A Bonanza of Roach on the River Bann for the festival anglers
The River Bann showed its full glory last week for the festival anglers from Ireland and the UK. It was a close-run competition that saw County Down angler Johnny Keith, (Lurgan CAC-Champion Feed) secure his second consecutive victory with a 5-day weight of 60.725kg, and his third Bonanza win.
The festival on the mighty River Bann takes place on Mid Ulster Council’s angling facility at Portglenone, County Antrim, Northern Ireland where there are 89 managed swims over a mile-long stretch. The superb setting on this natural water venue and magnificent fishing makes for one of the best winter venues in Ireland.
After the all-important net-dip provided by DAERA Inland Fisheries the 32 anglers drew random rotations of four sections at the start of the week, which uniquely ensures a different mix of anglers each day finishing with a full open draw on the last day. It makes for a sociable festival fishing alongside someone different each day, plenty of banter and craic on the bank and the chance of a ‘flyer’ on Friday. Near perfect water levels and the river running clean made for excellent fishing improving as the week progressed and the flow lessened; at its best in the autumn sun on Thursday when Johnny Keith had the catch of the week with 25.375kg. Fishing the 7m whip-line was the method of choice for runner-up Derek Buckley (ChampionFeed, Matrix) who fished consistently throughout remarking on the excellent stamp of the roach being caught up to 750g in size. 146 red fins for 18.750kg from peg 89 on an overcast Friday catapulted County Cavan angler Niall McKitterick (Championfeed, Browning) from 8th position to finish in third position.
1st Johnny Keith 60.725kg
2nd Derek Buckley 59.775kg
3rd Niall McKitterick 55.175kg
4th Tony Hopkins 53.675kg
5th Ron Jordan 53.650kg
6th Phil Hartin 52.200kg
7th Aaron Hutchman 46.750kg
8th Ian Waddington 44.575kg
Fantastic support from those managing the Lower Bann, Waterways Ireland, The Honorable Irish Society and Mid Ulster District Council contributed to a full pay-out cash prize fund complimented by Engraved Silver trophy plates for the top 3, tackle vouchers from Ted Carter Fishing of £100 for the top 5 and Champion Feed prizes for the daily winners. A special mention goes to Cllr Martin Kearney, Magherafelt Council who made a spontaneous contribution to the fund having visited the anglers on the bank during the week. Also to Chris Simpson, Leeda and Ken Dunn from Liverpool whose tackle donations were warmly received and the Wild Duck Inn at Portglenone for their hospitality and complimentary food.
Keeping the festival alive is the organiser Derek Buckley who not only runs the festival with the help of his fiancé Lucy Donnelly but who sources and promotes the event throughout the year and is actively involved in developing the local angling facility further. Derek would like to pass on his thanks to Philip Hartin and members of the Lower Bann CAA who have assisted throughout, to the anglers who volunteered for the daily weigh-ins and the Rivers Agency. And of course, to all those who took part in this year’s festival many who had travelled from all over Ireland and England.
The 2018 event will take place from the 5th to 9th of November, book early, it’s sure to be popular! The National Coarse Fishing Federation of Ireland have been awarded the privilege of hosting the Fips-ed European Championships in Ireland in 2019 and the River Bann is a preferred location. Working with Waterways Ireland and Mid Ulster Council the Portglenone angling facility is set to be enhanced to facilitate the event in the coming months.