THE BLACKWATER rises in the boglands of County Kerry, and although the peaty tinge it carries gives rise to its name, it also flows through limestone and that helps it to support a diverse range of fly-life which provides plenty of sustenance for salmon parr and trout. The river is one of Ireland’s most productive salmon fisheries, along with the Moy.
The Blackwater drains a large catchment that includes 14 main fisheries and a number of angling clubs, which make it an accessible river for the visiting angler as day tickets are available for many beats while others are run on weekly lets. There are few restrictions in terms of methods, with room for those who wish to fish the fly, spinner, worm or prawn. All methods have their time and place depending on the type of water being fished and the prevailing conditions. Spring fishing can be found at reasonable prices, as low as £15 for a day in February, but this should come with matching expectations. You can certainly expect some big water in early season, and heavy flies fished on fast-sinking lines will usually be required. In summer the prospects improve and smaller flies become a better bet, some of the favourite patterns for the river include the Lemon and Grey, Garry Dog, Munro Killer, Thunder and Lightning, Curry’s Shrimp, Stoat’s Tail, Blue Charm and Hairy Mary. Ireland is rarely short of rain, and in a spate river such as the Blackwater this is a good thing. There is nearly always a steady push of water through its pools, runs and glides, which causes the fly to fish well. Summer and autumn are the best times, and the majority of salmon caught will be grilse with around a third multi-sea-winter fish.
The Blackwater is an excellent and under-utilised trout fishery. In the upper reaches, around Mallow and further upstream, a few adventurous trout anglers enjoy great sport in early summer when big hatches of olive and sedges cause the trout to rise – these are wild fish that feed readily and fight boldly.
Many methods are allowed on the Blackwater, but when the water is right none are finer than the swung fly.