Match of the month

The 28th Ir­ish Win­ter Beach Cham­pi­onships.

Sea Angler (UK) - - Contents - Words by Cliff Brown Pho­tog­ra­phy by David Byrne & Chris Clark

Ir­ish shore in­ter­na­tional an­gler Harry Mc­Kee ju­nior proved that con­sis­tency pays off in multi-day events by tak­ing a trio of se­cond places to win the Ir­ish Win­ter Shore An­gling Fes­ti­val. With up to 107 an­glers spread over four zones of 27 pegs ev­ery day, the highly-rated an­gler, from Belfast, col­lected 26 points for each of his run­ner-up plac­ings to record an im­pres­sive, match-win­ning 78 points.

He saw off the chal­lenge of vis­i­tor Thomas Hughes, of Holy­head, North Wales, who scored 75 points. Hughes started with a zone win and was se­cond on the next day to head the field go­ing into the fi­nal match. How­ever, a sixth in the last event meant that it was a vic­tory for the hosts.

For­mer Eng­land in­ter­na­tional and Sea An­gler con­trib­u­tor Chris Clark, of Sway, Hamp­shire, se­cured third place af­ter fin­ish­ing on 74 points (sixth, third and first in zone), the same as Ir­ish­man Ron­nie McWil­liams, but edged it on fish points by 2,100 to 2,044. Chris had fin­ished third two years ago too.

Spon­sored by Tronix­pro, more than €18,000 was paid out in prize money in this an­nual open com­pe­ti­tion, which at­tracts many of the finest an­glers from the UK and Ire­land. In fact, it was the big­gest en­try for many years.

Based at the Sean Og’s com­plex in Kil­muck­eridge, it com­prises three day­light matches in late Jan­uary on the pro­duc­tive east coast strands. Fish­ing is over clean ground, with short-range, three-hook flap­pers the main­stay for the pre­dom­i­nant floun­ders. Other species usu­ally in­clude dabs, codling, bass, lesser-spot­ted dog­fish and rock­ling.

The scor­ing sys­tem is based on a min­i­mum size of 18cm. All fish are mea­sured ex­cept dog­fish, which are given 45cm. All el­i­gi­ble fish get five fish points plus mea­sure­ment points, so an an­gler catch­ing 20 fish gets 100 fish points, and if those 20 fish mea­sured 480cm, the an­gler would get an ex­tra 480 points mak­ing a to­tal of 580 points.

This year’s well-run event be­gan on Jan­uary 28 at Balli­noulart, with a noon start for five hours, with fish­ing on a strong ebb tide dur­ing gust­ing winds that made fish­ing tough. The best round­fish was a 31cm codling, and the best flat­fish a 33cm floun­der.

The se­cond day’s event, fished noon to 5pm on an ebb tide, was in brighter con­di­tions at Clones and Cour­town. It pro­duced bet­ter fish­ing, par­tic­u­larly for floun­ders. Eng­land in­ter­na­tional Saul Page caught 20 fish in the first two hours thanks to con­sis­tent tre­ble shots. Thomas Hughes moved into first place, closely fol­lowed by Dave Roe and Harry Mc­Kee jnr. Best flat­fish was a 36cm floun­der for Shay O’Neill, while the best round­fish was Gary Wood’s 63cm bull huss.

The fi­nal match was fished from 11am-4pm, again on an ebb tide, at Balli­nesker. Un­der­sized fish made it a slow start, while weed proved a prob­lem for dis­tance cast­ing. The best fish­ing was on the end pegs at the north­ern end of venue. Harry Mc­Kee jnr moved from third place to top spot with his third run­ner-up plac­ing of the event.

Harry Mc­Kee ju­nior on his way to vic­tory with a brace of flat­fish taken on Day 2

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