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The Great Salmon and Sea Trout Loughs of Ireland by Bill Rawlings

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Reviewed by Terry Lawton

To take part in any sporting activity in Ireland is to find yourself totally involved and committed to that activity and if it is fishing, so much the better. Some activities are necessary to recover from the previous night's intake of Guinness, but not fishing. Bill Rawlings appreciates the mystery and the weird and wonderfulness that is Ireland.

Although The Great Salmon and Sea Trout Loughs of Ireland is a guide book to fishing for salmon, sea trout and brown trout in Ireland's many loughs, it is much more than that. I mention brown trout as Rawlings includes Lough Corrib "or the Corrib as they call it" which he describes as one of the world's great natural brown trout lakes (sic). As a guide book it is a shame that there is no overall map to show how everything fits together. But there are illustrations of all the fisheries - not large but very clear - and many photographs of the fisheries, flies, people and the Irish countryside. As he writes in his prelude, he hopes that the book will help the newcomer plan a visit and also give the old hand something to think about. I think that he has succeeded.

Bill Rawlings spent six weeks in Ireland in 2001 researching fisheries that he did not know that well and taking photographs. One pleasant surprise of that visit "was a sharp improvement in sea trout numbers in systems that until of late had been devastated by the sea lice plague". That is good news.

There are 24 chapters in this book covering all the fishings and then general considerations on lough fishing, catching fish, western lough flies and their use and competitions. There is plenty of good, sound information here, presented in an undogmatic way and so easily accessible.

Bill Rawlings caught his first trout aged six in 1934 and then learnt to fly fish in Japan, just before the Second World War when his father was the UK's naval attaché. His love affair with lochs and loughs started in 1946 at Inchnadamph in Sutherland, Scotland.

This is a book that can be read from cover to cover or as a means of finding out more about a particular fishery. Either way it is a most enjoyable and pleasing book.

The Great Salmon and Sea Trout Loughs of Ireland by Bill Rawlings. Published by Swan Hill Press at £25. Hardback 199 pages, with colour photos, maps and line drawings.

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