Lough Ree Angling Hub was launched last week and the organisation aims to bring fishing back to Lanesboro and Ballyleague.
The hub also hopes to foster a love of fishing in young people and just last week children from St Christopher’s Services received coaching from a number of experienced locals.
Throughout the bank holiday weekend in June, an angling competition with €3,000 worth of prizes up for grabs will take place in Shannonside towns.
Organisers say the area is highly regarded by anglers both domestically and from overseas because of the hot water stretch in the Shannon.
Now, it has emerged just this week that the ESB plans to turn off the power at the plant in Lanesboro on the Friday of the weekend.
Organisers believe that when the ESB cuts the power, certain fish will leave as the water begins to cool and this will interfere with the quality of the fish that is on offer for anglers that weekend.
“The ESB says it is cutting the power on May 28 and if it does it will leave certain problems for us,” explained Philip Gordon who is a well known angler in Lanesboro.
Mr Gordon was also one of the four people who travelled to the UK last week to promote the local angling competition there.
“It will take about 36 hours for the hot water to stop running through the system; it is that hot water that invites the fish in, so that means that by the Saturday afternoon the people fishing the stretch of hot water at that stage, would have a marginal advantage over people fishing in that same location the following day.
“Once the water begins to cool down, the fish tend to move, so what we want is for the ESB to hold off cutting the hot water for a day or two so that we can keep everything equal over the couple of days of our competition.
“We have international high class anglers coming here that weekend and they will argue they weren’t treated fairly, so if the ESB just held off until the 29th or even May 30, that would be so helpful to us.
“We have had some communication with the ESB and our understanding is that the decision to turn off the hot water at this particular time was probably made 15 months ago,” said Mr Gordon, adding that the national grid would also be affected by the state body’s decision.
“But that said, there was supposed to be further talks with the ESB to see if we could do anything but nothing has happened yet.”
However ESB made itclear in a statement to the Longford Leader on Monday that its position would not change in light of the angling competition.
“The Hub were informed during a recent meeting that ESB Lough Ree Power will coincidentally be on annual outage during the angling competition over the June bank holiday weekend,” it read.
“ESB has also agreed to promoting the angling competition and is well aware of, and shares the concerns of local interest groups in relation to the infestation of Asian Clams in the hot water stretch in Lanesboro.
“With this in mind, ESB continues to assist Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) as they plan a response to the infestation.”
Meanwhile, John Devaney of Inland Fisheries said the organisation was delighted to see efforts being made to bring angling back to the shores of Lough Ree.
He also pointed out that while there had been negative publicity as a result of the Asian Clam, the area was open for business and the focus now, was on the future.
“The aim of the angling hub is to resurrect the fishing industry in this area and we have put in disinfectant stations along the river as was recommended,” continued Mr Devaney.
“Angling had been a major part of life in Lanesboro since the water stretch was first created back in the late 1960s especially in relation to course and specimen fish. We are hoping this competition will re-ignite things here.”
Mr Devaney went on to say that it was still unclear as to the severity of damage caused by the Asian Clam, but said that the situation was now very much back under control, thanks to the support of a number agencies who worked together.
“Asian Clam has the potential to wipe out fish, and that did happen in an area in the south of Ireland,” he confirmed,
“However, the River Shannon and Lough Ree are huge areas, so we don’t know the extent of the damage yet. We are actively trying to get it dredged at the moment.”