lock, the rainstorm had turned into a bright warm sun and resplendent rainbow, and I noticed with some amusement that my left side
was drenched while the right was bone dry. But that was really the
extent of our rain while underway, and even if I’m somewhat biased,
there really is nothing nicer than the Irish countryside under a sparkling sun after it’s been freshened by a soft rain.
At 224 miles long, the River Shannon narrowly beats the Severn
in the U.K. (which is 220 miles) for the title of longest river in
the British Isles. It runs between or through more than a third of
Ireland’s counties, 11 in total. Because the Shannon is a river, not
a canal, you can’t anchor, except in the larger lakes like Lough Ree,
where you’ll need to watch the weather before attempting to cross.
There are other things on the river you’ll have to watch out for,
too, narrow parts of the channel where it’s easy to go aground if
you’re too busy watching the heron that just landed in the rushes,
and not your chart. For the most part, the markers on the Shannon
are red and either black or green. Heading away from the sea (
upriver), you keep the red markers to port. The black markers are currently
being replaced by green ones by Waterways Ireland. The current is
particularly swirly around low-lying stone bridges that are usually a
couple of centuries old, and not forgiving in the slightest to noggins,
even American ones in baseball hats. At one such bridge in Rooskey,
the lockkeeper (who also bicycles up the half-mile or so to operate
the lifting bridge) insisted we could go under without his having to
open it, despite the glaring sticker beside the helm specifically saying our vessel needed this particular bridge open. “Ah, no, you’ll be
fine,” he insisted. “Just remember to duck, and you’ll be grand.”
Duck we did, and cleared it with several inches to spare.
WINTER FISHING IN
THE KEYS HAS IT ALL
Key West, Florida
this Spanish mack- erel fell victim to a big google-eyed fly.
Story and PhotoS By Pat Ford
THERE’S NO DOUBT, if I had two weeks to fish anywhere in the U.S., that I would head to Key West, Florida. I had the good fortune to be stationed at the Naval Air Station in Key West in 1971, and I’ve been fishing its waters
ever since. Nowhere else can you fish the Atlantic Ocean,
the Gulf of Mexico, deep and shallow wrecks, and endless
miles of flats, all from the same marina. Prime time begins in
November when temperatures are dropping up north and the fish are
migrating south. The first to arrive is the bait (mullet, ballyhoo, and
pilchards) and the game fish are never far behind.