The Lower Bann provides some the of the best wild coarse fishing in Europe, with large, mixed bags being the norm. Some of the fishing has been improved recently and provides numbered pegs. There is wheelchair access for many of the pegs and those sited just off main roads are suitable for all anglers.
The main areas and hot spots are set out below.
The banks of the Lower Bann at the Agivey Bridge are very angler-friendly and there is superb coarse fishing to be had. The river slightly gains speed at the point and produces good bags of bream and hybrids which tend to be in the 4-7lbs+ range and are renowned for their fighting quality. The beat also has good shoals of skimmers, roach and hybrids with many specimen fish reported each year. Fish available are: bream, perch, gudgeon, pike, eel and trout.
Situated off the Vow Road, on the laneway to Movanagher Fish Farm, this 10m wide and 3m deep canal produces excellent coarse fishing, especially when the Lower Bann is in flood. Access to the pegs is straightforward as the road runs along the canal's entire length. There are also a number of pegs specifically designed for wheelchair users.
Bream is the main quarry here, averaging 2-4lbs in weight, although roach are also plentiful in the 4-6oz range. Bags of bream to 90lbs are recorded each year and Roach consistently yield bags of 7-22lbs. The best methods are considered to be pole, waggler and ledgering. In addition to bream and roach, perch and pike are also found in various parts of this canal. The best pegs are numbers 3-15 and 45 upwards.
Situated about two miles form the town of Kilrea, just off the A54 road to Coleraine, and on the west bank of the Lower Bann, Movanagher West is a beautiful setting for 79 fishing pegs.
Unlike most of the Lower Bann fishing, access can be difficult, with a 200-300m walk from the lay-by to the pegs. The fishing here is variable, but shoals of bream, roach and hybrids are all common. Perch, pike and eel are also present. As a result pleasure bags of up to 100lbs are not unknown, particularly if feeder tactics are used. The maggot and castor are recommended in particular. However, this is mainly a summer venue as high water levels can make access to the pegs difficult.
This prolific stretch lies upstream of the Bann Bridge, Kilrea, and is conveniently adjacent to Portneal Lodge. There are a number of custom-built pegs here and access to the river is straightforward, with the fishing being highly recommended.
The main species available here, which are found in good numbers, are roach, pike and bream. As a result, pleasure bags of 100lbs+ are commonplace. Fishing is considered to be slow here during the summer, but autumn and winter sessions can provide good sport.
This 100m long canal is a piker angler's haven. As soon as the Lower Bann reaches winter flood levels the pike take up residence and remain there throughout the winter months.
Larger pike are mainly taken on ledgered baits, with rainbow trout being particularly recommended, while the jacks are mostly caught on spinners. Most recently, fly fishing has become a popular method of fishing for pike; successful fly patterns vary from angler to angler, but any fly with a touch of tinsel should work well. Other fish species found in the canal include bream and perch. Access to the canal is excellent, with parking being available within 10m of the canal.
This section of the Lower Bann is quite often overlooked by anglers. It is situated in the most beautiful surroundings, with straightforward access, allowing wheelchair users to reach the fishing with ease.
However, there are no custom built pegs. Anglers may fish from the jetty on the site, the deep water alongside being most suited to pole or feeder fishing.
In this area roach and perch are the main quarry, being found in good numbers when the river is in flood during the autumn. Despite this fishing can be sporadic with bags of 15lbs being considered average.
Located in a beautiful wooded area of the Lower Bann, this facility was created in 1992 to cater for increasing numbers of coarse anglers. Access was improved by the creation of a road leading to the river and one mile of pathway along the bank. 89 competition-standard pegs were also constructed.
Good fishing is to be had at this site all year round, although it can slow down at spawning time, with the main species being roach, skimmers and bream.
At Ulster coarse fishing federation and international events' average bags are between 5-15 kilos, although this can be far exceeded during pleasure sessions, when 40kg bags are not uncommon.
According to local experts, pegs 1-4; 15-25; 40-54; 82-89 are the best, depending on water flow and season. The pole/feeder are considered most suitable during the winter months and the slider during the summer. In addition to the coarse angling some good pike fishing is also to be had in this area.
This stretch has recently been developed, through the creation of a large number of fishing stands between Newferry and Lough Beg and provides competition-standard angling. Access is reasonably easy.
In particular, Newferry West is renowned for its large hybrids and bream, which can reach weights of 5lbs and 9lbs respectively. As a result 100lb bags of fish are not uncommon, feeder and pole being considered the best methods, and heavy ground baiting often proving fruitful.
The autumn and winter are the best times of year on this stretch, fishing being considered rather slow during the summer. Perch fishing is also reputed to be good here.
Due to the presence of a slipway at Newferry, there can be disturbance from boats and waterskiers on this section during the summer. To avoid this fishermen are recommended to start fishing early in the morning before boating commences.
This canal is about 1.5km long, a short walking distance from the village of Toome, and easily accessible by road. Although there are no custom built pegs the canal is readily fished from the bank. There is a floating jetty from which wheelchair users can fish, in the absence of moored boats.
The main fish species found here are roach and perch, which can provide bags of between 50-60lbs on an average pleasure session. Pike fishing can also be found in the river, canals and loughs with the Lower Bann producing a number of specimen pike every year and it may only be a matter of time before an Irish record is achieved.
By far the most successful method is spinning and trawling but to catch big fish, dead-baiting is recommended. Local anglers find pollen, mackerel, rainbow trout and roach to be the best bait.
For the past few years anglers have fly fished for pike in the winter months and a number of good fish have been taken of up to 42.5lbs on both the river and Lough Beg.
The Lough Beg area is a premier pike fishery within Ireland, having a sluggish flow and some shallow bays. Pike are also found in the deeper navigational channel running through the lough. Access to Lough Beg is most convenient by boat from Newferry or Toome.
Outside Lough Beg the best pike fishing areas are the three canals at Movanagher East, Potna and Toome.