From sticklebacks to sharks on the Camac River.
By Joe Barrett (From the Booth Road
Rex and I couldn't wait for the trout season to begin every year on 17 March.
Down by 'The Mill' we'd go and into Joe 'Pop' Connors for our fishing licence and then leg it up to the Mill Pond in the College field where I'd cast the first line of the season.
For well over 50 years I've spent many happy days fishing along the waters in Clondalkin from when I was about ten years of age.
The daily routine back then was I'd rise early in the mornings. Grab a bit of toast or some sugary bread and butter and head “across the fields” to the Camac with my trusty terrier Rex.
My favourite time of the year was Autumn. I couldn't wait for the mushrooms and blackberries to start appearing. Or when the apples started to come in on 'The Dutchman's' trees.
My first memory of the Camac was of one fine summer's evening when I was about six years old and my father taking me “across” to the Sandyhole to teach me to swim.
Togged out, I gingerly slipped into the water at the “shallow end” (2ft) and began dog paddling. Delighted with myself, I got out until my father grabbed hold of me and flung me into the 'Deep End' (4ft) and told me to “sink or swim.”
My love of fishing started around that age too, when my mother won a little fishing net on a bamboo cane in a raffle during a fundraising day in the Convent Hall.
I remember catching my first sticklebacks, minnows and red breasts, putting them in a jam jar and taking them home with pride to show them off.
They say that every angler can remember his first ever catch and with me that's true.
It was a hazy warm summer's evening when I was fishing between the 9th and 10th Lock just as you come out from the Watery Lane. It was the first ever time, too, that a fly scared the living bejesus out of me.
I was standing on the canal bank when I heard this low humming noise, getting closer to me. Turning I saw two saucer sized eyes staring back at me with its wings beating on its long body. I didn't know what it was at the time until I went to the school the following week and told the teacher what I had seen which led to the class being taught about the insects that live in Ireland.
Anyway, back to my first fish. When the excitement of the dragonfly had worn off, I reeled in my line and put my last worm on the hook before casting it out again. Within minutes the tip of my rod was quivering and bouncing up and down. I was on. With the adrenalin now up I began reeling in until I eventually managed to land a beautiful half pound perch.
Now to many people a half pound perch might only be a tiddler, but to me it was a magnificent trophy fish, one I had to show off and which went off - stinking - after about two days in the house.
Over the years I've also caught roach, rudd, pike, eels, bream as well as crayfish and of course many trout from the waters around Clondalkin.
Nowadays I fish along the coastlines of Ireland, where I catch such fish as mackerel, whitening, cod, conger eels, jack dory, dogfish and bull huss sharks. I now exercise catch and release where every fish I catch is returned to the sea alive.
My love of fishing started when I was a boy with just a little net one summer's day along the banks of the River Camac in Clondalkin and has stayed with me ever since.
This is a picture of The Sandy Hole, showing the river in full flow and the fish ladder installed by Clondalkin Anglers Association to assist fish to get upriver from the ponds downstream.
The image on the left is of a Grey Heron, a native species which breeds in the heronry at the Rose Garden in nearby Corkagh Park.
The next image is of a pair of Mallards, quite commonly seen on the lakes and in in the river. The female is brown and not eye catching, a help to be inconspicuous while sitting on a nest. The male Mallard has much more vivid plumage, a common trait in ducks.
The image on the right is of a Little Egret, a species relatively new to Ireland, having only arrived about 30 years ago from the continent. It originally bred in the south east and is now spreading west and north along the coasts. (Note it's bright yellow feet, which is uses to stir up the river bed and startle small fishes and invertebrates which it then feeds on).
Thanks to Brendan Kneafsey, Clondalkin Camera Club member, for the use of these photographs of the wildlife you can expect to see along the river.
Top Row = Grey Wagtail, Motacilla cinerea, Little Egret, Egretta garzetta, (note it's bright yellow feet!), Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly, Nymphalis urticate,
Bottom Row = Blue Tit, Parus caeruleus, Dipper, Cinclus cinclus, Kingfisher, Alcedo atthis.
Thanks to Kevin Keogh, Clondalkin Camera Club member, for the use of these photographs of the birds you can expect to see along the river.
Left to right, Little Egret Egretta garzetta fishing, Little Egret (note his yellow feet) with Grey Heron Ardea cinera in the background for size comparison 60 cms v 95 cms, Grey Wagtail, Motacilla cinema.
Bottom picture shows a Dipper Cinclus cinclus
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