Fish size and catch limits

You’re only allowed to keep a certain amount of the fish you catch. This is known as a ‘bag limit’. These fish must also be of a certain size. Guidelines for Northern Ireland are below.

Brown trout

In the ‘Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs’ (DAERA) public fisheries there’s no minimum size for brown trout. In general, a daily bag limit of four brown or four rainbow trout (or a combination of both) may be taken from the DAERA stocked fisheries. 

Map showing DAERA and Loughs Agency fisheries in Northern Ireland.
Map showing DAERA and Loughs Agency fishing areas in Northern Ireland

In the Loughs Agency managed  fisheries, the above DAERA bag limits apply.

Salmon & sea trout

DAERA fisheries

‘Catch and release*’ applies to all salmon and sea trout caught at any time in:

  1. DAERA Public Angling Estate fisheries 
  2. the following DAERA fisheries within Loughs Agency fishing areas - 
  • Loughbrickland
  • Binevenagh
  • River Roe (DAERA stretch)
  • Lough Ash
  • Moor Lough
  • Lough Braden
  • Lough Lee

There are three waters where catch and release does not apply. They are:

  •  Lough Melvin
  • Glenarm river
  • Clady river

For these waters, you can get two salmon tags for the season (dates below) from local angling clubs and this allows you to keep two salmon. Anglers can continue to fish after reaching their bag limit but all fish must be returned immediately alive and unharmed to the water.

  • 1 February until 30 September on Lough Melvin
  • 1 June to 31 October on Glenarm river and Clady river

*Catch and release fishing guidelines

Loughs Agency fisheries:

From 1 March to 31 May, one salmon or one sea trout (over 40cm) may be kept on any one day and no more than two such fish on any other day (up to 25 such fish in any calendar year).  A bag limit of four sea trout (under 40cm) applies throughout the fishing season.

Other private fishery owners: 

They have their own bag limits and minimum sizes. Check the information provided on the permit/ day ticket you buy from the fishery owner:

It is illegal to sell rod caught salmon in the DAERA area.


In DAERA fisheries all pike weighing 4kg or more must be returned alive and unharmed to the water. You can keep one pike per day under 4kg.

In Loughs Agency fisheries a bag limit of two pike under 4kg applies. However, anglers can also keep one pike per day as follows: 

  • a pike over 9kg in a river and over 13.6kg in a lake

Other coarse species

Other coarse species of fish include bream, roach, perch, carp, tench and rudd. There is a daily bag limit of four coarse fish (except pike). If you catch more than four coarse fish (except pike) in a day you must return the fish to the water from which it was taken, alive and unharmed.

Anyone who catches a coarse fish (except pike) which is greater than 25cm - measured from the tip of its snout to the fork or cleft of it tail, must return it to the water from which it was taken alive and unharmed.

It is illegal for anyone to have more than four coarse fish at any one time caught by rod and line or hand line for use as bait in fishing for pike.

Everything you need to go fishing

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