Shooting Times & Country|July 01, 2020
By the first week of June, County Kerry is normally standing-room-only, bursting at the seams with visitors from all over the world keen to experience the picturesque jewel in the tourism crown of southwest Ireland. This year, of course, everything was different.
Thankfully, one long-distance visitor was expected to be undeterred. From the start of June, Ireland’s coastline plays host to the grilse run as the salmon return to these shores after overwintering in the North Atlantic and make their way back to their birthplace.
This annual miracle happens right on my doorstep. Lough Currane, nestled between the coastal village of Waterville on Ballinskelligs Bay and the Dunkerron mountains of the Iveragh Pensinsula, provides a stunning backdrop for a run of both spring salmon and grilse and was considered, until quite recently, one of Ireland’s premier fisheries for sea trout.
More often to be found in saltier waters, I had never fished the lake before and was thus delighted to be offered the chance to spend a day with Dominic McGillicuddy, a ghillie of more than three decades’ experience.
When we spoke in early June, Dominic bemoaned the run of dry weather that had left the water levels in the lough unseasonably low. However, heavy rain was forecast and the highest tides of the month were just days away; the grilse had already shown up in Donegal, Galway and Clare and were expected to make the short journey up the Currane river and into the lough any day now.
When we met a week later in Waterville, conditions hadn’t improved much. The promised deluge had been a mere splash and the water in the lake was low. The day was overcast with only the gentlest breeze from the north, but Dominic was optimistic. “At least the wind is set to pick up a little this afternoon.”
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July 01, 2020