2019 is the International Year of the Salmon. Atlantic salmon return every year from the sea to spawn in our rivers and streams. Sadly, the numbers of salmon have been declining rapidly in recent years. Reasons for the decline are mainly commercial fishing at sea, climate change affecting the oceans, impact of salmon farms at sea, and poor water quality in our rivers and streams where the young salmon live before they go down to the sea to grow to adults. Because numbers are now so low, a ban on the killing of wild salmon has been introduced as a conservation measure in Limerick rivers and many other rivers in Ireland. In the region of only 1200 salmon now return to the River Maigue and its tributaries (Camoge, Loobagh and Morningstgar rivers ) each year, whereas at least ten times that number returned in the mid-1970s. The Drumcamoge River, a small headwater stream of the River Camoge, flows near the communities of..
Historically, the Maigue was recognised as a salmon fishery. Up to the middle of the 17th century, there were at least seven head weirs in the Maigue estuary below Adare where salmon were taken. There were also two salmon weirs associated with the monastic settlements in Adare up to the dissolution of the monasteries (Went 1960). By the end of the 19th century, salmon runs had declined significantly, probably because of over fishing in the Shannon Estuary: “Let me direct your attention to the River Maigue, which flows into the Shannon estuary a few miles below Limerick. This was once a well-known salmon angling river, but according to the testimony of Mr. R., who was born on its banks, it has totally erased from people’s minds as a fishing stream owing to over-netting at its mouth and in the estuary, and consequent dearth of salmon. (A Salmon Fisher’s Revolt. A letter addressed by the Earl of Howth to the Irish Fisheries..
How Healthy are your Local Rivers and Streams? Would you like to be able to tell? If so, join us for training on the Small Streams Characterisation System Click here to book your free p SSCS article draft OtS issue..
Trout and Salmon Magazine visit the Maigue Catchment in 2017 and have given us permission to share some their wonderful images Wendigo..
Atlantic Salmon are the most iconic of the Maigue fish. Salmon spend one more years feeding at sea before returning to spawn in the rivers where they were born. Young salmon grow to juveniles for a year or more before migrating to sea again as smolts. Salmon returning to their home river after two or more years at sea mostly return in spring or early summer and are bigger than salmon that return in mid-summer and autumn; these latter are known as grilse or peel. The majority of salmon returning to the Maigue are spring salmon. Most of the salmon die after spawning but a number may return to the sea (as kelts) in spring and may return to spawn a second or even a third time. Most of these are hen..
Brown trout are Ireland’s only native species of trout. Brown trout live in all catchments in Ireland, provided the water quality is suitable and there are spawning areas. Like salmon, trout require very good water quality. They are present in the main Maigue channel and tributaries but are absent or scarce in much of the Maigue headwaters and in some of the tributaries, probably because of poor water quality there. So called “slob trout”, or brown trout that live in the brackish tidal waters of estuaries, can be found downstream of Adare. Brown trout do not naturally occur in any of the lakes in the catchment because none have feeder streams with suitable spawning habitat for brown trout or salmon. Bleach Lough Anglers stock their lake with Brown trout and with rainbow trout, a non-native..
European eels, like salmon, are migratory fish. Eels were one abundant in the rivers of the Maigue catchment but are less so today. The Civil Survey of the mid 17th century mentions the presence of up to 8 eel weirs on the Camogue between the Maigue confluence and Dunkip. Young eels grow to adults in rivers and lakes and then migrate to spawn in the Sargasso sea off the east coast of the U.S., a distance of over 5,000 km. The European eel is classified as critically endangered in Ireland and other European counties, and is the most threatened native fish..
Lampreys are primitive eel-like fish. Two species are found in the Maigue catchment: brook lamprey and river lamprey. Sea lamprey, which spawns in the lower Shannon and Mulkear river, have not been recorded from the Maigue system. Sea lamprey and river lamprey are parasites of fish to which they attach by means of a sucker-like mouth. Brook lampreys, the smallest of the three lampreys, are..
Northern pike, a large predatory fish, are found in the lakes of the catchment (L. Gur, Dromore Lough, Bleach Lough and L. Nagirra, and there are reports of them occurring in the slower reaches of the R. Camogue. The 17th century Civil Survey refers to a weir at Mainistir where eels and pike were trapped. Pike are regarded as an introduced species, and this is one of the earliest references to their occurrence in..
- Irish Rivers Trust Resilience Pilot Project February 3, 2020
- Help Bring Back the Salmon to Limerick September 9, 2019
- The Status of Salmon in the River Maigue August 29, 2019
- Citizen Science Investigations – river environmental stewardship (CSI-River) July 15, 2019
- The Cooperative Education Programme at the University of Limerick June 25, 2019