The Lower Bann is very important in an Irish context as a salmonid river with historic catch statistics of over 20,000 salmon per annum taken by nets and traps until the mid-20th century. It still remains important as an angling river with between significant numbers of salmon caught on the rod each year. To help conserve salmon stocks for the future, daily bag limits per angler have been imposed in recent years.
The fishery rights on the Lower Bann and its tributaries belong to The Honourable The Irish Society, a 400-year-old organisation which uses the income from its assets for charitable purposes locally. Further details of the Honourable Irish Society can be found here
The Irish Society has sub-let all of the tributary rivers to local angling clubs, as local management provides the best method of preserving and enhancing the fisheries.
The Lower Bann is an important conduit for migrating eels and salmon. The river also has a population of roach, bream, roach/bream hybrids, perch, rudd, trench, gudgeon and numerous pike. There are brown trout in parts of the main channel and in all the tributary rivers. Sea trout and grey mullet occur in the Bann estuary. In the tributary rivers, such as the Moyola the dollaghan, a unique species of trout, exists which migrates to and from Lough Neagh.
Weir at Carnroe
The shallow area of Lough Beg is particularly good for pike and the canal channels at Toome, Portna and Movanagher are well-known for all coarse fish species, especially when the river is in flood. These are also extensive competition beats near Kilrea, Portglenone, Newferry and Toome.
The tributary rivers of the Lower Bann are vital as spawning and nursery rivers (there is very little spawning ground in the main river). These have been much enhanced during the last decades thanks to the
tireless efforts of local angling clubs, several of which operate hatcheries to augment wild salmon, trout and dollaghan stocks.