The river is very much over-netted in the tidal portion, and, worse, in the fresh water, where no net of any sort should be allowed to fish. Net-fishing begins too early and closes too late in the year. There should be no fishing earlier than March 1, andj none later than September 15. Trout should be treated similarly.
" The Suir could be made an ideal river. It has about seventy miles of first-class salmon-fishing water. It is better than most rivers. The stands are so close to one another that you can fish almost continuously. I have visited a good many rivers in Canada, Nova Scotia, and British Columbia, where I found the pools often more than a mile apart, which was tiresome. The fish in the Suir run to great weights. I have known a few, taken on the rod, weighing 50 lbs., and a good many between 40 lbs. and 50 lbs. My best fish was 34 lbs.; but I have caught a great many between 30 lbs. and 34 lbs. The average weight of one year's fish taken by me and a friend who was with me for two months was 17 lbs. for fifty-six. That was about twenty years ago, and we might have done much more had we fished oftener. March and April are the best months. As soon as the weather becomes bright in May the fishing is over. Then the salmon rise only either very early in the morning or when the sun goes down. As soon as the river is low enough the nets are at work nightly, and there is no use fishing the pools that have been swept.
" The trout fishing on the upper water from Golden Village to Holy Cross is very good. The fish run to very high weights. I have known a few 6 lbs., and have myself caught one that weight. I have had many varying from 4 lbs. to 4½ lbs. I think I have a ' record' in respect of a 4½ lbs. fish taken on a dry fly, a very small Iron Blue. Sir Edward Grey was the first man that ever cast a dry fly on the Suir. He had wonderful sport. It was hearing of his performances that induced me to try what I could do with the dry fly, and I have ever since been blessing his name for many a day's sport, especially since the salmon fishing was over. The trout, alas ! are much fewer than they were thirty years ago. This seems due to sudden and violent floods, consequent upon modern agricultural drainage, which tear up the spawn beds.
" Hatcheries should not be necessary on the Suir. The natural spawning beds would be ample for the purpose if they were protected. This will be seen when some Government realises the great value of salmon rivers, and undertakes the management of all that are in Ireland. The Irish Boards of Conservators have neither sufficient funds nor time enough to look after the business efficiently. There should be an Irish Fishery Department and some one, with a good salary and full authority, responsible for the proper preservation of every river. Such a Department would be more than self-supporting. It would be a source of considerable revenue to the Government."
The Nore, rising in the north-west of Tipperary, and, after being joined by the Barrow, falling into the sea at Waterford, is certainly not improving. Captain E. K. B. Tighe, Woodstock, Inistioge, writes:-
"There has been no great diminution in the stock of fish within the limits of the tidal waters; but the very great falling-off in peal and grilse during the last three years calls for serious attention. It is probably attributable to a lack of any public sense of the importance of the laws against poaching and pollution, and to the impossibility of getting rod and net men to perceive that intelligent co-operation is necessary if the natural advantages of a water which should be one of the best salmon rivers in the kingdom are to be maintained. The efforts of private persons to do good by means of hatcheries are nullified by there being practically no attempt to protect the river or to enforce the laws as to the weekly and the annual close times. The fry which are turned down in the streams, instead of enriching the water and adding to the wealth of the country, serve only to fatten the cormorants, cranes, water-hens, and sea-gulls which infest the river. There being no measures of protection, the continuance of rod-fishing for six weeks after the nets are off enables the poachers to find a market."
The Slaney, in County Dublin, is doing well. Writing in behalf of Mr. R. W. Hall Dare, New-townbarry House, Mr. John Sim states that for three seasons the fishing has been much improved. " On some of the reaches last year was the best we have had. On the tidal portion of the river the net-men, especially during the grilse season, have been very successful. There is not so much poaching at the mouth as there used to be, and the weather has been such as to bring up the fish. The chief cause of the increase, however, is that there were many more fry turned out from Mr. Hall Dare's hatchery at Newtownbarry. Besides, for three or four seasons now during the spawning time the Slaney and its tributaries have been less or more in a flooded state, and the fish have been less liable to be killed on the redds. There is no pollution. On the other hand, the funds at the disposal of the Conservators are unequal to the full needs of the river."
The Boyne, which receives the Blackwater at Navan, in County Meath, is in many places congested by weeds and bulrushes. Mr. R. R. FitzHerbert, Black Castle, writes :-
" I have known the Boyne for over forty years. In 1862 the sport was poor. At that time the step ladders were few and the ' Queen's gaps' fewer. After the passing of the Salmon Act in 1863 there was not much improvement for some years; but about 1870 there began a gradual increase in the number of salmon, and until 1880 there was steady progress. Between 1880 and 1886 there was a great increase. From 1862 to 1872 the number of the salmon caught at Black Castle was from 70 to 100 a year; from 1880 to 1886 the number was from 400 to 760. About 1880, despite a protest from the upper proprietors, the Inspectors of Irish Fisheries allowed the nets at the mouth of the river to begin twelve days earlier in the year. The result was that in 1887 there was a large decrease, and that by 1890 the number of fish caught fell to 100. About that time the Inspectors took off the twelve days put on in 1880. For some years there was but little result-my experience is that it takes five or six years to bring a perceptible change; but during the last four years there has been a steady improvement. This, I believe, is largely attributable to a hatchery I have here. It is now subsidised by the Agricultural Department.