The annual competition was once again saved from extinction by the Irish EFSA section stepping up and offering to organise the event. They are used to organising fairly large competitions particularly on the East coast as they have access to good quality accommodation at a reasonable cost and numerous beaches. However this year they did have some late reorganisation due to problems in securing accommodation at the now famous Sean OG’s which resulted in a new location at Courtown. The accommodation was excellent and the breakfast at the HQ Hotel was brilliant. With Joe Byrnes tackle shop right next door and a good cafe and a few shops selling the essentials (Mr Whippy ice cream) the relocation of the competition was a great success.
Our own section emptied the shore angler’s retirement home and managed to find 7 anglers with an average age of around 65 with the actual team slightly higher!! We made our way uneventfully across on the day of booking in but the boat was a little delayed and for once we kept the Irish lads waiting.
So what about the fishing you might ask. Well the Irish boys had done their homework and had been monitoring the performance of the beaches for some weeks to try to work out how to get the best out of them in terms of fish. For this reason the timings were adjusted to allow a short period of darkness as clear water conditions could signal very poor catches.
On the first day we headed off to Killoughter Beach in County Wicklow which was about a 40 minute drive. When we got there it was evident that the opposite had happened with enough colour in the water to encourage the fish to feed right from the off; there were fish caught along the whole stretch of beach although zone A to left did struggle throughout the match. At this time of the year catches are hard to come by and so the measure and return of any fish over 18 cms made sure we had a competition rather than a lucky dogfish raffle! At the end of the day the Irish lads had fared better than most closely followed by the Welsh anglers the English old boys struggled!! Dave Clarke and Dave Lovelock were best performers from our group but most struggled to find the fish. Jerry though kept his usual run on the pools with a shout with a good size flatfish!! I had seriously hurt myself prior to travelling to Ireland and found myself struggling on the beach and I have to say that Binnie the Irish Angler pegged next to me was a star as he could see I was struggling with moving about and if he saw me with a fish came over to sign it in rather than make me walk over. Might not sound much but I can assure you I was very grateful for the help. To cap it off I also snapped another rod casting to wet the line!!! This is was not good news at the best of times but we hadn’t even started the match!! To be honest the highlight of the night for our team was the Chinese takeaway on the way home but there you go!!
Next day we went travelled from our little holiday house village down the road to the Harbour House Hotel for the inclusive breakfast as part of the overall accommodation package. The mood of all of us lifted within minutes as the service and the breakfast was fantastic. We then had a wander about in Courtown Angling run by EFSA Ireland member Joe Byrne the well stocked shop had just about everything you could need.
After bait distribution our next destination was Old Bawn beach in County Wexford. Again the water had some colour and when we arrived a fair bit of surf which suggested we might see some bass. Sadly though as the match started the surf seemed to die off and although there was a bass caught they did not appear. The catches like the previous day were made up of a variety of flatfish, Plaice, Flounder, Turbot and Brill. Dogfish and some pin whiting were the main round fish however Clive Ivory and I managed to pull out a Bull Huss apiece which put us in the running for the round fish pool!! At the end of the match it appeared that the Welsh team had made up the deficit of points and overtaken the Irish to put themselves into the Gold position. Derek Gregory and Stephen Glynn had secured another zone win apiece so were well in the running to win the championship. Everything would rest on the last day which was all daylight and on Clones Strand in County Wexford and is a beach that can be very difficult to find fish on.
After another hearty breakfast and a wander around we picked up the bait and headed off to Clones. When we got to the venue there was a strong wind blowing right to left along the beach. This got progressively stronger gusting over 40 mph at times. One or two beach shelters went dancing down the beach. It was very difficult conditions as this is a fine sand beach so you were constantly getting sand blasted but there were fish there to be caught. The low numbers in Zone A had the best of the fishing where there was an obvious mark as the end 2 anglers caught fish all day. The rest of us had sporadic success again with flatfish and dogfish making up the majority of the catches.
The presentation evening was in the Headquarters Tara Vie Hotel where excellent meals with copious amounts of fluids were consumed prior to the presentations.
The winner and receiver of the Gold Pin for the championships with a perfect score of 3 section wins was Derek (Del Boy) Gregory of EFSA Wales. In the silver pin position was Stephen Glynn of EFSA Ireland who had 2 section wins and a 2nd and the bronze pin award was to Steve Lewis of EFSA Wales.
Most of our section members picked up medals and prizes in the drawn team events and Jerry Knight along with me kept up his good record of always being amongst the Pools money winners!!! Best position of an English Section member was Dave Lovelock in 7th place.
This was a very well organised event by Warren and his team and we all thoroughly enjoyed the hospitality. Shame the fishing never quite measured up to hopes but then if it was easy everyone would be doing it!!!