Kilkeel Angling Club

Kilkeel Angling Club was formed in 1979 by a group of local anglers who where concerned that their local rivers, which they fished on an informal bases, often with permission or tolerance of landowners, where coming under treat from poachers and also there was increasing environmental pressures.


In the late 1970 period, following a number of dry summers, there was an increase demand for water, both for domestic and industrial purposes. In the first instance, there was a proposal to abstract a large amount of water from the White Water River, to argument existing supplies in the Silent Valley Reservoir. This scheme was subsequently enlarged to supply a new reservoir at Knockalla - which would have been supplied from a number local rivers. This proposal was abandoned following a ruling to given at a major public inquiry. (Following this the anglers decided to form a club to better deal with issues like this). The first important action of the club was to acquire access and fishing rights. This required negotiations with land owners and the Kilmorey Settled Estate, who owned the fishing rights. Once the club had these matters dealt with then a development programme was put into place by the club committee. This involved the club taking a three pronged approach.


Protection - the creation of a body of bailiffs, warranted by the courts, to protect the Whitewater and Kilkeel rivers from poaching. They also approached relevant authorities and asked them to improve their service in the area.


Habitat improvement - various surveys were carried out to determine the overall condition of the river’s habitat. It became obvious from observation and by information from members who had fished the river for many years, that the major arterial drainage schemes carried out in the period following the 1939 - 45 War, to increase food production and prevent flooding, had changed the flow regime of the Whitewater. Following debate and consultation, it was decided to reinstate where possible the pools on the river and also improve the pool and ripple sequence on the river. They purposed to improve the habitat for both juvenile stock and the returning adult sea trout and salmon.


Stock enhancement - approaches were made in 1980 to the Fisheries Division who ran the Bushmills hatchery to purchase immature stock to augment the small numbers of salmon which remained in the Whitewater system. The Bushmill’s Hatchery provided numbers of eyed ova which were implanted in suitable areas in the river. However when the invoices for these ova were received, serious consideration was given to the building of a small hatchery to provide stock to enhance the salmon population in the Whitewater . By 1983 a small hatchery was established and the first brood stock were trapped. The resulting unfed fry where released into the river. By 2008 the hatchery was producing up to 250,000 fry per year in a greatly enlarged, well equipped facility.

In 1987 the club entered the UK Salmon River Conservation Competition sponsored by Benson & Hedges. In recognition of the clubs approach to the conservation of fish stocks etc., the club was awarded a joint first prize with two other clubs, one from England and the other from Wales. The Club has maintained its interest in conservation, not just in its own rivers, but it has, on occasions, given assistance by way of advise etc. to other clubs. The Club has also, when possible, made available juvenile stock, usually as ova or unfed fry, to other clubs that have suffered pollution incidents, resulting in fish kill.


Club Competitions: Competitions are held on a number of occasions during the year and are usually well attended. The Club has also participated in major UK Competitions, and one team, led by the late Tommy Wilson, reached the finals of a UK Competition, fished on one of England’s major venues. However the cost of fishing the rounds and, if successful, the finals proved expensive and was draining on the Club funds and because of this the Club no longer participates in these competitions. 


Social: Since the formation of the Club, the social aspect has not been neglected, with an annual club dinner, held in January, and one of the high lights of the year, is the spring salmon fishing trip to the River Drowes. Each year a number of cottages in the Laureen Estate are booked for our March weekend, with 20 - 30 members enjoying a weekend of fishing and socializing. Davy McCauley, Chairman of the Club is a stalwart for the club, has organised this trip with great success for many years. 


Juniors: The Club has encouraged junior anglers to join and organises coarse and outings for them. However the increasing legal requirements under the Child Protection Order has meant that issue like transport and taking photographs etc. are closely monitored and controlled by legislation resulting in fewer outings for the junior members. Although, recently the Club organised a Fly Tying coarse and this involved Club juniors and their parents. It is hoped that by using accredited instructors, further Fly Tying and Fly Casting coarses may be held. 


Club Expansion: The Club has a membership of approx 100 adults and 20+ juniors. It is managed by a committee elected at the Annual General Meeting. The committee hold a main meeting 11 times annually and other sub-committee meetings as required. The committee is working hard on developing areas of the river that are currently over grown, fixing of weirs and most importantly, upgrading work to the hatchery, to keep our river’s stock levels as high as possible to keep the Whitewater River, one of the North of Irelands best Sea Trout rivers.


If you wish to contact the Angling Club, email us to

Last update 12th May 2020

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