The River Erne has a catchment area of 4,374 sq. km, rises in Co. Cavan and flows for almost 100 km through Loughs Gowna and Oughter and Upper and Lower Lough Erne before entering the sea at Ballyshannon, Co. Donegal
ESB owns fishing rights in the Lower River Erne, Assaroe Reservoir and some tributaries in Co. Donegal. The remaining catchment area of the Erne is under control of Northern Ireland’s Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL) and Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI). The Joint Erne Protection Committee (JEPC) administers the entire Erne catchment.
There is good trout and coarse fishing available on the River Erne.
The Ballyshannon hatchery has been operating since 1983 and is located immediately downstream of Cathaleen’s Fall generating station. It is a salmon conservation hatchery with no commercial remit. The water intake for the hatchery is taken at 4.2m depth from Assaroe Reservoir.
At the Ballyshannon hatchery, the River Erne salmon breeding programme takes place. This initiative, which is supervised by NUI Galway, involves dividing up the Erne ranched salmon into two groups: Grilse and multi-sea winter (MSW) salmon. The two lines are held separately and mating is on a one to one basis to ensure genetic diversity.
Designated characteristics for returning adult salmon:
• Female salmon up to 71 cm and male salmon up to 84 cm are considered to be sea-winter salmon (1SW) or grilse.
• Salmon larger than this are considered to be multi sea-winter (MSW) salmon.
Access to Lower River Erne is beside the Hydro Power Station in Ballyshannon, Co. Donegal.
Nearby amenities include:
• Leisure centre (Lakeside Centre, Ballyshannon), adjacent to Assaroe Reservoir.
• Seaside town of Bundoran.
• A variety of accommodation, restaurants and pubs are located at Ballyshannon hatchery, and within the surrounding areas
Erne Fishery – Assaroe Lake
Assaroe Lake is located east of Ballyshannon, Co. Donegal. It is a 234 hectare artificial lake created by the Cathleen's Fall and Cliff Hydro schemes. The lake is controlled by ESB.
Assaroe is home to large shoals of bream, perch and roach and some pike. The pike range in size from small jacks to fish well in excess of 40 lb. Fly fishing for the pike is also becoming more popular each season.
The northern shore is accessed via the Knader Road out of Ballyshannon. The Lakeside Centre is located just outside Ballyshannon to the left on the Belleek Road (R230).