As this is the last issue of the year I decided to write about one of my best fishing achievements of 2021, the All Ireland under 16 and 21 boat competition held in Letterkenny in Co. Donegal in the North West of Ireland.  As I am still 9 years old and I compete under 12 my dad said it will be tough competition in that age group, so to just enjoy the trip and find out what I need to learn for future competitions. With that, I said I thought if I could get placed somewhere in the middle of the pack I would be delighted! 

First thing I had to find out were the rules, it was going to be a one hook and 4 hours competition over 3 different areas. First was over a reef, then a wreck and last was two hours drifting sand. Thankfully, all the bait was supplied and at the end of the day the overall score would win in each age group. Also, as an added bonus for the first time ever, the top 5 under 21s will make up the under 21 Irish boat team for 2022. My dad doesn’t fish competitions, so we just made traces with size 2 and 1 hooks on 20lb fluorocarbon and some with beads to try cover all angles. Then I sorted my tackle box, my quiver tip rod and reel and the remainder of my tackle I’d be taking. 

The competition was on a Saturday and we had a 455km drive, so we booked into the Station House Hotel on Friday and Saturday night and made it a family weekend away. As my mother loves mountain climbing, she was going to climb mount Errigal, while my dad and I were on the boat.  With the road trip on the way to a part of Ireland we haven’t been to, we were amazed with some of the mountain ranges and scenery. 

When we arrived the organisers briefed us on the plans for Saturday. First, we were going to be picked up by coach and brought to and from lough Swilly.

Then afterwards the meal followed by awards, it was getting exciting ,then I found out that I was on the munster 5 person team, what an honour to be picked. Now I was really excited.

With a good night sleep and a 7 o clock start I was on the coach heading to the boat, as we arrived the 4 boats were at the Dock. The 4 boats were The Enterprise, Summer Rose, Meabh and The Explorer. These boats were to cater for the 25 anglers. 

We were all allocated our boats, I got The Explorer, with two other girls and 3 boys it was cool to see girls in every boat. With everyone safely on board it was time to set off.

The crew of The Explorer ready for action 

As the competition started there was a lots of different types of rigs appearing manly ones with blades that we didn’t have! The hours passed quickly and I was holding my own but, when we started drifting over the sand I could see the long blade traces with mackerel and rag were hitting fish faster and the hook choice I had were a bit too light and I was dropping Dogfish, so I just kept the head down and worked as hard as I could until the end. With the competition finished and the score sheets counted and signed. It was now down to how good the other boat did to see how the team and I finished!

With a superb meal finished, we headed into the function room for the awards. They called out the under 16 winner down to bronze, but I wasn’t placed… then the under 21s. My friend Sarah Lynch won that so I was really happy for her. Then came the teams. The gold went to Ulster, Munster (that was us) got the silver. I was delighted to hear my name being called out and with the pictures taken we sat back down. 

Then they call out the top 3 overall female anglers of both ages combined… When I was called up for the bronze I was and still am over the moon! So to sum it up, I got a silver for team and a bronze for female and a 11th overall. I would like to thank the organisers for a fantastic day and hopefully will be doing it again in 2022

So happy with the result and what can be achieved with hard work and some luck. 

My next fishing achievement of 2021 was winning the young Irish anglers award for the second time, known as the ‘Doctor Went’ award sponsored by Inland Fisheries Ireland.

My young Irish angler awards give me the push to try my best when fishing. I need only one more to be the youngest person in Ireland  to get three ‘Doctor Went’ awards and I am hoping to have my 50 specimens award in February and if so I will also be the youngest person in Ireland to achieve it, fingers crossed. 

Next is some of my top specimens size fish of each species 

Have a happy Christmas and a super 2022 fishing season 

spur dog 14lb 12oz
90cm stingray
ballan wrasse 6lb 2oz
blue mouth 2lb 2oz
3lb 1oz shad
golden grey mullet 1lb 9oz
43lb tope