Saturday 25 May 2019

It's a record as 'Screaming Reels' crew takes ninth title at Small Boats festival

Martyn Rayner, Tim McPherson (organiser), Josie Mahon (organiser), Stephen Donoghue, Neville Murphy (organiser) and John Belger
Martyn Rayner, Tim McPherson (organiser), Josie Mahon (organiser), Stephen Donoghue, Neville Murphy (organiser) and John Belger
James Spencer, Philip Armstrong, Stuart Atkinson, Neville Murphy (organiser), Neil Spencer and Tim McPherson (organiser)
Josie Mahon (organiser), Mark Phillips, Richie Stead, Keith Pemberton, Tim McPherson (organiser) and Neville Murphy (organiser)

Anna Hayes

There were celebrations for the fishing kingpins on board the Screaming Reels boat when they were crowned winners of the Rosslare Small Boats Festival for a record ninth time at an awards ceremony in Coast Hotel, Rosslare.

In what turned out to be the most exciting and closest competition in 33 years, the boat, which is crewed by Rescue 117 Waterford Angling Club, took the spoils once again. The crew started taking part in the competition in 2008 and have enjoyed major success since then.

The crew consists of Martyn Rayner, Neville Murphy and Stephen Donoghue.

This year, they beat 37 boats from Britain and Ireland, catching 28 different species of fish, weighing 12.17 kilos. The prestigious competition generates in the region of €300,000 for the local economy. There were four new boats to the competition this year.

Weather conditions were challenging early on with strong southerly winds delaying the start of the competition.

Due to the expertise at forecasting weather and sea state, the festival committee enabled anglers to get afloat during short windows of weather. Changes of venues meant that on one of the days the boats were launched from the Rosslare Safe harbour with the assistance of the local community.

Conditions then improved enabling the other three days of the competition to be fished from Kilmore Quay.

The fishing was tough but this did not deter the competitors and the competition was neck and neck right until the end with three boats on the same number of species, with only small weights dividing them.

The second and third place boats were from the UK.

The heaviest fish was caught by Jonathan Davis on board the boat '2 JD's' from Bray Head Fishing and Social Club with a Bull Huss of 5.48kgs. They received a cash prize and a perpetual trophy sponsored by Inland Fisheries Ireland.

Many successful conservation initiatives for the marine species have been introduced in the last number of years and these were extended further this year with the vast majority of fish now being caught, photographed and released by anglers at sea.

Species caught included: smoothound, black bream, conger, dab, gurnards, mackerel, mullet, pouting, ray and many mini species such as dragonet and gobies. The new measures meant anglers could target species such as bass and tope for the first time.

In total, 44 different species were caught including a topknot which was recorded for the first time in the history of the competition by the Irish boat 'Fin Chaser'. Anglers fishing the festival have provided a historical map of the movement of marine species over a 33 year period.

Inland Fisheries Ireland officiated at the photographic identification of fish species and a marine fish tank was also used for the purpose of displaying fish species that were caught during the competition. Staff from Inland Fisheries Ireland were on hand to educate the public about the fish species in the area of Kilmore Quay. The public were able to view marine fish such as bull huss, ballan wrasse and plaice which were kept in the fish tank and released back into their marine habitat alive. This was hugely supported by Kilmore Quay's harbour master and staff at Wexford County Council.

Daniel Parker, from 'Shy Torque' in Liverpool, won best junior of the competition with 25 species for 10.03 kilos. Sue Tait from 'Predator 2' in Cork won best female competitor with 26 species for 8.88 kilos. The Ken Evason Memorial trophy for the biggest cod was won jointly by the boats 'Highlander' and 'Strongbow' who each caught a cod of 2.90kilos and they donated the trophy to Ken Evason's family.

The Conningbeg Trophy for the longest bass of 60cm was won by Steve Mills aboard the boat 'Samaki' from Portsmouth.

The Coast Hotel in Rosslare Strand was used as the competition base and the prize giving took place there on the final night when up to €30,000 of prizes were awarded.

Tim McPhearson, one of the festival's sponsors from Saltwater Boat Angling, said: 'I would like to congratulate all competitors on their success at the 33rd Rosslare Small Boats festival. This is the first time I have participated in this competition and I would like to compliment the organisers on their military precision in organising the competition from start to finish, and on their wonderful prize table for this prestigious competition.'

New Ross Standard