Ireland’s biggest angling tournament – the Lough Ree International Pike Angling Festival – attracted 164 anglers fishing in 77 boats over three days on a wind-whipped Lough Ree.  Luckily it moderated to a breeze that allowed everyone to tackle the 17-mile long lake on the Shannon system and produced a raft of pike more than a metre long topped by a fabulous fish of 108.5cms (42.7 inches). The 2012 champion is Martyn Cusworth, formerly from Yorkshire but now living in Gowna, County Cavan, where he and his wife run a guesthouse specialising in angling holidays. His prize fish was caught on the first day and it remained just one centimetre ahead of the pack and a third day challenge from a 107.5cm pike caught on Friday by local angler Stephen Conway.

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Martyn in the centre is pictured with Michael Brady (Failte Ireland) and right, Alan Shaw, the Mayor of Athlone. “We trawled in the windy conditions and suffered a quiet morning, but at midday there was a savage take as the big pike snaffled my mackerel”, Martyn said with a beaming smile. “It was in the net within a few minutes, measured, photographed and released unharmed at the very spot where it was caught”.

x catch-measure-release

The Lough Ree Festival is the only major event in Ireland and UK using the measure-photograph-release system in an effort to protect the pike from distress and damage. The specially built 120cm-long aluminium boards were made locally with a butted end and a lip running along the base to aid easy handling.

x leo behan catch shot

The father and son team of Leo Behan Snr and Leo Jnr are the new “World Cup” winners. The competition is decided by the total of length by combining their best fish each day and together they caught fish of 79cms; 105cms on day two, rounding it off in the last session with a pike of 104.5 for a total of 288.5cms and a cheque for €1000.

Best of the ladies was Helen Conway from Athlone with a 105cm pike – good enough to tie for first place on day two. Helen’s best ever pike weighed 32lb 8oz and was caught on the River Shannon at Clonmacnoise in 1995.

x helen conway

“It would have been handy this week”, she mused with a smile.  “Mind you, this was a good fat fish that would have probably weighed around 25lb. I caught it while trolling with a suspended rubber lure imitating a jack pike that was taken savagely 90 minutes into the session”.

Click here for the daily and overall results
Click here for the €19,000 prize breakdown

The 2013 Lough Ree Pike Festival will take place on 17-18-19 April 2013

For more details contact [email protected]
Telephone: (UK) 0151 324 4744 or (Ire) 071 9642743