Loughgall Lake is to be restocked with £12,000 worth of carp this month – but local anglers believe it still falls well short of the mark.
In the last 12 month period, Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council has seen a total income from angling on the lake of £5270.71.
Having introduced night fishing daily tickets, this brought in £995.95. And the overall from night fishing memberships was £668.09 – the collective fees of the eight members in total.
But the Loughgall Carp Anglers believe membership would take off with a significant investment, Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council has been told.
They have asked that up to £50,000 more be invested in stocking of the lake.
And the leisure committee has been told that this simply is not feasible.
Loughgall Lake is a 37-acre mixed species coarse fishery within Loughgall Country Park, with species including pike, bream, roach, tench, perch and carp.
The fishing rights are owned by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs.
But the lake is managed by council as part of a licence agreement drawn up in 2003.
A stipulation within the agreement states that council must not stock fish into the lake without approval of the Department.
The two main issues raised by anglers have been the introduction of night fishing and poor catch rates at Loughgall due to perceived low numbers of fish in the water there.
A report to the leisure committee reveals: “Night fishing has continued but with limited participation by the anglers. They say this is due to low catch rates.
“This issue is being raised mainly by the Loughgall Carp Anglers. The number of carp in the lake is low for its size – approximately 500 in 37 acres. The carp anglers are not interested in catching other species.
“At the meetings with the anglers it was stated that Loughgall Lake was and should be a mixed species lake to cater for all coarse anglers and not focused on carp only.
“DAERA carried out a survey of the lake at the request of the anglers in 2017 using a boat equipped with a fish finder. While the survey showed there were a lot of fish in the lake, they were mostly located along the middle, which was beyond the distance anglers could reach.”
In 2001, at the request of anglers, approximately three tonnes of bream from Lough Neagh were introduced to Loughgall Lake with the approval of DCAL – now DAERA – at a cost of approximately £3000.
In 2003, 100 carp – approximately 7lbs each – were introduced, again at the request of anglers, at an approximate cost of £2000, with a further stocking of around 500 smaller carp in 2013, which was funded by DAERA.
A further restocking of 150 carp – 6lbs each – is due to take place this month at a cost of £12,000.
The paper to committee adds: “These carp had to be sourced from a company in England as they were the only company who could comply with the strict health guidelines imposed by DAERA for Northern Ireland.
“After restocking has been completed in February we will monitor what effect this has had for the carp anglers. A further meeting will be arranged between anglers, DAERA and council in April/May.”
While pointing to the income from angling, the committee has been told the Loughgall Carp Anglers want between £40,000 and £50,000 more on stocking the lake.
They believe this will increase income to between £20,000 and £30,000 a year through increased annual memberships.
The committee, however, has been told that in order to achieve this, income would need an increase from eight current memberships to 250 a year.
And the paper categorically states: “There is no provision in the budget.”