Belfast Telegraph

Linda the leading lady as Irish team fly high to net silver medal

Rod & Line

By Vic Thomas

Ireland's Ladies International Fly Fishing team retained their silver medal position in a close finish in their Home International Championships, held on Lough Melvin, Co Fermanagh.

The Irish girls finished just a single fish behind gold medal winners England.

England's catch of 15 fish beat Ireland into second place with 14 fish, followed by Scotland with nine and Wales with five.

With winds gusting at 35mph, it was a tough final match day for even the most seasoned anglers, but all the lady anglers did their countries proud. The competition was fished on a catch and release basis with wild brown trout and Lough Melvin's renowned sonaghan and gillaroos all caught and measured for the final scoresheets before being released to fight another day.

The four teams were boated by members of Garrison and Lough Melvin Angling Club, who did a super job in hosting the championships. Head boatman Joe Gilroy and his team assisted in the running of the championships, making it a memorable week's fishing for all the competitors.

Sean Maguire, with assistance from his son Darren, the Ulster and National fly fishing champion, were the fly tyers for the Irish team and they obviously tied some 'winning flies'.

The 'Fish of the week', was caught and released by Scotland's Kathleen Sheppard who boated a super brownie of 8lbs and on the same day she caught her first ever gillaroo and sonaghan!

The overall top rod was Ireland's Linda Straghan from Keady, who caught three fish measuring a total of 88cms. This was Linda's second time to win the Brown Bowl as the overall top rod at the Ladies International Championships, previously winning it on Carragh Lake, Co. Kerry in 2013 when Team Ireland were the winners of the Championship gold medal.

Eight Ulster anglers were on the Irish team with the vice-captain Ruth Arrell from Maghera, Madeleine Kelly, from Hilltown, Susan Brown from Lisburn, Liz Dermott from Portadown, Michelle Hay from Donegal, Cheryl James from Portadown, Linda Straghan from Keady and Nicki Chan, also from Portadown, was the first reserve.

This was the 25th anniversary of Ireland competing in the Home Internationals and it was the first time the event had been held on Ulster waters.

Next year's event will be held on Llyn Clywedog, Wales, in June 2018 and the Irish preparations have already begun!

  • Team Ireland put in a fantastic performance at the seventh World Feeder Championships held on the Ribeira do Raia, Portugal, where they finished seventh out of 22 nations.

However, it could have been much better as Irish lads Cathal Hughes, Rimantas Kondrackas, Johnny McKinley, Nick Howell and Michael Buchwalder, were in third place after day one. A bad peg draw on the second day combined with a change to cooler weather conditions meant that the team's plan of fishing for bleak did not work as well as on the first day. They still caught more fish than any other team, a two day total of 2,348 fish for 25.776Kgs but unfortunately, their stamp of fish was smaller than some of the other teams.

Italy banked the title to become the new World Champions with Romania second and Serbia third. The best Irish angler was Michael Buchwalder who finished in ninth place out of 122 anglers. His total weight was 5.545Kgs and his best one day catch was 3.201Kgs.

  • The Belfast based Pikers Club, founded in 1972 and still going strong, has seen it's members enjoy many a great outing on waters all over Ireland.

However, just recently, long time member Alan Ritchie had probably one of the club's best ever fishing trips. Casting a Pikelet on a Shannon Lough, Alan boated an incredible 18 pike to over 17lbs.

He also caught a super perch of 3lbs and a magnificent wild brown trout of 12lbs with all his fish being returned alive to the water.

Belfast Telegraph

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