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Over 90 Anglers From Ireland and UK Compete at 35th Rosslare Small Boats Festival

15th September 2022
Winners and organisers of the 35th Rosslare Small Boats Festival
Winners and organisers of the 35th Rosslare Small Boats Festival which took place last week

Liverpool-based boat Nirvana won the top prize at the 35th Rosslare Small Boats Festival in Wexford last week, competing head-to-head with 30 other boats to catch the greatest number of fish species.

Two boats from Howth Sea Angling Club, Shamrock and Katie B, took second and third places respectively in the event fished out of Kilmore Quay harbour from Saturday 3 to last Thursday 8 September.

It marked the return of the festival last held in 2019 after pandemic-related restrictions prevented its hosting in 2020 and 2021.

And the boats were eager to come back, with more than 90 anglers from Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Liverpool, Manchester, Portsmouth and the Isle off Wight taking part and reaffirming its status as “one of the most prestigious small-boat fishing competitions in Europe”, according to organisers.

Although weather conditions were very challenging, with strong southeasterly winds, the crew on board Nirvana still managed to catch 26 different species of fish over two days, with a combined weight of 8.84kgs. Team members Richie Stead, Keith Pemberton and Mark Phillips are from the Wirral Boat Club outside Liverpool and 2022 is the fifth year that Nirvana has clinched the top spot in Rosslare.

In second place was Shamrock (Martin Kennedy, Dave Godwin, Arthur Beechey and Dan Lynch) from Howth Sea Angling Club in Dublin with 25 species for a combined weight of 13.17 kilos. Katie B (Siert Shultz, Thomas Markey and Joe McPeake), also from Howth Sea Angling Club, took third place with 23 species for a combined weight of 8.20 kilos.

There were four specimen fish caught during the week, including a three-bearded rockling, two cuckoo wrasse and a tope. The largest of these was a 600g cuckoo wrasse caught by Sean Óg McShane from Cork, aboard the Irish boat Fin Chaser. McShane picked up the ‘best specimen of the festival’ award as a result.

The Conningbeg trophy for the longest bass of 59cm was won by Terry Wallworth from the boat Life of Riley. Meanwhile, the Ken Evason Memorial trophy for the biggest cod caught — at 3.2kg — was won by Shamrock.

Scott McShane won the best juvenile angler of the competition aboard the boat 2JDs, which had 19 species with a combined weight of 8.82kg. Sue Tait on Predator II caught 20 species and Joan Bimpson from Silverback caught 12 species and both won awards for best female anglers in the competition.

Overall, more than 40 different fish species were recorded during the competition, including smooth-hound, conger, dab, gurnards, mackerel, mullet, pouting, gilthead bream, red mullet and many mini species such as dragonet and gobies.

This year a saury — a fish normally found in the Pacific — was recorded by the crew of Shamrock and added to the species list for the festival. A butterfly blenny was also identified, both new fish adding to the excitement of the competition.

The awards ceremony took place in the Coast Rosslare Strand Hotel and the €30,000 prize-fund included fishing equipment, cash prizes and engraved trophies for the event, sponsored by Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI), Daiwa, Navionics and supported by Saltwater Boat magazine.

Cllr Jim Moore was the festival’s special guest and said: “I would like to congratulate all competitors on their success at the 35th Rosslare Small Boats festival. I extend my gratitude to you all for coming to Wexford and the community looks forward to seeing you all. A special word of thanks to your organiser, John Belger, who I understand is handing over the reins after many years.”

Staff from IFI assisted organisers with boat launches and fish species identification and the competition also received very welcome support from the Kilmore Quay harbour master and staff from Wexford County Council.

Josie Mahon, an inspector with IFI, paid tribute to the competitors and organisers: “Angling tourism has given the local economy a great boost with the return of the Rosslare Small Boats Festival. More than 40 fish species were recorded during the festival, which shows that Kilmore Quay provides a wide range of fish species to target, attracting anglers from home and abroad to the South East.”

Published in Angling
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