Whenever anyone buys a Foyle and Carlingford rod licence to fish for salmon and sea trout they are legally obliged to let Loughs Agency know if they have caught fish and how many times they went fishing.
This is really important information because it helps Loughs Agency understand how many fish were caught, taken or released back to the river and how much time anglers put into catching those fish. It’s a great indication of how well stocks are doing and if action is needed should catches take a turn for the worst.
In 2014, there were 9,123 licences purchased but only 14% of anglers made their rod catch returns. The Loughs Agency want to encourage as many anglers as possible to make their annual return as they use the data to assess the strength of fish runs in the system and for long term trend monitoring. They also use it to plan future developments such as improved access, stiles, etc.
Art Niven, Freshwater Biologist at Loughs Agency said: “Angling catch returns are used globally as a fishery management tool. A lot of anglers are not aware that they must make a return within 21 days of the end of the season. Even if they never actually went fishing or didn’t catch anything and have a nil return to make. The information is vitally important in developing sustainable fishery management policy for key species like Salmon and Trout.”
Based on anglers catch returns in 2014, in the River Faughan, 34% of Salmon caught were released. In the River Mourne 38% were released, 44% in the River Strule and 79% in the River Derg.
Local angler John McLaughlin from Bridge, Guns and Tackle fishes the River Finn and understands the importance of making his return. “The angling returns are very important to give the Loughs Agency a bigger picture of how healthy the stocks are. All anglers should make their annual return, even if they never got out,” he added.
Ivan Grieves, Treasurer of Omagh Anglers said: “Omagh Angling Association endorse the Loughs Agency’s views of the importance of making a catch return and we encourage all our members to make their return.”
Lionel Knobbs, Angler Development Manager said: “We are also interested in returns from anglers who fished for coarse fish. The data is important to identify where coarse fish are being caught, species, sizes as well as monitoring trends such as increase or decreases in the number of people coarse fishing.”
To make your return, complete the table at the bottom of the original licence you purchased and return it, with any unused tags using the postage paid envelope given at point of purchase, or, drop it into one of the offices at Prehen or Carlingford Village. Anglers must make their returns on or before Thursday 21st January 2016. More information can be found on the website www.loughs-agency.org.