‘Screaming Reels’ wins the Rosslare Small Boats Festival for a record 9th time

In what turned out to be the most exciting and closest competition in 33 years the Irish boat ‘Screaming Reels’ has won the Rosslare Small Boats Festival for the ninth time.   This is a record nine wins for the crew from Rescue R117 Waterford Angling Club who first started fishing the competition in 2008. They beat 37 boats from Britain and Ireland catching 28 different species of fish for 12.17 kilos. This prestigious competition generates in the region of €300,000 for the local economy, bringing jobs and employment to Wexford.

First place: The ‘Screaming Reels’ Team (from L-R) – Josie Mahon (Inland Fisheries Ireland), Stephen Donoghue, Martyn Rayner, Neville Murphy and John Belger (UK organiser of festival).

Sponsored by Inland Fisheries Ireland, Garmin, DAIWA and Saltwater Boat magazine, the 33rd festival attracted more than 112 anglers from Scotland, Wales, Isle of Wight, Ireland and many other parts of England including Manchester, Liverpool and Portsmouth. This prestigious competition continues to attract the best boat anglers in Great Britain and Ireland in what is now regarded as the most species rich fishing in the Irish Atlantic. There were four new boats to the competition this year from all over the UK.

Weather conditions were challenging early on with strong southerly winds delaying the start of the competition. Due to the expertise at forecasting weather and sea state, the Rosslare small boats festival committee enabled anglers to get afloat during short windows of weather. Changes of venues meant that on one of the days the boats were launched from Rosslare Safe harbour with the assistance of the local community. Weather conditions then improved enabling the other three days of the competition to be fished from Kilmore Quay.

The anglers fished hard and the fishing was tough, however this did not deter the competitors and the competition was neck and neck right until the end with three boats on the same number of species, with only small weights dividing them. In the end, Screaming Reels got to the finishing line catching 28 species beating the other two boats on the same number of species with a weight of 12.17kg.

The winning crew of ‘Screaming Reels’ consists of Martyn Rayner, Neville Murphy and Stephen Donoghue from Rescue R117 Waterford Angling Club with 28 species for 12.17 kilos. The boat ‘Nauti Lass’ from Yorkshire came second, consisting of Neil Spencer, James Spencer, Phil Armstrong and Stewart Atkinson who caught 28 species for 11.33 kilos.  In third place was ‘Nirvana’ from the Wirral Sea Angling Club – Richie Stead, Keith Pemberton and Mark Phillips caught 28 species for 11.01 kilos.  The heaviest fish was caught by Johnathan Davis on board the boat ‘2 JD’s’ from Bray Head Fishing and Social Club with a Bull Huss of 5.48 kgs and they received a cash prize and a perpetual trophy sponsored by Inland Fisheries Ireland.

Boat 2 JD’s from Bray Head Social and Fishing Club who took home the Heaviest Fish title– John Belger (UK organiser), Josie Mahon (Inland Fisheries Ireland), David Frazer, Jonathan Davis, John Davis.

Many successful conservation initiatives for our marine species have been introduced in the last number of years and these were extended further this year with the vast majority of fish now being caught, photographed and released by anglers at sea. This proved to be very successful with many fish including species such as smoothound, black bream, conger, dab, gurnards, mackerel, mullet, pouting, ray and many mini species such as dragonet and gobies being measured on Inland Fisheries Ireland mats, photographed and returned alive. This also enabled anglers to target species such as bass and tope for the first time.

There were 44 different species caught including a topknot which was recorded for the first time in the history of the competition by the Irish boat ‘Fin Chaser’. Other unusual species recorded include black bream, garfish and streaked gurnard. Anglers fishing the festival have provided a historical map of the movement of our marine species over a 33 year period.

Inland Fisheries Ireland officiated at the photographic identification of fish species and a marine fish tank was also used for the purpose of displaying fish species that were caught during the competition. Staff from Inland Fisheries Ireland were on hand to educate the public about the fish species on offer from Kilmore Quay. 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. The public were able to view marine fish such as bull huss, ballan wrasse and plaice which were kept in the fish tank and released back into their marine habitat alive. This was hugely supported by Kilmore Quay harbour master and staff at Wexford County Council.

Daniel Parker from ‘Shy Torque’ in Liverpool won best junior of the competition with 25 species for 10.03 kilos. Sue Tait from ‘Predator 2’ in Cork won best female competitor with 26 species for 8.88 kilos. The ‘Ken Evason’ Memorial trophy for the biggest cod was won jointly by the boats ‘Highlander and Strongbow’ who each caught a cod of 2.90kilos and they donated the trophy to Ken Evason’s family. The Conningbeg Trophy for the longest bass of 60cm was won by Steve Mills aboard the boat ‘Samaki’ from Portsmouth.

Daniel Parker from Liverpool won the best junior of the festival on the boat ‘Shy Torque’ with a ballan wrasse

Coast Hotel, Rosslare Strand’ was the centre of the competition where competitors met each evening to discuss their catches and make plans for the following day.  The prize giving night took place here where there were fantastic prizes worth in the region of €30,000 including fishing equipment, cash prizes and engraved trophies. Tim McPhearson one of the festival’s sponsors from ‘Saltwater Boat Angling’ said: ‘I would like to congratulate all competitors on their success at the 33rd Rosslare Small Boats festival. This is the first time I have participated in this competition and I would like to complement the organisers on their military precision in organising the competition from start to finish and on their wonderful prize table for this prestigious competition’.

Competitors at the fish tank where fish were held and later released back into the sea.

For futher information on The Rosslare Small Boats Festival 2019 contact John Belger, 98 Dunbar Road, Southport PR8 4RL, UK. Phone: 00441704566195 or email: [email protected] or Ms. Josie Mahon, Inland Fisheries Ireland, Tel: 01 8842 600 or email [email protected].


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