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35th Irish Winter Shore Angling Festival Report

Warren Doyle reports back on the 35th Irish Winter Shore Angling Festival, fished on the beaches of Wexford and sponsored by Tronixpro.

Report by Warren Doyle

The 35th Irish Winter Shore Angling Festival took place from January 24th to 27th, 2024. The weeks leading up had the committee dealing with a fair amount of trepidation due to the intervention of storms Isha and Jocelyn. Competitors travelling from abroad had a rough time on their sea crossings on the few sailings that were still operating. Thankfully, they made it.

The 106 competitors commenced check in on the evening of the 24th at the event headquarters in the Hotel Curracloe, in County Wexford. Numbers were well down on what had been expected, given the huge numbers of expressions of interest before Christmas. The organisers will be looking at a system to overcome this for next year.

Check in was completed on Thursday morning 25th and competitors moved onto Curracloe beach to commence fishing at noon. The anglers were divided into four zones each day. Weather conditions were fairly grim, with Storm Jocelyn delivering persistent rain and high southerly winds throughout the session. Line's in was called at 5pm, and the competitors were glad to vacate the beach to get in from the atrocious weather conditions.

The conditions also affected the catch rate, with only 707 fish being recorded for the session, all returned alive. Species recorded were flounder, dab, whiting, scorpion, bass, l.s. dogfish, rockling, and coalfish.

The best round fish was a 41 cm coalfish for Frank Piotter from Germany. The best flatfish was a 32 cm flounder for Martin McGowan from Kerry.

The Super pool winners were Richard Yates, Matt White, and Ged Stevens. These were also the individual best 3 positions on day 1.

Zone winners were Richard Yates (600), Matt White (589), Ged Stevens (559) and Gary Wood (447). All from England.

The Best Lady was Jane Cantwell from Wexford. The Best Junior was Max Roche, also from Wexford.

Leading the 2-person teams were Matt White and Ged Stevens. The 4-person teams were led by Matt White, Ged Stevens, Shane Russell, and Gareth Griffiths.

Zone prize winners on day 1 were:

Day 1 Zone ADay 1 Zone BDay 1 Zone CDay 1 Zone D
1. Gary Wood1. Richard Yates1. Matt White1. Ged Stevens
2. Gareth Griffiths2. Saul Page2. Ronan Doherty2. Dave Wade
3. Andreas Schulz3. J.P Molloy3. Shane Russell3. Troy Francis
4. Mike Fox4. Sam Collier4. Richard Dorgan4. Joe Wales
5. Gordi Hardman5. Frank Piotter5. Mike Hughes5 Ciaran Fogarty
6. Andrew Rogers6. Joe Arch6. Stephen O'Donovan6. Phil Lee
7 Aidan O'Sullivan7. Chris O'Sullivan7. Alan Price / Rolf Wittern7. Dave Wright
Wet and Windy on Curracloe Beach – Day 1
Wet and Windy on Curracloe Beach – Day 1

The second session commenced at noon on Friday 26th on Morriscastle Beach. The competitors were very pleased to see the sun shining and a nice westerly breeze helping to dry out wet over clothes and gear that had been soaked on day 1.

Fish captures were much better from the beginning, with some sizeable cards up to 35 fish being recorded. A much happier bunch of competitors pulled in last casts at 5pm in much better form than that on day 1.

The total number of fish recorded and returned alive was 1,118. Species recorded were similar to day 1 with the addition of a rare daylight capture of a 45 cm spurdog for Chris O’Sullivan from Kerry. The best flat fish of 34 cm flounders were captured by J.P. Molloy from Cork and Rob Collins from England.

The Super pool winners were Juergen van Rijswijk from The Netherlands with the best card of the event on 916 points, Ryan Blair from Northern Ireland with 877 and Stephen O’Donovan from Kerry on 857.

Zone winners were Juergen van Rijswijk, Ryan Blair, Saul Page from England, and Dave Wade also from England.

Best lady once again was Jane Cantwell and best junior was once again Max Roche with a very creditable zone 3rd placing.

The 2-person team was still led by Saul page and Richard Yates. The 4-person teams were also still led by Matt White, Ged Stevens, Shane Russell, and Gareth Griffiths.

The overall lead was now held by Saul Page on 59 points for 1,324 fish points, followed by Dave Wade also on 59 points but with 1,040 fish points, Gareth Griffiths was in third place. Everything to play for on day 3.

Zone prize winners on day 2 were:

Day 2 Zone ADay 2 Zone BDay 2 Zone CDay 2 Zone D
1. Jurgen van Rijswijk1. Ryan Blair1. Saul Page1. Dave Wade
2. Troy Francis2. Stephen O'Donovan2. Frank Piotter2. Darren Stevens
3. Chris O'Sullivan3. Gareth Griffiths3. Max Roche3. Joey Brady
4. Shane Russell4. J.P Molloy4. Joe Arch4. Kieran Dempsey
5. J.J Roche5. Matt White5. Henry Randell5. Sam Collier
6. Ged Stevens6. Charles Laboure6. Ciaran Fogarty6. Richard Yates
7. John White7. Gary Wood7. Mike Hughes7. Andy Gallagher
Morriscastle Beach — Day 2
Morriscastle Beach — Day 2

The final session on Saturday 27th had a 10.30 start on Ballinesker Beach. Conditions were fairly good in dry weather with a brisk southerly breeze. Good numbers of fish were captured early on, but the rate became patchy as the session progressed. Some positions continued to produce and as the end of the session approached the entire beach started to see fish again. Lines in at 3.30 saw 808 fish recorded. Species recorded were similar to previous days with the addition of some small sea trout, which unfortunately for the captors did not count. All fish were returned alive.

The best round fish was a 53 cm bass for Aaron Vambeck from Donegal, the best flat fish was a 32 cm flounder for Lar Mooney from Dublin.

Aaron Vambeck, Bass – Day 3
Aaron Vambeck, Bass – Day 3

The best scores on the day, winning shares of the super pool were Matt White (526), Troy Francis from Kerry (507) and Saul Page (499).

Zone winners were Saul Page, Dave Wright, Matt White, all from England, and Joey Brady from Ireland.

Zone prize winners on day 3 were:

Day 3 Zone ADay 3 Zone BDay 3 Zone CDay 3 Zone D
1. Saul Page1. Dave Wright1. Matt White1. Joey Brady
2. Richard Yates2. Andy Gallagher2. Troy Francis2. Mark Shortt
3. John White3. Gareth Griffiths3. Paul Tyndall3. David O'Sullivan
4. Tomos Hughes4. James Gordon4. Mike Hughes4. Sam Collier
5. John Marshall5. Ged Stevens5. Frank Piotter5. Ciaran Dempsey
6. Ronan Doherty6. Dave Wade6. Rolf Wittern6. John Sheehan
7. Richard Dorgan7. Andreas Schulz7. Bill Lindfield7. Gavin Fogarty, J.P Molloy

The hard-working results committee had the results posted at 18.45.

A full room of competitors and guests enjoyed an excellent, well-prepared and professionally served meal, after which the presentation of awards took place.

EFSA Ireland Chairman George McCullough addressed those in attendance before the awards ceremony. He thanked the competitors for their participation and their perseverance over the 3 days of competition in some very trying conditions. He thanked the venue pegging team organised by John Marshall for their work. Furthermore, he also thanked the results' committee for their exceptional work and also EFSA Ireland Hon. Secretary for his work in the organisation of the event. He thanked the management and staff of the Hotel Curracloe for their support and professionalism throughout the event.

He then thanked the sponsors, firstly main sponsor Tronixpro for their continued support for the event, also Inland Fisheries Ireland for their continued support and finally Hotel Curracloe for hosting the event at short notice. Finally, he thanked those who had gifted prizes for the raffle and wished everyone a safe journey home and hoped to see them again in 2025.

The awards presentation then took place under the stewardship of Hon. Secretary Warren Doyle and Hon Treasurer Christy Cloak.

Longest fish and Super Pool prizes were first awarded, followed by daily zone prize winners. These were followed by the team prizes.

The 2-person team was won by Richard Yates and Saul Page while the 4-person team was won by Matt White, Ged Stevens, Shane Russell, and Gareth Griffiths.

Best flatfish awards went jointly to J.P. Molloy and Rob Collins for their 34 cm flounders. The best round fish award was taken by Aaron Vambeck with his 53 cm bass, which also took the ‘Best Fish of the Festival’ award.

The best Lady was Jane Cantwell and the best Junior was Max Roche.

The awarding of the top 3 individual prizes then completed the ceremony.

In 3rd place and also being the only angler to break the English dominance of the top awards for the 2024 event was Troy Francis. In the Runner-Up spot was Matt White.

L-R Matt White, Saul Page, Troy Francis with Warren Doyle
L-R Matt White, Saul Page, Troy Francis with Warren Doyle
The overall winner and 2024 Irish Winter Shore Angling Champion was Saul Page.
The overall winner and 2024 Irish Winter Shore Angling Champion was Saul Page.

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