This famous and prestigious salmon fishery lies close by the ancient village of Castleconnell, 7 miles north west of Limerick City and is owned and managed by the Electricity Supply Board.
The erection of a hydroelectric dam up river at Parteen greatly reduced the volume of the flow of the old river. The present fishery has been reconstructed to take account of the reduced volume of water. Some new streams and pools have been imaginatively created and many of the old pools retained with their lovely evocative names derived from the Irish – Fall na Hassa (Cliff of the Waterfall), Thraw-na-Knock (Strand of the Horses), Balchraheen (Place of the rapids), to name but a few. The pools are varied and interesting and most can be fished from the bank. Boats are provided to access difficult lies. A controlled flow is maintained from the dam to ensure that the water never runs too low.
The fishery is divided into eight beats each about ½ mile long. Four of them carry 3 rods and the other four 2 rods each. The beats are rotated daily. All legitimate fishing methods are allowed, except shrimp fishing. A small double-handed rod (14 feet) is advised but a single-handed rod will suffice from grilse on some beats. A wading staff is necessary.
The season opens on 1 February and the fishery gets a few big spring fish in February and March. In the past, the Shannon was famous for its big fish – up to 45 lb, with some beats averaging an unbelievable 21 lb (The Salmon Rivers of Ireland, Augustus Grimble, 1913). The spring average is now about 10 lb and occasionally fish over 20 lb are taken. The moth of April sees a good run of fish averaging 10 lb and known locally as ‘April fliers’. These fish provide good sport through April and May.
The peak of the season is reckoned to fall between mid May and the end of June and coincides with the grilse run. Fish continue to rest in some of the bigger pools right through the season and fresh fish move up from the estuary with a rise in the water. In suitable conditions, good sport can be had till closing date on 30 September.
Accurate records are impossible to obtain but the annual catch is estimated to average 600 fish with 1,000 fish a possibility in a good season
Spinning is the most productive method till 17 March. After that date, some anglers prefer to fish a fly or a worm. The most popular early season baits are 3-inch blue and silver Devons and 17-gram copper or silver Orklas. In March, local anglers prefer 3-inch Lane Minnows and drop down to 2-inch minnows as temperatures rise. Wooden Minnows and Mepps baits are not considered useful.
There is a short list of well tried fly patterns used at the fishery: Black Goldfinch, Silver Doctor, Hairy Mary, Garry Dog and Mephisto (curry’s Red Shrimp). Sizes range from 4 to 10. In spring, the big flies are very heavily dressed.
Excerpts taken from "Trout & Salmon Rivers of Ireland, an angler's guide" by Peter O'Reilly.