Fishing the Lough Erne system

The Lough Erne system, which straddles Eire and Northern Ireland, is a network of lakes, rivers and streams which offers fabulous sport to suit most angling tastes.

Ireland’s prime angling is located in the 2,500 square miles of the Erne system – an extensive system of lakes, rivers and streams. It extends south to Dublin, west to the River Shannon, north to Lough Erne, and east to Carlingford. The myriad lakes and rivers are linked to the Boyne system, and many of them are still largely unexploited.

Rules and facilities

Lower Lough Erne from Ely Lodge Forest. Lookin...
Image via Wikipedia

Coarse angling in Eire is free. There are no rod licences or close seasons, although statutory fishery boards work to protect salmon and trout. Livebaiting is now prohibited, and no more than two rods may be used at a time. A recent bye-law was passed after the discovery that some anglers had not been returning species in danger of running into short supply, such as pike.

Most lakes have signposted approach roads, or are located alongside main or secondary roads. Car parking is easy, and when an angler wishes to cross fields, a polite request to the owner is rarely refus-ed. The only enemy to the angler is another angler who leaves litter, or carelessly lights fires and leaves gates open, allowing cattle to stray.

The Irish Tourist Board (Bord Failte) maintains an advice service for visitors, and maps and advice on bait and techniques are provided by the Inland Fisheries Trust, a semi-state promotion organization offering membership for IR£5 a year. Founded in 1951, the Inland Fisheries Trust has now been merged with other fishery regimes, and consists of a central Fisheries Board and seven regional organizations. Life members of the former Trust re- 365 visiting anglers can also help with information on where to fish.


Belturbet is a very good centre for coarse fishing and commands a maze of Lough (L) Erne lakes, linking streams, and the main River Erne. Boats are available on adjacent lakes, while the slow flowing River Erne has ample bank facilities, and deep pools containing bream, roach and some pike.

The River Erne in Ballyshannon, Co. Donegal, I...
Image via Wikipedia

Putiaghan Lake, 2lA miles south, on the Belturbet-Butlers Bridge road, is a first class tench fishery with fish of up to 6 lb, and is fished from both stands and boats. North of Belturbet, both Lough Shanncory and L Rout, near Putiaghan, have pike to 10 lb, with roach, rudd and perch. Farther south, by Milltown, are L Arden and L Drumany which have good fishing for bream, roach, perch and some pike. Richard Harris, Naughton, Belturbet, can give more details.

The numerous lakes of the Erne system are all within three miles of Butlers Bridge, which is four miles from Cavan town, and on the River

Annalee Derryheen, two miles away, has excellent bream and roach fishing, and bank fishing along the River Annalee offers an abundance of small roach. The upriver stretch near Ballyhaise also has good swims.

Cavan town lies five miles east of the maze of lakes of the Erne system which, together, are known as Lough Oughter. Favourite fishing places are found in Killykeen Forest Park which has good bank fishing for bream, and other waters with large stocks of bream and roach are L Rann, L Killagowan, L Carratraw and L Inchin. L Killymooney in Cavan town has fine tench to 4lb and bream to 3 lb. Mrs B O’Hanlon, St Martin’s, Creghan, Co Cavan, can give further details.

Killashandra, two miles from L Oughter, offers the same fishing as the other towns mentioned. In addition, there are L Green in the town providing good tench, L Tullyguide which is a good bream water, and L Derreskit and L Dunaweel, both good for bream and roach. Contact Matty Gaffney in Killashandra, for information.

Source of the Erne

Lough Erne, Castlecaldwell Forest. The waters ...
Image via Wikipedia

Lough Gowna is a big dispersed lake of 1,000 acres on the Cavan-Longford border. Primarily a coarse fish water, it also holds brown trout and pike, and fishing is excellent, although algae growth is sometimes troublesome. Arvagh, within three miles, is where the Erne flow starts. Lough Garty has limited bank facilities on 500 acres, and there is good roach fishing in L Lisney and the River Erne at Sallachan Bridge and Iron Bridge. Lough Blue Gate is good for roach and bream. Additional information can be obtained from Jimmy Sloan at Lough Gowna Post Office, Co Cavan.

In Co Monaghan, Clones has unlimited bank space on the River Finn, chiefly near Anlore, four miles east at Annie’s Bridge. Here the river is fast flowing and weedy in places and holds many roach and rudd. Five small lakes in the area might be worth exploring, but no boats are available. For further details, contact Mrs A Woods, Clones, Co Monaghan.

River Dromore

Cootehill, Baileborough, Shercock and Ballybay form a triangle covering 60 square miles. In Cootehill, there is good fishing on the River Dromore flowing from Ballybay, and excellent bream and roach fishing in L White, at Baird’s Shore, near Ballybay. Other lakes are L Black and L Dromore, both of 200 acres, L Inner and L Tacker, L Mullanarry and L Corkeeran, which have good roach fishing, and L Lisnalong which has just one boat. Nearer Cootehill, L Killyudran is good for bream and roach, and L Drumlona is good for bream and pike.

Bailieborough has L Church of 150 acres with adequate bank facilities and four boats, as well as L Castle, L Skeagh, L Drumkerry, and L Galbolie. Lough Skillan, 800 acres, is alongside Shercock with fair pike and bream, seven boats available and bank space for 60 rods. For further information contact B Gren-nan, The Beeches, Cootehill, or M Brady, Bailieborough, Co Cavan.

Monaghan town is a good centre for fishing the Ballybay area which has the Dromore River and six lakes. They are all good for bream, rudd and perch, but no boats are available. Lough Major, 800 acres, is largely reserved for trout, although restricted coarse fishing is permitted, while L Mullarney and L White provide good bream. For further details contact McCaughery, at 1 Highfield Close, Killygoan, Co Monaghan or G Maguire in Ballybay. Carrickmacross: has many lakes L Monalty, a shallow, weedy lake, has first class bream, rudd and rudd/bream hybrids, and nearby L Corcrin has bream. In the town, L Lisaniske is also good for bream, while Rahan’s Lake, with fishing stands, provides good bream and pike. Contact Tom Ward, Coolfore, Carrickmacross, Co Monaghan, for further details.

River Woodford

Lower Lough Erne from Castle Archdale Forest a...
Image via Wikipedia

Baillinamore, Carrigallen and Ballyconnel form another triangle west of the Erne system proper. The River Woodford, slow moving near Ballyconnel, has high quality fishing for pike, bream, roach, perch and some rudd. Lough Cranaghan, 50 acres, and L Clonty, near Ardlougher, have good fishing but limited bank facilities.

At Carrigallen, the little fished L Glasshouse, 100 acres, is worth exploring by boat, and L Rockfield and L Gulladoo are said to have bream and roach. Contact J J Dolan, Carrigallen, Co Leitrim. Ballinamore has 10 lakes with some boats and at-tractive bank facilities, and L Cam at Ballyconnel has tench of up to 4½lb. Apply to Ivan Price, Ballinamore, for directions.

First class boat fishing

Lough Muckno, near Castleblayney, offers roughly 1,000 acres of first class boat fishing with many bays for pike and bream. Trolling for pike is popular and three boats are available. Contact the secretary of the Bawn and District Gun and Angling Club at Gortubber Post Office, Castleblayney.

Drumconrath, in Co Meath, has many lakes known as the Ballyhoe lakes holding good stocks of bream and rudd, and tench to 6 lb. Lough Mentrim is good for tench and L Corstown for bream, while L Bracken has fine rudd-bream hybrids. Contact Jim Meade, Drum- conrath, for further details.

Virginia in Co Cavan has L Ramor (800 acres) with fishing for fine perch and pike, and six boats available. Both the River Black-water, running from Ramor, and the River Boyne have been drained and will remain virtually worthless to the angler until 1983 by which time it is hoped that the water will have become sufficiently clear to permit restocking.