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Top fisheries scientist Ken Whelan to address North West Angling Fair

27 March 2024

Internationally recognised fisheries scientist Ken Whelan will share details of two high level marine and freshwater projects he is currently working on when he visits the North West Angling Fair in Strabane on Saturday 6th and Sunday 7th April.

Internationally recognised fisheries scientist Ken Whelan will share details of two high level marine and freshwater projects he is currently working on when he visits the North West Angling Fair in Strabane on Saturday 6th and Sunday 7th April.

A keen angler since the age of four, he has written extensively on the topic including ‘The Angler in Ireland’ – widely considered to be one of the most detailed works ever produced on the subject on this island.

He initiated and tutored on the first professional angling guide courses in Ireland and produced and presented several films and TV productions on Irish fisheries and angling.

His first talk at the Melvin Complex in Strabane on Saturday at 3pm will be about his role as a Vice President of the Atlantic Salmon Trust and an update on the exciting tracking work being carried out by AST and colleagues in the Atlantic Salmon Federation.

His talk will cover what they are learning from tracking salmon in the ocean around Scotland and Ireland and will include an update on tagging and tracking the larger multi-sea-winter fish around Greenland.

“Last December the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) re-designated the Atlantic salmon as an endangered species in the UK and as ‘near threatened ‘ over the rest of its range,” Ken explained “This shocking and unexpected change in status should be a wake up call for all anglers to practice catch and release at all times, to ensure that they protect and conserve this magnificent creature.”

At the same time and venue on Sunday, Ken will talk about the large angler’s mayfly, Ephemera Danica, and the community based LAWPRO funded project which is being hosted on several western lakes and Lough Sheelin.

The Local Authority Waters Programme (LAWPRO) will monitor and assess the fluctuating abundance of this key angling species and is working to identify the issues affecting water quality in every county in Ireland and where issues are identified they collaborate with the relevant local authority, public body, and water stakeholder to find a solution.

“Community engagement is the cornerstone of this approach to combine local and expert knowledge for a better understanding of what’s happening in a local catchment and waterbody,” Ken added.

“Good water quality benefits everybody, it is essential for nature to flourish and our economy to thrive.

“The Mayfly is one of the most iconic invertebrates in Irish loughs, abundant hatches of Mayflies create great excitement amongst anglers, both young and old.  

“The Mayfly season is also of enormous financial importance to small towns and villages scattered along the shores of Ireland’s larger loughs. 

“For such an important cornerstone of Irish dry fly fishing we know relatively little about the two years it spends cloistered away in burrows in the bed of the lake.

“Working with local anglers and interest groups we are developing a citizen science programme to monitor the welfare of the Mayfly over the years to come.”   

The banks of the Mourne River will come alive as some of the UK and Ireland’s top fly dressers, casters and angling specialists descend on the Angling Fair.

It will be hosted by Derry City and Strabane District Council, with support funding by the Loughs Agency, and is expected to draw in excess of 3,000 visitors to Strabane.

A comprehensive programme includes professional casting demonstrations and expert fly fishing tuition.

The public will also be able to source angling merchandise from a wide range of fishing tackle producers, fly tying brands and fishing outfitters in the Melvin’s Main Hall.

The Angling Fair takes place from 11am to 5pm on Saturday April 6th and 10am to 5pm on Sunday April 7th.

Casting demonstrations on the Mourne will be hosted by Scott Mackenzie, Andrew Toft, Tom Brown, Michael O’Kane, Robert Gillespie, Connor Arnold, Lucinda Ewin, Steve Peterson, Mark Patterson and Stevie Munn.

Specialist Talks over the weekend will include Scott Mac Kenzie sharing his experiences in Angling and the new Graphene infused Clothing Range and Wayne Magee from the ATA Lodge will discuss angling in the Alaskan Wilderness.

A wide range of fly tyers will also demonstrate their art and techniques and there will be a particular emphasis on young fly tyers who will showcase their own skills and talents as well as hoping to inspire the next generation of anglers.

The trade stands in the Melvin’s Main Hall will feature a number of new exhibitors and retailers as well as some familiar favourites where people can source new equipment and experiences from the North West’s top providers.

Due to the large crowds expected accessible parking only will be available at the Melvin Sports Complex however nearby car parks will be open at Lower Main Street, Upper Main Street, the Canal Basin and Butcher Street.

You can access the full programme online at

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