Donegal Angling Guide, John McLaughlin has been attending fishing events for almost as long as he can hold a rod but the Letterkenny man believes the 'Angling Fair' on his doorstep is on a par with anything he has experienced.
The North West Angling Fair, hosted by Derry City and Strabane District Council, returns to the Melvin Sports Complex in Strabane on April 9th and 10th, featuring demonstrations from some of the UK and Ireland’s top professionals in the sports hall and along the banks of the nearby River Mourne.
A qualified guide and a fly fishing and casting instructor, John is part of the management team in the Cloghan Lodge Salmon Fishery and will be working at the stand of his employers 'The Bridge Guns and Tackle shop in Strabane' at the fair.
“From my perspective, as someone who works in the industry, it’s a great way to promote angling and hopefully attract new people to get involved. The Melvin Centre is as good a venue as I’ve seen for an event like this with the River Mourne so close by and it’s a brilliant line-up with some of the biggest names in the world of angling attending," he said.
Whether you’re an experienced angler or a novice there is something for everyone.
John has been fishing since he was seven years of age and has been guiding anglers on the rivers and loughs of Donegal for the last 19 years. He was centrally involved when the event came to Strabane for the first time last year and is delighted that it will make a return to the town for 2017.
“It’s a great family orientated event that doesn’t have to cost a penny and Strabane is an ideal location as it is easily accessible from Derry, Tyrone and Donegal. It will be even bigger and better this year and we are really looking forward to it. I have been fortunate to showcase our local waterways to people from all over the world and I believe we can offer as good an angling experience as you will find anywhere,” he said.
Among the special guests at this year’s event are much loved Scottish television presenter Paul Young, fly dresser specialist, Peter O’Reilly, Henrik Mortensen, who has worked professionally with fly tackle design and development for more than 27 years, and Belgium born specialist Yang Quintus.
There will be a series of outdoor casting demonstrations at the River Mourne under the pedestrian bridge and daily talks on a number of subjects including 'Trout in Strange Places' and 'Salmon Fly Fishing by' Dr Ken Whelan and Jason O’Riordan.
The event will also welcome a host of world class fly tiers and dressers who will demonstrate and advise as well as talks from experts and cookery demonstrations.
Other experts in attendance will be three times World Spy Casting Champion Scot MacKenzie, fly casting expert Gordon Armstrong and the head ghillie at Ness Castle Lodges, Robert Gillespie.
Irish Ladies Flyfishing Association (ILFA) will also be there including locally based Ladies International Pauline McClenaghan to offer advice and guidance.