Salmon of the River Lee

Trout & Salmon (UK) - - First Cast - By Dan O’dono­van. £35 (£3 p+p). an­gle­ Sandy Leven­ton

THIS is a se­ri­ously good book. Beau­ti­fully de­signed with su­perb pho­to­graphs an­cient and mod­ern, it tells the story of a Co. Cork river that has been van­dalised by the hand of man. Ev­ery­thing and ev­ery­one – the elec­tric­ity board, poach­ers, nets­men, pol­lu­tion and dis­ease – have been against it. I had a day on the Lee in, I think, the 1980s and was lucky enough to get a good salmon on a Stoat’s Tail from the pool im­me­di­ately below In­nis­carra dam, but I am too young to have known what the river was like be­fore two hy­dro-elec­tric dams were built on its course in the 1950s. The old pho­to­graphs, how­ever, show a mighty river – a “proper” salmon river, in fact – be­fore the dams bug­gered it up and caused it to be known as “the drowned river”. And the irony is that the In­nis­carra Dam gen­er­ates less than 0.5 per cent of Ire­land’s en­ergy needs. By way of com­pen­sa­tion the elec­tric­ity board em­barked on a parr- and smolt-stock­ing scheme in the 1960s and this has had a pos­i­tive im­pact on the river over the decades. The board has also planted large num­bers of fry and parr in the up­per Lee. While the salmon are able to as­cend both dams via Bor­land fish-passes, many

“This book teaches us a salu­tary les­son”

smolts per­ish on the re­turn jour­ney. The his­tory of the river and its drowned pools oc­cu­pies much of this book, but this is light­ened by de­scrip­tions of red-let­ter days (the Lee was, be­fore the dams, one of the best spring rivers in Ire­land). In his Ed­i­tor’s Note, Jack Power calls this book “… part di­ary and, trag­i­cally, part obit­u­ary… A par­adise lost – and so very re­cently.” I urge you to buy this book. Whether or not you have fished, or have any de­sire to fish, the Lee, it teaches us all a salu­tary les­son.

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