The river Deel flows past the house in which I grew up. It derives its source from Lough Lene, Lough Bane and the Ben Loughs and then flows for 22 miles through Co. Westmeath and into the river Boyne in Co. Meath, at what was a childhood mecca known as “The Point”. The river spends most of its journey meandering through farmland at the back of fields, out of the way of most folk, before revealing its tantalising treasure beneath a series of humped stone bridges on narrow, winding country roads. It is a limestone river and its water runs clear, weedy, and with plenty of fish. The excellent hatches of fly life on this river make for an exciting sight.
As well as trout, it held good stocks of perch, pike and gudgeon, but is a brown trout only fishery now. It is deep and is best fished by wading, with the best spots away from your parked car, so prepare for a good walk in waders before you get to the really good fishing.
It is the river used by the great J R Harris to form and test the theories behind his classic book, An Angler’s Entomology, and was the fishing home of Niall Fallon, author of Fly Fishing for Irish Trout. It was ravaged by machines when drainage of Ireland’s rivers for farming was common, but has now largely recovered (by all accounts) holding good stocks of wild brown trout to over 2lbs. This river is controlled by the Deel and Boyne Angling Association, and fishes best in the early part of the season before its luxuriant growth of weed gets firmly established.
Its depth, clarity and well-stocked larder make it a challenge for even the most accomplished fly fishermen, but its beauty makes the hardship worthwhile.