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The Newport River drains Lough Beltra and a 56 square mile catchment into Clew Bay. This river is something of an enigma, for, though it holds salmon right from opening day, its value, particularly as a salmon river, is not really appreciated and hence it is quite under-exploited. It gets a good run of spring salmon right from the start of the season and can produce three or four salmon on opening day. It holds good fish too, and has fish of 16 lb, 17 lb, 19 lb and 22? lb to its credit in recent years. Somehow, it is overshadowed by Lough Beltra and it would appear that most of the patrons of Newport House Hotel prefer the luxury of lough fishing with a gillie to walking the river. Little do they know what excellent sport they may be missing.
The river is approximately 7 miles long and bends and twists its way through rough pasture, bog and woodland. The bottom alternates from gravel to silt and the banks are all negotiable, well maintained with stiles and bridges, and it is not necessary to wade. There are numerous access points with car parks strategically placed and nowhere is it necessary to walk more than 200 yards to the river bank .
It is a river that is very well endowed with pools and streams. There are at least 24 named pools and even though it is not divided into beats it could easily take eight or ten rod per day.
The present proprietor, Kieran Thompson, took off the draft net at the mouth in 1987, as a conservation measure, and this contributed, on average, an additional 600 spring salmon and grilse to the river and the lough.
The better pools for spring fishing are the Upper and Lower Cement Bridge, The Bush Pool, Sheridan’s Pool, the Long Pool (below Sheridan’s), The Brigadier’s Pool, Welsh’s Pool and Upper and Lower Flags. For the grilse, in addition to the above, add the Junction, Jack Mack’s Pool and the Road Pools.
The spring fish run from before opening day right up to the end of May and sea-liced fish have been taken in early June.
The grilse begin running on the first flood after 10 June and continue through the summer. It also gets a good run of bigger autumn fish and this run starts with the first flood at the end of August.
Some would say that this is a river for the experienced salmon fisher. You can fish a stream and a pool down – or back it up – rest it and fish it again and be successful on the second or even the third attempt. A 14 foot double-handed rod is comfortable to use on good water, but when the water runs low a single handed rod to take a No 8 or 9 line is adequate. Floating lines are the norm, with a sink-tip being preferred in spring.
It is a fly-only fishery and the most favoured patterns are Garry Dog, Silver Doctor, Silver Wilkinson, Lemon and Grey, Thunder and Lightning, Beltra Badger and Dunkeld. Fly size depends on water height and rarely is anything larger than a size 8 treble or size 4 single required. Often the angler who dares to err on the small side is the one to take a fish.
The sea-trout begin running in early July and the best of the fishing is through July and August.
Trout can be taken anywhere in the fast water when they are running – even during the day – but the bigger trout are taken at night. The best of the night fishing is from 11.30 pm to 1.30 am . For daytime fishing, the favourite fly patterns are Green Peter, Silver Stoat’s Tail, Delphi Silver (on the point), Bibio (on the bob), Thunder and Lightning, Teal, Blue and Silver (for fresh-running sea trout) and a Dunkeld can work marvellously well. For night fishing, many locals consider a Silver Stoat’s Tail in size 10 or 12 single or size 12 and 14 double to be the number one choice.