Forty festival anglers were met with less than desirable conditions for the annual Bann Bonanza coarse angling competition earliler this month. A calm river still at summer levels turned into a raging torrent as the inclement weather saw the necessary opening of the flood gates to push the river into full flood conditions by Friday. Coloured water and a fast flow saw catches become more difficult as the week progressed with the whip and pole feeder at short range the main methods in use.

Not a bad catch for Day 1

Never the less it was a close-run competition that saw Coleraine angler Rickey Peoples (Hinders Bait) take the 2018 title with a 5-day weight of 32.125kg. Rickey took the lead on day three of the festival with a magnificent net of roach for 18kg 400 all caught on the whip close in, alternating with the short whip and long pole flat float the rest of the week. Good performances saw Belfast anglers William Donaldson finish in the runner-up position and Aaron Hutchman third both having fished consistently throughout the week.

The festival on the Lower River Bann takes place on Mid Ulster Council’s angling facility at Portglenone, County Antrim, Northern Ireland where there are 89 managed swims over a mile-long stretch.
The competition sees anglers draw random rotations of four sections along the river which uniquely ensures a different mix of anglers each day, finishing with a full open draw on day 5.

Wet conditions on the later day’s didn’t dampen the anglers spirits

Even with high winds and heavy rain the angler’s spirits were not dampened as in true Irish style this makes for a sociable festival; plenty of banter and craic on the bank, the chance of a ‘flyer’ on Friday and plenty of prizes shared around the match including a wooden spoon and voucher from Loughview Angling Centre presented to Ron Parker (Oxfordshire) for being last man of the match, all in good spirits. Anglers from the UK and Ireland were this year joined by Petar Dimitrovski from Slovenia who took part to get a flavour of the river ahead of the planned European Championships next June.

Richard Peoples won the event with 32.125kg
  • 1st Richard Peoples 32.125kg
  • 2nd William Donaldson 31.175kg
  • 3rd Aaaron Hutchman 29.850kg
  • 4th Niall Mc Kitterick 29.750kg
  • 5th Philip Scooby Hartin 28.350kg
  • 6th Robert Buick 27.500kg
  • 7th Gary Cummings 27.450kg
  • 8th Ron Jordan 25.500kg
  • 9th Bill Ellis 24.850kg
  • Presentation of prizes
    The winners

Fantastic support from The Honorable Irish Society, Mid Ulster District Council, Waterways Ireland, GW Pumping Services of Leeds, Loughview Angling CentreChampion Feed UK and Ireland , Fish Matrix and Prescot Angling Centre all make for a fantastic prize fund. There were trophies for the top 3 plus prizes for the top 9 overall, supplemented by daily winners and mini section prizes which saw the fund shared all around.

Festival organiser Derek Buckley, who not only runs the festival with the help of his fiancé Lucy Donnelly but who sources the sponsorship and promotes the event throughout the year, would like to pass on his thanks to all the sponsors, to the The Wild Duck Inn Portglenone for their warm hospitality and complimentary food and to Philip Hartin and members of the Lower Bann CAA who assist throughout plus the anglers who volunteered for the daily weigh-ins. Not forgetting all those who travelled to the area to take part in this year’s festival.

2019 Bann Bonanza

The 2019 Bann Bonanza will take place from the 4th to 8th of November. The National Coarse Fishing Federation of Ireland have been awarded the privilege of hosting the Fips-ed European Championships in Ireland in 2019 and the River Bann is a preferred location. Working with Waterways Ireland and Mid Ulster Council the Portglenone angling facility is set to be enhanced to facilitate the event in the coming months and its anticipated we can look forward to more events on the venue.

The annual coarse angling competitions for schools takes place on the venue in April. The event is open to secondary schools in Northern Ireland, contact John Taggart tel: 07891 516677