29 Jun 2022

Longford Leader gallery: Polish anglers capture top prize at historic Lough Ree Pike Classic event

Lanesboro/Ballyleague was the starting point for the annual Lough Ree International Pike Classic on Saturday and Sunday, September 11 & 12.

This angling competition was held with the support of the Camlin and District Angling Club and Lough Ree/Lanesboro Angling Hub and made history with the presence of two anglers with disability in a boat for the first time.

This event has grown in popularity over the past five years and this year had almost 80 boats with anglers coming from all over the country and abroad to take part but the presence of wheelchair users Dorothy Coyle and Joe Donlon was the headline. The prize fund over the two days was €10,000.

The organisers operate a strict catch and release policy with minimal disturbance to the fish.

The angers photograph their catch on specially designed measuring boards and the fish are released immediately in the same area they were caught.

The adjudicators then view the photographs with the anglers having the longest five fish over the two days deemed the winners.

Lough Ree and the Shannon River is an excellent venue for this competition giving the anglers a large area in which to fish and offers a wide range of deep areas and shallow bays giving anglers lots of choice and suits a variety of angling methods. Both the weather and fishing conditions were good over the weekend and as expected a lot of fish were caught with all boats registering catches.

Fishing aside, this was the first competition the Camlin Anglers have helped organise since before the Covid-19 pandemic called a halt to everything. It was fantastic to meet up with old friends again and it added an extra buzz to the whole experience.

Phil Gordon of the Lough Ree Angling hub said the festival could not have taken place without the sponsorship and support of Inland Fisheries Ireland and Roscommon county council.

“This was a red-letter couple of days for our hub,” he said, “it’s the first time we have had two competitors in their wheelchairs and they thoroughly enjoyed it. This is equality at last for people with disabilities and we would like to thank the crew of the Lough Ree Access for All boat for their help and cancelling their weekend sailings.”

The overall winner of the event were two Polish anglers – who collected the first prize of €2,500 for the 2nd time in the history of the event. Lukasz Sankiewicz and Peter Kaczmarek are regular attenders at festivals here and paid tribute to the fishery’s performance over the last ten years.

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