The Antrim coast is a
wonderfully scenic spot, and not just the Giant's Causeway or that
rickety rope bridge! It also offers specimen fishing for those with the
interest to travel or lucky enough to live alongside it. Despite the
relatively large population around Belfast, it does not suffer as much
angling pressure as you see on some of the marks around Dublin in the
summer. Akin to Donegal there is two types of Antrim weather due to the
wonderfully piuctureque and green glens behind you; if you can't see the
glens it is raining, and if you can see them, then it is going to rain!
Big thanks to Gary Carleton and a host of others too many to mention for
offering up their advice on the best marks. A red spot
indicates a known mark with recent reports, whilst a yellow spot
indicates a suspected mark without recent reports... so a pioneering
spirit is needed!
Antrim is a big fishing
county ranging from Belfast Lough up through the lovely glens and round
past Rathlin Island to the twin seaside towns of Portrush and
Portstewart (the latter of which is in Co. Londonderry). For visitors
there has always been a warm welcome and fishermen are no exception.
Each of the marks listed on the map - and we'd welcome more information
- hides a number of smaller marks. BTW, the current record Anglerfish
was caught in Belfast Lough and the current Cuckoo Wrasse was captured a
few miles off the causeway coast in Antrim but sadly for us only the
captor knows where! A big opportunity awaits an adventurous angler. A
big thank you to Ronald, Bill and Dave for supplying lots of information
on several marks...and tranlations of the local lingo - a Bavan is a
Ballen Wrasse, and Lythe are Pollack!
1 - Portrush
Technically you are into the next county but... there are in fact
two shore marks here and our thanks to Gary Carleton for this
information. Species & Techniques: Portrush Harbour holds
very few big fish, with codling and coalfish of under 500 grams (
1lb) the most likely catch. The "Blue Pool" in Portrush is a better
mark, a good spot for decent coalfish and pollack. It can also be
used for long range casting during the winter months. There are
various small pools, that, when float fished produce some quality
pollack, coalfish, wrasse etc. Finally you might consider bringing
or hiring a boat and heading out to the "Skerries Rocks" lying about
half a mile off shore. This mark is good for drifting past with
feathers to get big pollack and ballen wrasse, with the possibility
of a few codling. Rag-worms bring in the best results.
9 - Dunseverick
- with thanks to Ronald Sugenor. Fish from the rocks in front
of the picnic area.. Species & Techniques: Lots of ballen
wrasse on the float in summer, some mackerel, large pollack and big
coalfish available also to either spinning or float fished baits.
Legering with contact some decent conger eels on the bottom.
8 - White Park Bay
- with thanks to Ronald Sugenor. Very little fished, it is a
tiring walk down a farm track, at least ten minutes long from the
car park at the youth hostel, and you should fish to the right of
the river. Species & Techniques: Standard beach casting
techniques will get both flounder and turbot.
7 - Ballintoy
- with thanks to Ronald Sugenor. The recommendation is to
fish from the white rocks to the right of the harbour.. Species &
Techniques: Over the sand you can access plaice, dabs and
turbot. The turbot are best sought at distance on the sandbanks in
the direction of the offshore island, with a sandeel on a long
flowing trace. There are excellent ballen wrasse to be found
here in summer and mackerel will fall to spinning tactics.
Pollack and coalfish are common, with the potential for double
figure cod are possible in the winter in the right conditions - try lug
and crab cocktails on a pulley fig fired out at least 70 metres. "
The best time is after a really strong northerly gale but extreme
caution must be observed because we have been knee deep in water as
waves break through blow hole in rocks going up to twenty feet in
air before soaking anyone standing nearby." It sounds quite a
challenge, in not actually insane!
2 - Ballycastle
The best mark at Ballycastle beach is known locally as Pans Rock.
Either side of the rocks in front of the car part is also
recommended. The beach itself is also a reasonable venue however
beware summer tourists and families. It runs for nearly two
kilometres east of the town, offers an often steeply shelves mark
with a sand and gravel bottom. Freak waves are common on this
stretch of coast - never turn your back on the sea. Species &
Techniques: These rocks, directly alongside Ballycastle Beach
are very good for spinning for pollack and bait fishing for ballen
wrasse. You can long range cast from the point. The beach on
Ballycastle produces mainly flounder. There is always reports of
bass being caught there "but I am yet to see evidence (Gary
Carleton)". On the beach itself, the first few hours of the flood
will bring in small turbot, dabs and the odd Plaice, with dogfish,
whiting and codling available in the autumn and winter over high
water. Some sea-trout also reported. coalfish are possible after
dark. Our thanks to the lads off the forum and Ronald Surgenor for
the updates. May and June 2004.
6 - Torr Head
- with thanks to Ronald Sugenor. A difficult mark to get to
however it offers the possibility of some outstanding fishing. It
should never be fished alone, a dangerous exposed mark. One of the
few shore marks in Antrim capable of producing a tope. Species &
Techniques: Pollack (to double figures), coalfish, with ballen
wrasse and mackerel in summer will fall to spinning tactics. To try
for the tope, cast a large mackerel bait on at least a 6/0 and heavy
mono or wire biting trace into the calmer spots on the edges of the
main tidal races on the southern side.
10 a - Layd Church
Layd church is on the coast road from Cusendall to Cushendun. It is
accessed from the signposted car park for the old church you have to
follow the path to the shore (10 min walk). Species & Techniques:
You can fish anywhere of the rocks using rough ground tactics, with
the mark good for cod in winter alongside conger and dogfish, with
good wrasse available in the summer.
10 b - Salmon Rock, Cushendun
There's a small carpark with a gravel path leading along coast.
Follow it until you come to a section of shingle beach. Cross this
to the right and you will find some high rocks - an ideal platform.
This is salmon rock and for the record it is to the left of the
small beach. Species & Techniques: In winter codling,
flounder and whiting will fall to lugworm. In summer the occasional
plaice can be taken but there are plenty of flounder .
10 c - Limerick Point
Driving through cushendall towards red bay pier look for a road on
left heading for dalriada and follow until the end of road - around
another 200 metres. There is a small pier to fish from but most
people fish off the rocks to the left. This place gets very busy in
winter so best to get down early. Species & Techniques:
There is a reef about 150 metres offshore so best not to over cast
(tongue very much in cheek if you've ever seen my casting!). This
mark is very good for codling in winter to lugworm and crab baits
will account for some flounder as well .
10 d - "The Ledges"
Following road from cushendall to carnlough as you pass the beach to
your left approx 1 mile you can see an old ruined pier. Fishing off
the rocks between it and the disused quay near garron point produces
cod/codling to lug-crab or lug-mackerel baits . Species &
Techniques: The sea bed is very rough so tackle loss can be
high but it is worth it because fishing can be pretty good with fish
regulary in the 2-kilo plus (5lb) bracket .
3 - Glenarm
As you move closer to Belfast and the ferry terminal at Larne the
angling pressure necessarily increases and finding good marks is not
quite so easy. Robin recently reports that it was "a cracking
place during the summer for plaice, coalies, codling, dogfish and a
17lb conger eel off the breakwater". Species & Techniques:
These rocks, up the coast road may have recovered given Robin's
report, and can still provide a good day's fishing. Gary Carleton
reports "many seals on several occiasions here"... which is I
suppose a good sign provided they are hauled out sleeping off their
last meal! December 2003.
5 - Blackarch
- with thanks to Ronald Sugenor. This is located on the coast
road (A2) between Larne and Glenarm (#3). You can fish quite easily
off the rocks on the southern side of the arch. Species &
Techniques: Pollack, coalfish, conger eels and rock cod with
ballen wrasse and mackerel in summer will fall to either spinning or
12 - Ballylumford Harbour
with thanks to Bill Hurley. Carry on past Browns Bay to harbour
beside Ballylumford power station and fish from arm on power station
side. Species & Techniques: A longish cast straight out,
puts you onto broken ground with wrasse, cod, whiting, flatfish,
haddock, dogfish, coalfish, pollack and conger eels. The fish are
mostly small, but it does throw up the odd good one. Rag, lug,
mackerel and squid will suffice for bait. This markd fishes best
from late august onwards.
11 - Portmuck and Browns Bay
thanks to Stephen Cowan. A very scenic set of marks with lovely
views across to the Maidens, Portmuck offers rough ground fishing.
Around the corner so to speak is Browns Bay - It has a long sandy
beach and is protected by high ground on either, side toilet
facilities are available at the main car park The ground as far as
can be seen at low tide is clear and sandy Species & Techniques:
Portmuck offers pollack wrasse and small coalfish, with the added
bonus on a chip van on the Islandmagee road if you get hungry! "I
would be fishing on the bottom with a two hook rig (at Portmuck),
clipped down to get out some distance from the harbour wall; - this
also gets you clear of the rocks and weed which are close in. I have
found that rag worm are best here although i have tried
squid,mackerel and sand eels- the rag worm still works best. Last
month i witnessed three wrasse being caught inside 30 minutes".
Browns Bay has the same outlook and offers plenty of dogfish on a
short lob cast of no more than 50 metres, with ragworm proving a
very effective bait.
14 - Gobbins Cliffs
with thanks to Bill Hurley. Take Gobbins road (off road to
Portmuck), to lay-by at start of the cliffs. Walk down steep path
to monument at bottom, then turn left through archway, across bay,
and onto the old Gobbins cliff path.Try not to bring too much gear
with you as it is a long climb back up! Species & Techniques:
Floatfishing with ragworm and mackerel strip will produce wrasse to
specimen size. Spinning will produce pollack, mackerel (in season)
4 - Blackhead
- with thanks to Ronald Sugenor. Walking on the coastal path
from Whitehead village towards the lighthouse, it takes about
fifteen minutes and fish from flat rocks under the lighthouse.
Species & Techniques: In summer there are lots of ballen wrasse
average about 1 kilo (1.5 lbs), with pollack, coalfish, and mackerel
. It gets deep quickly, with up to 5 metres of water under your
feet. Legering the bottom on the rough ground can turn up the odd
bull huss but it is mainly lesser spotted dogfish and conger eels.
Ballen wrasse are best tackled with ragworm on the float but
hardbacked crabs produce the bigger fish . The average conger eels
is about 8 kilos (15lbs) but there is a good possibility of bigger
13 - Whitehead Promenade
with thanks to Bill Hurley. Fish from the seats in front of the
old folk?s home on the right hand side of the promenade. Park in the
lay-by opposite. Species & Techniques: A longish cast
straight out, puts you onto broken ground with wrasse, cod, whiting,
flounder, plaice, haddock, dogfish, "blochan", pollack and conger
eels. Fish are mostly small, but it does throw up the odd good one.
Rag, lug, mackerel and squid are the preferred baits. The mark
fishes best from late August onwards. Watch out for the wash from
the fast ferries at this mark, the same for Blackhead!
12 - Carrickfergus Harbour
with thanks to Bill Hurley. Park in main castle carpark and fish
end of harbour arm on castle side. Casting just short of new
breakwater inside harbour. Species & Techniques: Standard
rigs using ragworm, lug, mackerel and squid will produce cod,
whiting, flounder, haddock, dogfish, coalfish (locally called "blochan")
and conger eels. Fish are mostly small, but it does throw up the odd
good one. The harbour is a good mackerel spot during the summer
(with the occasional salmon and sea trout being caught.) and space
to fish is at a premium. Quietens of during the autumn and winter
though. The marina on the Belfast side, and the river mouth 1 km
further on (Rhanboy Park) have large shoals of mullet during the