James Barry reports from the Irish Bass Festival which was fished at the weekend…

Alan Houlihan with the winners cheque

It is only in the days after that you can reflect on the catches and realise that Irish Bass Festival 2018 will go down as one of the best in terms of weather conditions for bass fishing and numbers of fish caught.

On Tuesday I posted a picture on the Irish Bass Festival Facebook page, a screen grab of the predicted wind speeds for the weekend of the festival. With a SW wind forecast after weeks of high pressure, coinciding with some of the best tides of the year, needless to say we were quietly confident that there was a real chance of some excellent fishing. We waited and watched the approaching low pressure and it came across the country on Saturday (am) and sure enough as it did so did the pictures and messages from bass anglers fishing along the south coast. In simple terms the fish were “on”.

You get different types of anglers fishing the festival, there are the guys who go for it full tilt from 7am on Friday morning until 2pm on Sunday with the odd bit of sleep to keep them going. Then there are others who strategically plan out there fishing times and locations to the minute and then there are the guys who stroll in mid-afternoon on the Friday and take a much more leisurely approach to the weekend. It’s always great to see the guys mixing and chatting and inevitably bumping into one another on the coast and fishing together over the weekend sharing experiences, tips and tricks along the way, and for me this is what the festival is all about. Learning and fishing together and just being out on the coast enjoying some bass fishing.

The butterfly loft was full of activity on the Friday morning. The doors opened at 6am and anglers fuelled up on coffee before getting out on the coast. The bass chat was in full flow, from tide times to conditions, wind speed, day v night, lures it was all being discussed in fine detail as anglers signed in getting their ID cards before disappearing off to their marks.


The bass festival is and always has been a fully catch and release event and anglers place their ID cards in the photo with their measured bass before quickly releasing them. In total anglers have 55 hours to fully immerse themselves in all things bass fishing. Thoughts are firmly on tides and conditions and the fish with most anglers becoming coastal nomads for the weekend.


In total 76 anglers were on the official list and by 8am on Friday morning up on 60 anglers were out and fishing on the coast and by 9am the first grip and grin pics of guys out catching were being sent in. The weather stayed settled on Friday and anglers who opted to hold off for the night shift were rewarded with some good catches of bass both from clean beaches and rock marks. The estuaries and moving water were holding a good number of fish and anglers were having what can only be described as incredible fishing catching fish on every cast in short “feeding frenzy” windows. A couple of local anglers arrived into the butterfly loft on Saturday morning to get a coffee and debrief after their fishing exploits. They described the fishing they had earlier that morning as simply the best they had ever experienced, granted there was no big fish but what great sport on light lure gear.


There were plenty of reports coming into us of good fishing from up and down the coast, Wexford, Waterford and Cork all producing fish. Anglers were spread out and the fish just seemed to be turning up everywhere.

Sunday morning was very quiet in the loft, it seemed the majority of anglers were making the most of the conditions and sticking at it until the 2pm deadline. By lunch time the loft was beginning to fill up and a big number of anglers appeared just before 2pm to register their biggest fish and best 3 combined. Everyone seemed to find a few bass over the weekend and there certainly was a few stand out sessions.


Tom Lodge and Jonny Power had a fantastic morning catching over 52 fish in a short ebb tide session up to 59cm. Richard Cake, Mark Padfield and Steven Payne have been coming across from the UK for the festival since we first started back in 2012, they fished hard as usual and had a good weekend landing 87 fish (20+ off the top). Kristian Davies (IBF winner 2016) and Philip Cotton who were across from Wales put in the hard yards again this year and were rewarded with some excellent top water fishing over the weekend, with some lovely fish up to 72cm. Festival regulars Chris Williams and Niall Cook form the UK also reported some nice fish from their weekend exploits fishing around the clock with some nice fish to 65cm. Jason Nash, Kenny Bodles and Jonny Dawson opted for the night shift and found some consistent night time fishing with fish turning on just as the sun crept over the horizon at dawn (what a way to star your day!!). Andy Davies and Alan Houlihan also reported a great weekend on the Cork coast landing in the region of 70 fish from schoolies right up to the double figure mark during night time sessions. The Wexford coast also produced some good numbers of fish for Richard Bent and John Wilson reporting best combined threes of 181cm and 180cm respectively. Ray Horgan also reported an excellent weekends fishing noting impressive numbers of fish. Clive Power also found the fish straight from the off on Friday morning and caught consistently until just before registration on Sunday, with fish up to 70cm. Tim Sexton and Shane Olden also had some superb fishing with Shane getting a very impressive 197cm combined three. Michael Kelly reported 12 fish and had a good combined three of 191cm. Stephen Flynn also reported plenty of action during some night time sessions. We also had some festival first timers this year. John and Philip Keogh from Dublin had some good fishing on Friday night. Tom Cooper all the way from Edinburgh in his first festival got amongst the fish scoping out the reefs and beaches along the copper coast by day and hitting the marks by night he registered a nice fish at 69cm.

Reflecting on the catches we would have to say that is was probably the best yet in terms of numbers of fish caught over the bass festival weekend. The abundance of 40’s and 50’s is very encouraging to see and bodes well for the future. We hope to see you all next year for Irish Bass Festival 2019.

A big thank you to Art of Fishing who sponsored the event and provided some excellent prizes. Thanks also to Costa Del Mar who kindly sent across sunglasses to include in the prizes.

Well done to Alan Houlihan Irish Bass Festival winner 2018 and he also manged the best three combined (205cm) . Some outstanding fishing.

Irish Bass Festival Results 2018:

1st – Alan Houlihan (75cm)

2nd – Jason Nash (72.4cm)

3rd – Kristian Davies (72.1cm)

Best 3 combined – Alan Houlihan (205cm)
Best Visitor – Kristian Davies