A damp morning in Foxford following a week of very mixed weather. We had some nice mild days that would encourage one to get the rod out and a few that would make one consider immigrating, yesterday was a particularly nasty one. The river was coming into reasonable condition for the time of year but is now well up again, 2.17m at Ballylahan bridge. I have not heard any more reports of fish in Ireland but am noticing quite a lot of posts on social media of fish been caught in Scotland, hopefully a good sign for our spring season. We have been busy sorting the shop and still have a lot to do before we will be ready for the season. It will be a while before anything major happens and by then we will be ready.
While we did not have an opportunity to get out fishing, we did manage a nice walk in the woods last Sunday. We came across a little pond where some frogs were busy spawning, they are interesting creatures and its another nice sign that we are coming into spring. I just hope they did not misjudge the weather.
Is it time for predator management ?
Over the past few years I have been involved in many discussions regarding predators, in particular Cormorants. The Cormorant is a large dark sea bird that for a variety of reasons has made its way inland. The main reason appears to be that life is easier inland but I’m sure it more complex than that. Sometime around 1976 cormorants were put on the protected list. Prior to this there was a bounty on them and like a lot of birds and animals they were heavily exploited and probably in danger of becoming extinct. It was a good call to protect them and I’m sure none of us would like to have seen them disappear completely. 1976 was forty-seven years ago and the Cormorant population has exploded. To the angling community it now obvious that we are overpopulated with Cormorants. This predator overload is having an adverse effect on the natural balance which is evident in our waterways. Take a spin around Lough Conn on any day during the season and you will see them all over the place. Last September I personally witnessed over a dozen drying their wings on a small clump of rocks at Pontoon. When I said it to a friend who was fishing further north on the same day, he said there was more than that where he was. That is over two dozen within a few miles of each other, multiply that around the Lough and throw a few onto Lough Cullin as well and its not unreasonable to say there are over fifty Cormorants feeding there, 365 days a year. A quick google search shows that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service state that a Cormorant eats one pound of fish a day. Without being a genius, multiply fifty Cormorants eating one pound of fish each per day for three hundred and sixty-five days and we get 18,250 pounds of fish. The average trout on Lough Conn is about three quarters of a pound, giving us 24,333 individual fish. Yep, some of you are saying wow that is amazing and more are saying that’s bull shit. Its probably a mixture, all i’m saying is that its time for proper discussion, planning and management, where a reasonable sustainable balance is achieved .