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Rosslare Small Boats Festival Celebrates 30th Birthday

18th September 2015
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Pictured are first and second prize winners at the Rosslare Small Boats Festival 2015 (L-R): Ian Jenkins and Nathan James (from the boat Sandstorm – 2nd place); Seirt Shults; Neville Murphy; and Martyn Rayner (from the boat Screaming Reels – 1st place); Josie Mahon, Inland Fisheries Ireland; and John Belger, Organiser of festival in the UK

The Irish boat ‘Screaming Reels’ has won the Rosslare Small Boats Festival for the fifth year in a row. The boat, from Rosie’s Sea Angling Club in Cork, beat 36 other boats from across Britain and Ireland and caught 29 species of fish at the Festival which took place from 6th to 12th September.

The event, sponsored by Inland Fisheries Ireland, DAIWA, Lowrance, Sea Angler magazine, Fáilte Ireland, Wexford County Council, IPB Insurance and Mannings, is now in its 30th year and this year attracted more than 115 anglers from Wales, Scotland, Isle of Wight, Ireland and many parts of England including Southport, Liverpool and Cornwall.

Having started in 1985 with only five boats fishing, the standard of the fishing and variety of species available in the rich waters off the south east coast of Ireland, coupled with a very high standard from the competitors, has meant that this competition has since grown every year. With 38 different species of fish recorded during the competition, the quality and standard of fishing in Wexford creates considerable revenue for tourist angling and the local economy, contributing more than €300,000 per annum and making the event the most prestigious small boat fishing festival in Europe.

The competition was fierce with boats recording up to 20 species on the first day and 17 on the days thereafter. This continued right throughout the week with many boats neck and neck, and one third of competitors catching 25 different types of fish species. Weather conditions were very good for the competition with settled conditions and light winds. Boats could be launched from Kilmore Quay every day enabling them to target all species.

The Irish boat ‘Screaming Reels’ proved their mettle once again taking first place with 29 species for 25.81kgs. This crew consisting of Martyn Rayner (skipper) Seirt Shults and Neville Murphy from Rosie’s Sea Angling Club in Cork have continued to raise the bar of the Rosslare small boats fishing competition. Second place went to the boat ‘Sandstorm’ (Nathan James and Ian Jenkins) from Porthcawl in Wales with 27 species for 21.29 kilos. In third place was ‘Dunlin’ (Andy Beresford, Lewis Radcliffe, Jonathan Roberts) from Southport boat angling club with 27 species for 14.02kgs.

For the first time Inland Fisheries Ireland introduced a marine fish tank for the purpose of displaying some of the fish species that were caught during the competition. This idea proved to be a great success, with anglers and staff from Inland Fisheries Ireland on hand to educate the public about the fish species on offer from Kilmore Quay.

People were able to see for the first time marine fish such as thornback ray, various wrasses, gurnards, bull huss and bass which were kept in the fish tank and released back into the sea alive. The educational benefits of the tank and practising catch and release for marine species are hugely beneficial in terms of conservation and creating public awareness of our sea fisheries resource. Two boats ‘Cod n Bass’ and Seeker’, both from Southport in the UK, won the prize for returning the most fish alive during the competition.

There were 3 specimen smooth-hounds caught, the largest of which was 4.3kg caught by John Belger on board the boat ‘Firefly’ and he was awarded for specimen of the week. The heaviest round fish was a bull huss of 5.62kgs caught by Martyn Rayner aboard the Irish boat ‘Screaming Reels’ and he was also awarded a perpetual trophy sponsored by Inland Fisheries Ireland for the biggest fish caught of the week. The heaviest flat fish was a flounder of 0.92 kilos caught by Seirt Shults from ‘Screaming Reels’. Ryan Andrews aged 17, from Wales aboard the boat ‘Provider’, won the best juvenile of the competition with 16 species for 12.92kgs.

‘Redmond’s The Bay’ in Rosslare Strand hosted the prize giving ceremony and a presentation was made to the Irish Heart Foundation for over €3,500 which was raised by anglers. The RNLI also received a generous donation. The total prize fund for the competition was €20,000 including fishing equipment and substantial monetary prizes and engraved trophies.

Suzanne Campion, Director of Business Development, Inland Fisheries Ireland presented the prizes and said: “I am delighted to be at the Rosslare Small Boats Festival again and to see so many dedicated anglers here to celebrate the 30th year of this fantastic event.

“I would like to congratulate all anglers for participating in this competition, I know that some have been coming here for many years. The people of Wexford welcome all visitors and we appreciate their continued support of this festival. The Festival generates over €300,000 for the local economy, bringing jobs and employment. I would particularly like to thank John Belger and his committee in the UK and Ireland for their hard work in organising this competition.”

Next year’s event will take place from the 10th to 17th September 2016, and Inland Fisheries Ireland is calling all small boat anglers to take part in next year’s Festival.

Further information is available from Ms. Josie Mahon, Inland Fisheries Ireland, Tel: 01 8842 600

Published in Angling
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