Kelly captivated by Irish charm
It was a long journey to catch only two fish—but Tara Kelly wouldn’t throw one minute of her experience back.
The Onigaming First Nation native, who currently calls Kenora home and works as a Treaty #3 Police officer based there, gave a glowing review to her trip to Belfast, Northern Ireland to compete in the 2013 World Police and Fire Games earlier this month.
“Ireland is beautiful and I met so many people who were so absolutely awesome, so friendly and so helpful,” she added.
“Everyone was there wanting to meet different people. There was a real community spirit.”
Kelly participated in the saltwater angling competition, which worked on a points system based on the different species of fish caught and their length.
“There was a binful of envelopes and you picked one with a number and that number was where your spot to fish was,” explained Kelly, who had a less-than-enjoyable time dealing with the two types of bait she was provided.
“They told us one option was we could use crab meat for bait,” she said.
“I hadn’t normally baited any hooks like that before,” she noted. “I was trying to take the crab apart and it was real hard.
“I had to use a knife to get at the meat and then use a special string to tie it—something else I hadn’t done before.
“The other bait was wrapped in a long newspaper and I thought, ‘Oh, this might not be good,’” Kelly chuckled.
“It was this huge leech-looking thing. I didn’t even touch it.”
Kelly also arrived in Ireland lacking any of the proper fishing gear needed for her specific competition.
That’s when she received some unexpectedly high-profile help.
“A friend of a friend of mine who lives in Toronto said she had an uncle in Ireland who could get me what I needed,” Kelly recounted.
“He drove two hours to where I was staying and dropped off the gear.
“The next day, he showed up at the event,” she added. “He’s standing with me and people start coming up and shaking his hand.
“I’m wondering who he is. As it turns out, he’s the president of the fisheries in Ireland and he was actually presenting the medals at the event.”
Kelly was part of a 60-person field, which included only four women. During her five hours by the water, she only managed to reel in two flounder—one which was a quarter-centimetre too short to count in her total measurement.
The one that did count was 18 cm, which was good enough for 10 points—making Kelly one of only two women to catch any fish during the event.
“It had to be the only co-ed event at the games,” an amused Kelly said. “If there had been a women’s division, I would have won a medal.
“But, on the other hand, I was fishing right beside a guy who was from Ireland and he didn’t catch anything. He kept looking over at my fish and saying, ‘Beginners’ luck.’
“Now at least I can say I have caught a fish in Ireland.”
The Games next will be held in Fairfax, Va. in 2015 and Kelly already is looking forward to returning.
“Next time, it’s going to be bass fishing, which is right up my alley,” she enthused.