It was a dull and overcast morning when I met Robin
Harvey, rated occupier of the Ballin Temple Beat and Kilbride Beat
on the River Slaney, Co Carlow. We were there for a day's fishing
on this most exclusive of beats on the prolific salmon river.
I could see the river was in great shape after the recent rain,
and had that golden brown look, ideal for salmon fishing.
Ballin Temple is owned by the Butler family. Sir Richard Butler
took control some years ago and, with his friend Robin, the two
set about restoring the banks and rebuilding the weirs. Within eight
weeks they created 24 pools.
The area is designated as a Special
Area of Conservation (SAC) and presently has otters, kingfishers,
dippers, wagtails and a good mayfly hatch. Mink are a problem, as
they devastate our wild life and fish stocks, Harvey said.
The Ballin Temple stretch is 2.75 miles long and accommodates 28
rods (four per day), while the Kilbride stretch is 1.5 miles and
has 24 rods. It is strictly fly-only after March 31st.
As we walked the Ballin Temple beat, Harvey explained the history
attached to each of the 24 named pools. "This one is called
the Ladies' Pool because one hundred years ago the ladies from the
manor swam here," he said. The Horse Pool, so named because
of the large rock in the middle of the pool, shaped like a horse.
Robin's Folly, named after Harvey himself, and so on.
I came well prepared with my new intermediate line and box of salmon
flies. I put up a size eight double thunder and lightning and tried
the Sally Well and Rhododendron pools without success.
I then moved downstream to the Thornbush
pool and all hell broke loose. The salmon charged for the opposite
bank, then rolled over, changed direction and bolted downriver at
All of 25 minutes later and exhausted, I managed to bring the fish
to the landing net and, eventually, onto the bank. My first
salmon on a fly, a wild Atlantic fish of 9.41b, in pristine condition
with bright silver flanks.
Ballin Temple Lodge and two self-catering cottages are available
to rent. For further details, contact Robin Harvey at eustaceharvey AT eircom.net.
Evans, with his first salmon on fly, from the Ballin Temple beat
on the River Slaney, Co Carlow. The fish weighed 9.41b and fell
to a thunder and lightning fly