Martin Toal, Secretary of Newry and District Angling Association, chatted to Down News recently about the angling club nestled in the drumlins of South Down.
He said: ” We have around a hundred members mostly aged over 30 and a few juniors who enjoy fishing for rainbow and brown trout and the odd salmon and sea trout. We are keen to expand our membership too at the moment.
“The 12-acre McCourt’s Lake is fairly well stocked by our members and we have almost 18 miles of fishing rights up to Rathfriland. We adhere to the game fishing season as we stock brown trout so the season ends on 1 October.
“Our members were delighted that angling opened up again on the 18 May after being locked down since March due to the Covid-19 epidemic. The lake is for members but you can buy a day ticket. Fishing is off the bank with the fly, worm and spinner. No maggots or sweetcorn are allowed. The lake is quite accessible for anglers.
Day Tickets Available
“Day tickets permit for the lake and Clanrye River can be bought from MCA Boats in Newry and Trainor Brothers, Poyntspass. But you will need a licence from the Loughs Agency too. Over the years, we have found the Loughs Agency very helpful in helping us manage the fisheries.
“Giving access to tourists and visitors also helps to boost business in our local shops and eateries.
“We also have a stretch of the Clanrye River where there are some salmon and brown trout. It is basically a spate river in the lower reaches like many of the South Down rivers in that the fish run up it when it is flooding.
“There is a modest run of sea trout in the Clanrye River from June onwards and fish of a few pounds are often caught, again depending on a run of water.
“Anglers fish the river stretch with dry and wet flies depending on the water conditions. There is no one pattern that is better than the other. Everyone has their own favourites. If you looked at the angler’s fly boxes they would all be very different.
“Many anglers tie their own flies too. As the soil is quite loamy on the drumlins where the Clanrye river runs through, the river tends to cloud up a bit when it rains and starts to run. Green colours in flies seem to do well quite often.”
Club Hatchery Works Well For Restocking
And the club has its own hatchery with a system of large tanks where it grows ‘spricks’ (small trout) up to two inches for releasing into the lake and the Clanrye River. ” Martin explained: “There is a very high mortality rate when we put them into the fisheries and we would release up to ten thousand at a time.
“The cormorants do the most damage and we are always keeping an eye out for this. We live not that for from the coast so they are a constant threat to our fisheries, especially when the weather changes for the worse and the cormorants come inland.
“McCourt’s Lake is due to be stocked again soon which we do around three times a year so we will have to keep an eye open for predators.”
Club Grateful For All Help and Assistance
Martin explained that the club did get assistance from Newry Mourne and Down District Council and the the Loughs Agency helped them put down gravel to improve the road surface and build some stiles to help anglers clamber over fences safely.
Check the Loughs Agency video for the Clanrye River.
“At McCourts Lake we have a car park too. It is an accessible venue especially for the more elderly members. There is always an good social atmosphere with our members and that makes a day out angling all the more worthwhile.
“We encourage catch and release and there is a bag limit too if an angler needs to take a fish home for his supper.
“There is a respectable run of salmon in the Clanrye River. They tend to make two runs a year. We keep an eye on it as it is a precious resource. Fish of 7-10lbs have been landed.
“The Loughs Agency has a fish counter located in Newry and we have a fairly good idea what the stock level is going to be in a season.”
Check out the Newry and District Angling Association on their Facebook Page.
There is still six weeks left this season to cast a line on the Clanrye River or McCourts Lake! Why not give it a go ?