There are some extensive river systems present in Co. Monaghan. The River Blackwater is one of the main rivers that flow through the north-east of the county. To the south, the River Finn flows from Smithborough and eventually reaches Lough Erne in Monaghan’s neighbouring Co. Fermanagh.

The River Fane runs through the south-east of Monaghan and forms part of the border with Co. Louth, as does the River Glyde. The Fane originates at Lough Ross, along the Monaghan/Armagh border, and flows in a south-easterly direction until it eventually finds its way to the sea at Dundalk Bay in Louth. Likewise, the River Glyde flows towards the south-east and meets the sea an Annagassan in Louth. Salmon and trout have been recorded in the Glyde.  

Part of the Ulster Canal, which was constructed between 1825 and 1841 cuts through Co. Monaghan. It was designed to link to ports of Belfast and Coleraine with the River Shannon and eventually Limerick, but with the advancement of rail and car transport it was eventually abandoned in 1931. However, there are plans to restore the stretch of the Ulster Canal between Lough Erne and Clones.

Stretching across the breadth of central County Monaghan is a low-lying chain of lakelands, which act as a divider between the higher ground to the north and south. Much of this Lakeland is given over to pastoral farmland and supports important wetland habitats in the areas surrounding the lakes.

Lough Muckno is situated near Castleblayney. It covers an area of 325 hectares and the deepest regions reach to 20 meters. There is a huge stock of fish in Lough Muckno including bream, tench, perch, roach, rudd and pike, and so makes a very popular angling location.

Other examples of lakes in Co. Monaghan include Lough Ross, situated close to Crossmaglen, and Emy Lough near Emyvale. Like Lough Muchno, Lough Emy supports a strong stock of brown trout and wild trout, while pike, perch and eel are characteristic of Lough Ross. One of Monaghan's best regarded angling lakes is situated at the famous Castle Leslie, known as 'Glaslough' or Green Lake. In 1991, a record-breaking 17.5kg pike was caught here.

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