Derry angler catches first Irish salmon of 2019
AN ANGLER from Derry has won the race to catch the first Irish salmon of 2019.
Michael McCann, from Templeard in the Culmore area, claimed the fishing accolade when he landed a 5lb salmon on the Lackagh River at 9.25am on New Year's Day.
Anglers from all over Ireland take to rivers early every January 1 as they bid to catch the first salmon of the new year.
While Co Donegal frequently records the first catch, the record was claimed on the River Drowse in Co Leitrim last year and on the Munster Blackwater in Co Cork in 2017.
Mr McCann caught the salmon in the Garden Pool on the Lackagh River fishery which flows from Glen Lake into Sheephaven Bay.
After landing the fish on a single barbless hook, he released the salmon back into the water.
Inland Fisheries Ireland boss Dr Ciaran Byrne said it was particularly pleasing to see the first catch being released in a sustainable manner on the first day of what has been named 'International Year of the Salmon'.
Salmon populations have plunged in Ireland by more than 70 per cent, prompting many rivers to operate strict catch and release systems to conserve stocks.
Dr Byrne congratulated Mr McCann on what he said was a "highly coveted" record.
"I would urge anglers to step up their conservation efforts and engage in catch and release in 2019," he said.
"The New Year coincides with International Year of the Salmon which aims to raise awareness of some of the challenges facing salmon stocks across the northern hemisphere."
A worldwide initiative, International Year of the Salmon was launched to harness research into the species. It is hoped it will raise awareness of the need to conserve stocks and protect salmon habitats.