Lanesborough/Ballyleague was the starting point for the  annual Lough Ree International Pike Classic on Saturday the 11th and Sunday 12th of September. This angling competition was held with the support of the Camlin and District Angling Club and Lough Ree/Lanesborough Angling Hub and made history with the presence of two anglers with disability in a boat for the first time.

This event has grown in popularity over the past five years and this year had 78 boats and 158 anglers coming from all over the country and abroad to take part, but this year the presence of wheelchair users Dorothy Coyle and Joe Donlon was the headline.

Lough Ree and the Shannon River is an excellent venue for this competition giving the anglers a large area in which to fish and offers a wide range of deep areas and shallow bays giving anglers lots of choice and suits a variety of angling methods. Both the weather and fishing conditions were good over the weekend and as expected a lot of fish were caught with all boats registering catches.

A Lough Ree classic

The organisers operate a strict catch and release policy with minimal disturbance to the fish. The angers photograph their catch on specially designed measuring boards and the fish are released immediately in the same area they were caught. The adjudicators then view the photographs with the anglers having the longest five fish over the two days deemed the winners.

Fishing aside, this was the first competition the Camlin Anglers have helped organise since before the Covid 19 pandemic called a halt to everything. It was fantastic to meet up with old friends again and it added an extra buzz to the whole experience.

Phil Gordon of the Lough Ree Angling hub said the festival could not have taken place without the sponsorship and support of Inland Fisheries Ireland and Roscommon county council. “This was a red letter couple of days for our hub” he said, “it’s the first time we have had two competitors in their wheelchairs and they thoroughly enjoyed it. This is equality at last for people with disability and we would like to thank the crew of the Lough Ree Access For All boat for their help and cancelling their weekend sailings.”

Dorothy Coyle and Joe Donlon aboard the Lough Ree Access For All Boat with skipper and crew

The prize fund over the two days was €10,000 and overall winners of the event, Lukasz Sankiewicz and Peter Kaczmarek, collected the first prize of €2,500 euro for the 2nd time in the history of the event. The pair are regular participants at festivals here and paid tribute to the fishery’s performance over the last ten years.

Winners Lukasz and Peter with Aaron Carr – chairman of the Camlin Angling Club and member of the Lough Ree Angling hub

For further information please contact Philip Gordon, loughreeanglinghub@gmail.com