Anglers enjoy bumper haul during competition
The 2017 Wicklow Bay Sea Angling Club's Open Boat Competition once again proved that the waters around Wicklow hold some of the best sea fishing action in Ireland.
Fifteen anglers from Wicklow, Bray, Arklow, and Munster fished the six-hour competition and hauled in over 1,000 fish, all of which were safely returned to the sea.
Although the sea conditions were fair to moderate, high tides meant the flow of water up the Irish Sea required weights of up 2lb just to hold on to bottom where the fish feed.
The aim of the competition is to collect as many 'fish points' as possible, with different species of fish carrying different points according to the rules laid down by the Irish Federation of Sea Anglers.
A common species like Dogfish carries two points, whereas a Ray will earn the angler 12 points. Trying to detect fish bites in between the rocking of a small boat in swelled tide takes skill and concentration. Bait quality is also paramount, most of the anglers selecting strips of mackerel, squid, and crab to catch as many fish as possible.
Many anglers aim for the Tope (which earns 25 points), a member of the shark family that can grow up to 70 Lb's in Irish waters. In all, this years WBSAC Open Boat competition saw 819 Dogfish being recorded.
There was also a huge haul of 84 Smooth Hounds including several specimen size fish from this member of the shark family.
Another specimen of the day was a Tub Gurnard of 45cm landed by Gary Creighan from Arklow. In total, 17 Tope were also caught and released, as well as 16 Bull Huss, and 6 Thornback Rays.
Anglers with tired, aching limbs, and the odd patch sun burn assembled in Whistler's Bar, Wicklow town to hear the news as the results were calculated.
This years winner of the Whistler's Cup was presented by Wicklow Bay Sea Angling Club executives, Paddy Swan and Jerry Dixon to Liam O'Callaghan of the Bray Sea Anglers with 381 points. Second place was awarded to Wicklow Bay's Paddy Swan.
Third place went to Mark Shortt of Bray Sea Anglers, forth to Ciaran Kenny of Wicklow Bay, and fifth place to special guest, John Dennehy of the Carrigaline Sea Angling Club in Cork.