Game Rivers of Northern Ireland by Billy Totten

William totten sadly passed away in April 2002 and is deeply missed by his family and friends. His knowledge of game angling in Northern Ireland was vast and he kindly agreed, at that time, to share some of this knowledge on the Website.

I first fished with wee “Tot” as he was affectionally known whilst fly fishing for pike on Lough Beg and enjoyed many memorable days listening to his stories and jokes and putting up with his singing. My thanks go to Billy’s wife for her permission to use these notes. All information was correct at that time of writing, and as conditions have altered over the years, I have added website links to clubs etc, for info on currennt conditions and legalities.



GAME ANGLING RIVERS OF NORTHERN IRELAND, an over-view by Billy Totten.  

County Antrim    Ballycastle    

The main river systems in this area are Margey, Glenshesk and Carey rivers. These are mostly sea trout and salmon rivers. Day tickets are available from local clubs and are available through local shops etc. as sign posted at most entrance points along the system. Conservatory Board along with Ministry Game Licence is also required. Log on to for further information.


 The Margey


Bushmills    River Bush and tributaries   

Mostly sea trout and salmon fishing along the river Bush. Occasional good size brown trout can be caught, but in general most fish are small. Lower sections of the river are controlled by the Ministry, and are strictly regulated as to the number of rods and fish per day. Inquiries should be sought from offices at Bushmills regarding permits etc. This is one of the rivers where early salmon run. Log on to for further information.


The River Bush



Glenarriff River at Waterfoot and Cushendall River are of no interest to Brown Trout anglers as fish are very small in both rivers. Salmon and Sea Trout put in an appearance from June to the end of the season and given suitable water conditions good sport can be expected. For permission to fish the Cushendall River enquiries need to be made at the Estate offices, Cushendall but this may be difficult to acquire. Log on to for further information.


The Glenarriff



Glendun River which enters the sea at Cushendun is or rather was the best of the Glen rivers. With the salmon numbers declining in recent years it is still possible to catch Sea Trout or Salmon when conditions are right. Permits are required before fishing and signs erected along access points give all necessary information. Controlled by Glens angling club, statutory rod licence is required.


The centre for angling on the Six Mile Water. Antrim and District Angling Club control the lower part of the river from Doagh to Lough Neagh. Above Doagh and further upstream Ballynure Club have fishing rights. Notices are posted on most access places and all information regarding licences and permits etc. are on display. This river gets excellent runs of dollachan (Lough Neagh Trout), Grilse and Salmon from July onwards to the end of the season. Restrictions are in force as explained on permits as to methods and baits used in order to preserve Brown Trout etc. This used to be a first class Brown Trout water but unfortunately now suffers bouts of pollution from various sources. The main tributary the Clady River, which enters the river at Dunadry, is no longer of any account. Any fish remaining are small and best left untouched. Log on to for further information.

Six-mile water


Upper reaches of the Six Mile Water. The Brown Trout are small but dollachan and Salmon are available from August onwards. Permits from Ballynure and District Club. This river section is well controlled and sign posted regarding permits and supplies etc. The Kellswater or Glenwherry River is the main tributary of the river Maine. It holds small Brown Trout with dollachan and Salmon appearing given water conditions from August to the end of the season. Mid Antrim, Kells and Connor Angling Club control most of the fishing on this river down to the town of Kells. Trout are small in general, half to three quarter pound fish being reasonable. Log on to for further information.

The River Kells


Rivers Maine, Braid and Clough   

River Maine from Glarryford where it is joined by the Cloughwater downstream to Cullybackey is controlled by angling clubs which are signposted along the river. This is a reasonable Brown Trout fishery and although large fish are not the norm good fishing can be enjoyed along this river. From August the fishing is supplemented by the dollachan and salmon runs. Spinning, bait and fly fishing is permitted on most stretches. Shrimp and prawn fishing is only available on certain areas. Information is normally given on Permits. The Cloughwater is a main feeder stream and is a well stocked trout water enjoying dollachan and salmon fishing late in the season. Trout in general are on the small side. Along the river course signs are erected as to restrictions in force in various areas. As in most Northern Ireland waters there are very little free waters left. From Cullybackey downstream to Galgorm the trout fishing is fair. The river is controlled by various clubs down to Lough Neagh and as mentioned before, are well signposted. A reasonable trout fishery throughout its length with the added bonus of dollachan and salmon from late July to the end of the season. The Braid, which enters the Maine below Galgorm, is also a trout fishery and reasonable sport can be had when conditions are right. This stretch is well signposted regarding club management and permits etc. Although on the small side, the trout are fairly numerous thanks to the clubs involved. Log on to for further information.

The Braid


The Clough


Coleraine       Lower Bann and feeder streams 

The Bann is mainly a mixed fishery due to the type of river. Game fishing is restricted to suitable areas but these stretches are rather expensive and are strictly controlled. The majority of the Lower Bann is better known as a coarse fishery. The tributaries are more recognised game fisheries. The major river, the Aghivey, is controlled from its source to the meeting with the Lower Bann at Aghivey Bridge. This stretch is controlled entirely by the Aghivey angling club but day tickets are available at outlets signposted all along the river. All information can be obtained from Bert Atking fishing tackle, Coleraine Road, Kilrea. Reasonable trout fishing but better known as a salmon fishery from late May onwards. The Little or Wee Aghivey comes under control of the same association and day tickets can be had as for the main river. Macosquin River although small, given water provides some sport with small brown trout and occasional grilse. Information regarding permits through the same contact as Aghivey or Coleraine anglers. Log on to for further information.


The River Bann Estuary



Central to River Lagan and the main tributary, the Ravarnet was once the best trout fishing river in Northern Ireland. Sadly now due to non-management in the lower river and pollution affecting other parts, it is now no more than a shadow of its former glory. The clubs that control the respective stretches of the river are fighting a losing battle, but keep struggling on regardless. Dromore angling club control the upper river down to Gilhall estate. Angling all but ceased in 2000/2001 season due to continued pollution. From Thornyford bridge downstream to Spencer’s bridge, the stretch is under the control of the Iveagh angling club. Day tickets for here and the Dromore angling section are available and information can be found on the numerous signposts along the river bank. Due to club stocking, fishing is as good as can be expected under the circumstances. Salmon were introduced on the lower part of the river and a small number have been caught in 2000. To date, no reports of fish taken above the confluence with Ravarnet but hopes in some places are high that soon someone may catch one. The Ravarnet once an excellent trout stream is now barely worth a visit, any trout remaining are on the small side. Log on to and for further information.


The Lagan at Lisburn


Ravarnett at Lisburn


Cookstown / Coagh       Ballinderry River and tributaries   

Arising above Cookstown, this river is fishable from approximately three to four miles out on the Omagh Road. The trout in general are small but plentiful. As with most other rivers it is under the control of various clubs in certain areas but in most cases, well signposted. Late August sees a good run of dollachan and salmon into these upper reaches and given water, fish very well. Between Cookstown and Coagh the river is a series of runs and pools with small trout plentiful. Information should be sought locally regarding access etc. From Coagh downstream to Ballinderry Bridge the river is controlled by Coagh angling club. Day tickets are available at outlets in Coagh. Signs are erected at all access points. Trout fishing is reasonable with good dollachan and salmon towards the late season. Feeder streams here are no great interest to the game angler. Mostly overgrown and shallow they do not hold any reasonable fish and with many other streams, have suffered pollution problems. Log on to for further info.


The Moyola river rises in the Sperrin mountains and empties into Lough Neagh near Toomebridge and is fishable along most of its length. Above Draperstown down to Curran the trout are small but an enjoyable day can be had if only for the varied type of water to be fished. The Moyola club have control of the river from above Curran down to Lough Neagh. Day tickets are available in Castledawson. The club stocked the river and some fine trout have been caught. The dollachan and salmon fishing can be excellent given conditions. All information can be found in Castledawson or log on to for further information.

The Moyola



The upper Moyola can be covered from Dungannon. The only other two rivers in the locality are the Oona and Torrent rivers. Both these small rivers were once excellent trout waters yielding fish to two pound and over. Due to pollution and dredging the fish are smaller and less plentiful. The clubs involved are trying to improve the situation with some amount of success.


The only river in the main vicinity of Larne is the Inver river which enters the sea at Larne harbour. Controlled by Ballynure and district club, tickets can be purchased locally. Severe pollution in the year 2001 took an immense effect on this small stream. The local club are doing everything possible to restock it. It also enjoys a reasonable run of sea-trout when conditions suit. Log on to for further information.


The Inver



The Shimna river in Newcastle is probably the main river in the area. Controlled by Newcastle and district club and the ministry. No Sunday fishing is only one of the regulations for this water and inquiries should be made at the ministry office, Tullymore Park. Brown trout are abundant but small. There are good salmon and sea-trout from August onwards. Rod numbers are restricted and should be booked in advance. Log on to for further information.

The Maghera river in Dundrum and the Moneycarragh are both mainly sea-trout and salmon fisheries from July onwards. Any brown trout are very small. Inquire locally regarding permits etc. Further along the coast between Kilkeel and Rostrevor is the Whitewater, another sea-trout and salmon fishery with serious angling only taking place in ideal conditions. Very much a spate river. Inquiries should be made locally regarding permission to fish. Log on to for further information. The Kilkeel river holds very small brown trout with occasional salmon and sea-trout late in the season. Permits available from either Nicholson-The Square, Kilkeel or Grahams sport shop, Kilkeel.

The lower reaches of the Shimna



The Moneycarragh. Information on permits, site maps at 133 Main Street, Dundrum



The Clanrye or Newry river is controlled by Newry and district angling club. Although narrow in most it’s length it still offers reasonable trout fishing mainly to the fly .There is also the added bonus of a sea-trout later in the season. Most information regarding permits etc is signposted along the riverbank, or try Smith’s tackle shop, Newry. Log on to for further information.


The Upper Bann River is controlled from Katesbridge downstream to below the town of Banbridge. Information can be had from Coburn’s fishing tackle shop in Banbridge. Above Katesbridge up to Hilltown, Clonduff club control the uppermost section, while Rathfriland angling club take the next section. Below Katesbridge to Banbridge, this stretch is held by the Banbridge anglers. The trout fishing is very good here with occasional large trout appearing. From August onwards salmon and dollachan may be expected. Below Banbridge the Gilford angling club takes over. Tickets available from Spar shop at 40 Mill Street or Moffat (newsagents) Mill Street, Gilford. The river consists of streams, pools and long glides, ideal for fly fishing wet or dry. Worm fishing is allowed in the deeper sections. From above Portadown the river becomes deeper and sluggish and is more suited for coarse fishing. For further information and contacts, log on to

Belfast City   

The centre for the lower section of the River Lagan, this area is not recognised as a game fishery, although some trout fishing does exist upstream from Stranmillis Weir to Spencer’s bridge. Below Moira, fishing at the time of writing is generally free to licence holders. Upstream of Spencer’s Bridge the Iveagh anglers take over as explained earlier and is signposted. The lower river is only fishable until May as it becomes overgrown by water-lilies and thick weed growth, with no open water available. Log on to for further information.


The Cusher River is a feeder river which enters the Upper Bann above Portadown. Once an excellent trout water, sadly now it is seldom fished due to continuing pollution. May be only worth a visit late in the year when dollachan put in an appearance.

Clogher Valley       River Blackwater   

The upper reaches of the Tyrone Blackwater are under the control of Clogher and district angling club, who run this stretch from its source downstream to Favour Royal bridge on the Augher/ Aughnacloy road. Day tickets are available from Hacketts (chemist) Main street, Clogher. This stretch of river has suffered from drainage as has all the river. Any trout fishing now is very patchy, only supplemented late in the season by occasional dollachan and salmon. Check out

Below Favour Royal Bridge to the border crossing on the Monaghan Road the river is taken by the Aughnacloy and district club who issue day tickets. Inquiries should be made from local shops in Aughnacloy. This stretch of water is well stocked with small trout and also gets a run of migratory fish from August onwards. There is no fishing through Caledon estate but from Caledon village downstream to Benburb, inquiries should be made from farmers etc as to access. Below Benburb is Maydown bridge which is under joint control of Armagh anglers and the ministry. Downstream through Blackwatertown and the river becomes more a coarse fishery. The Ballygawley river which enters the Blackwater below Favour Royal is no longer seriously fished for trout due mostly to pollution etc. The Callan river, also a tributary of the Blackwater, is controlled by Armagh and district anglers. No longer the excellent trout stream it was but with the effort of the club it still provides an enjoyable days fishing with the wet or dry fly. Dollachan and salmon still enter the river from August onwards. Signposts erected along the river will give information on permit distributors etc. Check out


Lower Bann and Clady river This section of the Lower Bann is mainly a coarse fishery and not seriously fished for trout. The Clady is a game fishing tributary with brown trout plentiful although small. Bann trout move into the Clady with the salmon, usually from August onwards but have been on the scarce side in recent years. Day permits are available from Clady and district angling club and shops in Portglenone. The club control most of the river that’s of any interest to anglers. Log on to for further information.

Omagh and District   

This is the main centre for the river Strule which is controlled by Omagh anglers. Good trout fishing throughout club waters but better known as a salmon fishery. The river is accessible along most of its length between Omagh and Newtownstewart where it runs parallel with the main road. Distributors for permits etc from C.A.Anderson, 64 Market Street Omagh and Mourne Valley Tackle at 50 Main Street Newtownstewart. Below club waters fishing is in private ownership until Sion Mills club stretch. Once again tickets are available and can be obtained from the office in main Street, Sion Mills. A rod licence is required on all Northern Ireland rivers and holders of a ministry permit can have a reduced price on the club permit. This stretch is mainly a salmon and sea-trout fishery and brown trout are generally small. Below Sion Mills, Strabane anglers control the lower stretch. Inquiries should be made regarding permits etc in Strabane. The main tributaries for the Mourne/ Strule river are the rivers Derg, Drumragh, Camowen and Owenkillew. All have brown trout, mostly small but can still give an enjoyable days sport. All are well signposted regarding restrictions and regulations and information can be found at any of the aforementioned distributors. Inquiries should always be sought before commencing to fish. Any smaller feeder streams are of no interest from an angling point. The river Derg is probably the longest tributary and has good trout fishing in excellent surroundings. Wet and dry fly fishing are the favoured methods. Inquiries through Mr. Erwin, John Street, Castlederg, or N.M.Fishing tackle at 9 Alexander Place, Sion Mills. The River Foyle and Lower Finn are below Strabane and are regarded mostly as salmon and sea-trout fisheries. Permits and other information from Divers tackle shop at 5 Castle Place Strabane or Loughs agency, at 22 Victoria Road, Derry.

Useful websites to check out are


The Derg



The Faughan river is controlled by the R. Faughan anglers and has small brown trout throughout the system but is better known as a salmon and sea-trout fishery. Information and permits can be had from the Faughan anglers’ ltd at 26a Carlisle Road, Derry or the Loughs Agency at 22 Victoria Road, Londonderry. To fish the upper river at Claudy, seek local advice. Useful website at


The River Faughan

River Roe   

Mainly salmon and sea-trout. The brown trout are generally small. This river is controlled by Roe angling association and tickets etc are available from S.J.Mitchell and co. central park, Limavaddy. The stretch through Roe Valley Park to O’Cahans Rock can be fished by anyone holding a ministry permit and Foyle licence. Check out for further information.


The River Roe


Burn Dennet   

The Burn Dennet River is a tributary of the Foyle and mainly a salmon and sea-trout fishery, but also holds a number of small brown trout. Inquiries at Roy McBrine, 31 Lisnaragh Road, Donemana on behalf of Dennet anglers association. The Fairywater entering the Strule below Omagh holds trout in the upper reaches but is noted mainly as a coarse fishery. Permission should be sought from landowners. The Drumquin river holds numerous brown trout; however, owner’s permission should be sought.


The Burn Dennet


Comber area   

The only river of interest is the Inler River flowing from Dundonald through Comber and into Strangford Lough. Once an excellent sea-trout stream, it is unfortunately no longer recognised as such. Continual pollution etc has caused un-accountable damage to stocks and only the efforts of the local club have kept the brown trout fishing alive. Worthwhile contacts are the Inler angling club or inquire locally regarding permits etc. Useful site at


A winter shot of the upper reaches of the Inler



Apart from Lower Lough Erne which is an excellent trout lake, its tributaries offer good fishing also. The Colebrook river and Tempo river are well worth a visit regarding brown trout angling. In the vicinity of Maguire’s Bridge the Colebrook is controlled by a local club and permission can be had from local shops in Maguire’s Bridge. The lower river near Lisnaskea is more a coarse fishery. The Tempo River which feeds the Colebrook is a delightful stream with small trout in numbers, also under club control. Inquiries from McCormick’s (Spar shop) Maguire’s bridge. A good contact is Mr. Patrick Trotter, 7 Tallinderry Heights Maguire’s bridge. Ballinamallard River is controlled by Ballinamallard and district anglers. Tickets available from the Spar shop or C.W.Hardware, Ballinamallard. Good average trout fishing from Riversdale on the Enniskillen to Irvinestown Road. Downstream the ministry have the fishing rights and a ministry permit is required. Trout here are larger although sparser in numbers. Bream and roach abound as the river nears Lough Erne. Check out for further information. ARNEY RIVER Flowing from Lough McNean into Lough Erne, this is worth a mention as it holds very good trout in season. Local advice should be sought regarding sections suitable for trout as most of the river is heavily stocked with coarse fish. Very large fish may be contacted late in the season as they move from the Loughs to spawn. Landowner’s permission is required before fishing commences.

River Crumlin and Glenavy   

Both these rivers will give a day’s sport to trout anglers. More so the Crumlin river which is in control of the Crumlin and district angling club. Tickets from the Glenview service station, Mill Street, Crumlin. The river has been stocked and has supplemented the existing stock of brown trout. Only expect small trout in the Glenavy river. Inquire locally regarding access and permission to fish. Interesting site to check out at


The Ballynahinch River and Glasswater River converge to make up the Annacloy River which then becomes the Quoile River above Downpatrick. The Blackhead angling club have fishing rights at Kilmore. Day tickets are available at Kilmore which has the best trout fishing. The Quoile is mostly coarse fishing but some trout are present. A ministry permit is required for this fishery. Log on to for further information.

Useful names and addresses   

Foyle area    Foyle sporting and angling co. Grange Court, 27 Moyle Road Newtownstewart, Co. Tyrone Faughan anglers association 26a Carlisle Road Londonderry Billy Diver Tackle shop 5 Castle Place Strabane David Campbell Mourne Valley Tackle Newtownstewart Rod and Gun 6 Irish Green Street Limavaddy Foyle Fisheries Commission 8 Victoria Road Londonderry Chism Fishing tackle 2 Bridge Street Omagh Lough Neagh tributaries etc.    Aghivey river J. McCain 162 Aghivey Road Aghadowey Bert Atkins 67 Coleraine Road Garvagh Moyola river Heustons shop Main Street Castledawson Clady river Moira’s shop Main Street Portglenone Blackwater river B.Hackett (chemist) Main Street Clogher Tyrone Welcome Inn Moore Street Aughnacloy Bann and district    Upper Bann Coburn’s Tackle 32 Scarva Street Banbridge Trimble 25 Downpatrick Street Rathfriland River Maine Galgorm Post Office Galgorm Simpsons Newsagents Cullybackey Upper Maine (Maxol station) Ivan Linton 318 Frosses Road Glarryford Lower Maine Houstons 32 New Street Randalstown Kellswater Duncans service station 10 Ferniskey Road Kells Six Mile Water Twelfth Milestone service station 954 Antrim Road Templepatrick