1st October 2005
The final two weeks of fishing at the castle proved to be the best fishing of the season. High water levels and the proximity to the spawning season meant that the resident salmon became more active and territorial. Thirteen fish were landed in total for the two weeks, ten of which were returned. As is normally the case, larger fish are always taken at the latter end of the season and 2005 was no different. Philip McDowell, following in his father’s successes of 2004, landed the largest fish of the season on the lawn under the hotel on 24th, a fine 11.5lb cock, which he duly released. Paddy Corcoran, a long time regular at Ballynahinch had a fruitful few days fishing, catching, and releasing, three fish up to 10lbs weight. The traditional last day fish out of the club members and guides took place on 30th September. Two fish were taken with the largest being taken by local angler Dr John Casey. Beat 6 and Sná Beg were the top beats for the period whilst shrimp patterns were the best flies.
Prospects for next year are still looking very good with Lough Inagh having a fantastic summer’s sea trout fishing. There are no salmon being farmed in the bay so we should have great salmon and sea trout fishing. For bookings, please contact the hotel; details at the top of the page.
17th September 2005
A small drop of water during the week meant that the river was freshened up. Local guide Kevin Keaney landed a fine 5.5lb grilse from Ranji's Rock on Beat 6 on Tuesday. A strong gale force wind meant created good fishing conditions and he also managed to lose one earlier on. Sufficient water is in the system for fresh fish to run and small numbers of fresh fish have been seen in the lower beats. It is still encouraging to know that fresh fish are still running at the latter end of the season.
12th September 2005
Low water continued throughout the month of July and right up until the 14th August. The river got progressively lower and any fish that were in the river became more lethargic as the water temperature rose considerably. Temperatures of up to 21 degress were recorded in the early days of August.
When the rain finally did arrive, great action was had for 2 weeks. At one stage fourteen salmon were landed in a ten day period. In one morning alone four salmon were taken before lunch. Stephen Cullinane, Richard Sheehan Jnr., Robert Jackson and his brother David all took fish. Peggy McManus also landed her first Ballynahinch Salmon. Water levels and fishing conditions from 14th August for the following 2 weeks were almost perfect. Since then, however, a lack of rain has meant that fishing has been very poor and a salmon taken by local angler Eamon Mannion on 28th August was the last salmon landed. Numerous fish have been risen and a few have been lost but the lack of any decent flow has meant that the fish are not in a taking mood. It is encouranging to see that over 60% of this season's catch has been returned.
The sea trout fishing was also hit badly by the low water levels, and fishing effort was down on account of evening midge attacks! The system does, however, have a good stock of fish and Lough Inagh has been fishing very well all summer for sea trout.
16th July 2005
Salmon fishing has continued to be very poor at Ballynahinch, in line with the rest of the country. To date, the drift nets have caught over one third less salmon this year than last year indicating a very poor return of fish to the coast. Only two salmon were landed in since the last report. The first of these was taken by local guide, Cyril Biggins, from the run in Beat 1. He also lost another fine fish in the same day. Miles McDowell, one of our regular club members, managed not to leave empty handed and landed a small 4lb grilse from the newly constructed pier on Ranji's Rock. The salmon was micro tagged from another river, so it will be interesting to see from where it originated. Sea trout are still arriving into the system in healthy numbers, however the warm water temperatures (up to 20 degrees) have meant that both salmon and trout fishing have been very slow. A couple of larger sea trout in the 2lb bracket were landed in the last few weeks.
Construction on the fish counter is ongoing and the crump weirs were added last week. Work will continue throughout the summer and we are looking forward to counting our spring fish in 2006. The photo of the counter was taken on 14th July. A few late cancellations have meant that beats have become available for the last few weeks in July. Ring the hotel for further details.
30th June 2005
On 28th June the first grilse of 2005 was landed. Jim Brownhill from the USA (pictured on the right) was the captor of this fine fish from Stanley’s Run on Beat 7. Unfortunately the grilse run has yet to fully materialise. By this stage it is normal to have a good stock of salmon in the river. We are suffering, like most of the rivers on the west coast, as having an extremely late run or else a very poor year. The drift nets at sea are also suffering from very poor catches.
On a brighter note the finnock sea trout fishing has been superb with a big run of fish into the system on the spring tide last week. Catches of up to 30 fish per day have been landed. The fish are still averaging around 3/4lb, however they are providing great sport for anglers during the day and into the dark hours. Water levels are low, however we are expecting rain this weekend, which should put the river in good condition.
18th June 2005
In recent years the grilse have been late arriving to the Irish coast and this year is no different. Only in the last few days has a real sign of a good run of fresh grilse been seen in Ballynahinch. Fishing effort is increasing and in the next few days I am expecting the first grilse to be landed. Water levels are low, which favours us at this time of year as it slows down the passage of fish through the system giving them more time in the Castle Stretch.
Our expectations of a good sea trout year are starting to materialise. A small run of plump finnock has entered the system in the past week, which is keeping anglers entertained. The average size seems to be around the 3/4 lb mark and a few have been caught around the pound mark. There is no lice damage on any of these fish and this is directly related to the absence of the salmon farm in the bay.
This week we finished construction of a new pier on Ranji’s rock on Beat 6. The pier is now parallel to the river rather than perpendicular to it. The pier is 65 feet long and doubles the length of fishing from the island.
Work has begun on a fish counter between beats 3 and 4, however, construction has been slow on account of high water levels. We hope to have the project finished during the summer of 2005 and ready to count fish in 2006. It will be an invaluable management tool in understanding so much more about the salmon at Ballynahinch.