This National competition has been based around the town of Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh for around 27 years. In the height of its popularity the fish in the River Erne system used to shoal up outside the town and then ‘run’ through the town to their spawning grounds. Originally, as the UK had a ‘close’ fishing season a lot of British anglers used to travel to this area and enjoy what was arguably the best fishing in Europe with vast shoals of bream and roach moving through to spawn. Over the past years the fishing has deteriorated slightly but the welcome and hospitability has stayed the same with the majority of anglers coming back each year.
The structure for this year’s festival was the same as last year, the team and individual titles would be decided over two matches with a ‘trial/knock-up’ match to test sections preceding them.
In the few months just after Christmas and our visit the weather had been bitterly cold. An easterly and north easterly wind had been blowing and some parts of Northern Ireland had been subject to some heavy snow falls. Enniskillen had missed the snow but the cold wind and temperature before April did not look good for the fishing in our week.
In the practice sessions the few days before the matches it was apparent that fish were starting to move through the system to the spawning areas but not really feeding or in vast numbers. Some areas did provide good catches but this was not widespread through the area.
The sections for the trial/knock up match were to be Airport Point, Trory High, Trory Low, Cornograde low and Portora School. The match fished quite well with all sections being fair. Clive Bailey, Hertfordshire, and Bob Neill, Suffolk, tied in first place from the Airport Point section both catching 8.250kilo. Third was Pete Hayto, Hampshire with 7.200 kilo from Trory Low.
Following this match the sections for the two day event were decided, A Section-Airport Point B Section-Airport Car Park C Section-Trory High (26 to 19) D Section-Trory Low (19 to 22) E Section-Portora School F Section-Cornograde High (26 to 29) G Section-Dolans Ring (10 to 13)
H Section-Cornograde Low (4 to 7)
The first match saw most areas fish fair with an even spread of weights along the section lengths. Dave Rees, Hertfordshire, had the top weight of 16.250 kilo from Airport Car Park.
The top team of the day was London with a score of 6 pointy but there were 3 teams just behind then with 8 points, so it was very tight for the team championship.
The second day saw another even spread of weights in each section. Unfortunately Trory stopped fishing over night with a change of wind direction moving to the North. Phil Scholes was top weight from Cornograde High peg 27 with 7.650kilo.
The team competition was very close but London had held on to their lead and won the event with 14 points from Easter Region who had 15 points.
The individual result was also close with Clive Bailey, Hertfordshire, Alan Simmons, Hampshire, and Dave Forster, London, tied on two points. This then goes on weight and Clive had 18.200kilo to Alan’s 12.400 kilo and Dave’s 11.940kilo. Clive Bailey, Hertfordshire, was the individual champion with Alan Simmons, Hampshire, runner up and Dave Forster, London,
Friday 26th was the presentation evening held at the Killy Hevlin hotel. Various friends of this
event attended the evening, Keith Boswell, Bill McNaughton, Kevin Locke and Eddie McGovern along with England International Peter Vassey, who kindly agreed to present the trophies
The individual and team trophies were presented by Pete to the successful competitors and the Bob Dix Specimen Trophy to Les Cray, London, with a 1.020kg roach.
This brought down the curtain on another enjoyable and successful competition.
The fishing is not the same as it was 15 years ago but there are more areas being made available to fish which have high stock levels. This event is not just about the great match fishing but enjoying the hospitality and ‘craic’ of Northern Ireland.
Next year the dates are Saturday 26th April to Saturday 3rd May 2014.
David Rees, Secretary, FSSAA National Angling Section