Dark clouds are still hovering over Brantry Lake in County Tyrone

Pauric Patton with his 7lb fish from the Drowes Upper Mill last Friday.
Pauric Patton with his 7lb fish from the Drowes Upper Mill last Friday.

It’s a funny old world. There are the Six Mile Water anglers full of praise for the great work done on the river by the SMW Trust. And rightly so. But over in Tyrone, anglers are wondering what caused the mess on their beloved Brantry Lake and if it will ever be the same again

Even as recently as a few years ago, Brantry was a shining jewel in the crown of the DCAL trout angling estate. But not now. Trout fishing has been disappointing there for some time and what might be the coup de grace was feared with the appearance in recent weeks of blue/green algae.

As well, some anglers fear that there may not be anything like the same numbers of good trout in the lake as when Brantry was in its heyday. I have heard some murmurs that there may now be more coarse fish like roach and perch than brownies in the lake.

My old friend Dungannon angler, Tommy Conlon, reminded me the other day that after the massive fish kill last year in Brantry, DCAL commissioned an inquiry into the possible consequences of the kill, Apparently DCAL would now wish to meet Tommy and other anglers to review the survey’s findings.

Tommy indicated that the results of the survey could have major significance for the future of trout fishing on Brantry lake.

He said the appearance of the algae on the lake at this time of year could cause more problems for DCAL and the men and women who once enjoyed their fishing on Brantry.

At the time of writing no date had been agreed for the time or place of meeting between DCAL and the anglers but I hope to have a report on it when it happens.

(Continued from last week)

An outline of how to achieve public membership of the Six Mile Water Trust has been agreed and its implementation will be undertaken during the coming year.

The Trust says: “The Six Mile Water and its immediate environs can only be improved by all the various interest groups working together for the common good of the river. The Trust is thankful for the valuable contributions that have been made in this regard and the major river habitat improvement project at Templepatrick, with the assistance of DCAL, NIEA, Lagan Ferrovial Costain and a local farmer, is a very good example of what can be achieved when the various interests work well together.

“Funding of the Trust is reasonably stable and it is pleasing that during the past year a number of funding applications for various projects were successful and these include bird boxes at Moylinny and training for invasive weed control.

“The web page revamping is underway and should be completed shortly. A Facebook page has yet to be set up and little progress was made with establishing an events programme.

“Without doubt one of the big success stories has been the level of influence the Trust has been able to exert to bring about improvements to the A8 Dual carriageway project project. While there was a very difficult beginning, which included a meeting with the Minister, we have arrived at a situation of a helpful and motivated contractor in the form of Lagan Ferovial Costain who learned at a fast rate what was required, put good advice into practice and is now writing up best practice on how to undertake this type of work elsewhere. The company also contributed many thousands of pounds worth of work in the construction of major improvements to the river’s habitat near Templepatrick.

“The Ballyclare West bypass project has gone quiet for now but the Trust feels that it is only a matter of time until it is resurrected. The Trust will aim to be to the fore in helping to ensure that this project is undertaken to a high standard.

“The Trust continues to have serious misgivings about the Parkgate quarry project even though it has received planning permission. Local MLA’s continue to be active on this scheme and it is hoped the Trust will be involved further.

“The Trust feels that it has made an impact on a series of decisions that have been made in relation to Lough Neagh and especially the preparation of a fisheries management plan for the lough. The Trust will continue to be involved if and when the plan is available for consultation. It is also good to see that DCAL has been very active in endeavouring to bring about a control of illegal fishing on Lough Neagh.

“While the success of the dollaghan during the year has been highlighted, a major concern continues to be that of the salmon. During the year the Trust both directly and indirectly was involved in developing projects to improve habitat with the Antrim and District Angling Association being able to draw down funds from the NIEA for the construction in October 2013 of a major habitat improvement scheme at Templepatrick and the Ballynure Anglers continuing to pursue their proposed project at Ballyclare. A major issue re possible drainage implications of this latter has been resolved.

“The Trust has also been able to obtain funds via the Challenge Fund to train personnel in the control of invasive species along the river system.

“Because of very damaging drainage work that was carried out on large portions of the main stem of the Six Mile Water four decades ago, much of the river is canal like with smooth bases. Habitat along the river and within these areas is poor. Coupled with this is the absence of riverside fencing to provide cover for fish and other wildlife and fish. The Trust has raised this with various government departments and also written to ministers in government re this dilemma but, to date, little progress has been made. The Trust feels very strongly that conflicts very seriously with the Water Framework Directive and other legislation.

“Applications for hydro electric power schemes continue on the Six Mile Water much to the concern of the Trust. The Trust is extremely grateful to the Ulster Angling Federation and in particular it’s Chairman who continues to pursue this issue with Government departments. The primary concerns in relation to hydro are the design of the structures which may hinder fish passage, fish damage and the lack of inspection of the facilities when in place.

“The European Water Framework Directive has major implications for the Six Mile Water river system and to date has helped to bring about some improvement. NIEA, as required by the legislation, has produced a draft River Basin Plan to the year 2027 and is now open to consultation. The Trust will make a response accordingly.

“The biodiversity strategy for Northern Ireland to 2020 will also have an impact on the work of the Trust. The document is also at consultation stage and the Trust will be respond to the draft strategy.

“Use of the Six Mile Water for public enjoyment has increased greatly over the past few decades due largely to the actions of the two controlling councils. The amalgamation of both councils in 2014 created an opportunity for an increasing focus on the river and the Trust is keen that the public access issue will be fully taken on board with a view to maximising its potential as an outstanding river valley in the province.” (To be continued)

Water levels on the Drowes dropped following the good weather and fishing has been steadier in the past week. Pauric Patton had a 7lb fish on a green bodied Willie Gunn from the Upper Mill Pool and Dermot McNeice had an 11lb 8 oz fish on prawn from the Meadow, A fish of around 7lb was taken on prawn from the Blackwater and Michael McLoughlin had one of 7lb on Flying C from Tinkers.

Brian McEvoy had an 8lb fish on a three inch yellow belly from the Mill Pool and Paul Mc Causland had another of 8lb on worm from the Upper Mill Pool. Paddy Doherty had one of 8lb on black Flying C from Tinkers and Paul McLeod had one of 12lb on prawn from the Money Hole.

Paul Magowan had two fish on prawn in three casts from the Blackwater on his first day of the season. He returned a 6lb fish and two casts later landed a 13 pounder. Later in the day Paul and his father each lost a fish at the Money Hole.

Julian Ciconte had one of 11lb fish on Flying C from the High Bank and Trevor Doherty had an 8lb fish from the Cascades. A fish of about 9lb was taken at the Money Hole on prawn. 

At Craigmore Robert Cairns had 15 fish to 9lb on olive lures and Sandy Dorien had 15 to 8lb on the weed. Davy Couples had 12 to 5lb on yellow lures and red buzzers.

Other catches were: Anthony McCormack,10 to 6lb; Ryan McAuley, 11 to 6lb; Derek Laird, 12 to 5lb; Billy Todd, 14; Adrian Tweed,15; John Carson, 11 to 4lb 10 oz; Jim Magill, 13; James Harper, 13; Wesley Gregg, 14 to 5lb; Jim Simpson, eight; Tommy Wharry, 11; Alan Wallace, nine to 8lb; Keith Henry,13; Alan Robinson, eight; Martin Foster, 10; J Gillan, 12; Albert Skeet, five; Christine, five; Tom Smith, 10; Jason Ogilby, five; Thomas Owens, 4lb; Joe Millar, 7lb.

At Blackwater Lodge three springers were caught on St Patrick’s Day.

Colm Dooley, Mallow, had two in three casts and Stephen O’Riordan, Limerick, had one of 6lb on spinner at the tail of the Bridge Pool on Ballyhooly on the upper river.