THE RETURN of angling to Lough Erne this week has been like “mana from Heaven” for local fishermen who are “beyond over the moon” to be back casting their lines.
The lifting of the two month ban was part of the first tentative measures to be relaxed as part of the Executive’s five stage plan for lifting the lockdown, however one well known local fisherman said he can’t figure out why angling was restricted in the first place.
Pat Lunny said fishing was possibly the safest possible outdoor past time with regard social distancing.
“One thing any angler doesn’t want is some other fisherman coming along and getting within a casting distance of them, never mind two metres of them,” said the Enniskillen man. “The very nature of angling is that it’s a distance job.”
Pat added that getting out on a boat, and particularly rowing given its benefits to mind and body, was the ideal way to socially distance. In fact, he confessed to the Herald that he had been continuing to get out on the lough himself in recent weeks in breach of the restrictions.
“I thought, if I walked along the shores to get my exercise I’ll be closer to people, so I went out on my boat,” he said. “I didn’t ignore the social distancing, I didn’t ignore washing my hands, I didn’t ignore the respiratory protocols.”
Pat added he understood that the last thing needed during lockdown was people putting themselves in danger and risking the emergency services being called out, however he stressed he was a competent boatman who at 75-years-old he had lived his life on the lough and knew it inside out.
As for those who have just returned to local waters on Monday, Pat said for the trout and mayfly anglers in particular this time or the year was “like their Cheltenham” and they were “beyond over the moon” to be back.
“For these people it is absolute mana from Heaven,” he said. “I’ve said it before, some people go to the pub. Some people go to the garden. Some people go to the church. Everybody has their fix, and this is mine.”