Salmon run building after quiet period but flood needed, says Gerry Quinn of River Faughan Anglers

If you’ve been out enjoying the quayside promenades in Derry lately you will likely have seen some big fish making a splash in the river.

By Kevin Mullan
Friday, 16th July 2021, 4:56 pm

The peak of the annual Atlantic summer salmon run is approaching as the fish return to the Foyle system to spawn.

And despite the worrying decline in sea trout witnessed over recent decades, that salmonid species is also evident in local rivers, as would be expected in the middle of July.

Gerry Quinn, of the River Faughan Anglers, told the ‘Journal’ that more fish are now being caught around Campsie, Cloghole and Mobuoy.

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However, with the Faughan being a spate river a decent flood would certainly help.

“It’s building up now after a fairly quiet spell. The Faughan needs a flood to get it going. Though there are plenty of sea trout gathered and some nice ones have been caught on the night fly,” said Gerry.

Mr. Quinn said that while it has been quiet until now on the Faughan it’s a different picture in some of the other famous salmon rivers of Derry, Donegal and Tyrone.

“The Finn reports are mixed,” he told the ‘Journal’, “I’m hearing the Derg is doing okay and that the Mourne at Sion Mills has been producing a lot of fish.”

Salmon need the water levels to be sufficient for them to make it to the headwaters of local rivers to spawn.

So anglers are praying for a period of rain, not just for this season but for the future of the fishery.

“The long dry spell hasn’t helped and as usual there have been reports of poaching,” said Mr. Quinn.

He added that anglers have raised concerns about turbines and other artificial features diverting flows and affecting the run.

Mr. Quinn said that so far this season it has been a ‘mixed bag’.

He said the River Faughan Anglers also believe planned works at NI Water’s abstraction point at Cloghole may have an impact.

“There’s also going to be an issue on the Faughan where they are refurbishing the gates which form the impounding dam at their Cloghole abstraction point,” he said.

The Foyle is famed for its salmon which were once so plentiful that they were formerly a staple diet of the servants who worked the various ‘Big Houses’ around Derry and Donegal.

Stocks of salmon and sea trout have declined recently for a variety of reasons. But last year there an abundance of salmon thanks to what was a fairly wet July 2020.

Lice infestations at industrial salmon farms are suspected of having had an impact on wild fish.

The Loughs Agency have asked anglers to report any unusual fish caught within the Foyle catchment this summer.

“Please report any suspected catches of escaped farmed Atlantic salmon, Rainbow trout or Brown trout, non-native Pink salmon or diseased Atlantic salmon to DAERA Inland Fisheries [email protected] or Loughs Agency [email protected],” it stated.

The Foyle system covers an area of approximately 1,300 square miles with tributaries flowing from the Sperrins, Inishowne and the Blue Stacks.

The river is famous for its angling with its tributaries regarded as among the finest salmon rivers in Europe.