Well what are the National Fish-Offs all about? The whole purpose of the event is to select the Irish team to participate in the World Championships of the following year. In 2012 the Worlds will be held in South Africa. The top five competitors over the two days qualify for the team aswell as the winner of the National Boat Master Angler who qualifies as captain of the team. The top 20 finishers automatically qualify for the Fish-Offs of the following year. They are joined by the top 12 finishers of the Boat Master Angler competition, so that in all 32 anglers are competing in the event. The purpose of this format is to raise the standard of angling at the top level and minimise the role that luck might play.
The anglers compete over the two days in 4 three hour sessions. Each boat is considered a separate zone and the winner of each boat in each session receives either 1, 2, 3, or 4 points all depending on the points on his scorecard. The angler with the most points will get a score of 1, and so on. The second placed anglers on the boats are then allocated points between
5 and 8 and so on down the line. The angler with the least amount of points wins the competition outright. This year the angler with the least number of points was Kit Dunne of Wicklow Bay SAC. Kit came first with 13 points having topped his boat over three sessions and coming second on a fourth session. On one of those sessions that he topped his boat he had the best scorecard amongst the 32 competitors and, thus, received the coveted 1 point. The other anglers in the top five, in order of merit, were Michael Barry of the Eastern Command SAC, Gordon Darker of Stella Maris SAC, David Jolly of Caherciveen SAC, and Tony Santry of Bishopstown SAC. Well done lads!!! They join Myles Howell of Wicklow Bay SAC, who having won the National Boat Masters competition in Sept, now captains the Irish team. Full results can be see on the IFSA website here.
Our own Danny Kane acquitted himself well. However, as he finished outside the top 20 he does not qualify to stay in the pool for next year's fish offs. Danny will have to try and qualify through the Masters once more. Well done in any case Danny, you put in a good showing for your first time!!!
The fishing itself was tough on the first day. There was a howling gale, driving rain and rough seas. With a strong ebb tide and southerly winds there was a big sea running....even between the forts. All the boats elected at the start to fish the western edge of the channel dropping into 'Deep Hole.' Before low water Donie onboard the John Boy switched over to the eastern side just below Carlisle. It was then that we got a fair idea of the sea running as the John Boy completely disappeared between the swells with only her mast showing. For the first session the fishing was slow. Dabs, small whiting, poor cod, pouting and codling did show. However, for the second session all boats switched over to Dognose to catch the start of the flood and hopefully the whiting shoals. They never materialised. Still by the end of the day most anglers had averaged between 20 and 40 fish. That's not too bad when you consider the conditions. This highlights the uniqueness of Cork Harbour; where else would you have caught fish on a day like that. In fact, in most other venues you just would not have got out.
On Day 2 the weather was much improved and with it the fishing improved dramatically as well. All boats decided to stay put on the western side and it was a wise decision. Most anglers recorded an average of 80 fish with good dabs and whiting amongst them. In fact a fair few dabs were close to specimen size. What a difference a day makes!
...and so the fish-offs concluded for one more year; we wish the new Irish team the best of luck in South Africa and, hopefully, Cobh SAC may be asked again to host the Fish-Offs someday again in the future.