Belfast Telegraph

Just like old times on the banks of the Bann and a cracking start to the New Year at Craigmore

By Vic Thomas

Bountiful catches in two holiday matches run by Lurgan Coarse Angling Club on the Shillingtons stretch of the River Bann at Portadown brought back memories of days gone by when the Bann always produced astonishing bags of fish.

On each day, some mega weights of roach were landed with anglers fishing the old style of pole straight to hand.

In the first match, Johnny McKinley top weighted with 29.900Kgs and second was John Walker with 26.560Kgs from Colin Wike in third with 20.410Kgs.

Weights in the second match were even better with Stevie Wright bagging up 35.050Kgs. Runner up was Shaun Keenan with 28.275Kgs and third, Nigel McKinney with 25.800Kgs. In old money, the two winning weights were 65lb 13ozs and 77lb 2ozs, easily the best one day match weights in Northern Ireland for many a year.

- Cracking numbers of trout are being landed at Craigmore Fishery, Randalstownt. On some days fishing was better in the morning and evening and other days fished consistently well all day.

Last Thursday for instance was slow all day until 3.00pm when anglers who were blanking ended with double figure catches in the last hour.

Most fish where caught on damsels, bloodworm, Cats Whiskers, epoxy buzzers and Pheasant Tail Nymphs. Plus about 50 fish were tempted by Shipmans and tiny Spiders just below the surface, which is great for this time of year.

Top rod was Harry McAteer Jr who landed 35 to 7lbs on Blobs stripped fast while close behind was Nicky Edwards who bagged 54 to 5lbs during two sessions. Robert Paul landed 22 over two visits; Keith Kilburn caught 17 and Michael Jones grassed 19 to 7lbs including a tagged fish worth £25!

Patrick McEleney banked a dozen; Andy Maguire had 10 and Billy Todd also bagged 10 to over 5lbs on size 18 Spiders and tiny buzzers. Steven Montgomery landed 11 to over 4lbs; Gary Crothers caught 16; Steven Best bagged 35 to 5lbs during several visits and Peter Alexander grassed 19 to 7lbs. Davy Cupples enjoyed two sessions banking 38 trout; Mark Telford bagged 10 to 6lbs plus Sandy Doreen took 14 on the Weed fly and Steven Hoper landed a personal best of 14 trout.

Gordon Wilson banked a dozen; Billy Hazalett took 26 over two visits; John Hughes grassed 19 to over 5lbs; Shane McEleney landed 32 on two visits and Davy Friel caught 20 to 4lbs. Connor Edwards tempted 11; Pat McDonagh netted 15 to 5lbs on a Chamois pattern; Harry Driven had 10; Marti Allen took 18; John Dixon bagged 21 to over 7lbs and Rab Currie enjoyed a great session banking 21 trout including a brace of eight pounders and three others at 6lbs!

The best fish of the week, a beauty at over 10lbs was landed by Sammy Conaughty who was casting a size 16 red Bloodworm pattern.

Rab McFarland had one at 6lbs plus on a similar fly; Bob Weir bagged fish of 4lbs, 5lbs and 8lbs; Thomas Hill, Alan McDowell, Andy McClelland and Davy Humphries all tempted trout of 5lbs plus and Jason Kirk bagged a brace of eight pounders!

- Paul O'Donnell finished 2016 in style with a lovely catch and release on the Grand Canal, Co Kildare.

Fishing in a new spot, he set up a float legered sprat and after about 35 minutes, he had a solid run, wound down and struck hard.

Paul, a member of North Kildare Trout Anglers, who grew up fishing for trout in his home Co Donegal, thought he had hooked a nice pike until it leapt clear of the water and he saw that it was a huge wild brownie. The big fish was a new personal best brown trout for Paul and from a canal whilst fishing for pike!

After a couple of photos and, measuring 28 inches, she was released back to the water.

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