By all accounts the 2017 season was mostly successful for salmon and trout fishing with spells of good water levels throughout the season. I have had many reports from anglers that the numbers of salmon seen in September/October weren’t as plentiful as 2016 but they were still there. Not always catchable but the rainbow trout around Newtownstewart didn’t help.
The big floods in August last year did not help anglers and many of the known pools have changed somewhat as a result. A lot of damage occurred on the Owenkillew and Strule with many bridges, stiles, step-overs and even huts being destroyed and removed. There will be considerable cost to replace them in the coming season. The rainbow trout that escaped from Rocks Lodge fish farm are causing great concern and the situation is being monitored by FASTA who are liaising with the different government bodies on behalf of all angling clubs in the area.
This year we are hoping to organise a bbq on the day of our competitions with date and venue still to be arranged. Last year we again had a very successful day at Birchwood Fishery in Drumquin. We had 42 anglers on the day and the feedback was very positive. On the day Shane Colgan one of the Clubs qualified coaches gave one to one tuition for the juniors. R. Trainusuas won the Mc Bride Cup and J Mc Farland won the Courtney Cup.
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. We have in place a 25year lease for the fishing rights formerly known as the Belmore Estate. We successfully defended these rights in Court along with Rountrees the owners of the fishing rights. 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 this year to engage in at least 3 new schemes of work on the upper reaches of the Camowen and its tributaries with regards to salmonid enhancement works. Two of these were cancelled due to bad weather in 2017.
We do hope members will continue with catch and release practises that prevailed so much during the 2017 season 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 are introducing 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. We tried a voluntary scheme six years ago but unfortunately it was unsuccessful. The new permits will be issued 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 will forfeit his permit for the next year. A late return will incur a charge of £20. No excuses, this must work and it is for the benefit of all members for the future. Returns can be made via email or on the actual permit itself and posted back to the Clubs PO Box number which is on the permit.
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 also thanks to the Club Bailiffs for their fantastic work throughout 2017.The Bailiffs checked 325 tickets in the 2017 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.