OVER the past couple of years there has been a dramatic change in angling opportunities in the Quoile Pondage area.
About five years ago there was a healthy head of pike in the River Quoile which certainly entertained many local and visiting anglers along its banks. There were even a couple of thirty pounders landed and I myself hooked at Steamboat Quay a pike (but failed to land it) – the proverbial one that got away – which must have been four feet long at least. It was a monster! A dream fish.
But alas, in chapter two of the modern history of this river, a new character enters the scene… a seal. It came in through a hole in the tidal barrage beside the Quoile Yacht Club and proceeded to eat its way through the pike stock. This progressive onslaught, much to the dismay of local pikers who often saw it feeding and on occasion stealing a fish from off their lines, led to the virtual collapse of the pike fishery as we knew it.
Of course, there are still pike in stock in the river, but albeit good specimens are much fewer and far between. Many pike anglers have given up the ghost as today’s angling is just a shadow of the old days. DCAL fisheries officers have continued to stock the river with the occasional pike from other inland fisheries. But it will take a good number of years before big hungry pike again abound in these waters.
But… whilst there has been a decrease in pike activity, there has been a corresponding increase in stock of the smaller species such as roach, rudd, hybrids, and perch. There was an excellent native stock of rudd in the Quoile and it declined from the eighties declined but still offers a good day’s fishing.
Much has been said about water quality and efforts by different agencies have been made to ensure that this has improved. One clear indication that all is improving in the river is the number of breeding brown trout around especially in the past three years. It seems that they have venture down from the feeder streams to the deeper water and are adapting nicely. They are caught occasionally by coarse anglers, but a size 9 hook and a small worm is the preferred method for fishing for these unless you wish to try out fishing with the fly if the relatively slow running waters from Jane’s Shore down to Steamboat Quay. An excellent area is just down stream of the Killyleagh Road Bridge.
The River Quoile is reinventing itself and provides plenty of sport for anglers but the big rod-bending drama may be something a bit more far off. But much depends on whether the water quality remains in a good state.