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How lucky do you have to be to catch Ireland’s first salmon of the year?
How lucky do you have to be to do it twice, most recently in the midst of a pandemic?
Joe Broderick knows the answer.
He caught Ireland’s first salmon of the year from the River Drowes back in 2003, long before any of us could even have dreamt of Covid-19 in our worst nightmare.
And now he has done it again, this time under the severe restrictions that have confined most of us to our homes.
Joe is one of only a handful of anglers to have been able to fish the Drowes since it opened on New Year’s Day.
All the members of this exclusive club live within a stone’s throw of the river, or at least within the 5km travel limit aimed at stifling the spread of the deadly coronavirus.
Joe is lucky enough to reside in Bundoran so the Drowes is on his doorstep. Around noon last Friday, February 5, he was fishing with a black Flying C spinner in the Old Sea Pool, just above the stone bridge on the coast road at Tullaghan, when he caught a shinny silver salmon, fresh in on the tide from the Atlantic. It tipped the scales in the fishing tackle shop at Lareen Park at exactly 10 pounds.
Joe kept his “bar of silver” for the dinner table so there is still a real bar of silver up for grabs for the first angler to catch-and-release a salmon on the Drowes. Fishery owner Shane Gallagher is again offering a one kilo ingot of the precious metal to promote the conservation of salmon by catching and releasing them.
For now Joe and his neighbours are in the enviable position of having the river to themselves. How soon Fermanagh’s salmon anglers will get to join them will depend on how quickly the current Covid-19 travel restrictions are lifted.
They are currently in place until March 5. However, Shane does not expect the situation to change overnight.
“I don’t think it’s going to be a big bang from March 5,” he says.
In acknowledgement of the disruption caused last year and the remaining uncertainty over what will happen in the coming weeks and months, he has decided that anyone who took out a season permit to fish the Drowes in 2020 will see that permit valid for 2021 “as a gesture to anglers whose opportunity to fish was impacted during times of lockdown and travel restrictions.