Trust has great plans for the River Lagan

It is all change on the River Lagan but the situation has become very serious on Lough Brantry in Co Tyrone.

Trevor Ogborn, secretary of the Lagan River Trust has written to DCAL informing it that the Trust has leased the full and exclusive rights (river bed, soil, banks, water and fishing) to the Lagan and tributaries and other watercourses, from Derriaghy to Flatfield held by the former Wallace Estate from the proven legal title holder.

The lease, with some exceptions, includes part of Ravarnet River, Derriaghy stream, and some other water bodies. The lease covers 60,000 acres.

The Trust will, as outlined in the lease, exclusively control and manage the bed, soil, banks and associated lands relating to the River Lagan and all other waterways within the estate on behalf of the Grantor.

It has asked that the Minister should inform all relevant civil servants, and instruct them to respect the Trust’s rights, and to consult with it on any works which may impact on the river.

The Trust said: “We hope to work in partnership, and with the support of your Department, in our continuing efforts to improve and enhance the environment, water quality and habitat in the Lagan catchment area for the benefit and future enjoyment of the general public.

“Through a series of partnership projects, the Trust aims to raise the profile of problems such as habitat degradation, poor water quality and diffuse pollution, barriers to fish migration, poor access, and find ways to remedy them. We believe the river to be a potentially valuable resource to the community (leisure, environment, education, health, economy) which has been (and is currently) sacrificed.”

Last week’s article gave a clear hint that something had gone badly wrong in Co Tyrone. Well, according to veteran journalist Tommy Conlon what went wrong was that Brantry lough had become a veritable environmental time bomb.

Like all good journalists Tommy had done his very best to get the facts into the public arena. But through no fault of his, last week’s article had gone off to Farming Life before I had all the gory details.

In a letter to me Tommy wrote: “After the massive brown trout kill in Brantry last year, questions were asked about whether Brantry would ever become a great trout fishing lough again. But the answer seemed to be ‘No’.

“While I hate to say that, the facts speak for themselves. The reason for the massive kill of brown trout last year was that the lough was overstocked with perch and oxygen levels had dropped so low that farm trout could not survive. In my opinion that is why 8,000 brown trout perished and Brantry was not stocked for the rest of the year. No wonder anglers deserted their once favourite lough.

“This year the lough was stocked before it opened in March. But because of the massive head of coarse fish, the brown trout were more interested in roach fry than in anglers’ flies and lures. I understand that no trout were stocked over the summer months because of the low oxygen levels in the lough.

“I saw this in July when Fisheries used fish finders on the lough. The numbers of roach and perch showing up were staggering. I met an angler from the Moy who told that that when he was snorkeling in Brantry he was shocked by the vast numbers of roach and perch in the lough.

“No more trout were stocked in Brantry until October 1. I visited Brantry that evening and watched dozens of trout gasping for oxygen in a distressed state. Trout were being caught by anglers and the reason became clear when a highly respected angler told me that the trout were so distressed they were grabbing at anything that moved in the water.

“Up to Monday (Oct 5) trout were still in a distressed state. But what happened next left me in no doubt that there could be more problems in Brantry than the shortage of oxygen. I walked out on to the end of the slipway when a trout of more than 1lb appeared. It was covered from head to tail with big black and white spots. Other anglers said to me: ‘that fish is diseased.’

“The trout was not one that had been stocked two weeks earlier because it would not have survived the journey from there in tanks. Anglers will be asking if there are more diseased trout in Brantry. My opinion is that fish in Brantry need to be tested to see if there are any infections in the lough. I believe that over populations of fish can lead to infections and diseases.”

Old rivalries could be resumed in Newry next weekend when anglers from the four home countries go rod to rod in the home international coarse fishing championship at Newry canal on Friday and Saturday.

Fishing will be from the new stretch of the canal which was developed by Newry, Mourne and Down District Council.

It could be complicated slightly by the fact that the Irish team could include a number of English anglers who qualify under the five-year rule which allows anglers who have been resident in one country for five years or more, to fish for their adopted country.

Clearly there will be much to talk about at the second Northern Ireland Angling Conference on Saturday, November 14 at Craigavon Civic Centre.

Tickets cost £10 and can be purchased from the following website: 

Every angling club which attends this year’s conference will receive a copy of the British Disabled Angling Association “Access to Angling: best practice guidance”. The guide is valued at £25.

Countryside Alliance Ireland has asked shooters to get their applications for firearms certificate renewal in to the PSNI’s Firearms and Explosive Branch as soon as possible. Changes could see it become legal for children aged 12 to use a shotgun particularly those hoping to become involved in clay pigeon shooting. The price of five-year renewals will go up to £90.

At Craigmore fishing seemed to get harder Saturday and Sunday possibly because of the shift in wind to the east, and it was more the case of size not quantity with bloodworm and shuttlecocks the two most successful flies. Jonny McNeil had 52 trout on bloodworm and the weed fly on a few visits on bloodworm and the weed fly. One fish was 7lb and 15 at 5lb. Jim Magill had 11 to 5lb damsels and cdcs. Andy McClelland had 22 to 6lb on two visits.

Other catches were: Michael Currie, 28 to 5lb 10oz; Uel Stewart 11 to 5lb; Sandy Dorian, 14 to 8lb;  Colin Halliday, 10; James Boyle, 17 to 8lb; Billy Todd, nine to 5lb; John McGuire 15,to 5lb; Ian Jones, 12 to 6lb; Mark Simpson, 13; Gary Conaughty, 8lb; Robin Cullen, two; Billy Magill, nine; Ricky Stewart,4lb 10oz. Jenny Casey, two to 6lb; William Kinnard, two at 6lb; Shaun McPeake,5lb; Peter Clarke. 5lb;  Wilbert Gracey, 5lb; Jackie Johnson, two to 6lb 7oz; Brian McNeill, two to 6lb; Tommy Wharry, two to 5lb; James Floyd, 8lb; Jeff Davidson, 6lb; John Hughes, two to 5lb; Bobby Rooney, three to 5lb 8oz; Mark Jones, two at 7lb; Danial Paton, two at 6lb; Adrian Matthews,7lb; Jim MacErlean, 6Lb; Wayne Dick, two at 6lb; Neil Wilson, four at 5lb and one at 6lb,Tony Cooper, 5lb 10 oz.

Claire says Craigmore is thinking of having its Christmas party in the Ramble Inn on Saturday, 12 December 12. There will be a four course meal and a dance (with the Indians). Admission will be £29.95 per head. Claire needs numbers ASAP. If you’re interested let her know. Full ticket price will have to be paid on booking.

Cashel is now taking bookings for the annual competition which will be held next Saturday. Inquiries to Marlene at 17 Birren Road, Dungiven, BT47 4SH, Tel: Dungiven 028777 42159/07999013250,,