Archive for May, 2010

Thornbacks off Courtown

Sunday, May 30th, 2010

The annual Mick and Sean Redmond Memorial competition was held last Saturday 29th May. A small boat competition held by the Courtown SAC  in honour of two local stalwarts of sea angling now passed on. A catch and release event with a twist, the angler who catches the heaviest ray receives the Mick and Sean Redmond memorial trophy. Highly prized due to its significance the competition was fierce.

Members of Courtown SAC with Thornies

Offshore fishing along the north Co. Wexford coast is picking up now with a few tope being boated, a sprinkling of bull huss, and fair numbers of ray. Smooth hounds although on the beaches are scarce off shore, unfortunately clean fish although plentiful are small, really just juveniles. On the day we caught a succession of tiny codling, whiting, and dab, along with the ubiquitous lesser spotted dogfish. Positive on the one hand, at least the small fish are there, on the other, will we ever give them an opportunity to reach maturity?

Thornback ray taken off Courtown, Co. Wexford, Ireland

A south east force six had diminished force three or less and become variable allowing the competition to proceed. A lumpy sea at the start fell away to a nice easy swell as the day wore on. Heading south and fishing the waters off Pollshone Head is always a good bet when seeking ray off Courtown, which is exactly where Mark Chambers on whose boat I was a guest anchored up. Along with singing Seanie O’Keeffe and Ned Carrick what a crew, the afternoon flew due to the banter and the crack while the fishing wasn’t bad either. With a nice coloured sea and a southerly tidal run conditions were good for ray. Employing a ledger/paternoster rig, baiting the paternoster with rag/mackerel strip/lug combinations for clean fish, and the ledger with whole squid aimed at ray, I hedged my bets.

Ned with a fine Courtown, Co. Wexford, thornback ray

Ten minutes in on the second drop down slowly trotting the rig down tide a ray signaled its presence with a heavy leaning thump/thump bite. Feeding line before striking old yellow took on a curve, while the weight and kiting of the main line through the water signaled the obvious. Shortly afterwards a nice ray broke the surface smartly tailed by Mark. Fishing continued with Ned loosing a good fish and eventually landing a ray on the last drop of the day. Back on shore with a number of ray landed the winning margin came down to two ounces, a thornie just short of ten pounds. A worthwhile fish to grace what was a fun day out and one of which both Mick and Sean would have been proud of.

Rock Hopping on the Beara

Thursday, May 27th, 2010

When it comes to sea angling on the Beara Peninsula, West Cork, I do not need to be asked twice. So it was with great delight that I accepted an offer from Roger and Corinne Ball of West Sussex, England, who were holidaying on the Beara, to join them for a couple of days and go fishing. Heading down on Sunday last the 23rd May I made on overnight stop at Dromagowlane House,, a bed and breakfast specialising in sea angling breaks ran by Paul and Anne Harris, located in Adrigole, out the road from Glengarriff on the way to Castletownbere.

Fishing the rocks at Urhan, near Eyeries, Beara, West Cork

Leaving Dromagowlane early Monday morning with a present of frozen sandeels from Paul, “the mackerel are scarce due to the cold winter”, I met up with Roger and Corinne around nine am. Based on last years fishing Roger recommended a trip out to Crow Head rock hopping with Pollack and Wrasse in mind. Filling our ruck sacks with just the necessary tackle we said our goodbyes to Corinne and headed off. The day was sweltering with hardly a cloud in the sky, little or no wind, and temperatures certainly rising to the high twenties. Leaving the car at the end of a lane we set out across the headland on foot.

A fine Crow Head Pollack

Roger pointed out a number of rock marks that he had fished last year. One in particular stood out, a flat shelf with reasonable access, which we opted for. What a choice, plenty of room with options to fish Wrasse, Pollack, and whatever might be lurking in the deep. Tackling up with jelly worms attached a meter below a 60 gram barrel lead we commenced fishing. Casting out and letting the lead hit the bottom before starting a steady retrieve resulted in a string of Pollack up to five pounds plus hitting the lures. Fishing on occasions was frantic with both rods buckling over as Pollack hit the jellies and crash dived for cover.

Another Crow Head Pollack for Roger Ball

Mid afternoon saw our attention turn to wrasse. Roger had collected some hardback crabs from the harbour at Garinish, supplemented with Ragworm we set about searching likely holes earmarked by white water generated by the lazy swell. Simple one hook rotten bottom rigs weighted by spark plugs were cast in. Almost immediately the wrasse attacked the baits with their customary double tap bites. Missing more than we hooked, these Beara wrasse are very adept at stripping baits, we still caught our fair share in the two to three pound bracket. Pugnacious fighters the wrasse put determined bends in the rods, with Roger hitting a real mother which eventually made its escape in the kelp forest below.

Roger with a fine Crow Head wrasse

The fishing did not abate right through the day and before we knew it day had turned into evening. We upped sticks and headed for home tired but exhilarated. We had only tipped at the potential, mullet were a constant site patrolling the rock edges, and surely the deeps must hold conger, huss, and probably ling. Mackerel were conspicuous by their absence, maybe the cold winter has delayed their arrival. However, mid June should see the fishing in full swing, I cannot wait.

Click on : Open sea mullet on the Beara , to read about a session targeting coastal mullet.

May on the Barrow

Thursday, May 20th, 2010

What is it with nature, the colour yellow, and May. Our cold winter has finally left us and the past few days have been humid and close. A little spot of rain turned the grass green overnight, and the countryside came to life in various shades of yellow. Rich Gorse yellow with that wonderful coconut scent, bright fields of rape seed, broom, dandelion, and buttercup.

Blackstairs mountains above Kiltealy, Co. Wexford

The Blackstairs mountains shimmered and the higher peaks were lost in isolated low cloud as I drove through Kiltealy and Ballymurphy on the way to fly fish the river Barrow at Goresbridge. The Barrow south of Carlow is predominantly a coarse and pike fishery, however trout reside in the fast water below the weirs, and there is a nice riffly stretch below the village of Goresbridge.


Goresbridge angling association control the game fishing on this stretch of the Barrow, and day permits at €5.00 can be purchased from the Barrow Breeze Bar on the main street. Pike, Dace, and Bream populate the still water above the weir, while below the river is one long riffle for about a quarter of a mile. Access is limited due to bank side vegetation, wading though is an option but only in low flows.

Barrow Trout

Running a hares ear, partridge and orange, and black and silver spider through various runs yielded a number of trout to eight ounces. One cast  delivered a double header which for a fleeting moment felt like a good trout. No matter, the sun was shining, the trout were taking, and all was right with the world. Happy days.

Rainbow’s End at Rathcon

Saturday, May 15th, 2010

I am not mad keen on fishing for stocked Rainbow’s, preferring to target wild Trout. The fins of hatchery fish are usually damaged and larger fish give the appearance of being overweight and unfit. Not so at Rathcon Trout Fishery, Grangecon, Co. Wicklow. The Rathcon Rainbow’s are lean, fit, healthy, fully finned, and behave like steelheads when hooked, exploding into life and pulling yards of line off the reel, again, and again, and again.

Mark Corps, Game Angling Advisor CFB, with a perfectly formed Rathcon Rainbow

The Paige family own and run Rathcon Trout Fishery. Dermot Paige maintains that the Rainbow feed on the crayfish that thrive in the lakes that were formed when, a number of years ago the Paiges dammed a small stream that ran through their land, so forming the fishery. Fly life is also prolific with buzzers very evident, along with terrestrials such as hawthorn flies and daddy long legs.

Shane O'Reilly, angling advisor CFB, and his colleague Ronan with a monster Rathcon Rainbow

Having received a call from Mark Corps of the CFB that a group were heading over to Rathcon late Friday afternoon, I threw the rods in the car arriving about 16.00pm. Parking beside the clubhouse I could see a chap playing a good fish. Grabbing the camera and legging it over I was able to witness Shane O’Reilly netting a whopper Rainbow for his colleague Ronan. Caught on a viva, it was Ronan’s first ever trout on a fly!

Mark Corps playing a good fish, Rathcon, Co. Wicklow

With trout visibly rising to buzzers I put up a viva plus a bibio, with Mark Corps duplicating the bibio while fishing a shipman’s on the point. In that period takes came rapidly with Mark landing three fish in quick succession. The last one, on the bibio, jumping clear of the water on numerous occasions. A fish rose close to me which I covered, the water exploded and with a shout of “fish on” the reel screamed and ten yards of line shot through the rings, as the Rainbow bolted down the lake towards the clubhouse. A lively fight ensued with the fish boring deep and heading off on numerous shorter runs. When netted there was the bibio firmly embedded in the scissors, a quick extraction, photo, and away.

Perfect Rathcon Rainbow

After that a cuppa was in order, so over to the clubhouse for a biscuit and a chat. Rathcon is a fine place to spend a few hours, the location in a pastoral landscape, great facilities, and of course the fishing. Those Rainbow’s are special.  The next hour saw a couple more fish on the bank for members of the party as buzzer activity increased. It had been a year since my last visit to Rathcon, graced by a ten pound fish, I will not be leaving it so long next time around.

Rathcon Rainbow

Further information: Rathcon Trout Fishery.

Click on: Autumn at Rathcon.

Third time Lucky at St. Mullins

Thursday, May 13th, 2010

It was a case of third time lucky when visiting the Co. Carlow venue for some Shad fishing this morning. Not leaving anything to chance, the head was on the pillow at 10.30pm with the alarm set for 02.50am. The car was already packed, a quick bowl of cereal, a cup of scald, and on the way by 03.30am. Pulled up in the car park beside the old mill at 04.30am with the faintest of light beginning to show in the sky. It was noticeable that the car park was full and the flattened riverbank was testament to a lot of recent fishing activity. With a 3.83 metre tide full in around 06.00am there was sure to be Shad in the river.

Dave Shad fishing at St. Mullins

Blue and Silver Tazmanian Devils were cast towards the far bank in the early morning mist, the air was chill, and the dawn chorus was giving its all. For the first twenty minutes not a stir, then the river came alive. By this stage a number of anglers were on the bank, as if by magic practically everyone was into a fish. Rods were arching and landing nets were in hand.

Tazmanian Devil

Dawn and dusk are the best taking times for Shad and so it proved again. For about three quarters of an hour Shad hit the lures with regularity, many fell off due to their bony mouths, and numerous times the lure was hit but no hook up occurred. By about six thirty am the fish had moved through and takes petered out.

Dave with his first ever Shad

Dave and I called it a morning. The trip had been a success. The target had been for Dave to catch his first Shad, which he achieved. The short spell of activity had yielded five each on the bank, with a few hook ups and hits to add to the fun. Farewell to the elusive Shad for another year, the next trip down will be to target the Bream that frequent this stretch of the river Barrow.

Wexford Reconnaisance

Monday, May 10th, 2010

Fishy Spot

The cold winter this year has held back the normal course of nature by at least a month. My local east Wexford beaches are beginning to fish as the weather warms up with reports of Flounder and schoolies, along with an odd bigger Bass. Friends fishing various beach marks in County Waterford are picking up Bass in the four to seven pound bracket along with some nice Flounder. With north easterlies having set in this past few days, never great for fishing, I decided instead to scope out potential marks around south Wexford, and brought a lure rod along for good measure.

Lure Box

It is incredible how while living in and carrying on our daily lives in a particular area, we can still find places quite close by that are new to us. Such was my experience yesterday, as with a friend Davy we found a beach so unlike any other we know in Co. Wexford, and more importantly one that positively screams Bass.

Davy casting a lure on that beach

We scoped various marks at low water to gauge the lie of the land, and will be back during the coming season to try our luck. Regarding the ”particular” beach, a friendly diver that we met told us that “yes” Bass did frequent the venue, but to date this year he had only come across Pollack and Wrasse. The summer looks promising already.

Gary breaks his Shad duck.

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

Gary's first Shad

Paid a second visit to St. Mullins today, Tuesday 4th May, in search of Shad. Again like the previous day fishing was slow. A few Shad were making splashy rises to flies but interest in lures was minimal. John Griffin from Rathvilly landed three fish during the morning session on a small Pirken type lure fished deep. With the tide full in around midday there was always the possibility luck would change.

Gary netting his first Shad

Having driven down early that morning with a friend David Murphy it was funny to spy another compatriot Gary Robinson walking down the towpath around 11.00am. Greetings exchanged, Gary mentioned that he was hoping to add another species to the list. He did not have long to wait.

Twaite Shad

Around noon Gary uttered the words “fish on” and shortly after netted his first St. Mullins Shad. David, new to fishing and still Shadless will have to wait a little bit longer. However, with the second spring tides of May due shortly it cannot be long before he too breaks his Shad duck.