This sport will have you hooked
With the world's first salmon tossing championship being hosted in Northern Ireland this weekend, we sent David Whelan to get to grips with a few slippery customers
There is something fishy going on – and for the record, it stinks.
As I stood there in the sweltering heat dressed in a pair of waders, wellies and special gloves waiting on a large salmon to be delivered into my hands, I had to wonder what I'd got myself into.
Salmon tossing, if you must know.
It may sound funny, but when world records are on the line things get very serious.
The world's first salmon tossing record attempt is being held at The Plough Inn in Hillsborough at 8pm tomorrow, where a pool of talented individuals will attempt to make a name for themselves.
Don't worry, you didn't miss out on seeing the category in the Olympics – that's because the sport didn't exist then.
It's all the brainchild of television celebrity chef Derek Patterson and is just one of the events being held to celebrate Lisburn's Restaurant Week.
And like a fish out of water, the Belfast Telegraph went along to try its hand.
The rules, you ask? Competitors take turns to hurl the three-four kilo dead salmon as far as they can, with the winner being treated to a host of prizes including a tour and a one night stay, courtesy of sponsors Bushmills.
Wrong. Because unknown to this reporter, a four-kilo salmon is a slippery character, and not as aerodynamic as you might think.
"It's all about getting a good grip, then you have to give yourself a good stance for a swing, get a good height and finally hope for a bit of luck with the final roll," advised Danny Fox, who had just thrown his fish an impressive 15.25 metres.
So, will you be reading my name in the Guinness Book of World Records in years to come? Unfortunately not, as I gripped the dead salmon by its cold, wet gills, looked into its steely eyes and whispered words of greatness, I was suddenly struck by a recurrence of an old sports injury.
A distance of 13.88 metres was all I was limited to – not bad for a first time, so I'm told. Okay, I had three gos, and that was my best throw, but who's counting?
"It's addictive, isn't it?" laughed Plough Inn owner and ambassador for Lisburn Restaurant Week Derek.
"We had a dry run – if you'll excuse the pun – at the start of the week and we all only got around 10 metres, but everyone kept wanting another go, and as the technique got better so did the distance.
"I got a personal best of 14 metres and realised that I was in with a chance of holding the record, but one of our customers noticed what was going on and decided he wanted a go – and blew me out of the water with a 16-metre throw.
"That's now the benchmark, but I have no doubt that come Saturday the distances will be even greater, and we want people to get involved and give it a crack."
At this point I should point out that no salmon were injured in the making of this personal humiliation, and that those used were never intended for human consumption.
"We wanted to do something special for the first time Restaurant Week has been outside of Belfast and highlight the fun side of food," added Derek. "A lot of people don't realise that here in Hillsborough we are only 25 miles from the coastline, and locally sourced fish should be something to be savoured and celebrated."
A total of 27 restaurants are taking part in Lisburn Restaurant Week, which runs until Sunday, and has already seen people experiment with the world's hottest meatballs.
Rules of the game for throwers
- Participants must wear the correct attire provided for them including waders, Wellington boots and custom made gloves.
- Particpants will have a total of three throws if successful. Throw one must be over three metres, throw two must be over 10m, with throw three being the recorded result.
- Particpants will have a two-metre boundary from which they may toss the salmon. A run-up is acceptable if you so wish, but you must not exceed the boundary line otherwise your result will not be recorded.
- Participants must toss the salmon from the official grip, with both thumbs placed behind a single or both head gills.
- Participants will have a choice of salmon, which they wish to throw, ranging in weight from 3-4 kilos.
And that's the scale of it!