[ July 2009 ]
Peter Mantle reports that just 33 salmon were taken at Delphi in July, the lowest total since 1991. It is clear that the main grilse run has not yet arrived. The big question is whether it will come in August - or not at all?
If the grilse do come in August, it will be the latest run in living memory. It is of little consolation to learn that just about all Irish rivers, and some in Scotland, Iceland and Russia, seem to be in the same boat, so to speak.
The reason for the delayed grilse run is far from clear, with as many theories abroad as there are anglers. Most theories focus on feeding issues at sea - either the fish are having to go further to find food, or they are simply not finding enough to enable them to mature and head for home.
Half of the salmon caught in the month (16) were stale spring fish. Just 17 were grilse - even less than in June. Of the 313 salmon caught at Delphi this year, less than 50 have been grilse. Thank heavens for the brilliant run of springers.
The best July fish was an 11.5-pounder caught on Finlough by Urs Leibundgut from Switzerland. The honours for top rod in July were shared by Christopher Jarman and Alan Boyd, each of whom had four salmon.
Although the weather in the first half of the month was often unhelpfully calm and sticky, the same cannot be said of the second half, when good windy and cloudy conditions prevailed. And water levels throughout the month were generally good, and often perfect. Despite that, highly experienced Delphi rods blanked in their week.
Disappointing though the salmon catches were, the joy of July was the good run of seatrout, especially in the second half of the month. Although large trout were not numerous, there were plenty of smaller fish and some anglers had brilliant bags on Doolough and Glencullin Lough in particular.
"Just like the old days", was a frequent refrain. Not quite, but it is clear that the progress made over the last two seasons has been greatly boosted by the demise of the Killary salmon farms (now in liquidation). No sea lice, no problem.
One boat, skippered by Tom Callanan, had 18 sea trout from 0.5 to 2.5 pounds in one evening. The Westropp family had 30 in a week to 4.5 pounds. For the first time in years, many anglers were seen dapping on Doolough, which is fast becoming more popular than fickle Finlough.
The next challenge will be to ensure that salmon farming in Killary is never again allowed to operate so destructively.
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