The first salmon of the year has been caught and released ... but not in Leitrim, the fish was caught on the Lackagh River, Co Donegal at 9.25am on Tuesday, January 1.
The salmon, which weighed approximately five pounds and was caught on a single barbless hook before being released into the water, was also the first salmon caught and released during International Year of the Salmon which takes place in 2019.
Michael McCann was one of 22 anglers who were fishing on the Lackagh River at the time of the catch. The river is not known for producing the first salmon of the angling season. Last year the first salmon was recorded on the River Drowes in Leitrim - on January 30. They were hoping to catch the first salmon of this year too.
Special initiative on the River Drowes
Firstly, all anglers that are present to start their fishing season at the river will be presented with a stainless steel commemorative pin.
Secondly, the angler who catches and releases the first salmon of the year from the river Drowes will be presented with the newly commissioned Conservation Cup.
The angler will also be presented with a one kilogramme bar of silver worth €750.
Shane Gallagher of the Drowes Salmon fishery said, “2019 is the International Year of the Salmon. To highlight the value of salmon angling to the Irish economy and the importance of conserving this precious resource, the fishery is offering a one kilo bar of silver to the angler who catches and releases the first salmon from the river Drowes in the International Year of the Salmon, 2019.”
Dr Ciaran Byrne, CEO of Inland Fisheries Ireland congratulated Michael McCann, on his catch which is highly coveted by anglers across the country. "We are particularly delighted that the first salmon of 2019 was caught and released in a sustainable manner in Donegal in compliance with the 2019 regulations. I would urge anglers to step up their conservation efforts and engage in catch and release angling in 2019. The New Year coincides with International Year of the Salmon which aims to raise awareness of some of the challenges facing salmon stocks across the Northern hemisphere."
Salmon populations have plummeted in recent years with the number of salmon returning to Irish shores decreasing by over 70 per cent.
"We look forward to promoting this global initiative in Ireland which aims to bring people together to share knowledge, raise awareness and take action on how we can ensure the resilience of salmon in Ireland and across the Northern hemisphere," he said.
Inland Fisheries Ireland is also inviting the public to help protect and conserve the fisheries resource during the year by reporting incidents to its confidential hotline number 1890 34 74 24 or 1890 FISH 24. The phone line is designed to encourage the reporting of incidents of illegal fishing, water pollution and invasive species.
Anglers looking for fishing information in Ireland during 2019 should visit www.fishinginireland.info for all the latest angling news and reports. For more information about Inland Fisheries Ireland, visit www.fisheriesireland.ie.