How Keith was talked into £5,000 Erne-r with Classic Festival win
The 2017 Waterways Ireland Classic Fishing Festival on Lough Erne reached a thrilling climax when local Fermanagh angler Keith Murphy landed a great last day catch of 36.400kg on Cleenish Bridge to catapult him into top place overall.
Keith, who was only persuaded to enter the Classic by his friend and fellow angler Phil McCaffrey, netted a three-day total catch of 53.890kg to bank the winner's cheque of £5,000 and the coveted crystal chalice.
In second place overall was Doncaster angler Tom Pickering, a previous winner of the Classic, whose total catch of 41.540kg earned him £2,000 and the runner-up crystal trophy.
Third was another local angler, Tony Green, with a total of 40.720kg which landed him £1,500 and a crystal trophy. Fourth place was Craig Brown from Ross-on-Wye, with 40.570kg, for £1,000 and a Belleek trophy and fifth was Richie Roberts from Llanidloes with 38.800kg. Local man Paul Eyres, meanwhile, was sixth with 38.510kg.
The Classic was sponsored for the 15th year by Waterways Ireland and organised by Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, in conjunction with the Inland Fisheries Division of the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs.
Newry Canal Match Group's second open match of the year took place on the Coal Yard section of the Canal with anglers travelling from Belfast, Bangor, Portadown, Lurgan and even one who had travelled the whole way from Germany for the weekend event.
Nets were dipped as usual, followed by the all important draw, with the speculation being that you would need a low number to stand any chance of framing.
As the anglers were preparing their kit, the Lough Agency Fishery Officers arrived for a licence check. This was the first time many of the anglers had been checked under the new paperless system, and all were impressed with how easy it was to have the check done.
The All In was called at 11.30am and it was fair to say that things didn't get off to a flying start; bites were slow but at least everyone was getting a few fish. Roach were still present in the length but all were very rough in texture, a sure sign that spawning can't be far away. Perch were also present throughout the whole length as well as the favoured hybrids.
At the weigh-in, Lurgan angler Johnny McKinley continued his recent good run of form to bank top spot with a weight of 9lb 9oz.
In a close contest, Belfast's Meeky Cummings also continued his run of good results at the venue, taking second place with 9lb 7oz, while Bangor's Johnny Keith was third with 7lb 14oz. Lurgan's Paul Heaney finished fourth with 6lb 12oz and Newry's Geoff Quinn completed the top five with 6lb 8oz.
There was a great turnout of Banbridge Angling Club junior anglers contesting the Bill Gault Glazing Cup during which they fished hard and some excellent trout were caught.
Adam Morrow banked the honours with a nice fish of 1.334kg with Issac Diamond close behind with one at 1.124kg and Niall Tumelty was third with a trout of 1.098kg.
In another cracking week at Birchwood Fishery, Drumquin, 671 trout were tempted on dry flies, buzzers and lures.
Cecil Barron banked the top catch of 22 trout and he was closely followed by Brian Barron and JJ McNamee, both with 20 fish. Tom Hutton, Sean Wallace and David McCullough each had 19, which was a new personal best catch for David.
Declan Heaney landed 17, Tisse Thisara Siriwardena caught 14 and Joe Kelly banked a tagged trout worth £25.
√ At Turnagrove Trout Fishery, Ballymoney, Gerald Thompson banked 20 trout on an evening ticket.
The evening rise has been fantastic with snakes, buzzers and small dries all tempting fish.
Sammy Campbell also bagged 20 fish while Alastair Hughes grassed a dozen and Eddie Spence landed 11.
√ Preston Innovations' Lee Kerry won the King of the Erne Festival with a fantastic second day pole caught catch of 59.650kg from the Cleenish section to add to his first day catch of just 200 grams.