Eamon Cunningham from the Athlone Anglers Association reports on the Lough Ree International Pike Festival…
The 7th Lough Ree International Pike Festival and World Cup has just ended and was, without doubt, the best festival yet with twenty pike landed over the 100cm mark which would be equivalent to approximately 20lbs and each of the daily winners were over the 110cm mark equivalent to approximately 30lbs!! It was also the largest festival yet with 90 boats containing 185 anglers taking part and such is the popularity of the event that it was completely booked out last December five months ahead of the competition taking place.
The competition is run each year on a voluntary basis by local anglers and receives sponsorship from Westmeath County Council along with logistical support from Inland Fisheries Ireland under the National Strategy for Angling Development. There are two competitions in the festival, the first is for the longest pike over the three days while the second competition is for the World Cup. The World Cup is worked out by adding the longest pike caught in the boat on each of the days and adding these together to achieve a total overall length with the winner being awarded the beautiful World Cup trophy along with a cheque for €1000. The total prize fund for the three days is €17,000 making it the largest festival of its type in Ireland and one of the largest in Europe. This year the festival attracted anglers from as far away as Brazil and The USA along with anglers from Germany, Austria, England, Northern Ireland and all around Ireland with a particularly large contingent coming from Clare and Limerick.
The competition was intense from the start and it was a fabulous pike of 111.25cm landed by Limerick duo Alan Pickford and Leonard Blake which took the honours on the first day along with the top prize of €1000 and in fact all ten fish in the prizes that day were over the 100cm mark.
Day two was equally intense and this time it was local Athlone father and son, Paul and Richie Fallon, who took the top prize of the €1000 that day when their Pike of 113.25cm topped the leaderboard and again all top ten pike were over the 100cm mark.
A lot of tired but determined anglers turned up on the morning of day three for another, and final, day of fishing and has nearly always proved to be the case the largest pike of the festival was landed on the last day, this time by the Mullingar duo of Barry Darby and John Creighton who not alone took home the top daily prize of €1000 but earned another €1000 as their pike was the longest of the festival.
The World Cup competition at the festival was very tight with only 4cm separating the top three teams but it was Noel McCaffrey from Sligo who was fishing with Athlone man James Barry who delightedly took home the World Cup trophy and a cheque for €1000, which brought their winnings for the festival to over €2800, and which was presented to them by Mayor of Athlone Tom Farrell and treasurer of the Festival Geraldine Rohan. They had a total length of pike of 302.75cm while their nearest rivals, Dermot O’Neill and Robert Neilan from Dublin, had a total length of 301cm and third place went to Athlone duo of Kevin Geoghegan and Tommy Kelly whose total length of pike was 298.75cm.
The organisers are already hard at work on next years festival which will take place on 26th, 27th and 28th April 2017 with bookings being accepted from 1st November this year and if previous experience is anything to go by then it will book out very very quickly.
Lough Ree International Pike Festival & World Cup 2016
Longest Pike of Festival 114.50cm – Boat 63 – Barry Darby & John Crichton – €1000
World Cup – 88.50cm + 108.00cm + 106.25cm – Boat 29 – Noel McCaffrey and James Butler
Day One – Wednesday 20th April 2016
- 1st €1000 – 111.25cm – Boat 21 – Alan Pickford & Leonard Blake
- 2nd. €800 – 108.50cm – Boat 73 – Rafal Pelc & Igor Klosowski
- 3rd. €700 – 106.50cm – Boat 41 – Dermot O’Neill & Robert Neilan
- 4th. €600 – 105.00cm – Boat 22 – Kenny Harte & Mark Mullin
- 5th. €500 – 103.25cm – Boat 59 – Liam Grimes & Kevin Grimes
- 6th. €400 – 102.50cm – Boat 59 – Liam grimes & Kevin Grimes
- Jnt 7th. €250 – 102.00cm – Boat 79 – Damian Jefferty & JJ Flanagan
- Jnt 7th. €250 – 102.00cm – Boat 31 – Joerus Heidtke & Niko Schmuling & Heinz Bocklet
- 9th. €150 – 101.00cm – Boat 66 – Kevin Foley and Michael Dillon
- 10th. €100 – 100.50cm – Boat 75 – Lukas Stankiewicz & Peter Kaczmar
Day Two – Thursday 21st April 2016
- 1st. €1000 – 113.25cm – Boat 47 – Richard Fallon & Paul Fallon
- 2nd. €800 – 108.25cm – Boat 36 – Sean Kelly & Michael Hughes
- Jnt 3rdd. €650 – 108.00cm – Boat 29 – Noel McCaffrey & James Butler
- Jnt 3rd. €650 – 108.00cm – Boat 35 – John Ruane & jack Ruane
- 5th. €500 – 105.00cm – Boat 29 – Noel McCaffrey and James Butler
- 6th. €400 – 104.00cm – Boat 72 – Tomasz Kurman & Jacek Gorny
- 7th. €300 – 103.50cm – Boat 73 – Rafal Pelc and Igor Klosowski
- 8th. €200 – 103.25cm – Boat 39 – Stephen Conway & Mark Furey
- 9th. €150 – 103.00cm – Boat 47 – Richard Fallon & Paul Fallon
- 10th. €100 – 101.00cm – Boat 87 – Peter Farbula & Martina Farbulova
Day Three – Friday 22 April 2016
- 1st. €1000 – 114.50cm – Boat 63 – Barry Darby & John Crichton
- 2nd. €800 – 109.00cm – Boat 1 – Kevin Geoghegan & Tommy Kelly
- 3rd. €700 – 106.25cm – Boat 29 – Noel McCaffrey & James Butler
- 4th. €600 – 105.00cm – Boat 25 – Frank Heidtke & Charles Cavanagh
- Jnt 5th. €450 – 100.00cm – Boat 82 – Pater Hodlmoser & Ursula Hodlmoser
- Jnt 5th. €450 – 100.00cm – Boat 14 – Barry Golden & Shauna Golden
- Jnt 7th. €250 – 98.00cm – Boat 70 – Aidan O’Connor & Mick O’Connor
- Jnt 7th. €250 – 98.00cm – Boat 14 – Barry Golden & Shauna Golden
- 9th. €150 – 97.00cm – Boat 41 – Dermot O’Neill & Robert Neilan
- 10th. €100 – 96.25cm – Boat 46 – Manfred Walesch & James Blacoe
Loads more photos and the full report is available at: http://www.athloneanglersassociation.ie/pike-festival/4587518021
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