The Under 16 and Under 21 Fish-Offs for the Irish World Championships Shore Angling teams were held at the weekend on the spectacular Wexford coastline on the beaches of Curracloe, Kilmuckridge and Ballinesker.

True to form, the Sunny South-East lived up to its county name, with plenty of sunshine greeting the anglers, though the temperatures were on the low side and challenging. These beaches were chosen as they are potential venues for the World Championships to be held later this year in Ireland.
26 youth anglers from the four provinces made their ways to their pegs on Curracloe to be greeted by a flat calm sea and bright sunshine, not usually the best conditions for a match but the anglers began to catch from the start. The previous week of north easterlies had obviously made an impact and there was fish for fish battles happening all along the stretch.
As the tide changed, the species changed, rockling being replaced by flounder being replaced by dab. It was brilliant to watch the young anglers chop and change their tactics quickly is response to the conditions.
Rockling, dabs, flounder and whiting were the predominant species with the odd codling, dog, bass and a solitary spurdog pup landed. Over 400 fish were landed and returned over the course of the 4 hours.
Zone winners in the Under 16 event were Kaitlyn De Kleer, Ava Marshall and Sally Gilvarry, a great result for our rising female anglers, and in the Under 21’s, Bradley Kirwan and Max Roche.
The night session was held on Morriscastle Strand, Kilmuckridge, again facing a calm sea but the temperature had come up a couple of degrees and conditions were pleasant to fish in.
Once again, fish came from the first cast, a flurry of local flounder, then a break before the rockling started showing. There were more whiting in darkness as expected and as in the first competition, there were peg to peg battles all along the beach.
There were over 500 fish caught and released in this event with Katlyn De Kleer recording a second zone win in the Under 16’s along with Liam Davis and Cormac O ‘Connor. In the Under 21’s, Adam O Neill and Evan Ryan took the honours.
The final session was held a little further north on the Ballinesker beach. The situation on the leader board on zone points was extremely close in both categories and the consensus was that a single fish could prove the difference.
Ballinesker was expected to fish similar to Curracloe and this was evident from the start with a flurry of fish in the first couple of casts. After two busy and intense sessions, it was great to see all the anglers were still raring to go and putting total effort into their angling.
The stewards never had a moments peace and were busy from the start once more as Katlyn De Kleer was not resting on her laurels and had a handful of fish in her first two casts on peg 16. Over the next four hours there was little let up as another 500 plus fish were caught and released.
The fishing and the skills of the youths was exceptional, speed in turning over casts, unhooking fish and rebating for the next retrieve a lesson in efficiency.
At the end of an exhaustive four hours, the only clear outcome was Kaitlyn De Kleer would definitely be on the team. Kaitlyn won her zone in dramatic style to make it three zone wins, recording the biggest score of the event, landing 34 fish for a massive 820 points, a superb result befitting a World Champion.
All the other positions were too close to call until all the figures were checked and verified. Tie break countbacks would almost certainly play a part in the final outcome.
Zone winners on the day were Under 16, Seán Bannon, Kai Butler and Kaitlyn De Kleer,
Under 21’s Mac Roche and Nathan De Kleer.
It was back to the Hotel Curracloe for some warm food and the wait for the final results.
As expected, some of the positions would be decided on the tie-break, countback rules. This is unfortunate for some of the unlucky anglers who fished their best and did nothing wrong, but as in all sports, there can only be a set number of winners.
The atmosphere throughout the event was fantastic from all concerned, parents, helpers, staff of the Hotel Curracloe and most of all from the young Irish anglers.
It was great to welcome a couple of new anglers in the youth group from around the country and I hope they learned, benefitted, and enjoyed the experience.
The teams for the 2024 World Championships Shore to be held in Wexford in November 2024 are:
Under 16
Kaitlyn De Kleer
Cameron Gilbert
Cormac O’ Connor
Kai Butler
Liam Davis
Seán Bannon
The Irish under-16 team for 2024
Under 21
Max Roche
Nathan De Kleer
Bradley Kirwan
Evan Ryan
Finn Healy
Adam O’ Neill
Well done to all, the Federation is proud of you.
Report and pictures courtesy of Brian Cooke National Youth Liaison Officer.
Additional pictures by Barry Murphy, Alison O’Sullivan and Darren Ryan