[from Harry Druidale, Fisherman ..., 1898]


Some came across the mountain side,
Some many weary miles,
O'er hills and lowland marshy fields,
O'er hedges, gates, and stiles.

Oiel Verree, by WILLIAM KENNISH, R.N.

THE river Lhen is little known to most anglers who fish in the streams of Mona, and it is not easy of access, being about six miles distant from a railway station. This little river rises in the neighbourhood of Ballaugh, and after a course of about four fishable miles falls into the sea near Blue Point. It is very sluggish and very weedy, and not favourable for the minnow or artificial fly ; the worm is the most practicable lure, and the only way to fish is to cast the worm between the weeds. The trout are not numerous, but this is compensated for by their good size, which averages about three-quarters of a pound. The banks are rather high, and to a considerable extent flanked with bogs good for snipe.

Consequent on a pressing invitation from Mr. Bernard Brooke of Andreas, who has a farm on the banks of the river, my brother Charlie and I decided to fish the Lhen in the month of June 1896. We chartered a jaunting car in Ramsey, and drove to the river, which we struck at a point about two miles from the sea. We had a beautiful drive. The earth-banks were clothed with honeysuckle, wild roses, and other wild flowers. Some places were blue with forget me-pots. The Osmunda Regalis flourishes in the bogs. The country is slightly undulating, and as we drive along there is a magnificent view of Snaefell, North Barrule, and the neighbouring mountains. In the far distance across the sea we see the Cumbrian Mountains, the Mull of Galloway, and the mountains of Mourne. We pass Andreas Church with its peculiar high tower, and wonder who is responsible for its architecture. It somewhat resembles a mill chimney which had been made unusually wide in order to appear unlike a chimney. This is the sanctuary of the Archdeacon of Man, who is rector of Andreas and an ex officio member of the Council of the island, which answers to the British House of Lords, with this difference, that the members of the Council are not hereditary, but are members by virtue of their offices.

We commenced operations about four o'clock in the afternoon, but the fish were not in a taking humour. However, in about half an hour Charlie sang out that he had a bite, then he shouted that he was on and then off, worse luck. A consultation ensued, and I advised Charlie to give him plenty of time should the fish come a third time, which to our surprise he did, and he was well hooked. Then began the tug of war. Our one landing-net was very short, so I took the rod and Charlie scrambled over the wire-fencing with the net to be ready. The fish had got into a mass of weeds, but a gradual pressure brought him slowly out, and Charlie managed to net him, a plump trout of fifteen ounces. I only caught two miserable eels, and at half-past five we wended our way to Mr. Brooke's house, where we had tea.

Mr. Brooke said that the best time to fish was about dusk, and that the Lhen trout would not take red worms, but only white. Charlie had caught his trout with a red worm. We all went out to fish after tea. Miss Florence Brooke, our host's sister, a young lady who delights in taking a rise out of an unfortunate fisherman, warned me that I should not catch a trout in the Lhen because I had caught two eels; but that if I rubbed my hook and cast on the dead trout, the spell might be removed. In the end we all rubbed our hooks and gut on the dead trout for luck and began fishing. Alas, the spell was not removed; I had not a bite. The others were in luck. Charlie grassed two more fish of ten and five ounces respectively, and our host three of the respective weights of fifteen, twelve, and ten ounces. All Charlie's trout were caught with the red worm, and Mr. Brooke's with the white worm. Then over our pipes we discussed the weight of the Lhen trout, and it transpired that Mr. Kelly of Abbeyville had captured the largest recorded trout in the Lhen — which scaled two pounds and thirteen ounces — a few years since. A record kept by Mr. Bernard Brooke shows that the average weight is about ten ounces.

The modus operandi is to fish with strong sea-trout gut, so that the trout may be dragged out of the weeds and hauled on to the bank. The Isle of Man Fishery Board had in their wisdom turned into the Lhen 800 trout-fry-what a feed for the big trout ! what chance can there be for even one little one to grow to maturity? so thought we all.

But it is time for us to be off, so with a good-night to our good friend Mr. Brooke, who pressed us to have another try soon, we get into our jaunting car and bowl over the road to Ramsey. We had often heard of the big trout of the Lhen, and were well pleased to have had an opportunity of proving the report to be true, and that some good trout may be caught in the little kingdom of Man, if one will only take the trouble to go to the Lhen.

Henry Cadman + family
Port St Mary
[Presume Author, young son, wife, daughter + two nieces in 1897]


I will not attempt to particularise all the streams of Mona in which trout may be captured; there are numerous little rills, which may be stepped across, where it is necessary to poke the worm in between the grass and brambles as best the angler can. I will content myself and the reader with describing a few streams, as nearly as may be in order of merit. Silver Burn

This little river, which rises in the slopes of South Barrule (1585 feet) and falls into the sea at Castletown after a run of about five miles, is Honoured with the pen of Sir Walter Scott in his Peveril of the Peak. How beautifully he leads young Peveril to one of those beautiful streams that descend to the sea from the Kirk Merlagh Mountains. Sir Walter refers to Kirk Malew, which will ever be associated with the name of an eloquent Manx vicar, the Rev. William Gill, who was celebrated as a preacher of no ordinary merit. One wonders how such a man escaped being a bishop.

But young Peveril is not keen on the trout.

It was maiden fair
That lured him there.

"He chose, indeed," wrote Sir Walter, "with an angler's eye, the most promising casts, where the stream broke sparkling over a stone, affording the wonted shelter to a trout; or where, gliding away from a rippling current to a still eddy, it streamed under the projecting bank, or dashed from the pool of some low cascade." How true to nature the great Sir Walter wrote; only an angler could write thus. He then guides us to Rushen Abbey, the ruins of which still remain. Hereabouts the Rushen Abbey Hotel stands. The stream passes through the grounds, and here the contemplative man may well locate himself amid beautiful scenery, with the somewhat cone-like summit of South Barrule forming a background of heathery mountain with Cronk-ny-Irey-Lhaa on the left. Ballasalla Station is near by.

From Castletown to the Abbey Bridge the country is flat and the ground open. In this portion of the river sea-trout may be caught in the spring and autumn. A short distance above the Abbey Bridge two streams unite, Silver Burn diverging to the left and Awin Ruy to the right to St. Mark's. These streams are typical Manx glens, more or less encumbered with wood and bushes, forming charming solitudes. When there is a fair flow of water fly may be used with advantage, but when the waters are low, as the wandering angler generally finds them, recourse must be had to the up-stream worm.

I fished lovely Silver Burn on the 31st of May l881 for the first time, when I commenced at Castletown and fished up to Rushen Abbey. The water was dead low and the sun so bright, but between ten and one o'clock I killed twenty-six trout, two of which weighed a quarter of a pound each, and the rest about two ounces. On the same day Robert fished the higher portion of Silver Burn with what he called fly-a scrap of worm being attached to the ordinary fly — and killed about fifty trout, but he made a regular day of it.


I did not fish Silver Burn again until the month of August 1897. I had taken up my quarters with some of my olive-branches, including Bertie, an amateur photographer, at the charming little watering-place of Port St. Mary, a little fishing village on the south coast of Mona's Isle. The mountains of South Barrule and Cronk-ny-Irey-Lhaa form a rather imposing background, the intervening country being slightly undulating, and partly agricultural and partly pastoral, with plantations here and there. About five miles eastward the ancient castle of Rushen frowns over the fair landscape.

I decided to try Silver Burn above Rushen Abbey. I halted at the Friars Bridge to put up my rod. The Friars Bridge is a most interesting structure , there are two pointed arches, and the bridge was clearly erected for a bridle or pack-horse road. A few yards above the bridge there is a high weir, with a rather deep pool below. The water was very low, and no water was passing over the weir, but at the far corner on the right there was a little trickle of running water. No use trying here with the worm, thought I, but angler-like I take a survey of the pool. Ha! what is that in the trickle in the far corner ?-a grand trout and no mistake, of at least ten ounces ! It must be a neat cast to lure such a trout in such a tiny trickle. The worm is impelled at the first cast just above the trout, a rush, and habet; but, alas, after a little play the hold gave way, and the monarch of the pool was free. Fool, why did you strike so soon? Up I sped, casting the worm wherever practicable, and catching a trout now and then, but it was difficult work getting the worm in under the branches. I wondered if young Peveril wandered so far up the glen, and succeeded in throwing a fly under the hanging branches.

After struggling amid trees for about half a mile I reach a corn-mill with a considerable mill-dam in the middle of which there is a wooded island, then along a gorsy meadow, and I pass under a bridge into a dark plantation in which there are some good pools. A short distance above is a mill in ruins, the mill-race broken down, and all the water flowing over a high weir into a deep pool below. Shortly above this the trees cease, and I am in a regular gill with steep sides clothed with gorse and bramble, the stream forming numerous cascades with deep pools below. The dark cone-like summit of South Barrule appears to guard the secluded glen. The solitude can be felt. The ruined mill below increases the feeling of solitude, as though nature had determined to resume her sway.


I retrace my steps, and as I pass the Friars Pool I see my friend of the morning in his old position. I ought to try him with a fly, thought I, but I had not much time to catch the train at Ballasalla Station, so I sped my worm as before, but non habet ; with insulted dignity he swam clown and retired under a stone, but his doom was not far distant. Four or five days afterwards I was once more at the Friars Bridge. There had been a little rain and there was a flow of clear water into the Friars Pool. I soon caught two trout in the low part, and then I attacked the far corner. The line stopped, and I felt that he was on. After a few moments I struck and he was fast, and ere long be was dragged on to the shingle and proved to be a Loch Leven trout of fifteen ounces, the only Loch Leven trout which I ever caught in the Isle of Man. If this little stream were only a little taken care of, and the branches lopped and the many obstructions removed, it would be a charming little river for the artificial fly, but of this subject more anon.

Santon Burn

A short distance north-east of Silver Burn is Santon Burn, which rises in the moorland in the neighbourhood of Granite Mountain and Slieau Chairn, and after a course of about five fishable miles falls into the sea near Cass-ny-Hawin Head. The lower portion near the sea flows through a rocky glen in which there are several cascades with deep pools at their foot, answering well to Sir Walter Scott's description of a Manx glen.

In consequence of the waterfall, which falls down to the sea-shore, the migratory salmonidæ cannot ascend above the shore-pool, but good sport with sea-trout may, when the fates are propitious, be had in this pool; and in the numerous pools above the waterfall good sport may be obtained with fly or worm, and a few really good trout may fairly be expected. Above Santon Bridge the country is open and the stream is easy to fish, but to ensure good sport the water must not be low. It is a great many years since I first fished in Santon Burn, and I do not remember how we got to Santon Bridge, where we began the day's sport, but we fished all the fishable water and then crossed the bogs in the neighbourhood of Slieau Chairn and walked to Onchan village. The water was in good order and I creeled between forty and fifty trout.

The Colby River

As this little river is only about three miles west of Silver Burn it is convenient to mention it here. Colby Station is close to the river, and about a mile and a half from the sea. The greater portion of the river flows through the Kentraugh estate, which belongs to an old Manx family of the name of Gawne. A Gawne of long ago appears to have taken great interest in the cultivation of trout, evidenced by a series of fish-ponds which extend for about a mile from the sea. The fish-ponds have been constructed by placing numerous weirs across the river. Above Colby village we come to a romantic wooded glen, at the upper end of which there is an interesting waterfall. The glen is much favoured by picnic parties. The Gawne family preserve the river up to the head of the glen, so the angler should commence to fish above that point, and he may fish for two or three miles to the slopes of Cronk-ny-Irey-Lhaa, and then retrace his steps to Colby Station by road. I have only fished this little river on two occasions, and on each I killed about forty trout with the up-stream worm.

in Colby Glen

Glen Meay River

Glen Meay is the most remarkable of Mona's glens. Between the waterfall and the sea the river flows through a rocky glen, the sides of which are several hundred feet high and present what may truly be called a grand appearance, and the sides are mostly inaccessible. The waterfall, with the rocky glen and wooded surroundings, is one of the sights of Mona. Above the waterfall there are Glen Rushen and Glen Dhoo, which are well worthy of exploration.


Until some ten years or so ago the river below Glen Rushen mines was so polluted with lead-washings that nothing could live in the waters, but thanks to the decline of the mining industry, the waters once more abound with trout, and below the waterfall good sport may be bad with sea-trout in their season. As Glen Meay is at least four miles from a railway station, in order to enjoy the fishing and explore the glens, rocks, and caves in the neighbourhood, the angler cannot do better than take up his quarters at the Dalby Boarding House, where indeed he may appreciate the charms of solitude.

Glen Mooar and Glen Wyllin, Kirk Michael.

Within easy distance from Kirk Michael Station on the Manx Northern Railway are these two glens, which are very beautiful and abound with trout. Spooyt Vain, a waterfall in the latter glen, is, when in spate, well worthy of a visit, apart from the trout fishing ; but the worm must be relied upon as the lure, and two days suffice to test the two streams.

Glen Dhoo, Ballaugh

Glen Dhoo rises amid the mountains of Slieau Dhoo and Slieau Chairn, and Glen Dhoo is one of Mona's most charming glens. From a piscatory point of view it suffers in periods of dry weather to a great extent, as the bed is in many places quite dried up, and one wonders how any trout survive.

The Cornah River

The Cornah river takes its source between the mountains of North Barrule and Clagh Owyre, and after a course of about five miles falls into the sea at Port Cornah. This is one of the most secluded parts of the Isle of Man and somewhat difficult of access, as it is about equidistant from Ramsey and Laxey. The lower portions of the river are good for sea trout-the best in the island, it is said. The banks of the stream are well wooded, in fact often too much so for the angler's comfort. Ballaglass Waterfall and Glen delight the eye of the angler. The most convenient plan is to drive from Ramsey to Port Cornah, and fish up to where the Douglas and Ramsey road crosses the stream, whence the distance to Ramsey is only about four miles, or the angler may proceed by the electric tramway from Douglas to Laxey, and thence drive to where the road crosses the river.

Glen Roy, Laxey

The electric tramway makes this romantic glen easily accessible. Glen Roy has been described as the Switzerland of Manxland. There is one drawback. Salmon and sea-trout cannot ascend from the sea because of the pollutions of the Laxey Mining Company. Below the washing-floors the water looks like milk, but fortunately they are not far from the sea. In Glen Roy trout are numerous, and the angler may reasonably expect thirty or forty trout as the result of a day's fishing. He may commence in the lower reaches with fly if the water be in order, and as the casting of the fly becomes difficult, owing to the various obstructions, he may put on the deadly worm and fish to the head of the glen, and at the end of his day tramp it to Douglas, should he be so inclined.


As has before been mentioned, the rivers in the Isle of Man are under the control of a Board of Conservators, and ample time has elapsed to form a judgment as to whether the Fishery Act has had a beneficial effect on the insular fresh-water fisheries. Season licences cost 10s. 6d., monthly 5s., and weekly 2s. 6d. The licence is entitled "Licence to kill Salmon and other Fish." The season for salmon is from 9th February to 31st October (both days inclusive), and for trout from 1st March to 31st October; and by By-law No. 4 "No fish shall be killed smaller than five inches in length over all." As the word "fish" is used, it appears clear on the face of the licence that the young of salmon and sea-trout only five inches in length may be killed. These little fish average one ounce in weight.

In my judgment this by-law is calculated to do more harm than if there were no regulation with regard to the size of fish killed. In the absence of any such regulation many anglers would pause before killing a five-inch trout or samlet; but fortified by the regulation, the little fish is without compunction consigned to the creel, and helps to increase the number of dozens at the end of the day's sport.

The Board of Conservators from time to time place yearlinol trout in the streams, with a view, it may be presumed, of improving the breed of Manx trout; but it appears to be absurd to do this, and authorise the destruction of trout of only an ounce in weight. The better plan would appear to me to let the little trout grow larger, and save the expense of yearling trout. Most of the streams are very favourable for trout in their spawning operations. Tiny runners in which trout may spawn are numerous; nature has provided bountifully for the production of trout. It would appear to be the first duty of a Board of Conservators to employ a sufficient number of watchers to enforce the Act of Tynwald. So far as I am aware, Mr. Andrew Caley, the Fishery Inspector, is the only person to watch the insular rivers-what can one man do in such an area?

The result is that, so far as the preservation of the rivers is concerned, matters are as they were before the passing of the Act of Tynwald. In my judgment, trout fishing has not improved; the angler pays the tax and does not derive any material benefit. Probably many fish without a licence, know ing that the chance of detection is very remote. What the Isle of Man requires is a strong Angling Association. True, there is an association in Douglas, but it has no fishing rights ; it appears to subsist for good fellowship, and for the promotion of the destruction of fish by offering prizes for that purpose.

Although the Board of Conservators are said to have £500 in hand, no steps are taken to restrain the pollution of rivers. So far as can be judged from the state of the river Neb, the Foxdale Mining Company do not even attempt to "settle" the lead-ore washings by means of subsidence. If the Board of Conservators would apply their surplus fund towards the expense of conducting the foul water to the sea in pipes, they would confer a boon on anglers in general and the riparian proprietors in particular; or they might expend their surplus money in lopping trees, removing obstructions, and con-structing weirs for the improvement of the rivers where such weirs might be beneficial. But until the resident Manx anglers bestir themselves, the Isle of Man river fisheries will not materially improve; mere legislation cannot effect anything.


As may be expected from the low standard of a takable trout in the Isle of Man, the general average is small, for the average depends upon the standard. As the trout which I have killed during the last twenty years graduated from 17 oz. to 1 oz., the mean of the extremes would show an average of 8 oz., just in the same manner as the winter mean temperature of a place may be 37 degrees, although there are days when the mean temperature of a winter's day stands at 15 degrees. But as my veracity as an angler is at any rate quite as dear to me as was that of the late Mr. Joseph Billings to him, I cannot let the matter rest here. I daresay that we most of us know very well that if we particularly impress our veracity on people they never will believe our assertions, but if we tell them a right-down thumper they will swallow it; but we must not do it with solemnity, as if we meant it. The result of twenty years' fishing has been 1327 trout, 483 of which were caught with fly and 844 with worm.

The following table shows the order of merit of the Manx streams with regard to the size of trout so far as my experience






The Dhoo .





Silver Burn





The Sulby River





The Neb





The Glass, East and West Baldwin.








With others I have sinned in killing the little five-inch trout. Let us all mend our ways and urge on the legislators of Man to protect the little ones, and so increase the standard of the bonny trout of Mona.


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