Over the years the river has been allowed to fall into a state of degeneration with many of its banks overgrown, pathways in disrepair and access points impassable.
One of the aims of Glenavy District Conservation and Angling Club is to set in place a plan to restore the river and its surrounding environs to their once former glory. This plan will be developed in close liaison between the Club and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency and other relevant bodies. In order to appreciate what is involved in a river development plan, visit the Wild Trout Trust website.
One of the simple ideas that we are hoping to implement is to introduce areas of new stone to the river to encourage fish spawning and new life in the river.
During 2009 the Club undertook a major repopulation programme that will hopefully bring life back to the river that has been almost devoid of life for so many years.
On 28 February, 300 adult brown trout were released between the river mouth and the Leap Bridge. On 30 April, 25,000 salmon fry from the Bushmills river system were put into the river at various points between the Tullyrusk Bridge and the Y Bridge and, on 28 May, 10,000 Dollaghan fry from the Ballinderry Fish Hatchery were released into the lower reaches.
This restocking programme has been made possible by the generosity of individual Club members who have contributed to meeting the cost of the initial release. A fund has been set up to meet future costs and contributions will be gratefully received. We are also grateful to the inland Fisheries section of DCAL who kindly donated the Bushmills salmon fry.
Development plans do not, however, only include rebuilding the fish stock in the river. The Club is investigating ways to improve the river bank and create walks along the river so that it is not only anglers who can enjoy it.
There are plans to develop wetland areas to attract frogs and newts and it is hoped the reintroduction of wild flowers will attract butterflies and birds to the river.