Fishing Friends

They sat two metres apart. I could just barely fit them into my screen view. Like pillars at the edge,
only seated and relaxed. It was Brendan and Pat. Brendan, in his 70s cocooning for the pandemic.
Pat, a regular caller, checking in to see if everything was okay with him.
And it was, for these two old friends could talk all day about the rivers of Inishowen, not just
reminiscing – but keeping up-to-date with the latest science, their fingers on the pulse of fisheries,
habitats and water quality.
I asked Brendan about the Mill River.
“What makes the river so special for you?”
“Well”, said Brendan, sitting forward in his seat, “My father was keen angler. He would get up at the
dawn and rush down to fish, only to find the Customs Man there before him. I used to go with him
when I was lad, before I got distracted by football and golf, among other things. I came back to
fishing as I got older, when I joined the Mill Anglers Association”.
“We had to do a lot of work on the Mill to make it a salmon river again. We made a fish pass at the
Mill Falls in the early 1980s. We made dams and pools, brought in seven hundred tons of rock. Fifty
thousand fry were put in five miles upstream of Mill House. We had no idea it would work. It was
three years before we would know that the salmon released in the Mill would come back to spawn”.
Brendan was always interested in the wildlife and nature around Buncrana. His friend Pat was a
fisherman all his life and they would walk and fish the rivers together.
“I was fishing the Crana one day”, recalls Pat, “when I had to go for a toilet break. When I came back
my rod was gone, no sign of it anywhere. I thought it had been lifted. Ragin’, I was. So, a couple of
days later a young lad brought a rod to me. Sure enough it was my rod. The lad was out fishing and
he snagged on something, and in came my rod, and would you believe it, wasn’t there a salmon
hooked on it as well. I was glad to get the rod back, but the young fella kept my salmon”.
“Fishing is something you can’t rush”, said Brendan. “It’s a great reason to be on the river, and to
walk the banks and to spend time with people. There are no guarantees, and it makes you realise
how precious the rivers are. How important they are to the community, young and old. You get to
know the wildlife. You see otters, herons, salmon running, kingfishers. This is why keeping the water
clean is so important. There are anglers clubs up and down the country doing great work to preserve
the rivers, and I’ve enjoyed being part of one here. The Mill and the Crana rivers are to be treasured
here in Buncrana. I’ve kept records of the fish I’ve seen and caught over the years. Plenty of trout
and salmon. I even saw an otter catch a 12 pound salmon. Some eaten’ in that for him!”.
Brendan and Pat hope to be out on the river again soon. “The fish have missed us talking to them”,
says Brendan. “Ah, shut you’d put them to sleep”, says Pat. The two friends laugh.
Just then a box pops up “Your Meeting Has Ended”. Next time by the river, lads.