Irish Festivals Made Easy - Part 1

 For many anglers heading off to catch a ferry across the Irish Sea, it is often the highlight of their angling year. Nothing compares to the excitement of travelling up the road in a van or car bursting with tackle, wondering what joys the trip will bring, writes experienced Irish match angler, Cathal Hughes.

Over the past few years Ireland has seen a massive increase in the amount of visiting anglers, with festivals alone attracting anglers from all across Europe and as far away as Australia and Malaysia.  Due to the excellent fishing and amount of prize money on offer, some festivals attract the crème de la crème of angling superstars, however should you wish to fish in a slightly less competitive environment there are also some smaller very laid-back matches to choose from.  There’s no excuse not to give at least one festival a go in 2017 and once you’ve got the bug, I’ll bet you’ll be itching to come back for more. 

Competing on new venues against seasoned festival regulars is always going to be intimidating, not to mention the concerns about tackle and bait requirements.  These issues along with trying to book accommodation may cause some anxiety, but luckily there’s nothing to worry about, it’s much simpler than you’d think.  You’d be surprised at how straight forward the fishing is and even more so at the amount of prizes first timers pick up each year.  Thankfully festival regulars are only too willing to help anglers fishing their first festival and nowadays due to social media, an angler can have any questions answered in seconds.

Before deciding on entering one (or more) of the many festivals, there are a few things that need to be taken into consideration.  I recommend that you choose a festival that suits your style of fishing.  There’s not much point in fishing a pole dominated festival if you are an out ‘n’ out tip angler.   On the other hand what’s the point of entering a festival that’s going to be mostly feeder fishing if you rather fishing the pole?  Choose wisely to give yourself the best possible chance of success and enjoyment.   Although on the majority of festivals, pole, feeder and sometimes the waggler all play their part and are needed to make the most of your draws.

When you have selected the festival that you’d like to fish, get booked on as soon as possible.  Most festivals have a limited amount of pegs and may require a booking deposit in order to secure a spot, while others just require a simple phone call to confirm that you’ll be participating.  To avoid disappointment, book well in advance, up to a year ahead is sometimes necessary; such is the popularity of some festivals.

Most overseas anglers are going to have to book some form of lodgings and fortunately there are specialist angling travel agents that can organise not only your accommodation, but also your ferry and at times festival entries for you.  Nevertheless there are a few things that need to be taken into consideration when deciding on where to stay.: 

  • Has the accommodation got a bait fridges, tackle rooms and drying facilities? 
  • How far is the nearest pub (very important after a bad day), is it within walking distance?
  • If not, are there cabs available?
  • What’s the distance to the festival headquarters? 
  • If you decided that you would prefer to stay in a hotel, ask if fishing tackle can be brought into the rooms.
  • Check the breakfast times, they might be too late for you.
  • If there’s a group of anglers together, it might be worth considering self-catering accommodation, to keep costs to a minimum.  Take into consideration who your roommate will be, because you’ll be living together for a week and believe me, there’s nothing worse than bunking with a snorer!

Now you’ve booked onto the festival and the digs are sorted, next on the list is organising your tackle and bait.

We'll have more from Cathal on fishing in Ireland in Part 2 soon...