Lough Melvin doesn't give up its gems of trout easily, as local anglers know and visitors quickly grow to appreciate.

And so it proved at the weekend when 312 fishermen took to the water for the thirty-third Lough Melvin Open Trout Angling Championships.

So popular has the event become that for safety reasons the organisers, the Garrison and Lough Melvin Anglers' Association, introduced a new rule this year, limiting the number of qualifiers from the heats on Thursday, Friday and Saturday to the top third.

At the end of the day the weather conditions, the fish, and a football match kept the numbers within manageable and safety limits.

Donegal were playing Cork in the semi-final of the All-Ireland on Sunday so the county was deserted and its anglers who would normally have entered the Melvin Open were in Dublin.

So just over 50 boats took to the lough for Sunday's final when the fishing was no easier than it had been during the heats.

Association secretary, Malcolm Finney, said: "It was hard going. The conditions were very changeable. Bright, bright sun. Conditions were never ideal." In the end 424 trout were caught over the four days with nine fish on Sunday landing Tom "Doc" Sullivan, from Galway, and his partner, Brian Uprichard, from Lurgan, with the top prize of a Burke angling boat and a piece of Galway Crystal each.

Second was Mick Coyne, from Mayo, and Paedar O'Boill, from Donegal, who missed the football game but helped himself and his partner to a cheque for �700 and a piece of Galway Crystal apiece.

The top local angler was Ronnie Law, from Irvinestown, who with his partner, Cecil Marshall, from Sligo, took third place and a prize of an electric boat engine, fly reel, �100 and a piece of Galway Crystal each.