About the Lower Bann river
The 38 mile long Lower Bann flows in a northerly direction from Lough Neagh to the sea near Coleraine, draining the mainly agricultural 4,500 square kilometre Lough Neagh catchment area - the largest freshwater lake in Europe. This includes almost half of the land area of Northern Ireland as well as part of the Republic of Ireland. As a result of the catchment size, the Lower Bann is a large river in a UK/Irish context, being almost 200 feet wide along most of its length. Consequently, a winter flood can produce a flow of around 300 cubic metres per second (66,000 gallons) - one of the largest known in these islands.
It offers a wide variety of fishing - from coarse and pike fishing on the upper reaches between Portglenone and Lough Neagh, to excellent salmon and trout fishing in the middle stretches and finally sea trout and mullet angling on the four mile estuary below Coleraine. The premier angling is the salmon fishing on the four privately-run beats in the middle reaches of the river - Carnroe, Portna, Movanagher and Culiff Rock.
There are several major tributaries in which The Honourable The Irish Society has an ownership interest, all of which have ideal game fish habitat; the Clady, Agivey, Rhee (also known as Macosquin), and Ballymoney rivers, all but the latter joining from the west, having risen in the Sperrin Mountains. In addition, the Moyola and Ballinderry rivers flow directly into Lough Neagh from the west. Kilrea & District Angling Club also controls a short stretch of the main Lower Bann, just south of Kilrea.
Another important feature of the Lower Bann is that is an artificially controlled river, in that it contains five sets of locks and three sets of sluice gates along its length. These are part of a scheme started 160 years ago which also included blasting out rocky outcrops to control flows coming out of Lough Neagh. Both features were implemented to help remove excess water levels as quickly as possible during flood conditions and to maintain navigable flows during drier periods. As a result a large proportion of the river is deep with slow flows and is ideal for coarse fish and pike. The tributaries and the parts of the main channel circumvented by canals and locks still have ideal game fishing stretches, with fast flows and a good mixture of pools and riffles.
Click here to view a map of the Lower Bann and its tributaries.