Comber anglers suffer double pollution blow

Ronan Elliott pictured at the Combined Canine Club's Raceday with his mum Rachael, Irene Titterington (Great Game Fairs of Ireland) and Ronan's dad Alan and Maurice McDowell (Combined Canine Clubs)
Ronan Elliott pictured at the Combined Canine Club's Raceday with his mum Rachael, Irene Titterington (Great Game Fairs of Ireland) and Ronan's dad Alan and Maurice McDowell (Combined Canine Clubs)

Comber anglers have suffered renewed losses after another serious pollution incident in the Enler River.

This disaster comes just as the river was recovering after being polluted a couple of years ago.

Club members had worked hard to restore fish stocks and are angry at the latest setback. Ian Kittle said they were first made aware of the fish kill on Friday evening when dead fish were seen in the lower section of the river below the new road bridge on the Comber by-pass. Club officers were then made aware of big numbers of dead fish further upstream above and below the Kennel Bridge.

Ian Kittle and David Millar of NIEA walked the river and made a rough count of dead fish and it was in the region of between 200 - 300 from juvenile fish about two inches long to a 6lb sea trout.

Ian said he believed two separate incidents had occurred at the same time. His reason for thinking that there had been two incidents was that there were dead fish from the Belfast Road down to the weir at Dunsy way. There are live fish above and below these areas with no dead fish showing and there were dead fish downstream of the sewage treatment works at Cherryvalley.

Meanwhile, the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development has written to the RSPB asking for its comments on a request by Otterburn Trout Farm near Randalstown that its fish culture licence be amended to include brown trout and salmon. In a letter to Michelle Hill, the consultation officer for the RSPB, Collette Connor of DARD said: “I am writing to inform that Mr Lee Beverland, Otterburn Trout Farm, 31 Caddy Road, Randalstown, has applied to the department to amend the fish culture licence for Otterburn Trout Farm to add brown trout and Atlantic salmon to the species authorised for cultivation.”

Mr Beverland intends to cultivate brown and rainbow trout in an existing flow through pond system (which is currently being refurbished) while salmon ova will be ongrown to the smolt stage in a hatchery. Total annual production is estimated at 200 tonnes and will be limited by the conditions of the existing effluent discharge consent granted under the provisions of the Water Order (Northern Ireland) 2009.

There is something of a mystery as to how anglers could be catching salmon smolts in the landlocked Altnahinch dam in Loughgiel, controlled by DCAL.

When the dam was being developed around 40 years ago, any salmon in the dam were removed and apparently there is no fish pass allowing salmon to run up from the River Bush to the dam.

I tried to contact DCAL about the situation at Altnahinch but, at the time of writing, I still had not got a reply.

The Combined Canine Club of Ireland’s dog show and raceday on Sunday saw a large crowd of dog handlers and their families brave monsoon conditions to raise money for young Ronan Elliott who suffers from cerebral palsy.

The group of lurcher and terrier enthusiasts held the event near Ballynahinch on ground provided free of charge by the landowners and were able to present all of the proceeds of £800 to help buy a mobility tricycle for the young boy.

Ronan’s mother Rachael, who travelled from their Randalstown home to join in the fun, was delighted with the kindness which had been shown.

She said: “It has been amazing to see how so many people have given up their time to organise this event for Ronan. The money raised will help greatly in purchasing a mobility tricycle which will make such a difference in his life. Words cannot express how grateful we are for the generosity of so many doggie folk who have rallied to Ronan’s cause. He has had a great time today, meeting so many people and of course their dogs and is really looking forward now to getting the tricycle.”

Six year old Ronan was born with Cerebral Palsy which makes it difficult to do physical things like other children.

Tuesday of this week was the second best day of the season for Blackwater Lodge rods as the river fined off nicely.

Ten grilse were caught including one sea-liced fish on the lower river and eight on the upper river. All but two fell to fly.

Johnnie Murphy and Fergus Glynn had a great day landing four – one from Kilmurry and three from Ballyhooly. A total of 113 fish were caught by Lodge rods in July so far for 201 rod days – an average of 0.6 fish/rod day - 233 for the season to date.

Earlier, Northern Ireland angler Gavin Wishart caught and released a 12lb salmon at the Lug pool on Lower Kilmurry. Four days later four grilse were caught on fly at the lower river.

Myles Kelly of Irish Angling said the broken weather was welcomed by many salmon anglers who saw more grilse running after the rains. Fisheries on the Munster Blackwater have been reporting catches of one or two fish a day for the last week. Jack Hughes had an 18lb salmon on the Fortwilliam fishery.

Bandon Angling Association said it had the best summer fishing conditions for some years. The Erriff is enjoying a good run of fish with 59 salmon caught during the week. For the second consecutive week, the Moy system produced over 600 salmon.

The Drowes was low for most of the previous week but the rain brought the water up and 20 salmon for the week were taken.

On Lough Sheelin 100 trout to 8lb were caught by anglers during the week as the sedge fishing got into full swing. Corrib and Mask, Arrow and Melvin all fished well.

At Craigmore the unsettled weather made fishing difficult and, unfortunately caenis made an appearance again.

Sandy Dorian fished two days and landed 26 trout to 9lb on Thursday and 17 to 6lb 10oz on Saturday. Pawal Sinicia had 19 to 9lb on buzzers and Kenny Clarke had 13 to 6lb 4oz.

Other catches were: Davy Couples, 12; David Moore, 17 to 9lb; Peter Clarke, 10 to 6lb 9oz; Andy McClelland, 30 to 6lb; William Kinnaird, 16; David North,17 to 6lb; Joe and Mark Williams, 15 and 12 to 7lb respectively; Harry Moffat, 13; Billy Hazlett, 15 to 5lb;  Uel Stewart, 18 to7lb; Matthew Laffin, 10 to 7lb; Edgar Eden, 10 to 8lb; James Harper, 13; Michael Wakeland, 12 to 5lb 10oz;  David Walker, 10;

Robert Morrison two to 6lb; John Dixon, two at 5lb; Geordie Sloan, two to 5lb; Andrew Richards, 4lb;, Colin Maguigan, five at 4lb 8oz; Ciaran Mellon, 6; Wilbert Gracey, 4lb; Jim Magill, two to 7lb; Robert Paul, two to 8lb;, Billy Todd, 5lb 10 oz; E McNeill, 6lb; D Laughlin, two at 4lb;. James McClean, 4lb 10 oz; Ed Good, two to 6lb; Tommy Clulow,6lb; Harry Graham, two to 5lb; John Bailey, two to 9lb; Maurice Anderson, 9lb; Rab Wilson, three to 7lb; Billy Air, 5lb 10 oz; Laurence Long, 6lb.