From Ballyna the angler may proceed to the Erne, at Ballyshannon, by
coach, where he will find, on his arrival, a beautiful river, and every
accommodation he requires; it is a short running river, with a deep and
rapid current, about three or four miles in length; at the town of
Bellick it flows out of the grand expanse of Lough Erne, fifty miles in
length, and in some parts twelve in width.
The salmon le
p of Ballyshannon, is a broad body of water falling over a
perpendicular rock twelve feet high, up which the salmon run, showing
their dark backs through the foaming water, and again falling back into
the pool below after many attempts to surmount it; they seldom leap
clean up out of the water, but in general I have seen them rushing up
through the falling current, which shows the extraordinary strength they
possess. I have remarked that they always remain a day or two in the
first pool they come to after their ascent, and in this they take the
fly most greedily, generally at the head of the leap.
The fishermen sweep the river with nets below the leap, and the enormous
quantities they take is most surprising, still there is abundance in the
river; in summer in consequence of the netting, of course the salmon are
not so plentiful up the river. The fish house stands on an island, which
may be seen from the bridge of fourteen arches, and in the distance the
sea views are grand.
There is capital fishing below the bridge, and many fine salmon throws
or haunts all the way up to Belleek; this town is finely situated on the
north of Lough Erne, where it begins to discharge its waters into the
channel which conveys them into the bay of Donnegal.
The river at this place has a fall of twenty feet, forming a beautiful
scene, enriched by foliage and steep precipices. The trout fishing here
The river Erne has a long course, the source of which is "Lough
Gonnagh," in the County Longford, a short way from "Lough Sheelin," and
the celebrated Lakes of West Meath. It then enters "Lough Oughter," in
the County Cavan, after a serpentine course of eighteen or twenty miles,
although the distance between the lakes is only eight miles; after
passing through this lake, it takes another winding course of the same
distance, passing Belturbet, an ancient town on its banks, it then
enters the upper Lough Erne, and falls into the sea at Ballyshannon.
Seeing the abundance of fish which these grand lakes, and clear running
streams throughout the country produce, it is not at all to be wondered
at the quantities taken at Ballyshannon.
The flies in use here are very gaudy, Nos. 1, 2, and 3, in the plates,
will be found capital killers, and up to No. 11 in fine days in summer
when the water is low.
There is another good killer which I will here describe:--body yellow
brown mohair, ribbed with silver twist, puce tag, topping for tail with
a little scarlet ibis mixed, a good dyed yellow hackle rolled over the
body, and a scarlet hackle round the head; the wings are four toppings
with strips of summer duck, a sprig or two of pheasant tail and neck, a
strip of dyed white tipped turkey tail, and a sprig of guinea hen and
glede or kite tail, the tail feather of the hen Hymalean pheasant is as
good as what is called in Scotland "salmon tail glede," and the topping
or crest of the cock bird which is a transparent scarlet colour, and
like a topping of the golden pheasant stands over all; blue kingfisher
each side, and scarlet macaw feelers, black ostrich head, hook No. 9 or
8 in high water. This is a magnificent specimen of a salmon fly, and
cannot be made properly at a small expense, either by the amateur
himself who buys his foreign feathers, or by the fly-maker who gets his
bread by it. The three flies in the plates Nos. 1, 2, and 3, will be
found to do the work well. With this one, see the gaudy jointed fly in
the plate, with "picker" at top.