The famous Drowes River yields its first salmon of 2017

Michael Daly


Michael Daly


The famous Drowes River yields its first salmon of 2017

William Rainey, right, and Fishery Officer Hugh Gillespie, with the first salmon caught on the Drowse last Sunday.

The first salmon from the famous Drowes River was caught on Sunday last, February 12th, by Bangor angler William Rainey around 11.30am, four miles from the sea, near the Four Masters Bridge on the Donegal/Leitrim border.

The 8lbs sea liced fish was taken on a worm at the Mill Pool, by William, on what was his first visit to the river in 2017.

The river is famous for delivering up the first salmon of the year, but in 2017 catching the first salmon proved elusive, but it wasn’t for the lack of trying, as the river saw large numbers of anglers on the banks from the day fishery opened on January 1st.

In 2016 the first salmon wasn’t landed until January 23rd, by Ballybofey angler Eddie Roulston; a year earlier the first salmon was caught on January 28th.

Last Sunday’s catch is the latest in the year since records began 40 years ago in 1977.

Bangor angler William Rainey with the salmon he caught on Sunday.

Shane Gallagher, manager of the Drowes Fishery, told the Democrat: “In the 40 years since we monitored this we have more or less constantly caught the first salmon in the country on opening day, but more recently the run times for salmon seem to be getting later.”

There was always a tradition that the first salmon was bought by a local hotel or restaurant and the fee paid donated to charity, but new regulations don’t allow this to happen these days.

In this case the angler retained the fish.

Shane told us that the Drowes Fishery is offering an incentive to anglers to catch and release their salmon. Any angler who catches and releases a salmon between now and the 1st of May will get a free day fishing on the Drowes, worth 25 euro.

“Research shows us that 85 per cent of the early running salmon are female, so in terms of conservation it make sense that we would encourage catch and release, and that’s why we have the added incentive of the free day fishing here.” Incidentally, a prize of a Go Pro camera can still be won by Drowse River anglers for the first salmon caught and released.

First Salmon

Meanwhile, the first salmon caught in Ireland, a distinction enjoyed so often by the Drowes, was landed on Wednesday, February 1st in the Careysville Fishery on the Munster Blackwater on the opening day of the river, according to Inland Fisheries Ireland. Angler Ronan O’Connor caught a fresh run salmon in Fermoy, Co. Cork.

The salmon weighed 7lbs and was confirmed as the first salmon caught in 2017 by Inland Fisheries Ireland. The fish was caught while the river was high with around two foot visibility at 4pm on Wednesday. O’Connor’s success followed a morning of stormy weather which cleared slightly before he managed to catch the elusive salmon.

"Hugely valuable" resource 

Ciaran Byrne, CEO of Inland Fisheries Ireland said: “The 2017 fishing season has commenced in earnest now and we are delighted that the first salmon of the New Year has been caught. Ireland is known as an angling destination across Europe as a result of its indigenous wild fish populations and impressive scenery. With over 273,600 domestic anglers in Ireland, Ronan O’Connor did extremely well to secure the title for catching the first fish of 2017.

“We look forward to growing angling participation in Ireland even more this year. Our fisheries resource is hugely valuable and offers rural communities sustainable tourism and job opportunities outside of the traditional tourist seasons. We will continue to work with these communities to develop our angling infrastructure and improve access with a view to increasing angling participation and growing local economic growth as a result.”

Anglers looking for fishing information in Ireland in 2017 can visit for the latest news and fishing reports. For those looking to try out fishing for the first time, Inland Fisheries Ireland will run a number of Education and Outreach initiatives throughout the year with all information posted on

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 telephone1890 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.