I am really pleased to be able to announce that the first Irish Bass Festival is going to take place in July this year - on Friday 20th, Saturday 21st and Sunday 22nd. Perfect bass fishing tides at a great time of the year and if the weather is anywhere close towards playing ball then there could be some serious fish caught. I can't think of a better excuse for heading over to Ireland, indeed I had those exact tides earmarked for a trip as soon as I got hold of a set of 2012 tide tables. Not that I have a serious love affair going on with Ireland or anything like that........
This first Irish Bass Festival is the brainchild of the guys at Absolute Fishing in Tramore - this is where the event will essentially be run from, but anglers who enter are entirely free to fish wherever they want in Ireland. You're going to need to sign in at the shop in Tramore before the event starts on the Friday. I would guess that many entrants will end up fishing along the south and south east coastline, and of course the epicentre of this festival is of course the famous Copper Coast (see here). Although in essence I suppose that this festival is a "competition", I know that the lads are really into the whole vibe of a festival where a bunch of anglers simply have a great experience out and about in what is my most favourite country on this earth. There will be all kinds of prizes, both for Irish and visiting anglers, but the essence here is fun. It's going to be a completely catch and release, lure fishing only event where the organisers are going to be relying on entrants to fish in the spirit of the festival and simply photograph their bass against a measure which will be supplied when you turn up at the shop before the event. But rather than me try and explain what is going on, just make sure to keep your eyes on the Absolute Fishing blog here - there will be an Irish Bass Festival website up soon with all the details on, and also search Absolute Fishing on Facebook.
Now I know that if you've never actually visited Ireland before then you will probably have a load of questions, but worry not !! On the festival website there will be links to various travel and/or accommodation packages that I know are going to very nicely priced, and I would imagine that many "foreign" entrants will be looking to spend a few days in Ireland - as well as perhaps Irish anglers from other parts of the country. I'll be there over on those tides myself, so I am sure to see a few of you out and about. If it helps at the moment, the most obvious ferry routes are Fishguard to Rosslare or Holyhead to Dun Laoghaire (Dublin) - you can make Tramore in just over an hour from Rosslare, and it's under two hours from Dublin. The ferries I always use are StenaLine, but I know Irish Ferries are also worth looking at. An obvious place to stay is going to be in Tramore (where the Absolute Fishing shop is), but also think about Dunmore East, Dungarvan and even Fethard on Sea which is just (east) over the Waterford estuary and has some truly awesome bass fishing all around it. But as I said, keep your eyes open for the festival website as this will have all the details you need, and on the Sunday evening there is going to be an "end of festival" event which no doubt will be a blast.
You will also be able to get all kinds of help and ideas on places to fish if you don't know this part of the world - when you drop into Absolute Fishing the guys will sort you out with maps, weather forecasts and up to date advice, so don't worry if you are heading over "blind". Also bear in mind that the south and south east coastlines have many, many locations that are still rarely if ever fished, and a bit of time on Google Earth and a decent map will yield a load of ideas as well. And don't forget the estuaries...........in Ireland it's often the estuaries and lagoons which produce the biggest bass.
Anyway, I hope to see a bunch of you over there for the first Irish Bass Festival. I am so pleased that the Absolute Fishing guys came up with the idea and then did the groundwork to get the ball rolling. Keep your eyes peeled for the forthcoming festival website (news will be here), but for the moment block off those dates in your diary and then "discuss", "talk about" or even lie to your other half to make sure the dates work out !! Use me as an excuse if you want and say that you need to go to Ireland to help that slightly manic and frantic angling journalist Henry Gilbey out with a magazine article - "To whom it may concern - I, Henry Gilbey, formally request the assistance of Joe Bloggs (insert your name here) with a magazine feature or two. It is of course going to be a purely work trip and there shall be no fun, banter, piss-taking or insane amounts of fishing involved in this adventure. Yours, Henry Gilbey." See you there.