A beautiful 54Lbs Shannon Salmon from 1903

This is one of the largest salmon ever caught on the River Shannon, or indeed Ireland. It was caught by Fred Milburn at Doonass in 1903 and weighed 54Lbs. It also appears to be a hen fish, which may mean that it was the largest female salmon ever caught in these islands.

The photo and details were taken from Fred Buller’s book ‘Domesday Book of Giant Salmon Volume II‘. The picture had been reproduced from the Fishing Gazette of the 14th November 1903. The picture also appeared in the Daily Mail of 4th September 1904. Fred Buller says that “if it were in my power to award a prize for a photograph of the most beautifully proportioned salmon that I have ever seen I would chose Fred Milburn’s fish, because this salmon is near perfect“.

54lbs-salmon-LR

Fred Milburn’s 54 Lb salmon from the River Shannon at Doonass in 1903, before the ESB’s Shannon hydroelectric scheme destroyed the river

We may not see the 50 pounders again, but we can certainly do better than just meeting 2-3% of the conservation escapement target for the river!

There are still great salmon being caught on European Rivers – even those like those like the Ljungan in Sweden which has several dams and hydro schemes. However, we only have these old photos to remind us of what the Shannon once was. The Shannon was some river. In 1923 the Reverend Joseph Adams (from Fred Buller) wrote of the river at Doonass – “it’s a miniature Niagra from World’s End to Landsacpe. Above the falls and below them the Shannon is raging mad, racing, leaping, seething, foaming like a thing possessed“.

River shannon salmon

The Doonass water at Castleconnell on the Shannon before the river was reduced by the ESB’s Shannon hydroelectric scheme. In 1923 the Reverend Joseph Adams wrote “it’s a miniature Niagra from World’s End to Landsacpe. Above the falls and below them the Shannon is raging mad, racing, leaping, seething, foaming like a thing possessed”.

Doonass as it looks now....

The waters of the Shannon are still there and the Lower Shannon can be managed sustainably. It is time to restore it again to be a centre point of our remaining cultural, aesthetic and natural heritage. Indeed it could be restored to much of its former glory with some modern and progressive management. The key things that are missing on the Lower Shannon at the moment are (a) lack of water and (b) adequate fish passage facilities.  As we approach the centenary of the Shannon scheme it is time to start addressing these issues.

Killaloe salmon

The last great morning of salmon angling at Killaloe before the ESB destroyed the river?  This was published by Fred Buller in the Journal of The American Flyfisher, Fall 2013

The River Shannon belongs to all of us, and it is vital to the economy of the Irish Midlands, our natural heritage and our history. ESB / Electric Ireland has made plenty of profits from the Shannon dams, and now they have a responsibility to repair the damage they have caused. We may not see the 50 pounders again, but we can certainly do better than just meeting a few percent of the conservation escapement target for the river! Less than 1,000 salmon now pass though Killaloe annually, on a river where there should be 45,000 passing upstream each year – the minimum needed to open the river again for angling! There are now more salmon passing upstream though Paris on the Industrialised River Seine – several hundreds of km inland and also above a hydro dam – than though Killaloe the River Shannon. This gives a blunt insight into the failure of the ESB/Electric Ireland’s fisheries management programmes on the River Shannon.

Does anyone have any photos of other large salmon caught on the River Shannon?

One response to “A beautiful 54Lbs Shannon Salmon from 1903

  1. I have found this and your many articles on the Shannon salmon very interesting, thank you. Fred Buller MBE is a very good friend and has recently produced a three part work on the Shannon Salmon published in the Journal of The Flyfishers’ Club, London. It was my great pleasure to assist Fred with Vol’s 1 & 2 of The Domesday Book of Giant salmon and some three years ago he handed the task of compiling Vol 3 to me, where, I am pleased to say, there will be a photograph of William Ivis and his 56 lb Shannon salmon captured in 1914. You kindly acknowledge Fred for the piece on Fred Milburn and I would be delighted if you would do the same for the Elsie Hopkinson piece taken from his extensive article, which I put together for him that appeared in the Journal of The American Flyfisher Fall 2013.
    It would be a pleasure to send you a copy of the photograph of William Ivis and his salmon if you have not got a copy.
    Fred does not use a computer and has retired from writing books now but I shall make him aware of your articles. Best wishes from the Tamar Valley.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s