The full capacity of forty anglers took part in this year’s Bann Bonanza coarse angling competition last week, ahead of the potential siting of the 2019 Fips-ed European Championship in Ireland at Portglenone.
The festival on the Lower River Bann takes place on Mid Ulster District Council’s angling facility at Fisherman’s Walk, Portglenone where there are 89 managed swims over a mile-long stretch.
The competition saw anglers draw random rotations of four sections along the river which uniquely ensures a different mix of anglers each day, finishing with a full open draw on day 5. It was a close-run competition that saw Coleraine angler Rickey Peoples (Hinders Bait) take the 2018 title with a 5-day weight of 32.125kg.
Good performances saw Belfast anglers William Donaldson finish in the runner-up position and Aaron Hutchman third both having fished consistently throughout the week.
Even with high winds and heavy rain the angler’s spirits were not dampened as in true Irish style this makes for a sociable festival; plenty of banter and craic on the bank, the chance of a ‘flyer’ on Friday and plenty of prizes shared around the match including a wooden spoon and voucher from Loughview Angling Centre presented to Ron Parker (Oxfordshire) for being last man of the match, all received in good spirits.
Anglers from the UK and Ireland were this year joined by Petar Dimitrovski from Slovenia who took part to get a flavour of the river ahead of the planned European Championships next June.
The National Coarse Fishing Federation of Ireland have been awarded the privilege of hosting the Fips-ed European Championships in Ireland in 2019 and the River Bann is a preferred location. Working with Waterways Ireland and Mid Ulster District Council the Portglenone angling facility is set to be enhanced to facilitate the event in the coming months.
Chair of Mid Ulster District Council. Councillor Sean McPeake presented the prizes on the final day of the festival, saying, “We are extremely fortunate to have some of the best stretches of river for coarse and game fishing in the country in Mid Ulster, and we welcome local, regional and international visitors alike to the banks of the Bann. This year’s Bonanza saw some fantastic results, and we not only look forward to next year’s Bann Bonanza, but also the potential Fips-ed European Championships in 2019.”
The festival received support from The Honourable Irish Society, Mid Ulster District Council, Waterways Ireland, GW Pumping Services of Leeds, Loughview Angling Centre, Championfeed Groundbaits, Fish Matrix and Prescot Angling.
Festival organiser Derek Buckley, said, “Despite the effects of the unusual seasonal weather, our competitors have really enjoyed fishing the banks of the Bann this year. I would like to take the opportunity to thank all the sponsors, the Wild Duck Inn for their warm hospitality and complimentary food and Philip Hartin and members of the Lower Bann CAA who assist throughout plus the anglers who volunteered for the daily weigh-ins. Not forgetting all those who travelled to the area to take part in this year’s festival we look forward to seeing them again next year!”
The 2019 Bann Bonanza will take place from the 4th to 8th of November 2019.
Chair of Mid Ulster District Council, Councillor Sean McPeake presents Rickey Peoples (Lower Bann Angling), the winner of the Bann Bonanza with his trophy and prize, also pictured (L to R) are Edward Montgomery, The Honourable Irish Society; Ian Milne MLA and Derek Buckley, Festival Organiser.
For a full gallery from the Presentation Evening visit www.facebook.com/visit.magherafelt