The news that rainbow trout are swimming in Stradbally lake was welcomed by fishermen and supporters who gathered there last Thursday morning, March 22.
Among them was Ballybrittas man Pat Fenlon who was taking a breather before getting married later that day. His best man Mark Ring is a keen fly fisherman who felt compelled to mark the double importance of the day.
Rainbow trout are a big attraction to anglers, as they are larger and stronger than brown trout, making hooking one all the more thrilling. It took seven years for Stradbally Development Association to get approval from the Fisheries Board to stock them on the six acre lake.
tHE Stradbally Development Association has restored the lake and added paths and picnic areas, with the help of groups including Laois Partnership. Athy Community Council provide two FÁS workers, Gerry Kelly and Martin Mahon, and the latter is also chairman of Stradbally Lake Board.
“This has to be a great boost to us. We hope to increase our advertising now and more people will come here,” he said.
Over 200 brown and rainbow trout have been added, as well as many large specimen fish, bringing the lake population to about 1,000. It is worked on a “put and take” basis, restocked weekly by Inland Fisheries Ireland. Visitors pay €15 to fish for four hours, and are permitted to keep two fish each. It’s a win-win for tourism, the local community, and wildlife like swans, otters and ducks.
In 2007 the project took first place in its category in the All-Ireland Pride of Place competition, At that time there were up to 80 anglers there on a busy Sunday, but it has quietened down in the last year, says Gerry Kelly.
“40 per cent of those would have been foreign nationals, people visited from Kildare, Offaly and Kilkenny, as well as school groups, We have found it a struggle to get visitors in the last year,” he said, hoping all this will change now that the rainbow trout have arrived.
The lake is leased from the Cosby family. Mr Tom Cosby said the restored woodland lake was a testament to the local community.
“Ten years ago it was a jungle, it got silted up in the 1940’s. We looked at restoring it, but a project like this only really works when it is a community effort, with access to funding. It’s fantastic to see it now,” he said.
Dominic Reddin, Laois Tourism Officer, welcome the the project.
“This is another added attraction to the fishing product in the county. The Lakes of Laois are a good package to promote fishing into the county and will compliment the good river fishing that Laois has,” he said.