Tope festival catches interest

Winners and members of the committee
Winners and members of the committee

The Drummore and District Tope Festival saw a better than 100 per cent increase in both boats and participants in this its second year.

Last year the event attracted 19 anglers in nine boats, while this year that number had increased to 45 anglers in 19 boats.

The festival took place last weekend, July 13 and 14, with the boats launched from the beach at Drummore. Although the weather was sunny on the Saturday, there was a brisk northerly that did not make for ideal fishing conditions, and in fact, one boat returned to Drummore around noon, causing much concern among the organisers. However, this concern was short-lived as the anglers had only returned for warmer clothing and they soon went back out.

The first competitors returned to Drummore around 3pm, soon followed by the rest. It soon became obvious that the day had not been a great success with regards to the catching of tope, none being recorded, although plenty of mackerel and other species including a bullhuss and thornback ray were on the catch sheets. One boat owner and angler was not disappointed with the daym saying: “It was the best day’s fishing I’ve had this year.”

The festival is run on a catch and return basis – no fish are killed, but photographed and measured. The measurements were then compared with a chart which provided an estimated weight. The heaviest tope would win the first prize.

The Sunday proved a better day for fishing with lighter winds and sunshine and, soon after launch, the boats had disappeared to fish their respective marks. The competition came to close at 4pm with all boats safely returned and their catch sheets submitted.

The Clashwhannon pub in Drummore saw the presentation of the prizes, including shields, medals, tackle box, a fishing rod and a small amount of cash.

The winner of both the heaviest tope and the best catch of tope over the two days was Cornishman Bob Shotter, who, along with his family, had made the 500-mile trip from Cornwall to take part.

The specimen awards for a ray went to Cameron Deans, who had travelled down from Aberdeen during the night with his father. This was his first cuckoo ray.

The junior award went to Adam Rudwen, who had travelled from Hartlepool to take part. He was awarded a tackle box, fishing rod and shield for having landed two fish of the specimen sizes.

The award for the catching of a bullhuss went to Francis Connor from Nelson, while the prize dogfish was caught by Trevor Lake from Doncaster. The prizes were presented by Ray Smith of Stranraer.

After the presentations, the Drummore and District Tope Festival secretary Phillip Barton said: “This is our second year and the competition is going from strength to strength. Luce Bay has always had a reputation for excellent fishing, and from the number of anglers who have travelled from far and wide to take part this reputation is known throughout the UK and helps to put this part of Dumfries and Galloway well onto the fishing map.

“To have a 100 per cent increase in both boats and anglers shows that we have got things right and the committee hopes that next year the numbers will increase again.

“On behalf of the committee I must thank all those who sponsored the event, especially the National Lottery who gave us a grant, Tronixpro fishing tackle, The Sports Shop in Stranraer and Galloway Angling Centre in Newton Stewart who donated the prizes. All in all it has been a very successful weekend and we are looking forward to next year.”