On the 15th and 16th of August Ballymote Angling Club hosted the I.F.I Open on the shores of Templehouse Lake in Co. Sligo. This year marked the 4th successive year the club ran this event and saw anglers from all over the country visiting Ballymote over the weekend.

A new section of the “Island” on Templehouse Lake was included this year to facilitate the growing number of anglers taking part in this competition. As anglers gathered on Friday evening to view the lake and fishing sections everyone talked about last year’s winner Ronan Ryan from Galway and his incredible achievement of landing 173 lbs. of bream in a 5 hour match; an achievement that most anglers could only dream of.

On Saturday morning registration and the draw for the competition took place at the shore of Templehouse Lake. Registration was conducted with military precision by Caroline and Alex Browne and Inland Fisheries Ireland staff was on hand to transport anglers to the “Island” while the remaining anglers prepared their kit on Kilbratten and the Fort Shore.

Weather conditions on Saturday were more favourable to the local farmers than the visiting anglers with hot sunny spells and little or no wind; conditions not really suitable for bream fishing. At 4:30pm the match finished and when weigh-in was completed it was local club member, Billy Horan, who led the competition going into day 2 after catching over 10kg on the first day.

Big Bob Gilbert with his bag of 14kg from day two
Big Bob Gilbert with his bag of 14kg from day two

The competition was ran on a rotation system, which saw the competition leader, Billy Horan, head to fish the “Island”, the most difficult section in this festival. A slight south westerly breeze on day 2 encouraged the bream to feed and as the day progressed the sound of screaming reels could be heard as some anglers battled with the infamous Templehouse bream. In the final hour word travelled around the lake that Big Bob Gilbert from Co. Monaghan was having an excellent day’s fishing on Kilbratten Shore with Larry Parks hot on his heels, while on the Island Keith Coleman had landed a few good bream. When the weigh-in was completed Big Bob Gilbert won out his section with an incredible bag of 14kg.

However, Keith Coleman achieved top weight from the “Island” on day 2 netting 12kg of bream, roach and hybrids and the addition of 5kg from day 1 was just enough to claim the coveted title as Ballymote & District Angling Club I.F.I Open Champion for 2015.

After the match, all anglers retreated to Hayden’s Bar in Ballymote for refreshments and the prize giving ceremony.

Overall winner, Keith Coleman,  with his 12kg Island Catch
Overall winner, Keith Coleman, with his 12kg Island Catch

Ballymote & District Angling Club would like to thank the following kind sponsors: Michael Perry of Hayden’s Bar Ballymote, John Doddy, Doddy Bar Ballymote, Terry Mann of Shannon Tackle, Jamestown and Inland Fisheries Ireland.

A very special word of thanks also goes to the Perceval Family from the Templehouse Estate www.templehouse.ie for their co-operation in hosting this great festival.

For information on coarse angling in the Ballymote area check out: www.ballymoteangling.com.