One of the biggest salmon in the River Suir in decades was found outside Carrick-on-Suir last week.
The whopping 46 inch male Kelt salmon estimated to weigh about 40lbs was discovered by Carrick-on-Suir Angling Club treasurer Jimmy Walsh at Curradhneal, Ballinderry, Carrick-on-Suir on the morning of Wednesday, February 13.
The Atlantic salmon was dead when Mr Walsh found it washed up on shore on the river upstream of the Miloko plant. A chunk of the fish was missing, possibly eaten by a hungry otter.
Anglers believe it was a salmon that had spawned miles up river and died naturally as it swam back towards the sea. Salmon like this complete an exhausting 3000 mile journey from their spawning grounds to the coasts of Iceland and Greenland.
Ralph O’Callaghan, Secretary of the Suir Angling Federation, told The Nationalist it was a significant find because it is a tangible indication that salmon stocks are slowly but surely being restored to the River Suir.
He said the salmon was an exceptionally big fish for the River Suir. The last time salmon of this size were found in the river was back in the 1920s and 30s at the Knocklofty Estate outside Clonmel. You had to go back to the 1950s/60s when 30lb salmon were last caught in the river.
Over the past 30 years salmon stocks on the Suir have fallen by a staggering 80% and are now an endangered species in the river, he pointed.
“It’s wonderful to actually see a salmon like this rather than guessing that we have big fish of that size. And if he is an original Suir fish that will say a lot for the river,” Mr O’Callaghan said.
The huge salmon was handed over last week to Inland Fisheries Ireland, which is carrying out tests to determine its age, its place of birth, how long it was at sea before spawning and how many times it has spawned.
Mr O’Callaghan stressed that salmon stocks are still very vulnerable in the River Suir and care must be taken to conserve them.
“For six to seven years we had to catch and release all the salmon we caught because the Fisheries authorities saw the difficulties on the Suir. We are still at that stage even though we are now allowed take a small number of salmon from the river. We really need to conserve stocks.”
He urged anglers, who caught or found big salmon on the River Suir to release them back into the river so they can spawn more salmon like them.