The river Barrow meets the tide in a beautiful valley south of Graiguenamanagh, Co. Carlow, and inland from New Ross, Co. Wexford. Above the confluence sits the picturesque village of St Mullins developed on what was originally the site of an early monastic settlement. Characterised by the village green in front of Blanchfields Pub, and the remains of a Norman motte, this is a cracking place to visit for a days fishing.
The first spring tides in May herald the advance guard of the Twaite Shad, a herring like fish closely related to the Tarpon, albeit a hell of a lot smaller, making their annual spawning run. The migration will peak by the second set of springs then fade out. Floodwater in the river can delay the migration, but generally speaking the first three weeks in May are Shad time at St Mullins.
Shad spawn during darkness. The locals say that dawn or dusk coinciding with low water, which will concentrate the shoals into pockets, is the best time to fish. The urge to spawn makes the fish more active and they are prone to attack a lure. Tasmanian devils (13.5grm) are the preferred bait, but Mepps or small silver lures will also catch their share. Light spinning gear, with line breaking strain around 6.lb is ideal. Some of the best holding areas are on the far side of the river up stream of the old mill. On light tackle Shad give a good account of themselves, even tail walking like their larger tropical cousins do. The general experience when lure fishing for Shad is, short periods of intense activity, followed by lulls as the various shoals pass through. Have a landing net ready, and practise catch and release, as the Barrow is one of the last rivers in the country that experiences a run of this hard fighting species.
A real mixed fishery, an angler could spend a week here and only tip at the potential. Coarse fishing in the tidal stretch is excellent for Dace, Bream, Roach, Hybrids, and even Carp. Whether using feeder, float, or pole, fish up to and over the top of the tide. Pike especially in the vicinity of the locks, small Brown Trout, Sea Trout, and even a late (September) run of Salmon complete the picture.
For more information: A day at St Mullins.
Further reading: Shad Times at St Mullins.