Friday 20/10/2023 Babet moves the Eels

Friday 20/10/2023 Babet moves the Eels


A 2m rise in 24 hours, that’s a lot of water.

Good morning from a very still Foxford, weather wise we are obviously in the middle of something, East and West of us the winds are Gale force. Storm Babet has been having a big effect on weather and has brought a lot of rain over the past few days. While we did not have the flooding which Midleton and other areas experienced we did have a rapid rise in water levels. The river rose from 0.5 to 2.5m in a twenty-four-hour period at Ballylahan bridge, that is a lot of water. We should see Salmon and trout moving into the spawning streams over the next while.

Babet blows all around us

The New Moon

In years gone by when there was commercial Eel fishing on the Moy. This was the flood that the eel fishermen would have been waiting for, the first flood of the new moon in October. A dark and windy night brought the eels downstream from the Loughs and streams on their journey to the Saragossa sea.

The Old Eel weir in Foxford. There was a tin roofed hut where the fishermen played cards while waiting to check their catch.

Before my time in Foxford there was an Eel trap at the weirs close to the woolen mill and until the 1990s one operated in Ballina. Rickety structures where men risked Life and limb in dangerous conditions to earn a meager living. The real profits were made by the fishery owners who exported the Eels to London and further afield. That is all finished now and like a lot of other things Eels are an endangered species. It is illegal to fish for them. A big change from my youth when during every flood throughout the season it was difficult to fish because of the number of eels that would eat our worms and tangle our lines.

Eeels move downstream on dark windy nights and will even slither over wet land to get to the ocean

I am no scientist but it is my belief that like other species the main problem was not the numbers of adult eels taken but instead the survival and return of Juveniles. From my childhood I can remember a sight that we do not see any more. At the back of the town in Foxford a black line a meter wide for several days every summer as the luathógs, or Elvers (young eels) made their way upstream. We spent hours trying to capture them in jam jars and I can state categorically that my success at this did not do any damage to stocks. It is a debate for another day but if the declining numbers of fish including Atlantic Salmon is to be addressed then we need to take a close look at what is happening at sea. There is a lot going on out there that is hidden and because of the money involved and political cowardice , the powers that be seem reluctant to tackle the issues.

luathógs (Elvers)

Winter Pike fishing

Next time we will go prepared…

For years I have listened to Salmon anglers telling me during the season that in the winter they are going Pike fishing. I cannot say that many of them have actually done it. The weather is normally nasty and once the rods are put away other interests take priority. Perhaps it is the milder weather we have had since the end of September or maybe “a long threatening comes at last “but this year there is a few of them giving it a try. Reports are mixed and surface lures and flies seem to be producing the most fish. So far I have not had a report of any record-breaking Pike caught. It is nice to see Salmon anglers getting out, trying something different and extending their season. I can see our little angling club having a Pike competition before the winter is over.

We ourselves took a spin last Sunday to check out a Lough. Its about an hour drive from Foxford and we got some great reports from a visiting Dutch angler who specialises in Pike angling. We are far from specialists at Pike angling and we spent a few enjoyable hours catching nothing. We have not given up though and on our next visit we will have a boat sorted out, the correct equipment, leave earlier to get a full day, plan where we are going to fish… Well, that was the conversation in the car on the way home, let us see what happens. The BBQ chicken while listening to the recently arrived Geese was good enough for me. “There’s more to fishing than catching fish”

If you can find this line you know what Lough we were fishing

Next week we might take a little look at worm fishing, Again!

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