Land of the Bann and the Bush
The waterways of Northern Ireland's Northeast are an angling paradise
The great fishing rivers of the Northeast, comprising the Lower Bann, its feeders and the tributaries of Lough Neagh, are jumping with salmon, trout, and even our unique dollaghan, so every angler has a sporting chance.
The Lower Bann System
Our beautiful Northeast may be famed for its cliffs, glens and the world famous Causeway Coast, but for the dedicated angler this region is even more famous for its rivers. This is the region of the broad and mighty Bann, which straddles Counties Londonderry and Antrim; this historic waterway drains Lough Neagh to the Atlantic and is the teeming passageway for thousands of fat salmon and grilse migrating from the sea to their birthwaters on the feeder rivers. Other rivers emptying into Lough Neagh are the Agivey, Clady, Maine, Sixmilewater, Crumlin, Ballinderry, Moyola, Upper Bann and Blackwater.
The main grilse run begins from mid June and the angling can be spectacular for eight exciting weeks. These superb grilse run to 71b (3.2kg) or 81b (3.6kg) and give great sport, while estuary sea trout are a bonus. Premier beats, of which Carnroe near Kilrea is the best known, record 2000 salmon and grilse to the rod each year. Brown trout in the Lower Bann run big and can make a 'blank' salmon day special. The evening rise to summer sedge can be fantastic when wild trout to 51b (2kg) are on the feed.
The Agivey, the Bann's lowest tributary, drains the northeastern end of the Sperrin Mountains and joins the Bann near Aghadowey, County Londonderry, just south of the Agivey Bann Bridge. It is probably one of the best medium sized salmon and grilse rivers in Ireland and is renowned as an excellent salmon fishery - June, July and September are best - with a number of large salmon among the annual catch.
Bann System Limited provide full ticket booking facilities for the Lower Bann system. Visit FishPal for direct bookings.
Angling on the Lough Neagh Feeder Rivers
Once the fish have passed through Lough Neagh the feeder rivers enjoy salmon fishing from early summer onwards, conditions allowing. The Maine, flowing south through County Antrim and entering the Lough below Randalstown, is the the first and largest, and from June can produce excellent results. Depending on weather, however, the fish may not enter the home rivers until later in the summer. The Sixmilewater, flowing through Ballyclare and entering the Lough at Antrim Town, will always give anglers the chance of a fish late in the season.
These rivers have an added attraction apart from the wonderful brown trout fishing. From late summer the dollaghan, a big Lough Neagh trout, will be running and these fish, averaging from 1.5lb to 2lb (up to 0.9 kg), are a unique catch. The best of them reach into double figures. Try fishing at night and you could hook that dollaghan of a lifetime.
Angling on the Causeway Coast
Perhaps the greatest treasure of the Causeway Coast is the famous Bush. No, not the whiskey; there's outstanding angling on the Bush River, just minutes from the Old Bushmills Distillery.
The Bush opens in March and offers your best chance of taking a Northern Irish springer (also known as the ladyfish or tenpounder). In high summer, fish the sea pool when the grilse are running. Cast within sight of the ocean as the tide makes and, to the roar of the waves, play a sea-liced purple/silver fish.
Moving east towards Ballycastle, the Margy, Carey or Glenshesk rivers are noted for sea trout and salmon up to 201b (8.9 kg). The Margy system has its own salmon/sea trout hatchery which produces 150,000 fry each year for distribution throughout the three rivers.
From the tops of the legendary Glens of Antrim the Rivers Glenarm, Glendun, Dall, and Glenariff tumble to the coast. Primetime for salmon in the Glenariff is from August through October, with sea trout running from June. The rest of these spate rivers will get fish from June, given water, but the back-end fishing will be better.
While salmon and sea trout feature large in this region, dedicated trout anglers will find fishing second to none on many of these same rivers. Lough and stillwater aficionados have good access to many waters full of brown and rainbow trout.
The diverse scenery and fishing challenges, the special welcome this region is famous for and the wonderful landscapes, will make your Northeast fishing expedition memorable. Go wild!
Fore more information on angling in Northern Ireland, including details regarding permits/licences please visit the DCAL Angling.