" Carefully kept records covering over thirty years show that the productiveness of the river diminished. The causes were over-netting and poaching. Now, however, there is hope of recovery. A goodly part of the river is being nursed by Sir Charles Petrie, Liverpool, who took a tenancy a few years ago."
The Owenmore, which runs, through picturesque scenery, from above Corick, in the Barony of Erris, to the sea at Tullaghaan Bay, is a subject of anxiety. Mr. George Tilson Shaen Carter, Shaen Manor, Belmullet, writes:-
"In 1875, and until 1895, the catch of salmon was very large, and the river, assisted by the valuable fishery of Lough Carramore close by, was favourably known far and wide. Since 1895 there has been a falling-off in the stock of fish. That would appear to be because, in addition to excessive netting in the tidal reaches, salmon are taken in large quantities by fishing vessels out in the Bay of Tullaghaan, at the entrance of the bay, and round the coast. Certainly the river fishing will be destroyed if sea fishing of this kind continues. In spite of adversity, salmon in fair numbers spawned in the winter of 1905-1906."
The Burrishoole Fishery, a range of loughs and rivers in County Mayo, has been falling off during the last twenty-five years. Mr. H. M. Anketell Jones writes:-
"This is most noticeable as regards spring fish, the number of which has been steadily decreasing since the year 1864. In that year the spring fish taken exceeded 800; for the ten years ended in 1889 the average had fallen to 109; at the close of the next decade it had further fallen to 80; the average for the last five years was only 71. The average weight of the spring salmon has fallen 1.5 lb. in the last five years: from 11 lbs. in 1901 to 9.5 lbs. in 1905. These averages are taken from the number of fish taken up to May 31 in each year. During the last few years, it would appear, more spring salmon have been running late in the season, with the grilse; but, salmon and grilse counted together, the decrease in the last twenty years is quite thirty per cent. It is difficult to assign reasons definitely; but the chief causes seem to be insufficient protection during the close season, the funds at the disposal of the Board of Conservators being barely equal to meeting half the present expenditure; the large increase in the number of seals, otters, and cormorants; and the difficulty of stopping poachers, the fishery laws being so lax that it is not easy to obtain a conviction."
The Claregalway, in County Gal way, though it still yields good sport, is suffering from a very peculiar cause. Writing in behalf of Lord Clan-morris, who is not a fisherman, Mr. Raoul Joyce, Glenina, who has known the river for twenty years, says:-
"The sport is not so good as it used to be; but it is still very fair in wet seasons, especially if we have floods at the end of June or in July. In dry summers there is practically no salmon fishing at all. That is mainly due to the porous nature of the bed of the river for about five miles between Cregmore and Corbally. In this stretch there are swallow holes in the bed and sides of the river, which take away all the water and leave the river for about five miles as dry as a road. The result is disastrous. At least two-thirds of the salmon that go up to Lough Corrib spawn in this river, and some millions of fry perish in that perforated stretch, besides all the trout and salmon that have the misfortune to remain there. Strange to say, above the first swallow hole at Corbally there is always a good stream in the dryest summer, and the water rises again about twenty yards from the river bank, about a mile above Claregalway, and flows into the river, making a good stream thence to Lough Corrib. It would cost about £1000 to make a proper job and stop these holes with concrete. If this were done the whole fishing of the Corrib river, as well as that of the lake and that of Claregalway, would be much improved. The preservation of the spawning fish has been much better attended to during the last six years. That is owing to the active work done by two or three Scots head bailiffs or inspectors, who keep a vigilant eye on the local bailiffs. This river is not a spring river. A few fish run up in April and May ; but I have never known more than ten caught in a season. The earliest I have known I myself caught at Cregmore on March 29. I have never known a rod take more than two in a day. After an early July flood the river swarms with grilse. I have known three rods in a day take on the fly, respectively, one eighteen fish, one twelve, and one nine. There are not many trout in the river; but most of the few are good fish. I have had some varying from 3 to 6 lbs. My best, taken on the fly in 1903, was 7 lbs.: such a handsome fish that I had him set up and have him here. The trout are well shaped, well fed, and beautifully marked."
The Galway Fishery extends from Lough Corrib to the sea. Mr. W. N. Milne writes:-
"As a several fishery including tidal waters, it commands the entrance to the whole catchment basin of the river. The basin has a catchment area of over 1200 square miles, some 800 of which are permeated by salmon streams; and of these 135 miles have been estimated as productive breeding ground. The length of the several fishery to the sea is about five miles; but the chief angling grounds are below the weirs, within about three-quarters of a mile from the sea. From this proximity to the sea, and the regulating weir across the river, arises the wonderful concentration of salmon above the County Bridge on their way to the upper waters-a spectacle with which most travellers to the West of Ireland are familiar. From these causes, too, the catch of salmon and grilse on the Galway has always been remarkable as compared with that on any similar piece of water in the United Kingdom. During the last twenty-five years the average annual catch of salmon by anglers has exceeded a thousand fish. Catches of twenty, and in some cases as many as twenty-five, by one rod in one day have been recorded; baskets of from eight to twelve in the height of the season are frequent. The grilse weights are usually between 6 and 7 lbs.; the salmon weights, about 14 lbs. The heaviest fish caught during the last five years have been 32, 42¼, 30½, 27½, and 36½ lbs. The catches from 1901 to 1905 for February-September, inclusive, by eight rods, were-1901, 944; 1902, 1726; 1903, 727; 1904, 1230; 1905, 1575. Besides salmon the river contains a good stock of brown, tideway, and sea-trout. Last season there was an unprecedented plenty of sea-trout One rod, from May to August, inclusive, caught 384 salmon and 796 trout. The trout were all taken between the middle of July and the end of August. The Galway and its tributaries are well protected both in the open and in the close season."