IT’S onwards and upwards for the Watermill Lodge, Lisnaskea following a severe setback a few years ago when it looked like the end of the road for its owner, Valerie Smyth and her head chef and his staff, Pascal Brissaud.
Last week, the Lodge picked up three ‘county’ awards in the Ulster Regional Final of the Irish Restaurant Awards.
These were for – Best restaurant, Best hotel restaurant, and Best wine experience.
The Watermill now goes forward, along with the other ‘Fermanagh’ winners now to compete for the Regional and All Ireland title.
The winners here will be announced at the Irish Restaurant Awards in the DoubleTree Hilton Hotel, Dublin on Monday 9th June.
Speaking to the Herald at the weekend, a delighted Pascal revealed that preparing and serving food isn’t the only string to his bow.
Thanks to his personal promotion in mainland Europe, the first Russian pike anglers are now making a beeline for Upper Lough Erne and a seven-day to 10-day stay in the fishing lodge.
“We have a French ghillie, Marin who provides the bait and the restaurant provides packed lunches as well as breakfast and dinner.”
The fishing, of course, is done out on the lake and, to that end, the fishing lodge – which can accommodate up to 14 anglers at a time – has six fishing boats available for hire, some equipped with a fish finder.
Pascal has no doubts where his hobby of fishing is heading.
“Our target is for the fishing lodge to be in the Top Ten in Europe.”
And, thanks to his hard work on the Continent, the ‘pikemen’ are coming here in their droves.
“We have nine French anglers coming this Friday, and at the moment we have eight from France (his mother country) and from Belgium and, last October, we had our first Russians!.”
Interestingly, the contact was made in Sri Lanka where a group of anglers from Russia was fishing for tarpon and were shown an article about the Watermill’s fishing lodge by French anglers. The rest, to borrow a cliche, is history.
And, in case readers fear there will be no pike left in the Erne with all this activity, Pascal follows a ‘catch and release’ policy.
“The pike go back in. There’s a strict ‘no kill’ policy and, as well as that, I always insist on the anglers using barbless hooks.”
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