THE Irish Federation of Sea Anglers 2003 Master Angler Boat Championship was fished out of Crosshaven, Co. Cork, over last weekend. Nine deep sea angling boats – the MV Fuego, Wreck Hunter, Whispering Star, John Boy, Whispering Dawn, Cuan Bawn, Whispering Hope, Lee Star, & Sarah Marie – were on hand to ferry the seventy seven master anglers from the four provinces to the fishing grounds off Cork Harbour. 

The anglers passed through some historic waterways on the way to the fishing grounds – some of the boats were moored at Drake’s Pool, where Sir Admiral

Drake was reputed to have hid when he sought refuge there when he encountered two larger Spanish men –of –wars off the south coast and he beat a hasty retreat into Cork Harbour. Admiral Drake is reputed to have sailed up the Carrigaline Estuary, while the Spanish vessels in pursuit sailed up the main channel to Cork and lost him, and could possibly have changed European history.

As the anglers sailed out between Camden and Carlisle Forts, that protected the

British fleet until it moved to Southampton in southern England in the early 1900’s. A WW1 anti submarine net that stretched across the harbour from Graball Bay to White Bay on the eastern side now forms the Turbot Bank, a great spot for all types of fish.

The last landmark the anglers saw, Roche’s Point Lighthouse at the entrance to Cork Harbour was also the last major site those passengers that boarded the ill-fated Titanic from Cobh saw before she met her watery end on her maiden voyage in the North Atlantic.

Valentia Island in is well known in Irish sporting circles as the home of legendary Kerry Gaelic football team captain, Mick O’Connell. The South Kerry island is also however home to the Valentia Island Sea Angling club. This relatively new club made history in this the 50th anniversary year of the founding of the IFSA in Kinsale, when club member, Heiko Dreier, a German national, living in the area for a number of years, won the Master Angler Trophy over last weekend. This was a first for this club and also a first for the Kingdom. Heiko will now captain the IFSA international deep sea angling team when it competes next year in the World Boat Championships in Portugal.

Carrigaline DSAC, who hosted this prestigious event rose to the occasion and did their club and province proud. Competition was, as ever, keen between  the country’s top boat anglers for the opportunity to captain or secure a place to represent Ireland in next year’s World Boat Angling Championships.

Fishing on Saturday was from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. with an hour and a half steaming time to the fishing grounds 4 to 5 miles offshore. The strong tides coupled with the Indian summer weather made for ideal angling conditions. Few venues in the country can host such a large championship so late in the season. Cork Harbour is unique in that if bad weather conditions exist outside the sea angling boats can retreat to the calmer water of the inner harbour to fish. In truth though, in those circumstances, anglers could be scratching around for fish, with the emphasis on relatively small fish of a fairly limited variety.

That nine boats could safely fish 4 to 5 miles offshore in the Atlantic at the end of October is believed by some skippers to be due to global warming. Last year the MV Fuego skippered by Charles Robinson, was able to fish the Ling Rocks off Kinsale at the end of November, with the anglers in their shirt sleeves. 

The amount and variety of fish hooked in last weekend’s two day event was staggering by any yardstick – a total of 1199, some 642 over 14 species on Day 1 with

conger eels the predominant species at 321, followed by 93 pollack, 86 lesser spotted dogfish, 50 ling, 29 cuckoo wrasse, 18 ballan wrasse, 16 pouting, 10 grey gurnard, 7 haddock, 5 scad, 4 whiting and a solitary red gurnard, coalfish & bullhuss.

On Day 2 many of the hooked fish and released on the 1st day were “once hooked

twice shy” to sample the tasty anglers’ morsels on offer, however a very respectable 557 fish over 16 species were hooked and released. The catch consisted of  311 conger eels, followed by 86 pollack, 61 lesser spotted dogfish, 42 ling, 18 cuckoo wrasse, 12 ballan wrasse, 7 bullhuss, 5 grey gurnard, 5 scad, 4 pouting, 3 whiting, 2 blonde ray and a solitary, haddock, rockling, cod, skate, red gurnard & coalfish.

Mackerel & squid were the favoured bait for the congers with rag worm best for the smaller species, from the anchored boats. Over the two days the catches

averaged out at a very respectable 8.38 fish per angler.

The top ten placed anglers over the two days had all got off to a flying start on the 1st day with all logging over 300 points. Heiko Dreier was the top rod on Day 1 with 376 points with the silver medallist Richie Walsh of Dungarvan SAC snapping at his heels with only a three point cushion between the top two.

Heiko Day 1 catch amounted to 27 fish including 12 pollack, 7 ling, 4 conger eels and a bullhuss. Where the Beaufort angler scored was on Day 2 when nearly all the top ten anglers recorded less fish than Day 1. Heiko hooked 26 fish to give him 463 points. No other angler was able to break the 300 point mark on Day 2 with 272 points the runner up recorded by Ed. Holland, of East Cork club

Guileen SAC. The Valentia angler winning catch on Day 2 consisted of 7 conger

eels, 6 ling – over 600 mm, 4 pollack, 1 blonde ray, 1 lesser spotted dogfish, 1 ballan wrasse & 5 cuckoo wrasse.

The presentation of gold, silver and bronze medals took place at the Carrigaline

Court Hotel, where the five man Irish team to represent the country next year

was announced.



1st Gold medallist and 2004 Irish captain, Heiko Dreier, Valentia Island SAC, 839 points (Munster); 2nd silver medallist, Richie Walsh, Dungarvan SAC, 638 pts. (M); 3rd bronze medallist, Uel Moore, Larne & District SAC, 573 pts. (Ulster); 4th team member, Martin Kennedy, Inchicore SAC, 568 pts. (Leinster); 5th Team member, Noel Humphreys, Carrigaline DSAC, 554 pts. (M); First reserve, 6th Michael Geary, Monkstown SAC, 511 pts. (M); 7th Pio Enright, Kinsale / Bishopstown SAC (M); 8th Ed. Holland, Guileen SAC, 490 pts. (M); 9th Willy Worth, Borough SAC, 484 pts.

(L); 10th Liam O’Callaghan, Bray SAC, 478 pts. (L).