By all accounts the 2018 season was a hard season for anglers with long spells of hot, dry and sunny weather and a major pollution incident. I have had reports from anglers that the numbers of salmon in September/October weren’t huge but a few anglers who managed to get out were successful.
The rainbow trout that escaped from Rocks Lodge fish farm caused great concern at the start of the season and the situation was being monitored by FASTA who are liaising with the different government bodies on behalf of all angling clubs in the area. With considerable work going on in the background FASTA have managed to secure funding from DAERA for a major study on the effects the rainbows have had and will have on our system.
Unfortunately, back in May we had another huge pollution incident which started well out side our waters but due to the extensive nature of the spill another huge fish kill occurred with the pollutant killing fish right down the Drumragh river as far as the meetings with the Camowen in Omagh Town centre. This received huge media coverage due to the damage caused and the nature of the pollution. I can report that the Drumragh although hit badly was not as bad as first feared and trout and salmon parr did survive in the lower sections.
To celebrate our 75th year we organised a BBQ on the day of our competitions. We again had a very successful day at Birchwood Fishery in Drumquin. We had 48 anglers on the day and the feedback was very positive. A great lunch of burgers, hotdogs and chips was provided to all as a tasty treat. On the day Shane, Brendan and Brian the Clubs qualified coaches gave one to one tuition for the juniors. Alan McFarland won the Mc Bride Cup and Justin Elliott won the Courtney Cup. The clubs annual draw took place after the competition with Ian Sproule drawing out the tickets for the winners. £2000 was raised for the two charities NI Air Ambulance and Omagh Hospital Palliative Care Ward getting £1000 each.
I would like to take this opportunity to again reinforce the point that the Omagh Anglers Association has lost no fishing rights on the Camowen River. I am glad to be able to let you all know that the Association now owns the complete fishing rights that were known as the Belmore Estate, purchased in the close season from the Rountree family. These upper reaches are clearly recognised as nursery streams and fishing late on in the season should not be encouraged on them. Since 2000 the club has attained funding to the tune of £130k which was spent on the Camowen and its tributaries on nursery enhancement schemes.
Two of the Association Committee members are still Directors on the Strule Trust and we hope in 2019 to engage in at least 3 new schemes of work on the upper reaches of the Camowen and Drumragh and its tributaries with regards to salmonid enhancement works. Two projects took place in 2018 with a spend of approx. £30,000. One scheme on a tributary of the Drumragh, the other on the Cloughfin.
We do hope members will continue with catch and release practises that prevailed so much over the last few years and I can only thank those who practised catch and release and promoted this as the most positive way forward to help declining salmon numbers. I know that many of our younger members are great advocates for catch and release choosing to return all the salmon they catch carefully.
We introduced a change for the 2018 season. As an Association we have no figures to combat pollution incidents or how many salmon /trout are being caught in our waters and from this season compulsory catch returns are going to have to be made by all members. The permits will be issued again this year with space for catch returns on them and extra pages will be available from Andersons and on our webpage(www.omaghanglers.org). From the close of the season there will be 25 days in which to make your return and nil returns must be made.15th November is the final date for returns to be made. If a member does not make a return, then he/she will forfeit their licence for the next year. A late return will incur a charge. Returns can be made online or on the actual licence and posted back to the Clubs PO Box number. I would like to thank all those who made their returns for the 2018 season, it was appreciated. We are volunteers doing this for the benefit of OUR club not for the fun of it. From the returns made in 2018 806 salmon were caught and 593 were returned. 2991 trout were caught and 2856 were returned.36 seatrout were caught with 24 returned and 500 rainbow trout were caught and thankfully only 62 of these were returned! This is a great start and many thanks for the returns and a big thanks to Shane who checked the returns. As stated from this year no excuses will be accepted to no return and penalties will be incurred.
The email address for anglers to contact with information on any stiles, step overs or bridges that are broken damaged or in need of replacement or repair, is firstname.lastname@example.org. Please continue to use this address.
Please be advised, you must have a valid Omagh Anglers permit before commencing to fish Omagh Anglers Association water. Anyone not having a permit will be disallowed membership to the Association. The permit must be carried with you when fishing Club waters and the Loughs Agency and our own team of 11 Bailiffs will be checking for our permits.
Lastly, I would like to thank everyone who has helped me in the last year in my role as Club Secretary especially the Committee and Officers and thanks to the Club Bailiffs for their fantastic work throughout 2018.The Bailiffs checked 356 tickets in the 2018 season, a terrific effort in protecting our waters for our members. I also hope that all members will have a great year at the river.