Annual competition generates in the region of €300,000 for the local economy

The recent 32nd Rosslare Small Boats Festival attracted more than 120 anglers from Wales, Scotland, Isle of Wight, Ireland and many parts of England, including Manchester, Liverpool and Portsmouth.

Sponsored by Inland Fisheries Ireland, Garmin, DAIWA and Sea Angler magazine, the prestigious competition was held the week of 9th to 16th September and generated in the region of €300,000 for the local economy, bringing jobs and employment to Wexford.

And, for the first time in eight years, the Festival produced a new winner.

Photo – RSBF Winners. Left to right:  John Belger (UK organiser), Steve Mills, Steve Arnold, Wesley Lewis (‘Even Less’ boat),  Josie Mahon (Inland Fisheries Ireland)

The English boat ‘Even Less’ from Gosport and District Angling club in Portsmouth won the competition for the first time. The crew of Wesley Lewis, Steve Mills and Steve Arnold beat 40 boats from Britain and Ireland, catching 22 different species of fish for 13.79 kilos.

During the week, weather conditions were very challenging with strong south westerly winds delaying the start of the competition. The Rosslare small boats festival committee, in tandem with the harbour master’s office in Wexford County Council, worked tirelessly to enable boats to be launched during short windows of weather which brought some relief from the windy conditions.

Redmond’s The Bay, was the centre of the competition where competitors met each evening to discuss their catches and make plans for the following day.

Inland Fisheries Ireland staff were present at the event with a marine fish tank for the purpose of displaying fish species that were caught during the competition and identifying them for the public. The educational benefits of the marine tank and practising catch and release for marine species are hugely beneficial in terms of conservation and creating public awareness of Ireland’s marine resource. Indeed, a new conservation initiative was introduced this year to encourage anglers to catch, photograph and release smoothounds and spurdogs which proved to be very successful.

The high standard competition, combined with a quality angling product, continues to attract the best boat anglers in Great Britain and Ireland in what is now regarded as the best small boat fishing competition in Europe. There were 10 new boats to the competition this year from all over the UK while there were two specimen fish caught during the week, the largest of which was a Ballan Wrasse of 2.3 kilos caught by Bill Walker on board the boat ‘Outcast’.

The prizegiving night took place in Rosslare Harbour Hotel where there were fantastic prizes worth in the region of €30,000 including fishing equipment, cash prizes and engraved trophies.

Photo – Rosslare small boats festival committee, with Councillor Jim Moore. Left to right  – Ralph Barkley, Mike Thrussell, Gordon Thornes, Martyn Rayner, John Belger (organiser in the UK),  Councillor Jim Moore (Mayor of Wexford), Richie Stead,  Josie Mahon (IFI), Des Chew (IFI), Rob Shefford.

The Mayor of Wexford, Councillor Jim Moore, the festival’s special guest, said: “I would like to congratulate all competitors on their success at the 32nd Rosslare Small Boats festival. It is a wonderful achievement and we are delighted that you come to Wexford to fish. I would like to thank the sponsors of the festival – Inland Fisheries Ireland, Garmin, DAIWA and Sea Angler and I look forward to seeing you return next year”.


 Prizes list:

  • The winner was ‘Even Less’ from Gosport and District Angling club in Portsmouth. The crew of Wesley Lewis, Steve Mills and Steve Arnold caught 22 different species of fish for 13.79 kilos.
  • In second place was ‘Seeker V’ (Ralph Barkley, Keith Gray and Phil Dawson) from Sefton Angling Club in Liverpool with 21 species for 14.43 kilos.
  • In third place was ‘Uptide Girl’ (Gordon Thornes, Mike Roberts and Mike Hughes) from Chester with 20 species for 14.43 kilos.
  • The boat ‘Jim.N.E’ from Liverpool won the best newcomer catching 17 species for 15.16 kilos.
  • The heaviest fish was caught by John Belger on board the boat ‘Firefly’ with a Bull Huss of 5.40 kgs and they received a cash prize and a perpetual trophy sponsored by IFI.
  • Rogie’s Girl’ from Southport won the prize for catching and releasing the most fish.

The 33rd Rosslare Small Boats Festival is scheduled to take place from the 8-15th September 2018. All small boat anglers are invited to take part. Visit: or for further information.