A rough guide to Baltimore Deep Sea Angling Festival
The festival is a boat fishing competition that has been taking place annually for nearly 50 years. It is held over the four days preceding the last Monday in August (the UK bank holiday) and is divided into one day's shark fishing and three days' bottom fishing. It attracts anglers from Ireland and abroad, many returning year after year, not just for the excellent fishing but also for the friendly atmosphere. As a result the entry has grown steadily to around 70 anglers at the last count.
You can enter for as many or few of the four days as you wish. There are daily cash prizes, presented in a different bar every day after fishing. Overall trophies and prizes are presented at a prizegiving dinner on the Sunday night.
The festival is a conservation event and has been for many years. The main prizes are determined on a points basis so that fish not wanted for eating can be returned safely to the sea. In addition shark and common skate are tagged for an ongoing research programme
Fishing grounds Bottom fishing takes place at anchor, mainly on rough ground. All the boats normally fish within a mile or two of each other and keep in regular radio contact so that everybody fishing has as equal a chance as possible.
Boats are licensed charter boats in the range 30 to 40 ft (9 to 12 m) long, with full safety equipment and qualified skippers. Competitors are allocated a boat on the pier in the morning. Whenever possible groups of anglers will be able to fish together on the same boat right through the festival. However, you might occasionally be asked to change berth in the interests of maintaining an even balance of numbers between boats.
Fish species Conger and ling feature prominently. Also to be expected are cod, bull huss, pollack, pouting, rays, common skate, whiting, wrasse, haddock and dogfish. Blue shark are the main shark species.
Bait Fresh mackerel is generally the preferred natural bait. Boats stop en route to the grounds to enable anglers to catch bait for the day. Fish caught at this stage do not count towards the competition.
Shark fishing Thursday is a separate tag and release shark competition and the results have no bearing on the rest of the festival. There is a perpetual cup for best shark (determined by length) and cash prizes as on the other days. Sharks are measured on board prior to release. A table is used to compare porbeagle and blue shark.
Daily prizes About 10 per cent of the daily entry fee goes into the cash prize fund for the day. The value and number of prizes depends on the number of entries, but there are normally cash prizes for the four or five highest scores plus the heaviest 'edible' fish of the day. There is also a perpetual cup for the winning angler each day.
Overall prizes There are lots of cups and silverware to be won over the three days, including perpetual trophies for the first, second and third angler, heaviest ling, heaviest cod, heaviest pollack, best common skate (determined by wingspan), best team of three, best lady angler, best catch of the festival and best boat. In addition, the first ten or more anglers overall have a choice of prizes donated by the festival's sponsors.
Scoring system For the ground fishing competition all results (except 'edible' fish categories) are determined on a points basis, according to species and in some cases length.
'Edible' species are those, including ling, cod, pollack, etc, that would normally be kept for eating. In addition to their regular points value, good specimens can be entered for the daily 'heaviest edible' cash prize. These are the only fish weighed on shore.
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