Lower Bann Tributaries
The tributary rivers - Agivey, Ballymoney, Clady, Kilrea Beat, Moyola and Ballinderry - of the Lower Bann and Lough Neagh are vital as spawning and nursery rivers (there is very little spawning ground left in the main river itself, following the centuries of dredging and navigation). 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, together with government and EU funding and assistance from fishery owners such as The Honourable The Irish Society.
All the tributaries provide excellent game fishing at very reasonable prices, especially on the back of a flood and later on in the season (August-October). Local knowledge is useful, and guides can be arranged for the visitor. More details about each tributary are set out below.
The Moyola River runs through some of the most beautiful countryside in Northern Ireland, flowing 27 miles from the Sperrin Mountains to Lough Neagh, close to the village of Toome where the Lower Bann emerges from the Lough. It is here that the returning adult salmon join the native dollaghan (large brown trout which migrate to Lough Neagh, before returning to their native rivers to spawn) on their 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. The river is managed and enhanced by the Moyola Angling Association, which has also invested in a hatchery. Eight visitor rods are available daily, through Fishpal.
The Agivey river runs north east off the Sperrin Mountains into the Lower Bann near Ballymoney and is probably one of the best medium sized salmon and grilse rivers in Ireland - a fact largely due to the extensive management and enhancement of the river by the Agivey Anglers Association over past decades, which has resulted in the formation of some ideal habitat and angling stretches. The Association has also tried to boost salmon numbers through the use of its own hatchery, which releases many thousands of juvenile fish each year. Salmon start to run the river from May onwards, and numbers peak towards the end of August, depending, of course, on water flows. September can also be productive month. In addition to salmon, the river and particularly its tributary the Wee Agivey also hold an excellent head of resident brown trout which will give an angler exciting dry fly sport throughout the season.
Eight visitor rods are available daily, through Fishpal.
Macosquin (Rhee) River
The Macosquin River is a small 3-5m wide river which flows into the Lower Bann close to Coleraine. The main quarry in this river is brown trout, of which there is an abundance. However, the river also yields an occasional sea trout and salmon in the autumn. The river has a defined pool and riffle system and there is plenty of good sport to be had, convenient to Coleraine and the Causeway Coast tourist area. Angling is restricted to fly fishing only and the river is under the control of the Coleraine Anglers Association, which has undertaken considerable enhancement in the past few years.
Eight visitor rods are available daily, through Fishpal.
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 requires decent rainfall to fish well and weather permitting enjoys a good run of salmon from August through to the end of the season. The water is leased to Clady & District Angling Association, which has also built an excellent angling centre with good disabled access, close to Clady Village.
Eight visitor rods are available daily through Fishpal.
The Ballymoney Burn flows through the famous market town of Ballymoney to the east bank of the Lower Bann. This small river is known locally for its brown trout fishing, although small numbers of salmon and sea trout also enter the river in the autumn. The river is fishable only for the last couple of miles below Ballymoney, with the best trout angling around the village of Balnamore.
The Department of Culture, Arts & Leisure leases the fishing rights from The Honourable The Irish Society. Tickets are available for sale online either through Fishpal or the DCAL website. These are 3 day permits which allow three consecutive days fishing from the date purchased.
This is a 1/4 mile stretch of the Lower Bann lying between the two halves of the private Portna Beat and is let to the Kilrea & District Angling Club. The club has enhanced the fishery over recent years, particularly for trout, but salmon are also taken regularly. The picturesque and historic eel fishery structures in this part of the river add further interest to angling on the beat – which, unlike most of the river, has not been dredged so retains its natural pools and rocks.
Two visitor rods are available each day on the club water and may be booked through Fishpal.
The Ballinderry River flows eastwards through the borders of Counties Tyrone and Londonderry. It rises in the foothills of the Sperrin mountains, twists its way through the Kildress countryside to Cookstown, on to Coagh and finally flows into Lough Neagh.
With its large population of free rising brown trout up to 2lb in weight, the Ballinderry River is quite rightly thought of as one of the best trout rivers in Northern Ireland. Although the trout are in the main smallish fish, in the region of 4-6 oz, they are hard fighting and sufficient in number to keep the angler interested. Whilst many trout will be caught on wet flies and nymphs, they are also taken in great numbers on dry flies throughout the length of the river. As usual the best times for dry fly fishing are from late April to early June, especially when Hawthorn flies are hatching. The season starts on the first day of March and ends on the last day of October. The Ballinderry also has runs of salmon and dollaghan trout (a species that migrates to and from Lough Neagh) from September onwards, but runs can be as early as July given the right amount of rain.
Most anglers use heavier and longer rods, a rod of 9ft or more, rated 5 or above, should suffice. For salmon, a single hander of 9.5ft, 7 weight, is enough to cover most lies along the middle and upper stretches of the Ballinderry. Some anglers find that a small double hander allows them to cover the water more effectively in the lower Ballinderry. Eight visitor rods are available daily, through Fishpal.