THIS week marks the first column in my weekly series for The Portadown Times:
“The past week or so has seen the country’s game anglers blowing off the cobwebs and straightening their lines.
The first of March heralded the commencement of the trout season on most of our rivers and lakes. Reports so far suggest the trout in fine fettle after the relatively mild winter.
On the local rivers, the Cusher in Tandragee has been the place to be, with plenty of trout in the 8-to-12 inch bracket reported.
I personally managed to catch 15 over a few hours on the opening day of the season in the company of Irish Angler magazine’s Mike Shanks. The bulk of these came to weighted nymphs fished straight through on a French leader.
The Bann at Lenaderg is also yielding good quantities of wild trout, not least Jason Russell’s 15-inch beauty taken while Czech nymphing. Small hatches of large dark olives around midday have been reported from both rivers so dryfly sport shouldn’t be far away.
Meanwhile, the Iveagh Angling Club’s stretch of the River Lagan has also had an excellent start to the new season - with a mixture of wild and over-wintered fish recorded, again mainly to weighted nymphs fished straight through or under a dryfly.
Stuart McMurran and Neil McMullen both reported catches into the 20s up to around 13 inches, again mainly to olive and hare’s ear nymphs. Gary Houston also had three fish, all around the 13-inch mark.
The Dromore Angling Club stretch of the Lagan has also been producing the goods for members. Andrew Sloan and Mark Sloan have reported catching plenty of well-made wild trout to 14 inches employing the Duo method as well as traditional wetfly tactics.
Day Tickets are available from Jackie McCracken’s newsagents in Dromore.
Saturday marked the start of action for the competition fraternity, with the Banbridge anglers holding an event on Corbet Lough.
Trevor Jones was first out of the trap this year and won the Hugh Savage Cup (gaining three valuable points towards the Angler of the Year prize) with a fine fish of over three pounds in weight. Michael McMullen was second and Neil Cardwell third.
Dromore Angling Club’s first competition of the year will take place tomorrow (Saturday) on the River Lagan.
For those keen to represent Ireland in trout fly-fishing, ITFFA Provincial and National competition dates have been released as: Ulster Boat (April 21, Lough Melvin); Ulster River (April 28, Annalee); National Boat (May 26, Lough Conn); Youth Qualifier (April 28, Lough Owel).
A competition will also take place on April 29 on Lough Owel, with the first prize a 19-foot angler’s fancy boat. The entry fee is 50 euro and anglers can select a boat partner, with proceeds in aid of the Irish Youth team.
Carrickfergus’ Woodford Fly Fishery recently hosted a fund-raiser for the Irish Ladies ahead of a visit to Scotland in the Home Nations.
Fishing got off to a good start, with most falling for buzzers and nymphs fished on a floating line. Top spot went to 19-year-old Harry McAteer junior with 10 fish - followed by Mel Campbell (nine fish) and Jonny Hoad (seven fish).
It generated over £600 between the fishing and the ballot.
For the salmon fanatics out there I am afraid you will have to wait another month until the Foyle system opens on the first of April.
However, if you cannot wait that long and don’t mind the journey, Ian Powell at Blackwater Lodge reports five spring salmon for February and already the first two have been caught in March.
Shane Kinsella caught the largest this year so far on Saturday at 12 pounds and fresh run, while Tom Donovan had a seven-pounder on Sunday on the upper river at Bridgetown Abbey.
For any budding anglers out there, most of the clubs mentioned are open for members, especially juveniles.
For anyone who would like to learn new methods, read the water and spend a day on the river under the watchful tutelage of a four-time Ulster and two-time National river champion then check out www.brflyfishing.co.uk.”