THE charity, Northern Ireland Cross Community Angling, has signed a long-term management lease with the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs inland fisheries division for use of the lower reservoir in Conlig in North Down.
The site will become a watersports complex offering a range of activities including coarse angling, canoeing and sub aqua training. Fishing will be available by the summer of 2019. Day tickets will be available from 8:00am seven days a week, say NICCA.
Investment aims to provide over 50 angling pegs as well as onsite car parking which meets standards for use by people with disabilities. The facility will remain open to residents for walking and jogging.
A spokesman from NICCA said,
“We are delighted to add Conlig reservoir to our portfolio of lakes. It is an excellent blank canvas to develop over the next few years, will allow us to extend our delivery of projects and outreach programmes and offer a shared safe space to allow all communities to enjoy relaxation and recreation. We will now also, for the first time, be entering into partnerships with new sports. It is with great anticipation that we look forward to and welcome this collaboration to bring something new to the Ards and North Down area.”
The charity already has a successful mixed fishery at Beechhill near Newtownards. It hosts cross-border competitions and a range of other fishing events for schools and disadvantaged groups.
North Down is home to a wide range of private fisheries which provide sport for game and coarse anglers. It is a base for the Northern Ireland Carp Angling Society which has waters at Newtownards and Greyabbey. Well stocked game fisheries can be found at Movilla and Holywood. Day tickets are available at some club waters.
However the future of the public fisheries at Portavo and Lough Cowey, stocked and managed by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, remains in doubt after Northern Ireland Water revealed plans to sell the sites which are ‘surplus to requirements.’ However DAERA is currently undertaking a survey of ‘derelict waters’ to provide ‘robust and accurate information on the current known fishing rights’ of both rivers and lakes across Northern Ireland.
The new initiative will produce a report for Sport NI and the NI Angling Forum, and create a priority list for development by communities, clubs and councils where the information is clear that the waters are ‘derelict’ and where public access can be easily established.
Meanwhile the British Disabled Angling Association has appealed to fisheries in Northern Ireland to join a free register. A spokesman said,
“It informs people of what a fishery has in terms of access and facilities. Its not a grading system of fisheries. We simply want information about whether its an all-singing-all-dancing facility or just a fishery with a level grass bank.”
When a fishery completes the listing the BDAA will email a free copy of its fisheries design guide Access to Angling: Best Practice Guidance to help continue to improve access and facilities for disabled people.