Salmon of the River Lee
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.