Archive for August, 2010

Surf Casting Images of Co. Wexford

Sunday, August 29th, 2010

Reports of bass on the south Wexford beaches tempted me to travel down on Saturday evening. Digging lugworm in Rosslare I planned to fish a rising tide on Rostoonstown. As per usual this season there were plenty of flounder and no bass.

Rostoonstown, Co. Wexford, flounder.

The fine evening attracted lots of local people to the strand including a wedding party and about fifty mackerel fishers.

Mackerel fishing, Rostoonstown, Co. Wexford.

The lack of bass was more then made up for by the sunset.

Sunset, Rostoonstown Strand, Co. Wexford.

With no bass for the evening and two dozen lugworm left over I headed for a local strand early Sunday morning.

Edible crab and mussel shells.

Bright, warm, and fresh, a north westerly breeze blew and the sea was calm and clear. A flounder and a smooth hound livened up the morning. It was good to be out.

Late August smooth hound.

Vartry Estuary Mullet, the Return Visit.

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

On a high from the success of yesterday I could not resist another crack at the mullet. I rang a friend Gerry Mitchell to see if he wanted to accompany me but he was busy at work, so off I went arriving at the chosen location about 13.00pm, just before high tide. Setting up the coarse float fishing outfit I proceeded to fire torn up pieces of sliced pan into the water. Fish were wallowing in the current, bow waving, and occasionally turning flashing silver off their flank. Showing signs of interest, the resident mullet ignored the floating pieces but were quite happy to suck in bread which had started to sink.

Thick lipped Vartry Estuary Mullet tempted by bread flake.

Trotting my float towards a group of about five fish, like the day before I momentarily slowed its progress causing the hook bait to rise. Immediately as the hook covering bread flake rose a mullet swam over and mouthed it, striking too early the opportunity was gone. Re baiting I cast again repeating the procedure. This time a mullet approached the bread confidently, sucked in and turned. A sharp movement of the wrist, an explosion of spray, and my reel screamed as the fish ran upstream. Severel runs later just as I was netting the mullet I heard a voice, “in already, that didn’t take long”. It was Gerry looking down from the bank, he had rattled into the work and finished early, the lure of fishing.

Gerry Mitchell playing a River Vartry mullet.

“Where would you get it, fishing for a euro”, said Gerry gesturing towards his sliced pan. Setting up he fished in a similar way targeting groups of fish and working the float down towards them. Within five minutes the words “I’m in” were carried by the strengthening easterly breeze. Looking up I saw Gerry playing a good fish. After a short fight he beached a nice mullet. Admiring the fish, easily four pounds plus, we took a few snaps and released it back from whence it came.

Gerry Mitchell with a fine Vartry estuary mullet.

After that things went quite. An easterly breeze had strengthened ruffling the water causing it to colour from disturbed sediment. We fished on for an hour, an odd fish bow waved or broke the surface, but no more bites were forth coming. However, with fine weather forecast for the weekend, and with the mullet bug really having took hold,  those River Vartry “thick lipped” would want to be on the look out.

Mullet fishing in the Vartry Estuary, Wicklow Town.

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

I have had a mind for a long time to go mullet fishing in the Vartry estuary, Wicklow town. Having done my homework, asking people in the know, and walking various sections from the harbour right up into the broadlough, I established a pattern. A tide was picked, the weather was fine, the moment of truth had arrived. Mackerel was minced and combined with bread crumbs produced a nice ground bait which hopefully would entice the fish to feed. Armed with a coarse float rod and reel combination, using maxima straight through to a size 10 kamazan below a small quill float, I set off.

River Vartry estuary, Wicklow Town.

Having reconnoitered some possible fishing spots one area in particular contained a good number of mullet. Proceeding to ground bait it was not long before the fish started to swirl and move through the cloud of minced mackerel and crumbs, mouths opening and closing. Casting out I trotted the float with the tide. After a number of attempts, seeing some fish porpoising at the end of the swim I slowed the float. The bread started to rise up with the current, a fish turned and inhaled the hook bait. In the same moment I lifted the rod up, bang!! away went the fish.

Thick lipped mullet, caught on bread flake, Vartry Estuary, Wicklow Town.

What a scrap, staying on the surface the mullet tried to swim upstream. Applying side strain it eventually stayed in the bay making runs to all points of the compass. Twice the mullet came close to the net only to take off again. Eventually on the third attempt she was landed. A fine fish, broad shouldered and deep set, hooked well in the upper lip. After a few photos the mullet was slipped back to swim off at a rate of knots, seemingly none the worse for wear.

See also: Vartry mullet, the return visit.

See also: Open sea mullet on the Beara Peninsula.

Sea Fishing In Ireland, Flounder Fun in Co. Wicklow

Sunday, August 15th, 2010

Two day old lugworm proves very attractive to flatfish. A short session on a sandy, shallow strand produced four good sized flounder and numerous bites. On arrival an hour after low tide, a nice surf was rolling in and there was a chill in the air due to the north westerly breeze. Fishing close to a low reef  I targeted flounder but always was in with the chance of a bass.

Evening fishing, Co. Wicklow.

A flounder surf (low breakers) was running. Casting a two hook paternoster with gripper just beyond into flat water, bites were slow in coming. Bait was being stripped after about five minutes. As dusk closed in a rattle followed by a slack line indicated a fish big enough to lift the gripper. Lifting and reeling I tightened into a good flounder, well over thirty cms, unhooked and returned.

Surf beach flounder, Co. Wicklow.

Over the next hour another three of similar size cleared the water to be unhooked and put back to grow bigger. Right into darkness they came as the tide rose. Lots of bites, sometimes I was too hasty as the bigger ones might have been a bass, again playing the percentages. Alone on the strand, shortly before leaving a solitary angler appeared and set up about four hundred yards to my left. Not a common sight on this beach, a little gem that never fails to deliver.

Sea Fishing in Ireland, Wicklow Hounds.

Friday, August 13th, 2010

A cancelled boat angling trip opened the door to a cracking evening chasing smooth hounds off a south Wicklow strand. Fresh north westerly winds allied to a big four meter tide created a ground swell which coloured the sea, perfect conditions for smoothies and their not so welcome cousin, dogfish. Long casts at this venue produce dogfish, while a 60 meter lob opens the door for flounder, codling, bass, and the hounds. An hour into the flood, 18.30pm saw my lugworm baited hooks enter the water, I did not have long to wait.

Evening tide on a south Wicklow strand.

After half an hour and a couple of re-baits a rod top gave that slow nodding lean, a quick strike followed by a sluggish weight. Thirty seconds later a dogfish came dragging up the beach, unhooked, back it went to join its brethren. A quick recast, having just settled down over went the same rod, instantly in my hands the hound pulled to the left and out to sea. How these lads fight, left and right with breakneck turns of direction. Then the second rod went, this time a heavy thump down followed by a big slack line. What could I do, helpless I brought in the first hound knowing that a possible bass had gone a begging. No matter, you play the percentages.

South Wicklow smooth hound.

What a spell of fishing, another hound followed quickly, this time a lot stronger. Then the rods heeled over almost simultaneously, I grabbed the nearest one. Kicking over hard it signaled another hound, while the second rod indicated something more mundane. Just as well because a smooth hound can very easily tow unsecured beach casting kit out to sea. So it proved, I dealt with an angry hound and then reeled in a dogfish on the second rod. Recasting both rods, shortly afterwards a good rattle on one was followed by a slack line. Tightening up I felt the weight of what proved to be a nice flounder. Lip hooked I returned it to the water.

Beach caught flounder, Co. Wicklow.

Then it was over, what a session. Coming on to half nine the flood tide still had an hour to run. I could have stayed, the fish might have returned and there is always the possibility of a bass at last light. But sure there is always another day, the sport had been hectic and I was thankful for that.

Sea Fishing in Ireland, “Wild Swan” off the Hook.

Sunday, August 8th, 2010

“Wild Swan” is a 42′ fully licensed, insured, and equipped charter vessel working out of Ballyhack on the Wexford side of the Waterford Estuary. Skippered by Jim Foley, “Wild Swan” is powered by a 600 HP Caterpillar engine giving her a top speed of 28 knots, enabling Jim to put anglers on the offshore fishing grounds quickly and safely. Specialising in reef fishing off the Hook, deep water wrecks, and drifting for blue shark, “Wild Swan” provides a wealth of offshore sea angling opportunities, and if the wind blows there is always the estuary to explore.

A group of happy anglers on board the "Wild Swan" charter vessel.

A Friday evening call from Pat Cullen found me standing on the quay at Ballyhack, Co. Wexford, at the appointed hour of 09.30am the following morning. Having fished the Waterford estuary on board “Wild Swan” last year catching plenty of flounder, codling, and bass, I was glad of the call and the opportunity it presented to fish the rough ground off Hook Head. Jim Foley junior was skippering the vessel today. Stowing my gear and introducing myself to the group, most of whom I knew through the Rathdrum Anglers, we set sail at ten bells on what was a warm, greyish day, with a fresh north westerly blowing.

Codling caught off Hook Head, Co. Wexford.

First stop we fished a scarf of tide inside Hook Head for mackerel. As has been the form this summer they were scarce, it took various drifts over a two hour period to amass just about enough for bait. Luckily there was plenty of ragworm on board, and these along with a number of launce provided enough bait for the days reef fishing. Using feathers and hokais during this period drops to the bottom also resulted in some nice codling, pollack, and coalfish, in the two/three pound bracket.

Jim with a nice pollack tempted by a redgill.

Next stop saw our group drifting over a pinnacle rock feature which rose sharply from the seabed to within four/five fathoms of the surface. Jim advised gilling which I did to some effect, taking pollack which although not large provided great sport on the light gear with their initial crash dive. Other species landed over this mark included pouting and codling. Anchoring and fishing large baits into the base of this feature would surely produce conger and ling given the amount of pouting present, some of which came up two at a time.

Double pouting on the Wexford based charter vessel Wild Swan.

A move to general reef fishing saw our group drifting an area of mixed ground, rock interspersed with gravel patches, which produced a variety of species to include gurnard, wrasse, ling, pollack, and codling. A feature of the day was the number of codling landed, many returned to grow bigger. Not large, averaging a pound and a half, there is a future if the powers that be get their act together and manage the stock correctly. It was interesting to hear Jim, an experienced commercial skipper back in the day, talk about investment in large vessels and how in hindsight the policy was short sighted, given the present obvious damage to fish stocks.

Red gurnard off Hook Head, Co. Wexford.

At days end our group had returned thirteen species to include mackerel, codling, coalfish, pollack, ling, pouting, poor cod, red gurnard, grey gurnard, ballan wrasse, cuckoo wrasse, launce, and dogfish, not a bad return for a fun day out. The fishing on occasions was slow, but Jim kept working to put our group over fish, and you cannot ask for more then that. The species haul shows the potential of the area, and although a lot of fish were returned, some prime codling, pollack, mackerel, and ling were filleted for home consumption as we steamed for Ballyhack.

Skipper Jim Foley junior with a cuckoo wrasse.

Skipper Jim Foley trades as Mermaid Angling and can be contacted by email,, or by phone: 00353 (0)51 389225, mobile: 00353 (0)87 678 1245. The “Wild Swan” is a comfortable, beamy vessel with plenty of space for a group of eight anglers. The day was well worth my €50.00 contribution. Big thanks to Pat for giving me the call and skipper Jim Foley for what proved to be a fun day afloat in good company.

Further reading, Click on: Hey Joey.

Sea Fishing in Ireland, Rostoonstown, Co. Wexford

Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010

Rostoonstown is a  south facing steep to beach east of Kilmore Quay in county Wexford. Comprised of coarse sand and shingle, this deep water venue is home to a range of species which include bass, flounder, plaice, dab, smooth hound, codling, dogfish, and on August evenings, mackerel. Southerly winds in tandem with the lateral current which sweeps this beach can wash in rafts of floating weed making fishing very difficult. Neap tides and north west winds on this occasion created a calm sea free of weed, ideal for fishing, but also beloved of our friend the lesser spotted dogfish.

Dogfish, Rostoonstown, Co. Wexford

With the wind backing around to the south west a midnight high tide on Rostoonstown might produce bass. Arriving at 20.30pm Dave and I were greeted with a clear slightly choppy sea with only a single small wave breaking on the shingle. “Dogs and flounder”, says I, but you live in hope. Bass can run this strand at any time so we could be lucky.

Beach fishing, Rostoonstown, Co. Wexford, Ireland.

Setting up three rods we cast our lugworm baited hooks to cover various distances from the gutter out. Using two hook paternosters, as is the form on this beach the rods were motionless for the first hour. Hooks during this period were being stripped clean by crab or shrimp after five minutes exposure, but bait was not an issue , we had plenty. As dusk fell the rod tips nodded with a dull slow lean that can only signal dogfish. So it proved, all three rods covering all distances contained dogfish. In waves they came, not a common experience for me on this beach but it can happen. Apart from a solitary flounder that was it, dogfish till midnight. By that stage Dave and I agreed, enough is enough, so we upped sticks and headed for home.