PLANS could be in the offing to develop Strabane Canal into a coarse fishing attraction.
Earlier this month officials from the Loughs Agency carried out a survey at the waterway to discern the levels of fish stocks and according to the authority’s development officer, Andy Sides, there is already a “healthy population” of fish therein.
Concerns over poaching had previously been raised after walkers at the canal noticed the presence of a net in the water. However Mr Sides explained that this was the technique employed by Loughs Agency to ascertain the fish stock.
“The Loughs Agency had been undertaking a fisheries survey at the canal with the survey team using the net to identify what population of fish are in there,” he explained.
“So it was all legal, above board and for the right reasons.”
He continued, “We wanted to assess the status of the canal as a foundation for the potential development of the canal as a fishing destination for coarse fishing.
“And the survey has identified that there looks to be a healthy population of fish already there… roach, flounder and minnow. So I don’t think that it would require stocking. No eels were caught but they’d almost certainly be there.
“The canal is well used by cyclists and walkers but it would be great to see it used for fishing too.”
Welcoming the prospect of a potential development for coarse fishing at the canal, local angler, Barney Winters said it’s an “excellent opportunity.”
“This would be a brilliant idea to promote coarse angling for this area,” Mr Winters said. “It’s been talked about for a number of years… but the potential is definitely there. It’s an excellent opportunity.
“There is excellent access at the canal and so it would also be very easy to run the types of competitions that would encourage large numbers of people to come here.”
Mr Winters also noted that any development could be to the benefit of local schools becoming involved in fishing.
He concluded, “As a site that’s otherwise disused apart from walkers, it would be great to see it opened up.”