Towards the end of the Second World War, food was scarce and expensive, and the Council laid aside land at Johnston Park for allottments.
Men from all over the town took over these plots as they were called, and worked them growing fresh vegetables and as befits keen gardeners these men had a love of nature and many of them, probably all of them, were fishermen.
Angling then was widespread in Omagh, but not organized, and much of the local rivers were free and some saw in this a problem, because if fishing was free for locals then it would be free for outsiders, especially those from Belfast who it was rumored were buying and preserving fishing stretches around Belfast.
So after the gardeners finished gardening at night, they plotted and decided to form their own angling club and limit membership to the local area. A meeting was held in the council chambers in the Town Hall and an Angling Association formed.
The President was Col. Gregg. Chairman, Capt. Madden Scott, Secretary, Ernie Hamilton and Treasurer, Joe Mathers. There were other important members like Dan Mc Bride, the local book maker who under wrote the club financially, and Padraig Cunningham who gave the club access to his land and fishing.
The next milestone in the club’s history came in 1955, when the Maturin Baird Estate who owned fishing rights from the Blackrock Bridge to below N.T.S. offered the club the lease of these waters at £105 for 99 years.
The AGM that year was a very stormy one as it meant that the sub would have to be increased from £1 per year to £3. and a lot of the members thought that this was exorbitant, but it was just carried and the cornerstone of the club laid at this meeting.
In 1988, the Maturin Baird Estate was in financial trouble over death duties and our then Sec, J Fergy, heard of it and informed the committee. When the lease was drawn up, there was no provision made for under limiting of the lease and inflation had whittled away the annual rent to a pittance with 66 years to go. So when the club offered to buy out the lease and the Maturin Baird accepted, the lease was bought out for £15,000.
This showed the club the way to go but no other fishing rights have come on the market, but any suitable stretches will be bought out if possible as the rents to riparian owners are rising rapidly and will continue to do so.
The aim of the Omagh Anglers is to provide affordable fishing for the local people of Omagh and the improving of fish stocks and habitat for the local anglers and new anglers.