.

The extremely prolonged wet period required a change in our thinking – we had to re-write the fishing handbook,
so to speak. Normally, we would say that fly-fishing was best below 0.65m on the gauge, and spinning best below about 0.80m on the gauge. At heights greater than 1.10-1.20m, we would have not considered it worthwhile going out, as the water was just too damn high.

Fishing is a wonderful sport, and woe betide anyone who thinks he knows it all!
Fortunately, we were not so dogmatic, and persisted fishing in what we would have thought previously were impossible conditions. We were helped by having a new style spinner in stock in our shop – the French-made Silver Bullet – which fished superbly well in these high water conditions.

It was with a black & silver 22g one of these with a very large blade that I hooked a huge fish on August 13th. last. I had refilled my spinning reel with 19lb. nylon just before leaving, and fished our Beat No. 5 - Inchinleama – on the lower river. In the early afternoon, I hooked a very large fish which I played for 25 minutes before the spinner came out! Four other anglers witnessed the event. The fish was reckoned to be in the 20-30lb class - that's fishing!

But what about the fly in high water – I hear you sayNot quite such an easy proposition as much of the river is best fly-fished by wading – which becomes next to impossible at gauge heights of 0.65m or more. We are however, looking to the future on this, and hope to be doing far more fishing with Shooting Head Lines, which lend themselves much better to sunk line high water bank fishing.

Glenda ran a course on Shooting heads last February with her fellow Loop No. 1 Pro Team colleague Thomas Bergren from Sweden with great success, and they are planning a further two in the first week of February 2009. Contact the Lodge if you’d like to book a place.

Looking forward to 2009 and beyond……………
The 2008 season started badly when we were given the news day before the 2008 season opened that a spring quota and brown tag system would be in operation up to May 12 on the Blackwater. This put off a lot of (Irish) anglers from taking out their licences in the spring. The administration of the system blatantly didn’t work, and we are assured by the CEO of the Southern Board that it will not be in existence for 2009.
It’s about time that those in charge came to their senses, and made a change to our season.
If we genuinely wish to preserve spring salmon, the best way to do it is to delay the start of the season until March.
The bag limit per day also needs to be revised. The grilse running in June & July need to be conserved, so a bag limit of one fish per day would make much more sense. With the bulk of the salmon now running in August and September, this would be the better time to allow a 3 fish per day limit.
Serious consideration should also be given to changing the season to allow us to fish on into October.
Many rivers in the UK close much later. The number of anglers who fish in October and November would help to provide a great economic boost to an industry that has suffered greatly in the last eight years. The Blackwater has superb late runs of fresh fish which could well be exploited – even if it was on a fly only and perhaps catch and release basis for a trial period.
But for now, the rods are stored away, and we can but sit and wait to see what the powers that be will have in store for us for the coming season.

 Nov 21, 2007; 11:25AM - The 2007 Salmon Fishing Season on Ireland's Cork Blackwater
 Category:  Europe
 Author Name:  Ian Powell

Report for the 2007 Season on Ireland's Cork Blackwater
Blackwater Lodge Fishery - The Net Result
The Drift Nets are Gone!
Larger Grilse & Summer Salmon finally return!

For the full report with tables of statistics, please refer to the Lodge website. From the Navigation Bar, click News then under Lodge News click Report on the 2007 Season.


This was the season that our dreams came true!
The drift net fishery was gone, and the ban was effective as only one net-marked fish was reported out of the 802 caught on the fishery for the season!
Even more encouraging was the large increase in the number and overall size of the fish running into the river.
This was coupled with a large increase in the percentage of fish taken on the fly and also the number of fish released alive back into the river.
The improved runs should also be seen in western UK fisheries, notably in Wales & Wessex.

The First Half of the Season

The opening week of the season saw the river at a lovely height, with the river falling from 70 to 54 cms on the gauge. All of the fish taken for the month were baggots or kelts, and all but two were taken in this first week. Then the rains came and for the rest of the month the river was between 105 & 264cms on the gauge which meant that fishing was impossible.

The high water continued well into March with the height between 94 and 314cms up until the 20th. A few rods only ventured out after the 10th., and were rewarded with five fresh spring salmon. The rain stopped around mid-March & by the end of the month the river had fallen to 50cms – a very low level for the time of year.

The river fell from 50 to 30cms through the month which brought it down to low/medium summer level and few fish were running. All but one of the fish caught were taken by the 20th.

The river was between 30 and 20cms for almost the whole month. On the Blackwater, we usually enjoy a very good run of what we would call our May fish. Well into double figures with a good proportion in the 14/15lb. class, this is a distinct run that comes later than the springers & usually just before the grilse.
Unfortunately for us this year, we suffered abnormal drought conditions from mid March right through until a 4 foot flood on June 22. Consequently, very few fish moved into the system and the May catch was well below normal – exacerbated by the low number of anglers fishing.

Overall Comments on the Spring Run

In recent years, we have seen a significant increase in the spring run. This was not evident from catches this spring, but most of the run had obviously come in on the abnormally high water from mid-February to mid-March, leaving few fresh fish to come in during late March & April. This was exacerbated by the drought conditions that immediately followed the floods.

The Second Half of the Season

The drift netting season was June and July, and we naturally had high expectations for improved runs of fish at this time now that they had free passage into the rivers.
However, Nature was cruel, and the drought extended right up to the last week of June so the few anglers fishing out of the Lodge in the first 3 weeks of June didn’t see the benefit of the drift net ban. The river level was between 37 and a disastrously low 15cms right up until the 19th., during which time only 7 fish were taken.
Rain then put the river in flood & out of order for 5 days, and 37 fish were taken in the last 9 days of the month as the river began to fine off.

The average height in July was almost 60cms, very high for the time of year and with four spates spread over the month which took the level to 100cms & one to 70cms. This of course got a great run of fish coming into the river. Rather low angling effort kept the actual catch total lower than would be expected, but the catch per rod day was very high at 0.6.

Again the level was very high for summer time, with a couple of spates reaching 90 and 130cms. The catch level was exceptional (the fourth best ever for August) considering the number of rods fishing, and the catch per rod day was a spectacular 0.8.

The river fined off steadily from 35 to 24cms for the first 3 weeks of September when a flood took it up to 190cms on the 21st. It fell back to 50cms on the 24th, rose again to 59cm the next day then fined off to 32cms by the end of the month.
The catch total was very good, partly due to a much higher rod effort in this very popular month, with the catch per rod day at 0.4.

Overall Comments on the Second Half of the Season:

Percentage of Fly-caught Fish

There was a dramatic increase in the percentage of fly-caught salmon this year relative to the 10 Year Average. The only month which showed a reduction was July, which was due to the very high water for the time of year making fly-fishing very difficult – if not impossible.

Increase in the Weight of Fish Caught

There was a significant increase in the weight of the fish caught this year relative to the 10 Year Average. Overall, the increase was 17%, with the months which were formerly the netting season ie: June & July both showing a massive 36% increase!

Number of Fish Caught and Catch per Rod Day
The total number of fish caught for the whole season was 8% higher than the Five Year Average to 2006. However, this is relative to the number of rods fishing.
If we take the catch per rod day, the overall figure for the season is a remarkable 0.46, which is 41% higher than the Five Year Average and 58% higher than the Ten Year Average. It was only equalled by the superb catch in 2004, when August floods brought in huge numbers of autumn fish.


The removal of the drift nets has been of immense benefit to the stocks of salmon in the Blackwater. There have been far more and far bigger fish running than normal, and the sport anglers have enjoyed has improved as a consequence.
Most importantly, the drift net ban has also evidently held up well, as only one fish caught in the whole season displayed net marks.

There is a massive stock of fish in the river, which should ensure an excellent spawning year and further improved runs in years to come.
There has been a huge and welcome change in visiting anglers attitude regarding releasing of salmon, and a far higher percentage of fish have been returned alive than ever before. All sporting anglers realise that “a wild Atlantic Salmon is far too precious a resource to be caught only once!” (Lee Wulff).


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