As households start to argue about when to switch the central heating on, and natures colour palate breathes tones of reds and oranges into the shoreline of the Erne, anglers from throughout Ireland descend on Enniskillen to take part in the ever-popular annual Erne Pike Classic.
The buildup to the event has been ongoing for at least 6 weeks prior, as anglers seek information on accommodation providers, where to launch boats, what baits to use and where is fishing well. In the background, DAERA Inland Fisheries staff are speedily preparing the Public Angling Estate in anticipation of the influx of anglers and ensuring that everyone has a positive and memorable experience.
The event has now been running for 16 years and is organised by the Erne Anglers and supported by DAERA Inland Fisheries and sponsored by Fermanagh Omagh District Council. The event and has gained a dedicated following over the years, with participants travelling from both the Republic of Ireland and mainland Europe.
To ensure fish welfare standards are always maintained to the highest standard, quick and impartial weighing of the fish is conducted by DAERA Inland Fisheries, as they can provide the necessary personnel and equipment to safely cover the entire River Erne, where the competition takes place.
Over the weekend, a total of 332 DAERA licenses and permit checks were conducted, and all were found to be compliant.
A total of 541 competitors fished over the three days, making it the biggest predator fishing event in the British Isles, and the local fishing tackle businesses reported an increase in turnover by £10k as a direct result of the event.
Similarly, Fermanagh Lakeland Tourism sought updates from the main accommodation providers on the increased usage directly because of the event. Anecdotal reports suggest that 'heads in beds' on the shoulder season increased significantly over the weekend, and accommodation provision was promoted heavily in the lead-up to the event.
Speaking to anglers who fished the event and stayed in the county, they claimed to have spent at least £500 per person into the local economy over the weekend. It is believed the event has generated upwards of £75k for the local economy. All fish caught are photographed and these are then placed onto social media platforms and statistics would indicate that this reached over 25,400 people.