Down Memory Lane

Here is an email we received the other day from Mr David McCullough who fished the Whitewater a few years ago.

Down Memory Lane by the banks of the Whitewater

They say that fishing is in the blood. My earliest memory of being introduced to the fine art of fly fishing  is my late father, Robert McCullough explaining to me how he had watched his father piece together his treasured split cane rod in the scullery of a terraced house in Newry in the early 1900s.  When other lads were being taught about George Best, Nobby Stiles and the like I was being introduced to a different set of names: Greenwell’s Glory, Bloody Butcher, Wickham’s Fancy and Peter Ross.

Late summer evenings on the banks of the Whitewater were always the highlight of school holidays. We always parked in same spot, along the Benagh Rd, turn off into Lurganreagh Rd and a sharp right down the access lane right to the river’s edge. Then the wait began.  Dad seemed to know the exact time to unpack the rod and slither the line through the hand set eyes on his much loved split cane rods. Wading under the bridge in the semi dark and watching the cast’s fall gently on the rippling water of the pool below the Greencastle bridge was all that a lad could ask for.  We didn’t ever venture too far from that spot. Why should we, he always hooked one.  But the stories were sometimes even better than the fishing.   Perhaps the passing of time had increased the size of the catch, but with great delight dad would tell me how in the late 1950s he and my great uncle Joe caught a bag full of good sized sea trout on the one evening in the pool below the bridge.

I guess that is why now a generation later I just love toget a day on the Whitewater and there is only one spot – below the Greencastle
bridge. The hole isn’t as deep as back then, nor the fish as plentiful, but there is just something about that spot. To stand where my father stood, and my great uncle before him and feel the wind blow up the river with the incoming tide is the end to a super day.

In the last week of the season this year I introduced my 13 year old son John to the same old haunts and told him of the fishing exploits of his grandfather and great, great uncle Joe. Sadly we didn’t beat their legendary catch of twenty in an evening’s fishing.  But we did have a super day. 

I don’t imagine I will ever match the skills and prowess of my forefathers when it comes to fly fishing. But I am sure that I have enjoyed every outing on the Whitewater just as much as they did.

Well done to the Kilkeel Angling club for all their hard work in remaking this river into one of Ireland’s fishing beauty spots.  Well worth the day ticket. 

Many thanks to Mr McCullough for this email.

Last update 12th May 2020

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