FOYLE AND CARLINGFORD LOUGHS
The Loughs Agency is responsible for fisheries in the Foyle Catchment and in fisheries surrounding the Carlingford Lough area. This body is a cross border body funded by both governments and manages fisheries on both sides of the border.
The Loughs Agency
22 Victoria Road,
Derry, Co. Derry.
Carlingford Lough is a sea lough that opens on to the Irish Sea. It forms part of the boundary between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Several rivers run into it, including the Newry River (and, indeed, the Newry Canal), Clanrye River and the Whitewater River.
On the County Down shore lie the pleasant resort towns of Warrenpoint and Rostrevor, backed by the Mourne Mountains “sweeping down to the sea”. On the southern (or Cooley Peninsula) shore, the visitor will be impressed by the County Louth coastal towns of Omeath, Carlingford (a village with a wealth of heritage sites stretching back to Norman times) and Greenore.
Sea angling is available along the beautiful coastline that frames this sea inlet – shore, rock and boat fishing – and there are numerous species to be caught! Carlingford Lough, which produced the current Irish record tope, has some excellent fishing during the summer months for ray, spurdog, tope and dogfish.
Carlingford Lough is best known for the superb tope fishing during the summer months. Charter boat services are available from Warrenpoint, Carlingford and Greencastle. Greenore is located on the southern shore of Carlingford Lough.
The shore around the lighthouse provides excellent sport for an array of species including mackerel, sea trout (game licence required), pollack, spurdog, ray and dogfish. Bass can also be taken in this area with spinning offering best opportunities. Anglers should exercise extreme caution hereabouts, as there are very strong currents close to the shore!
Greenore is a commercial port, one of the busiest along the east coast. Bottom fishing in low water conditions offers dogfish, with spurdog and ray possible in summer. Wrasse can be taken on float gear near the rocks and weedy margins, whilst autumn / winter codling are mostly caught at night. Greenore is a popular spot for mackerel fishing and tackle is available at the Co-op store (shop, cafe and tourist accommodation) in Euston Street in the village.
Ballaghan point is located south east of reenore. There is mixed ground, consisting of rock, sand and shingle and it can prove difficult to fish at low tide. Spinning produces mackerel, seasonal bass and pollack at high water. Flounder, rockling, dogfish, conger and ray can be taken in the sandy patches.
The picturesque village of Carlingford produces good catches of mackerel in summer, with flounder and whiting in winter. Other venues produce species such as bass, mackerel, mullet, dogfish, codling, coalfish, pollack, ray and conger. There is also some smooth hound, bull huss and ray.
The almost land locked Lough Foyle creates a natural boundary between Co. Derry in Northern Ireland and Co. Donegal in the Republic. Inshore boat fishing over the McKinney Bank opposite Moville turns up ray, dogfish, tope and plaice. Just south of Inishowen Head lies Dunagree Point where mackerel (in season), pollack and coalfish can be caught while spinng. Wrasse can also be caught on float tackle.
Several outcrops on the northern shore of Malin Head offer fishing for pollack, coalfish, wrasse and occasional conger, but this are should only be approached in settled dry weather and never in northerly winds which can push dangerous waves onto the shore. Malin Head is the most northerly point in Ireland, and is also the location of a radio weather station often referred to in North Atlantic sea area forecasts. As the R242 road winds its way around the headland it offers spectacular views of the sea, sometimes several hundred feet below. The pier on the north eastern side affords access to deep water at high tide with spinning, float fishing and bottom fishing all possible.
Glengad Head offers spinning for pollack and mackerel and float fishing for wrasse and coalfish. Bottom fishing from several rocky vantage points will yield conger, dogfish and rockling.
Rock fishing east of the beach at Culdaff yields pollack, coalfish and wrasse. Fishing from the beach is at its best during the late summer and early autumn for flounder, dogfish, dab, turbot and the occasional bass and sea trout. Catches of twenty flatfish on a tide are not uncommon and the baits which bring best results are sandeel, mackerel strip and lugworm. Conger to almost 20kg have been caught from Bunagee Pier at the western side of Culdaff Bay, while the rocks o the north of the pier yield mackerel in season, pollack, coalfish and the occasional codling.
Small boats can be launched from the slipway beside the pier for fishing the inshore waters between Glengad Head and Dunmore Head where red gurnard to over specimen size of .90kg, plaice, ray, turbot, John Dory, codling and whiting have been recorded. Up to twenty species can be expected in a day. The slipway is viable for launch and retrieval on all stages of the tide with the exception of extreme low tide on springs. Another notable feature of the area is the first class tope fishing which is available from mid June to mid September. In recent years catches of up to 30 fish in a day have been recorded with the best fishing weighing in at almost 23kg.
There is a charter boat operation based at the pier which specialises in fishing the numerous offshore wrecks in the northern approaches. This is where German u-boats operated during the two world wars against transatlantic convoys which carried food, troops and equipment for the allied war effort. Hundreds of vessels were torpedoed and sunk off this coastline and many of the wrecks lie in very deep water. some of those closer to port (within a 25 mile radius) are the first world war wreck ‘Athenia’, a 9,000 ton cargo liner which lies in just 60m, the second world war , 11,000 ton freighter ‘Cumberland’ lying in 55m, and the massive 35,000 ton liner ‘Justica’ lying in 70m. Many specimen fish have been taken from these wrecks including ling to over 11kg, coalfish to over 7kg and pollack to over 6kg. Each year in late August and September, porbeagle shark to over 45kg have also been hooked in the vicinity of these wrecks.
Kinnagoe Bay provides excellent whale watching opportunities and rock fishing at either end of the bay for pollack and wrasse. Beach fishing in the centre of the bay is for flounder, dabs, plaice and occasional sole, bass and sea trout. dogfish and spurdog occasionally appear in autumn.
At Tremore Bay shore fishing is similar to Kinnogue, but rock fishing is cnofined to the western end of the bay for pollack, coalfish and wrasse. When the surf is up, beach fishing can be productive over the sandy patches for flounder, dab, plaice and the occasional bass and sea trout.
Greencastle is a busy commercial fishing port and is also the landing stage for a cross lough ferry. Pier fishing yields conger while bottom fishing at night, and float fishing produces a wide range of species including wrasse, coalfish, mackerel and mullet in summer. There is a slipway in the harbour where small boats can be launched at most stages of the tide.
Inside the narrows between Greencastle and Magilligan Point, the lough is comparatively shallow with depths seldom exceeding 18m at low tide.
Moville Pier offers mackerel and mullet on float takle in summer, while bottom fishing at high water turns up conger particularly after dark. There is some boat fishing west of McKinney’s Bank on the slope running from 10m at the Saltpans Buoy down to 18m opposite Moville.
Bottom fishing over a mixture of san, shingle and mud will yield dogfish, ray flounder, dab and the occasional plaice. In summer, mackerel shaols enter the lough and during these periods tope will occasionally be found there. Fishing is usually carried out from an anchored boat, but caution should be excercised at all times as shipping has right of way in the buoyed channel.
Pilot Pier offers spinning for mackerel in summer where bottom fishing is for flounder, dab, dogfish, occasional ray and mullet at high water.
Longfield Bank (Donnybrewer Road) close to Derry City Airport offers float fishing for mullet in summer with occasional bottom feeding bass and sea trout. Flounder, mackerel and dabs are common and make up the greater part of the catch at the majority of the marks along this shore.
Benone and Downhill Strands offer season bass, often to specimen size as well as flounder, dogfish, dab and turbot.