The Ballisodare River, drains a large area in County Sligo, including Lough Arrow and Templehouse Lake, into Ballysadare Bay. The salmon fishing takes place mainly in the pools at the bottom of the Ballysadare Falls and in the stretch just above the falls. The river above the falls is being developed for salmon fishing.
Open season for salmon and sea trout is from 1 February to 30 September.
Historically the Ballisodare River was never known as a salmon river and records in relation to salmon catches prior to 1850 would indicate that less than 20 salmon were caught in the river system in any year. The simple reason for this was that salmon had to negotiate a waterfall in excess of twenty feet high right at the mouth of the river to reach the lower stretches of the river, and a further set of falls at Collooney barred their passage to the Owenmore River.
The fishing rights were originally owned by the Crofton family but were purchased by Edward Joshua Cooper around 1806. The Cooper family had extensive land holdings in the Collooney/Ballisodare Area and more importantly were members of Parliament in London from time to time.
The salmon ladder at the Ballisodare falls was completed in 1852 and was the first of its type in Europe. This allowed salmon to access the upper reaches of the system on the Lough Arrow side. The numbers of salmon caught started to rise as salmon began to spawn in the streams and returning numbers steadily increased.
In 1854 just 179 salmon were caught but by 1859 that number had risen to 2,000 and by 1863 the numbers caught had risen to 6,000 salmon.
Two significant additions were made to the system which further increased the returning numbers and which helped to develop the fishery into a significant commercial business.
A second salmon ladder was constructed at the Collooney falls including a resting pool and this allowed salmon to access the Owenmore system right up to the spawning beds in the Ox Mountains beyond Coolaney. The streams in this area where the Owenmore rises are located within a few hundred meters of similar streams that are the feeder streams for the River Moy, another prolific salmon river.