October 27, 2017 Last Updated 2:01 pm

* Cork Small Boats Festival 2017 – The Report

With over forty species caught the CSBF is one of the greatest species hunts around. With the shelter of Cork Harbour and the bonus of great weather 2017 was a vintage year!


Competitors getting ready for the first days competition



Cork Small Boats Festival 2017

Each year in the month of September small boat anglers from the UK and Ireland get ready for the most challenging week of the year. It is CSBF17!
The event can be described as a feat of management and organisation as well as a feat of angling not to mention the most enjoyable week of the year. Skippers have to effectively organise their team to get to Cork with enough equipment and supplies to suit an army platoon. Once here they are set for an intensive week of all things fishing interspersed with a mighty dose of craic along the way.

kingfisher bass

Jay on KINGFISHER with a tidy bass

Cork harbour is an ideal location for an event like this. When anglers decide to book holidays, hand over hard earned cash and get themselves to Cork they do so knowing that they have the best chance of getting some fishing done. The event has a few things on its side in this department. Firstly the event is centred around the massive expansive waters of Cork Harbour. The harbour is reckoned to be the second largest natural harbour in the world. So what? Sheltered fishing is what! Our fleet gets fishing on days that have others on dry land wishing.

Waiting for the event to roll around the organisers can try to put an event in place that runs well. They cannot do anything about the weather. “From 10 days out we are looking at the weather closely. This year the week before the event was horrible”. Competitors start arriving in the area early in the week. Most have a hope of getting some practice in and other have a different agenda. The organisers are close to organising a shark fishing competition in the days before the Festival proper. Most competitors get a crack off the blues before concentrating on the species for the event.


Irish team – WAVECREST

By Thursday most competitors are enroute. Many take the Holyhead to Dublin route. Our base at Trabolgan Holiday Centre is a leisurely 3 hour spin from the ferry mostly on motorway. An easy tow is how UK competitors describe it. This year the fast ferries were cancelled for the most of the week but most made the welcome BBQ in the Long Point Bar on the Friday night.

All teams are in place by Saturday. The Team Briefing takes place on Saturday night and at this stage most anglers are aware that we are going to start the match on Sunday. We fish on four days out of five. If Sunday looks better than any of the next four days then we start on Sunday.


Information is presented on the Safety Board each morning

Day One
The feeling of anticipation on day one is something that never gets old. From 0800hrs boats are arriving to the launch site at Aghada and are getting themselves into the water. Some launch early some launch later. All the fleet fishes together and fishes from 0900 – 1700 each day. After the week that has gone by it is superb to see a bright sunny morning with a benign forecast of NW winds. After the final briefing on the radio at 0855 the competitors head off at all points of the compass, most head out of the harbour to open sea.
By mid-morning the signs were ominous as the wind headed round into the east. Wind against tide meant the it was a character building sea for boats to head back to base in! It was beautifully sunny all day!


Dave Rutledge from SOLWAY VENTURE with a nice turbot, just before releasing the fish back alive.

There was one major change to our usual format this year. Each year we have had more fish that have to be “verified” that is the fish are verified and released rather than being retained and brought to a weigh-in. Conservation is important in small boat angling. This year, as the verified list was getting longer we decided to verify by photo. If teams wanted to stick with the old system they could. We make use of social media to send pictures to the weigh team. The system worked very well. “Nice to see them red gurnards swim off” said one skipper.


Verification by Photo – The simple system worked remarkably well – Playing our part for conservation

The were some some fine scores. Fishing would be described as steady. You can see the positions in the picture below. Regular competitors from Yorkshire – Nauti Lass – held top spot with 14 species ahead of a raft of boats on 13 and 12 species. Goldilocks managed an elusive brill.Not bad for the first day out.


SEA PIGEON and STRYKER – The calm before the off!

Day Two
Based on the forecast we would be fishing on Monday and Tuesday for our second and third days. True to forecast Monday was an exquisite day hailed by most as the finest small boats day ever. At lunch time it was sweltering with little drift offshore.
Many boats headed to sea again to attempt the offshore species or to try and top up on species that had been elusive on day one. Our results system works quickly. As soon as the last boat weighs in we produce our results. The printed sheets are posted in the Long Point bar and teams can suss the state of play over the apres match refreshments. There was a lot of sun burned anglers replacing lost fluids after day 2. Nauti Lass was after extending their lead and stood at 21 species a clear three species ahead of the rest of the field. There was a six boat chasing group within a few species. The lads on Solway managed a lovely Turbot. Typically they kept the fish alive and released it back to the water after weighing. Kingfisher were delighted with their 9.5lb bass.



Preparation in bright sunshine!

Day Three
Tuesday dawned more dull with a hint of rain in the air. It was still calm and therefore another day of unrestricted fishing.
The organisers may restrict the area of fishing and or the duration of fishing if condition demand. The rule is: “if the smallest boat cannot go then the largest boat cannot go”. In Cork we have only once ever restricted the duration of fishing. In the last decade I think we have lost one day to very bad weather.
There was no faltering in enthusiasm as teams gathered to launch on day three.Teams scattered to the four winds at 0900 – everybody has a plan!
By not the leading boats have more harbour work to do more than offshore work. One wise angler once said to me “This event is won and lost in the harbour”; he was fairly correct. Other than the deeper water species like Ling, Red Gurnard, Cuckoo Wrasse and Haddock the rest can be caught inside Roches Point. That said the harbour can be 80’ deep in places and encompasses estuary as well as open sea conditions.

csbf17 (1)

SEA PIGEON in flight!

Day three tends to be a day where there is movement on the leaderboard. Nauti Lass had a tough day and only added two species for the day. Escapade leaped up the table to lead on 25 species, two clear of the field. Escapade was the No.1 boat for the last few years although with a slightly different lineup this year.


We had some of the best weather we have ever had

Weather Worries
On Tuesday evening we studied the weather forecast carefully. We were faced with a choice: fish on Wednesday and complete the match or take Wednesday off and complete on Thursday. The deciding factor was a wet forecast. We must be getting soft! The forecast for Thursday promised sunny weather with an increasing wind so we decided to run with that.
We adjourned to the Long Point for their legendary “Curry Evening” many kept going till the wee wee hours! It certainly was great craic as usual and part and parcel of the event.
As it happened the forecast was correct and it was late on Wednesday night before the rain stopped.


Bass were not prolific but they were about!

Day Four
The last day tends to be tinged with anticipation, relief and sadness. All a skipper can do is to go out and defend their current position. That means catching new species. After that you have to wait and see how the other crews get on. The weigh-in can be a nerve wracking time waiting to see what the score is.
The rain of the previous evening cleared through and a bright sunny morning was the result. Conditions were perfect and another day of unrestricted fishing was on the cards. You could feel the tension at the launch as crews set about their mission for the day.
Species hunting can be a tricky discipline. Some days it goes according to plan with maybe even a bonus fish thrown in – Other days you cannot buy a new species.

sea pigeon bass

Mark from SEA PIGEON

The leaders had a tough day. Escapade finished with 10 species for that day but they failed to add a new species to their tally. Third place Goldielocks had 12 species for the day and added an impressive 5 species to their tally of 23. Given the fishing 28 species was a superb result. Regulars Sea-Pigeon managed to add 4 for the day to finish with 27 species ahead of Kingfisher by weight. Bass Hunter finished fourth with 25 species; just ahead of Irish boat Skua by weight.

It is a first win for Malcolm and Dan aboard Goldielocks, very popular and deserving winners.


THE CHAMPIONS 2017- Malcolm & Dan – Team GOLDILOCKS

The presentation evening went very well. It was held in Trabolgan and here Jim Clohessy paid tribute to the competitors for the good nature and comraderie on show all week. On behalf of the fleet he thanked the sponsors including: Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI), Bella Vista Hotel, Trabolgan Holiday Centre, Dave Barham Fishing, Significant Signs and of course the Long Point Bar and Lower Aghada Tennis Club. Of course there was special mention for our weigh team of Jay, Miranda and Jim.


Welsh stalwarts – BASS HUNTER

Cork really showed its versatility this year. The species count was high with over 40 species being caught by the fleet. There were some uncommon species like brill and turbot. Some old reliables proved elusive in for different reasons. Blonde rays proved a difficult target due to the arrival of hordes of hungry whiting. The possibility of keeping a bait on the bottom was impossible. The star of this years show was the weather. We had four days of unrestricted fishing. The fleet was able to range wherever they wanted. Apart from benign seas the sunshine was welcome too.

The planning for next years event will begin shortly and it is likely that the Festival will take place on the week 14 – 25 September.

You will find the full results by clicking the link: http://www.topfisher.eu/cork-small-boats-festival-2017-the-results/


Catch, Photo, Release – Verification via social media!



The LONG POINT BAR, Whitgate


Comments are closed.