Whilst the Lower Bann is more noted as a salmon and sea trout fishery, the tributaries of both the Bann and Lough Neagh provide superb troiut fishing
The Agivey River is a spate river some 15 miles in length rising in the Sperrin Mountains south west of Garvagh. The river runs through the Aghadowey on its way to meet the River Bann approximately 10 miles from the sea. There is an abundance of wild brown trout throughout the river system and fishing for these is best from late May until August when fly life is most prolific.
This is an attractive small river which is fishable from its confluence with the Bann up to Ballymoney town. The lower reaches are slow and deep slowly giving way to tree shaded pools and riffles as you move upstream towards Ballymoney.
Above Ballymoney the river is typically spawning and nursery habitat which the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure is improving as a source of wild stock to enhance the river downstream. Small numbers of salmon and sea trout enter the lower stretches of the river providing opportunities for a surprise encounter with a bigger fish. From August to October a run of dollaghan from the Bann can provide good sport.
The small-to-medium-sized Clady river flows from the Sperrin Mountains down through the historic linen village of Upperlands and past Culnady and Clady before emptying into the Lower Bann below the town of Portglenone. The river has a very good stock of wild brown trout where it meets the rich, flat agricultural land around Culnady. Here the river was sympathetically dredged a number of years ago and there are now plenty of deep pools and good riffles.
The river enjoys a good run of salmon from August through to the end of the season. Clady and District Angling Association have recently provided superb facilities for anglers, including those with a disability located just outside the village of Clady. Ghillies are available on request from the club. Prawn/Shrimp fishing is not permitted on the river.
Lough Neagh is the largest freshwater lake in Ireland and the British Isles and tributaries such as the Ballinderry River and Moyola River are especially attractive for the trout angler. Here, the dollaghan, a unique species of Lough Neagh migratory brown trout can be caught when they run the many tributaries from mid July to the end of the season (31st October).
Dollaghan are, in many ways, similar to salmon and grow by up to 3lbs every year while in the lough. Successful methods are spinning, worming and fly fishing. The fly is often most productive in the evening and into the night. These trout weigh from 6-7lbs upwards. Often after flooding the fish run into the tributaries and can be fished using tactics similar to sea trout fishing.
The Macosquin River is a small 3-5m wide river which flows into the Lower Bann. The main quarry in this river is brown trout, of which there is an abundance. However, the river also yields a few sea trout and salmon in the autumn.
Numbers of all these fish have been supplemented in recent years by the release of substantial numbers of fry. Although the river would be considered small, it has developed a fine pool and riffle system and there is plenty of good sport to be had. Angling is restricted to fly fishing only and the river is under the control of Coleraine Anglers Association.
The Maine is a wide river with a fine head of brown trout which can often give the best sport to the fly fisherman from April to mid June. However, the big attraction is really the salmon and dollaghan fishing. This is generally best from July to October but it really depends on water conditions. This is excellent fly water, but spinning and worming may be allowed in certain conditions and stretches of the river. There is a bag limit of two fish per day and 4 fish in any seven days. A fishing guide service is available.
The Six Mile Water
The Six Mile Water is a medium-sized river with a good head of wild brown trout which are best fished from April through to June. The river is perhaps best known for its dollaghan fishing which is best from August to the end of the season. Salmon are also caught at this time of year. Fishing is fly only until the 31st August after which spinning and worming are also allowed. A fishing guide service is available.
The Moyola River is famous worldwide for its angling. It not only offers angling amid peace and quiet, but the river itself runs through some of the most beautiful countryside in Ireland, flowing 27 miles from the Sperrin Mountains to Lough Neagh, emerging at the entrance to the Lower Bann. It is here that the returning Atlantic salmon join the native dollaghan (a form of trout which migrates to, and matures in, Lough Neagh, before returning to its native river to spawn) on their spawning journey upstream. Wild brown trout are also found in abundance. For nearly all of its length the Moyola flows at suitable speed over gravel into pools making it excellent fly fishing water. Locally trained ghillies are available on request. The river is managed and enhanced by the Moyola Angling Association.
The Crumlin is a medium-sized river flowing into the eastern side of Lough Neagh. It has a large head of wild brown trout which can give good sport to the wet and dry fly. Later in the season and especially during the months of September and October dollaghan and occasional salmon may be caught in the lower river (ie. below the falls downstream of Crumlin) using all legal methods.
The Upper Bann
The Upper Bann is a medium-sized river (5-20m in width) mainly known for its brown trout fishing although from July on there is always the chance of a salmon or dollaghen. The best of the trout fishing is from the start of the season until July and although all legal methods are allowed there is a lot of water particularly suited to fly fishing. A ghillie or guide can be arranged with prior notice.
The Ballinderry River flows eastwards through the county of Tyrone, Northern Ireland. As it raises in the foothills of the Sperrin mountains, it twists its way through the Kildress countryside to Cookstown, onto Coagh and finally Lough Neagh. With its large populations of free rising brown trout up to two pounds in weight, the Ballinderry River is quite rightly thought of as one of the, if not the, best trout rivers in Northern Ireland. Although the trout are in the main smallish fish, in the region of 4 - 6 ounces, they are hard fighting and plenty in number to keep the angler interested.
River Blackwater between Clogher and Aughnacloy, is a lowland river meandering through farmland providing excellent river fishing for trout, salmon and dollaghan.