Fishing in Northern Ireland is a popular pastime

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Fly Fishing in Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland with its host of fresh water rivers and lakes is an ideal destination for lovers of angling in general and fly fishing in particular. Though I am not particularly enthralled by the sport, here is some information nonetheless. Enjoy your game, don’t mind me!

How Fly Fishing got started

Hmm, yes, I must know the history behind everything. Even the history of fly fishing!

The earliest sure reference to fly fishing comes from the 2nd century Graeco-Roman writer Claudius Aelianus (Aelian).

In his work Varied History he described how Greek anglers used an artificial fishing lure made of red wool and feathers.

Modern methods of fly fishing are thought to have originated in England and Scotland. Northern Ireland is not to be undone, however. With a host of rivers, brooks and small lakes you are sure to find what you are looking for.

fly-fishing-northern-ireland-baronscourt-fishermen-5140613 Fly Fishing in Antrim

Antrim is anglers paradise.

The most sought after fish is the Dollaghan, a local variety of brown trout. It is found mostly in lake Lough Neagh, the largest fresh water lake in the UK at 151 sq. miles, where it spends most of the year but returns to the numerous rivers and streams that flow in and out of Lough Neagh during autumn to spawn..

Anglers love it because it is larger than most other Irish trout.

Salmon is common in many rivers in the area, especially the river Bush.

The River Foyle

The river Foyle flows on the western part of Northern Ireland through counties Tyrone and Londonderry as well as through county Donegal in the Republic of Ireland.

It is considered one of the best rivers for salmon fishing on the whole island.

The best period for salmon fishing in Northern Ireland is from the end of March to the end of September.


A popular destination is Baronscourt estate in County Tyrone. The magnificent house of the Lord Abecorn family since 1612, it offers accommodation and conference facilities and offers access to 24 pools ideal for salmon fishing. Costs are higher from mid June to end of September due to high demand.

Other Rivers and Lakes

Northern Ireland has dozens of small rivers and lake so whether you choose a popular angling destination or a quieter location you are will enjoy a thrilling angling experience.

Permits and Licenses

Anglers need both a license and a permit which can be obtained from the Fishery Conservancy Board in different sites.


Currently (2008) a coarse fishing rod license for 14 days costs £8.50 and for 3 days £3.50.

There are special rates for those over 60 and under 19 years of age.

Permits cost £9.00 and £4.50 for 14 and 3 days respectively. For the latest prices check here.

First photo courtesy of yamahagarn, Flickr. Second and thrid photos, courtesy of Baronscourt.

About the author

Originally from Scotland, Colin now resides near the beautiful seaside town of Portstewart on the Causeway Coastal Route. By day he works in IT and by day off he spends much of his time travelling around the Island with his young family, writing about his experiences for many sites both locally and nationally.