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NEW SERVICE.......DISABLED ANGLERS TUITION

 Introduction

With help from its sister charity The Wheelyboat Trust, Handicapped Anglers Trust (HAT) - Ireland has just supplied its first Mk II Wheelyboat to the Republic of Ireland on no less a fishery than the prolific River Blackwater in Co Waterford.

We welcome and encourage all disabled anglers, and have facilities to aid the disabled angler, with a wheelyboat available to those anglers who may have difficulty through a disability to access all our club waters. An ideal solution to anglers confined to a wheelchair as an example, Our wheelyboat crewmen are experienced game anglers and knowledgeable fully trained wheelyboat boatmen and happy to take disabled anglers onto the river. Our waterkeeper (John Woodside) is happy to provide his time at no cost and as a disabled angler himself has an empathy to providing disabled anglers the opportunity to fish for salmon on one of Irelands best known prolific salmon rivers. Fishing equipment is available locally, and license and day tickets can usually be purchased on the day. Catching your first Wild Atlantic Salmon in Ireland will never be forgotten.  Hotels and Bed & Breakfast accommodation are available locally and experienced Gillies and Professional Tuition can be organised when needed.

The new Cappoquin Blackwater Wheelyboat will provide disabled anglers and wheelchair users in particular with unparalleled access to four miles of prime salmon fishing and sea-trout fishing on one of Ireland's most famous rivers. The boat has been acquired by the Cappoquin Salmon & Trout Anglers Association and will be available to both members and visiting day-ticket anglers. Funding for the boat was provided by the National Lottery Ireland, Southern Coarse and Trout Development Society and CLAR. She has been named as an "bradan feasa" ( the Salmon of knowledge).

The Cappoquin water is some 17 miles upstream of the estuary and is at the uppermost reaches of the tide. The beats fish best in low water conditions when fresh salmon take up residence after every tide while they wait for a rise in water levels following rain to help them travel to their spawning grounds further upstream. The fishery's best months are July, August and September when summer salmon and grilse enter the system in large numbers. All legal methods can be used at Cappoquin, spinning, worm and prawn, and there is also some excellent streamy water for fly-fishing.

 
 

 Access for disabled anglers on the river blackwater is extremely limited and there are few, if any, accessible pools on the entire river for the disabled angler. The difference this one boat has made is enormous. In fact, it has provided disabled anglers with a huge advantage over their able bodied counterparts putting all the pools and runs in easy reach and access. Some of the beats are a fair distance to walk to, and as a consequence, are only lightly fished. Disabled anglers have been able to take full advantage of these places as well as getting themselves into a prime position to fish the more popular pools which are only accessible to able bodied anglers from the bank or by wading.

The formal launch ceremony took place on August 20th 2004. Minister for the Marine, John Browne, represented the Government and warmly welcomed the initiative, even suggesting that funds will be found for similar projects.

 
 

The day after the launch, Jeremy Nicholson, secretary of Cappoquin Salmon and Trout Angling Association and Andy Beadsley, a wheelchair user and Director of the UK's Wheelyboat Trust, took the Wheelyboat for its first salmon fishing trip. Within an hour, Andy had christened her with a salmon, possibly the first salmon ever caught from a Wheelyboat. It was certainly his first one from a Wheelyboat and it was his first from the Blackwater. Minutes later Jeremy followed suit.

The River Blackwater at Cappoquin is as famous for its coarse fishing as it is for salmon and sea-trout fishing, and still holds the rod caught record for a roach. The Wheelyboat is also of course available for coarse fishing anglers. And for the non-anglers, though, the Wheelyboat can be used to explore the 17 miles to the estuary through some terrific scenery. There is no specific hire charge as for disabled people the boat comes as part of a day's fishing permit (about 25-40 euros). However, because the river can be a hazardous environment, Wheelyboat users will need to be accompanied by a qualified gillie/boatman who will usually charge a day/half day rate for their invaluable services.

To book the Wheelyboat, contact Jeremy Nicholson on 00 353 58 52302. At least 24 hours notice is required to book the wheelyboat and arrange a crew. The gillie boatmen are members of the Cappoquin Salmon & Trout Angling Association and are trained to take on their new role . Armed with a wealth of knowledge, our dedicated gillies/boatmen will make your day an enjoyable experience on one of Irelands most prolific salmon rivers.

Most disabilities do not prevent the disabled person from fishing, instead it is the consequences of the disability, e.g. the need to use a wheelchair to get around, that causes the problems. Where facilities such as the Wheelyboat are provided, as well as making life much easier for disabled people who already fish, it gives disabled people who have never fished before the opportunity to go fishing for the first time. It is therefore hoped that provision of facilities like the Wheelyboat throughout the UK and Ireland will encourage many more disabled people of all ages and backgrounds to experience for themselves the many charms game and course fishing has to offer. 



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