" I recollect when there were no fishing laws. Then the river was full of 6almon. There were no nets on the tidal portion and no facilities for sending fish to markets far away. When railways were opened and fish could be sent to English towns, nets began on the tidal portion, and effects were disastrous. The fish continued to decrease until at length almost none came to the fresh water. Two years ago the proprietors on the upper river asked the Fishery Commissioners to have an inquiry. This was held at Adare; and the result was that snap nets, the most deadly of all, were prohibited, and seine nets were shortened. The reform did good. Last year fish to a fair number were taken by rod. At the weir under my windows I see fish which in good condition would weigh 40 to 50 lbs."
The Lee, running through County Cork, naturally a first-class river, is almost ruined. At any rate, that seems to be the upshot of the information I have received. Mr. Henry Welch - Thornton, Beaurepaire Park, Basingstoke, writes :-
"I have now given up my fishing on the Lee. During the seven years I had the Nettleville fishery some seasons were good and some bad; but I do not think the river has altered much on the whole."
The river suffers from almost every known influence of a bad kind. Mr. Alderman Henry Dale, Crok, writes:-
" Since the Anglers' Club, founded in 1869, was finally given up, the river has been going back. I am of opinion that the only way to improve the salmon fishing of the country and materially increase the quantity of fish as a food-supply would be providing from some public source sufficient funds for protection."
The Lauxe is a peculiar river, as to which, through the kindness of Lord Kenmare and Lord Castlerosse, I am able to give particulars. Having regard to the number of the fish that pass through it to the Lakes of Killarney, one would expect it to be a first-class angling river; but that is not the case. There are only a few long stretches of deep water in the course of nine miles from the lakes to the head of the tideway, and thus there is but little inducement for the fish to linger in the river. It is mainly for this reason, perhaps, that sport on the Laune has not shown that marked falling-off noticeable in the take in the commercial fisheries since 1897. There is small scope for variation. The commercial decrease has been as regards the grilse fishing in summer, rather than as regards the salmon fishing in spring. Thus, it is probable that the few pools on the river have held, of late years, almost as many fish as they held when fishing throughout the district generally was much better. There is not much pollution; in this respect the Laune is practically as healthy as it was a century ago. On the other hand, in consequence of the more extensive drainage of the catchment basin, floods pass off more rapidly than they used to do, and the river keeps lower than was its wont when the land was saturated. The vigilance of the Laune Angling Association helps effectively to preserve the river from poachers. On the whole, it may be said that, although the stock of fish in the Killarney district has diminished, the angling interest has not suffered proportionately.
Lough Leane has for three years been falling-off a little as regards both nets and rods. The cause, I am told by Mr. Scully, Secretary to the Killarney Conservators, is unknown. The lough, however, is cared for well. The Fisheries Branch of the Department of Agriculture, in order that knowledge may be gained, have instituted a system of marking salmon released from the hatcheries. The decrease is the more astonishing when the enormous output of salmon fry from the three hatcheries is considered. The hatcheries have been established for four years. One of them is in Killorglin. The other two, in Killarney, are maintained by Lord Kenmare and Lord Ardilaun. The trout angling in Lough Leane and neighbouring lakes ranks with the best in Ireland, and is steadily improving.
The Flesk, in the Killarney region, has been going down. Mr. D. Cronin-Coltsmann, Flesk Castle, who owns part of the river, says that twenty-five years ago he used to catch three salmon in a day, and that now he considers himself fortunate if he has three in a month. "This great decline,'" he writes, "is attributable to excessive netting in the tidal waters, to poaching there during the weekly close time, and to poaching in the upper waters during the spawning season.'"
The Blackwater, in County Cork and County Waterford, before the Act of 1863, suffered greatly, with many other rivers, from over-netting. Soon after the removal of many fixed engines and the establishment of " Queen's gaps " in weirs, the fishing, both for nets in the tideway and for rods in the upper waters, improved. A few years having passed, it fell off, especially in the upper waters. Of late there has again been improvement. The take in nets and at Lismore Weir has been large, and spring angling as far up as Clondulane Weir has been good. In the summer of 1905 the pass at Clondulane underwent improvement, and it is believed that fish will henceforth be able to get over that obstacle at any time. About thirty years ago, when the season opened on March 1, instead of opening on February 1, as now, and there was no night netting at Lismore, the angling above Fermoy was better than it has been since. For some unknown reason, fish do not run up to the higher pools so early in the year as they used to run. Winter poaching has decreased. The sewage of Mallow, Fermoy, and other places runs into the river, in contravention of the Pollution of Rivers Act; but the high floods in winter prevent it from being very harmful.
A sportsman resident at Mallow sends a very interesting letter:-
" Our grievance up the Blackwater is that the spring fish do not reach us till summer. Then the weather is becoming fine and the water low. For four years we have had no good head of fish above Fermoy until May 7. Thirty years ago there was excellent angling all along the river after about March 17. Now angling is very good from Lismore to Clondulane, Careysville, from February 1. A great many fish spawn in winter.