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2020 update...

It's March 29th, a Sunday, the clocks have gone forward an hour. Normally, in years gone by, I'd be making final preparations for my annual pilgrimage to Lanesborough for a fishing/nature trip witnessing the transformation of Winter through to Summer.

This year is different, the human race, which has long been its own worse enemy, has been selected to participate in a culling program. Just as we treat a plague of rats or insects, so mother nature has decided it's about time to thin us out.

For many anglers, Lanesborough is one of those places you either love or hate. Thankfully, I'm one of the former, and since 1991 made countless visits to the village, making many friends along the way. However, things are changing at such a rapid rate of knots that it seems my proposed final visit will need to be postponed.

It may be common knowledge, but the power station that emits a flow of warm water into the Shannon is due for closure this year. I am reliably informed that sometime around Saturday May 2nd, there is every probability the famous hot water will cease to flow. How this effects the fishing at the top end of Lough Ree remains to be seen. The fish will still be there, but their seasonal movements may be severely altered.

Lanesborough has been a mecca for tourist anglers since the 1960's. It has weathered several major incidents, the May 1996 pollution which wiped out thousands of fish of all species, closure of the old power station in 2004 and the discovery of Asian clam of 2014. We are led to believe the bio-mass of upper Lough Ree is much the same as 40 years ago. Some would beg to differ as Bream, once the main stay of the Shannon, have been gradually replaced by Roach/Bream hybrids and now Roach form the bulk of most catches. Other species, such as Perch, Pike and Tench seem to be as prolific as ever with Eels diminishing in any significant numbers. Rudd are probably the commonest of all species, especially in the warm summer evenings below the bridge.

Tourist anglers from the UK are now almost non-existent, although thankfully, there are far more Irish coarse anglers and of course, the migrant anglers from Eastern Europe. Combined with the advent of on-line shopping, foot-fall has dropped considerably resulting in many tackle shops going out of business. Some visitors to Lanesborough may have noted Bridies' being closed regularly and the permanent closure is imminent with the demise of the hot water stretch.

My main concern is how the stretch will look next year. With little or no quality angling, I believe the area from the gusher to below the bridge will become very weedy without constant flow, looking much like a disused, abandoned canal. I'm afraid that litter, dicarded cans and bottles will blight the once pictureque stretch, becoming an unmanaged eyesore and embarrassment to all.

On previous occasions when the power station has gone off line and with limited flow, angling has produced nothing worthy of capture. The ill fated two day competition of 2015 being testament to that.

So what can be done? Aside from keeping the pump active, flowing water through the power station system albeit at a cost, there are few options. However, it is possible that should the upper section opposite the gusher outlet be cleared of all the reeds, a small amount of flow may be preserved, perhaps just enough to attract fish to populate the stretch. Of course, the reeds would need to be maintained to ensure. Another idea may be a large concrete flow deflector suitably placed to obtain the same result.

Whatever the outcome, of the current virus, or the closure of Lough Ree Power, fishing at Lanesborough will never be the same and it honestly feels like a family member has died.

R.I.P. Lanesborough's hot water stretch.



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