When is the best time to come.
As a fishery owners this is a question I get asked above all others. Sadly my stock answer probably leaves the enquirer non the wiser for having asked it. The Bandon like many rivers in the south west of Ireland is very much a spate river, consequently runs of salmon depend on two fundamental factors. Firstly a good spell of rainfall is necessary to rise water levels. Two to three inches is ideal. Water levels start to rise about eighteen to twenty four hours after this initial rain. If no more falls within five to six days the river returns to the levels it was prior to this downpour. The second factor of course is that the salmon have to be in the estuary waiting to come up! No wonder therefore that trying to pick a weeks fishing holiday is such a gamble. There is however one saving grace in that we have a good stock of native wild brown trout who are ‘residents’ and not migrants like salmon. As an illustration of these factors we recently hosted two anglers and their spouses for a week. A week before they arrived we had 45mm of rain which produced six salmon in three days. The river started to fall two days before they arrived followed by a heat wave, so for their week they had a blank with salmon. However they enjoyed good trout fishing after 9.00pm, and wives and children enjoyed the terrific beaches we are blessed with in this region during the day. Pity they weren’t golfers as conditions where ideal!
Some years back we had a guest from San Antonio, Texas. A very quiet reserved character, he was a cigar smoker and partial to a drop of strong refreshment from an enormous hip flask especially when fishing. He said he would like a day off from Kilcoleman to fish the lakes of Killarney so that he could return home and say he’d ‘fished Killarney’. I arranged for him to go out in a boat with an old acquaintance of mine Pat O’Regan who owned a boat and new the lakes inside out. Pat was not in his prime of youth.The story goes that during the course of the day our Texan friend had a cigar in his mouth continually, said nothing, and only removed it to take a large swig of whiskey from his hip flask! Very few words passed between them until a mighty thunder storm developed. It took all Pat’s strength and skill to keep the boat under control. Eventually the storm passed and the sun shone again whereupon out Texan friend took a fresh cigar from its wrapper and before lighting up took an extra large gulp from his hip flask. He then proceeded to light a match which proved difficult because the rain had socked everything. He tried under his boots, under the seat, and then the gunnel of the boat. Eventually without success he looked at Pat and said “is any part of this goddamn boat dry”, to which Pat replied pointing with his finger “you could try the back of me throat sir”! Ah the wit of the Irish.