Fishing News 2011
1st October 2011
Ballynahinch has just completed one of its most successful fishing seasons in many years. The total catch of over 110 fish to the fly on the Castle Stretch was very respectable whilst the total catch of approximately 350 fly caught salmon for whole catchment is the best in many many years. September, as expected, came in with a solid 40 fish with 35 being returned.
A summer, frequented by numerous floods and unseasonably windy days, made for some fantastic salmon fishing leaving very few blank days in the fishing register at the hotel.
The largest fish of the season, a fresh springer of 14.25lbs fell to regular angler, Ann Corcoran with Tom McManus coming a very close second. Top rods for the year were Tom McManus and Stephen Cullinane. There was a great deal more multi sea winter fish in the system this season compared with other years and it would seem that this trend was replicated throughout the country.
Counter figures would appear to be slightly down on last year’s record return; however, they would appear to be in line with the five year trend. The numbers of large sea trout increased year on year, however, the finnock numbers continue to struggle, most likely due to low numbers of spawning fish over the past few years. We are confident that sea trout numbers are still going in the right direction.
The fish-out competition on the last day of the season proved to be a great success once again with five fish landed and returned safely to spawn. The top prize was shared by local guides, Frank Flaherty and Michael Van Mourick who each returned 12lb fish on the day.
Regular angler, Stephen Cullinane, landed the most magnificent trout on the fly whilst fishing on the Lower Sna Beg beat on 16th September. The fish, weighing in at 15lbs 5oz, was the largest trout ever landed (as far as we are aware) on the Ballynahinch System in living memory. We are currently unsure if this fish had spent any time feeding at sea, or on other trout in the freshwater, however, when the scales are examined over the winter it should shed more light on the issue. The fish is currently with the taxidermist and will be on display in the Fisherman’s Pub at the hotel from next season.
29th August 2011
The fishing at Ballynahinch over the past few weeks has been fantastic with above-average numbers of fish being taken throughout the Castle Stretch. If we have a good September with favourable fishing conditions, there is no reason why we will not have our best season in over 20 years. Along with Lough Inagh Fishery, due to have its best season for salmon ever, there is no question that the drift net ban some 4 years ago is having a positive impact on the stocks at Ballynahinch. This bodes very well for future years.
There has been consistent high water for the past few weeks which has helped to ensure that fish are spread throughout the river. Sna Beg is fishing fabulously this year, particularly above the footbridge, as well as Beats 1, 4 and 6. The seal barriers, attached to the old eel traps on Beat 7 have insured that there is no seal predation on the lower beats this year. There is no question that our ‘marine friends’ had an impact last season by ‘chasing’ resident fish from Beats 4-6, during their nocturnal visits!
Gianni Gamondi, after a two year absence in fishing book, had a great week fishing at the hotel taking 2 fish up to 10.5lbs as well as losing a fresh fish of 15lbs from Beat 1, which incidentally jumped back off the grass as Gianni tried to ‘tail’ it! All his success was on a hitched Green Butt skating across the faster water. Daniel Berman had a fabulous day taking his first 3 salmon ever from Sna Beg and Beat 1.
Regulars, Stephen Cullinane and Ann Corcoran, have done well in the past couple of weeks taking 4 and 2 salmon respectively. Toby Strauss also managed to break his ‘salmon drought’ last Tuesday as he released a fine 4lb grilse from Beat 4. Henrietta Knight landed her first Ballynahinch salmon on Lower Sna Beg on a stoat’s tail, ably assisted by Cyril whilst Conor Killeen and Malachy O’Callaghan also took fish from Beat 4.
The catch of the period certainly went to local guide, Jonathan Broderick, who took a fabulous 11lb fresh salmon from the neck of Beat 6 last Thursday on a Holo Cascade. This was Jonathan’s largest salmon in his short angling career to date.
With unsettled weather due to return on Thursday, the great year at Ballynahinch looks set to continue throughout the month of September.
9th August 2011
Following two weeks of dry weather with very little rain (and even less sunshine!) the large numbers of resident grilse in the river became very dogged and difficult to catch. In a two week period only a handful of fish have been taken, predominantly from the lower beats. During this time an inordinate amount of salmon have backed up in the lower river, tormenting the anglers with some fantastic acrobatic skills!
A small amount of rain last weekend brought the river level up by only a few inches. The huge numbers of fish in the beats below the counter have, strangely, not moved upstream following the rain. This is possibly because the water has yet to reach a threshold level, or else the fish have ‘imprinted’ in the lower beats and will remain there until later in the year. We hope that the latter is the case as it means that the fishing will be fantastic for the remainder of the year on the Castle Stretch.
Yesterday morning, 3 beautiful fresh grilse were landed. Terry Wood took her first Irish salmon from the stream in Beat 1 and made contact with 2 others. Ann Corcoran released a small grilse from the stream of Beat 4 and regular visitor, James Haddon, took a fine grilse from Greenpoint 2 in bright sunshine on a Silver Rat. James continued his success this morning on Beat 4 with another small grilse from the stream, caught this time on a General Practitioner. Alistair Groom also landed a 5lb fish from Beat 4 this afternoon.
The total counter figures so far for 2011 are less than at this period last year, however, we are confident that the large numbers of salmon below the counter and in the estuary will make up for this shortfall in the coming days and weeks.
The weather forecast is for some very unsettled weather over the next 7 days. This should energise the resident fish and bring in some fresh grilse from the sea.
Local guide, Jonathan Broderick, whilst fishing for salmon with a Silver Rat above the footbridge on Beat 1 hooked into a large trout. After a 20 minute struggle he landed and released a fantastic trout of approximately 6lbs. We took a few scales and look forward togetting them read to determine whether this fish has spent all of its life in the freshwater or has migrated at some stage to sea. A fantastic trout of 11lbs was also released from Lough Inagh last week.
Monty Hall’s Great Irish Escape
After a couple of false starts, the BBC has finally scheduled Monty Hall’s Great Irish Escape series to begin this coming Thursday 11th August at 8pm on BBC2. There will be 6 episodes featuring Monty’s escapades throughout Connemara, working as a ranger for the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group. Monty spent a great deal of time filming around Ballynahinch during last summer in his unfortunate, failed attempt to land his first salmon! Having seen a cut of the first episode, I can honestly say that you will all enjoy it. Connemara really looks fantastic in the series. Don’t forget to set your Sky+ Box!!
22nd July 2011
Sustained rain over the past weekend brought water levels up on the Ballynahinch River. Coupled with timely spring tides, large numbers of salmon entered the catchment of the past 5 days. The grilse run was getting so late we were beginning to wonder if it would materialise to any great degree in 2011. Thankfully we are confident that the remaining two and half months of fishing at Ballynahinch will be everything it was hoped it would be with big runs of salmon coming off every tide.
Our record of not having had a blank day in the past couple of weeks continues. Jack Meredith was top rod for the week taking three salmon from the Castle Stretch as well as two others from the Lough Inagh Fishery during his three days fishing. His haul included a fabulous 8.25lb grilse from the stream of Beat 4/5, a 5.5lb fish from Sna Beg and a 6lb fresh grilse from The Wood on Beat 1.
Further fish have been taken by David Harris, Cyril Biggins, Eamon Mannion & Nicky Strauss to name a few. We have also lost unusually large numbers of fish this week. There were certainly 4-6 fish that I can think of which were ready for the net but lived to fight another day! Many others anglers (including a frustrated author!) have hit more fish than they can count but are struggling to properly connect.
The water levelis quite high today but has started dropping at this stage. There is no rain worth talking about over the coming week so the river will be in great condition for the foreseeable. Our resident fish have started to take up their usual spots; however, I would expect many more of the “Ballynahinch” fish to arrive over the next 7 days.
13th July 2011
The good summer fishing continues at Ballynahinch Castle with steady numbers of fish running the river from every high tide. Judging from fishing reports countrywide the grilse are as late as they have ever been in recent years. Our run has certainly started but has yet to peak. It would seem that they are definitely two weeks later than last year and certainly five weeks later than a decade ago. This recent trend tends to concentrate the grilse run at Ballynahinch into a six week period rather than a steady stream of fish arriving throughout the summer.
The weather today is beautifully sunny making fishing a bit more challenging, however, the water is at a perfect level. With a week of fairly unsettled weather forecast, the prospects could not be better.
Twenty six salmon have been landed so far this summer and we have caught fish every day this past week. Regular anglers Nicky and Derek Strauss have been leading the charge with three fish from Sna Beg, Beat 1 and Beat 2. All of these fish were fresh and between 5-6.5lbs. The Killeen family have also been having a fabulous year at Ballynahinch. Conor Killeen has three fish in the book whilst his two sons, Leo and Tomás , landed their first ever salmon in the past week, both from Beat 1. Ann Corcoran, Stephen Cullinane, Colm Murphy and David Browne have also taken fresh grilse.
Most of the sea trout have moved up through the system at this stage and the best fishing for them is late in the evening around the hotel. Nick Ashe, whilst fishing for sea trout last Friday evening, landed a 3.75lb brown trout from the mouth of the river above the footbridge. Such large fish are a rarity from this part of the catchment; however, we seem to be getting more of them this year. Scale readings will give us a better indication of the age of this fish and whether it ever spent any time at sea.
1st July 2011
The main grilse run at Ballynahinch, and at most other rivers along the West Coast, has yet to properly materialise. Whilst our grilse started arriving over 2 weeks ago, the daily run through the counter would suggest that their arrival is about two weeks behind last year. Given that fresh spring salmon are still being caught by the draft nets and in many rivers, the run appears to be incredibly late. We are still confident of some fantastic salmon fishing this season.
Ben Browne from Wicklow landed a small 3.5lb grilse from Sna Beg, above the footbridge earlier in the week. Apart from a few grilse being hooked, the majority of the fish are moving though to the upper reaches. Lough Inagh Fishery fished well last weekend after a large flood on Friday with 8 grilse landed. It is normal for the first salmon to head to the top of the system before filling from the top down.
2011 is turning out to be a really fantastic year for sea trout fishing at Ballynahinch. After the large number of maiden fish entered the system throughout early June, the finnock have now stolen the show! Anglers are catching (and releasing) up to 20 sea trout each per day with an average of about 5 per angler. Certainly, over 100 have been landed in the past 4 days. The evening/nighttime fishing will be fantatic for the month of July.
Ian Watson from the UK, landed a stunning 3.5lb fresh run, sea liced sea trout from Sna Beg this morning on a Stoats Tail. These large fish are so important to the spawning stock for future years.
22nd June 2011
The spring salmon fishing at Ballynahinch turned out to be the best since 1987 with some really fabulous spingers taken in May and early June. The grilse have now started running over the past week, right on cue! Four grilse have been landed over the past four days with all fish between 5lbs and 6.5lbs.
Simon Ashe had a 6lb sea liced grilse from Stanley’s Run on Beat 7 on a Badger, Tom McManus took a 5lb fish from the stream of Beat 1 and Cyril Biggins landed a fine 6.5lb fresh grilse from Sna Beg, also on a Badger. Only an hour ago, Ulrich Treusch brought in fine 5lb fish into the hotel. Ulrich caught the grilse on Monkey fly from the stream on Beat 1. The prevalence of such large grilse arriving early in the run is very encouraging indeed. This could be an indication that marine feeding was good over the winter months in the North Atlantic. Only time will tell.
Whilst it does appear that the grilse are running quite late this year, we have had our best start to the season in ten years. A nice drop of rain last night brought the river up to near-perfect levels and the counter saw a real jump in salmon numbers passing upstream. Unsettled weather for the coming week should bring some great fishing.
The strong sea trout run continues with large fish still running on every tide. A fine 45cm (approx 2.5lb) sea trout was released yesterday from Beat 2 by a regular French angler. In the space of an hour during the week I landed nine sea trout up to a pound from the Dentist’s Pool on Beat 7. When the sea trout take so freely it can be the most enjoyable type of fly fishing bar none!
Fishing beats are busily getting booked up for the rest of the season. There are fantastic fishing and accommodation special offers on the special offers page. For those who are interested in reserving fishing please contact fishery manager, Simon Ashe (firstname.lastname@example.org) or the hotel reception on +353 95 31006.
13th June 2011
The salmon fishing continued to get better over the weekend at Ballynahinch with 2 more fine spring salmon taken. Both fish were taken by Tom McManus from Beat 3, one of 10lbs on Friday and a 7.5lber on Saturday. The total for the week stands at 5 with the fish averaging over 10lbs. The sea trout and continuing to pile into the system and anglers are having great sport on most beats. Those who are willing to brave the midges are having good evening sport also.
With anling spaces getting more limited over the coming weeks, make sure not to miss out on a reservation. We are predicting one of the best years for salmon and sea trout fishing at Ballynahinch for many years.
10th June 2011
The fishing at Ballynahinch has really picked up over the past week. Traditionally a quiet time of the season, mainly due to low water levels, early June has really come alive!
3 salmon have been landed over the past four days. Conor Killeen took a good 7lb fresh springer from the stream on Beat 1 on Monday morning with a yellow shrimp. This was followed on Wednesday by a huge 13.25lb springer caught by Tom McManus from the Iron Pier on Beat 4/5. Without a landing net, Tom duly put the rod over his shoulder and dragged the fish onto the bank! This fish was taken on a small size 10 silver rat.
The week was topped on Friday morning when regular angler, Ann Corcoran, after only 5 minutes of fishing on Beat 1, landed a whopping 14.25lb fresh run spring salmon from the stream. The fish, with long tailed sea lice, is the largest fish of the season at Ballynahinch so far. Given the size of the springers going over the counter on a daily basis, this record could only be short-lived!
The sea trout fishing over the past week has been really encouraging. A good number of maiden sea trout up to 3lbs have been coming over the counter and Richard McMahon released one of 3lb from Ranji’s Rock. Most people who go fishing are catching sea trout.
The weather conditions remain fantastic for fishing at Ballynahinch and there are still some spaces available on the river over the coming weeks. Contact the hotel on 095 31006 to check availability.
1st June 2011
The spring fishing has remained fairly quiet throughout the month of may here at Ballynahinch. Even though the numbers of spring fish running through the counter for the month was double that of 2010, the fish did not stop to take a break. Reasonable salmon fishing was had further upstream in Recess and Lough Inagh with small numbers being caught for low angling pressure.
Like flicking on a lightswitch, the sea trout started running yesterday! Every year they are like slockwork. There are some good sized fish of 3-4lbs in the river at this stage and hopefully fishing for them in the coming weeks should be very good.
We are expecting the first of the grilse to arrive in 2 weeks time.
11th May 2011
After a very dry spell at Ballynahinch throughout the spring, the salmon fishing got underway in earnest on 9th May. Alan Hannon, a first time fly fisherman, landed a fantastic 13lb spring fish from the stream on Beat 1. Alan was fishing for trout using a small siver rat on a 9' rod when he hooked this beauty!
On 10th May, Tom McManus, caught his first spring salmon, also from Beat 1. This beautiful 9lb fish was sea liced and very deep. The fish was caught on a shrimp fly using an antique split cane rod. Charles McKee, a regular angler from Vancouver lost a good fish in double figures only a few hours after Tom's feat.
This first two springers will mark what is hopefully going to be a fantastic year of fishing at Ballynahinch. Successive good spawning years with the removal of the commercial drift net fishery four years ago bodes well for a large run in 2011.
Spaces are becoming limited in July and August and it is advisable to call the hotel on 095 31006 to reserve some fishing for this period.