Archive for October, 2010

Beara Peninsula Adventure

Monday, October 25th, 2010

A sea fishing trip to the Beara Peninsula over the October weekend delivered in spades. The weather was typical for the south west ranging from mediterranean, to monsoon, to full on gale, however given the nature of the terrain a fishy mark was always available and boy were the fish obliging. Over three full days shore angling intrepid visitors from England Roger Ball, Dave Hoskins, Rob Hume, and I landed ten species of fish to include pollack, coalfish, codling, wrasse, mackerel, scad, mullet, plaice, dab, and dogfish. With a sizable conger lost at the waters edge and one or two marks off limits due to the sea and weather conditions our species tally could definitely have been higher.

A six pound plus Beara Peninsula pollack for Roger Ball.

The Beara is a rocky outpost in Ireland’s south west totally undiscovered in terms of sea angling. Having fished there on four occasions previously I am aware of its potential but this trip really took the biscuit. Circumstance due to the weather put us on marks we had not considered initially and the results were startling. With out doubt our group enjoyed the best mixed shore fishing any of us have had in twenty years. It was not just the species count but the quality of fish we encountered. Pollack to over six pound, four pound plus wrasse, codling up to four pounds, dinner plate plaice, and a specimen 8.oz dab. Cornwall is England’s equivalent in terms of sea angling and the boys as one agreed that there is just no comparison, the Beara wins by a country mile.

Double header plaice, a rare catch in modern times.

Methods used included jelly worming and spinning for pollack, coalfish, mackerel, and codling, float fishing for mullet, down the wall for wrasse, and general shore casting over clean and mixed ground for a range of species to include the flatties. On a couple of occasions the flat rocks below our self catering cottage provided a nice platform to fly fish for pollack with a bonus fish being a large scad, a first for me on rod and line. Besides lures we bait fished with fresh mackerel, ragworm, locally collected hard back crab, and lugworm. The latter of which were big, black, and fleshy, ideal for the job in hand and devoured by the codling we encountered.

Beara peninsula codling.

The first full day of fishing took place under ideal conditions of blue skies and flat calm seas. We were  privileged to the point of distraction of seeing nature at its finest. Dolphins chasing shoals of mullet, mackerel, and herring, the water in front of us a virtual aquarium. Crystal clear and deep blue the kelp swayed, dense shoals of fish darted their sides reflecting the light, unseen predators from below causing the surface to occasionally boil, and this a backdrop to some top notch wrasse fishing. Presented with hardback crab or ragworm they attacked the baits with gusto, beautifully coloured and real bruisers what an afternoons sport.

A four pound plus bruiser of a wrasse from the Beara peninsula, West Cork, Ireland.

The holiday provided lots of moments to savour and some real surprises. Over fishing in Ireland’s coastal waters has decimated cod and flatfish stocks rendering shore fishing for both a limited exercise. Working on hunches for the flat fish we hit pay dirt with plaice to over a pound and a cracking specimen dab for Plymouth’s Dave Hoskins, without doubt the best flattie fishing that I have encountered this side of 1990 in terms of numbers and size. Who needs to travel to Iceland with shore sport like this on our doorstep.

Specimen Beara peninsula Dab for Dave Hoskins.

Yes we had to work hard in terms of accessing marks, collecting quality bait, and braving the elements but it paid off. Ireland and the Beara peninsula opened the door to wonderful sea fishing opportunities for us capped by the best winter cod session any of us have had again this side of the early nineties. It might be that a set of circumstances have come together based on EU quota restrictions coupled with a good year class but the south coast of Ireland has a young cod stock again. Hopefully the powers that be give it a chance to grow and mature, we can only live in hope that those that manage get it right this time. That said let us not get morose, the Beara peninsula, West Cork, Ireland from May through to Christmas is a superb sea fishing destination for the shore angler. Its secrets unlocked with every new visit, this trip surpassed the wildest expectations of four seasoned sea anglers, a beautiful rugged location, a sea angling paradise.

Further Information: Beara Peninsula Guide.

See also: Beara Peninsula Magic.

Click on: Video clip, Rock Fishing on the Beara Peninsula.

South Wexford Bass and Mackerel

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010

A planned trip to fish bass in south Wexford with marine scientist Ed Fahy finally came to pass. Recently retired, it is a pity that there are not more people in the service with his passion, intellect, and desire to do the right thing instead of pandering to vested interests, our inshore waters would be in a far better state if there were. I digress, Ed and I arranged to meet in Gorey before driving on to dig lugworm at Rosslare. Through contacts Ed had a supply of fresh razor clam, along with the lug and a few bonus gaper clam collected while digging we hit the chosen beach and were fishing by noon.

A plump four pounder from a south Wexford shore.

A force 5/6 westerly wind created a nice rolling sea, the water was clear and there was no floating weed. Grey and chilly we were in no doubt that winter was not far a way, however once wrapped up we never noticed the elements on the windswept strand. High tide was around four pm, our chosen beach fishes well during the middle stages of the rise and two casts in to the session a slack line signaled positive interest. Grabbing the rod while striding up the beach contact was made, its fighting curve and the thump thump resistance screamed bass. A run to the left, into the breakers a spiky fin, silver thrashing and that big eye, moving forward in unison with the receding wave, beached on the following a grand bass of four pounds.

Waiting for the bite, south Wexford.

Taken on razor at forty metres two casts later in a repeat performance bass number two hit the beach this time on lug. Recasting with razor on the bottom and lug on the top no sooner had the rig settled on the bottom then bang bang in again. This time a spirited but lesser tussle signaled a good schoolie touching two pounds returned to fight another day. Shortly after that a flounder flapped up the strand and with that everything went quite. Not unusual for this particular beach, it is all or nothing. In saying that the strand is very consistent and I have never not caught fish on it and the quality is usually good.

A late season mackerel for Ed Fahy.

With the lull Ed broke out the spinning gear prompted by a mackerel that grabbed my lug baited hook on the retrieve. In summer mackerel run this strand particularly in August, but October, we were surprised. Soon after another hit the shoreline contributing a welcome brace and a nice supper to look forward to. Ed and I fished on until six pm before calling it a day. Chewing the fat and landing a few fish a productive and enjoyable day had passed quickly. We promised to repeat the exercise before too long.

Autumn Bass on the Beach.

Thursday, October 14th, 2010

South Wexford comes alive in the Autumn. Bass hunt the shoreline again after their summer fry fest and winter species such as coalfish and codling make an appearance. In the estuaries flounder are feeding hard prior to their spawning migration and their is always the chance of hooking a marauding bass. Codling have been ever present in boat catches off Kilmore Quay this summer hinting at the prospect of improved winter fishing off the south Wexford beaches. With that in mind and the real prospect of bass, Gerry Mitchell, John (Ringo) Ring, and I headed to a favourite mark with confidence. Baiting up with freshly dug lugworm and fishing two rods each our leads hit the water shortly before eight bells. Given high water was due around ten pm we expected fish from the off, they duly obliged.

Gerry Mitchell with a plump four pound plus Wexford bass.

Within minutes bites were being converted into fish, initially small whiting, poor cod, and flounder. The rod tops were nodding, then leaning as dogfish entered the swim. We had commenced fishing in the dark but knowing the beach bass can run close, VERY CLOSE, to the tide line. Gerry had his bait in the right spot landing the first silver bar of the night. At 45cms plus he knew there were bigger. Shortly after a tentative bite Gerry leaned into and connected with a fish. “Think it’s a doggie Ash”, then the rod lunged over as the fish entered the shallows. A few choice words drifted towards me as a fine bass appeared in the wash, four pounds plus, a great start to the evening.

Watching for bites on a south Wexford strand.

Bass feed on the move, and with these beaches many miles long anglers have to make hay while the sun shines. The fish will move in and move on just as quick. Bites are quick silver and the fish do not come back a second time. So it proved tonight, a twenty minute spell rods hit hard and slack line bites, a couple of dropped fish and Gerry’s tally. It’s what beach fishing is all about and it was fun to be a witness. No bass for Ringo or I, but things were to improve.

South Wexford beach caught codling.

A noticeable rattle made me lift the rod, it leaned and the line fell slack. Backing up I connected with the weight, no bass but it does not feel like a dogfish. As the fish enters the wash it gives a few kicks, Gerry walks towards it, “nice codling Ash”. I do not believe it, at two pounds plus I have caught bigger off the shore but not in recent years. Maybe our prediction of improved winter codling catches could come true. One swallow doesn’t make a summer but that one fish gives real hope, we’ll be back!

Game Fishing in Ireland, Autumn at Rathcon Trout Fishery.

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010

The first days of October and an indian summer beckons. With arrangements made it was off to spend Sunday afternoon fishing Rathcon Trout Fishery with Liam who runs, :/http/ . Rathcon, a rainbow trout water, is set in rolling parkland close to Grangecon in west county Wicklow. Spring fed, the fishery is inhabited by fighting fit rainbows which feed on an abundance of natural food such as crayfish, minnow, and damselfly nymphs. These trout grow to enormous size, fish of double figures are caught regularly, and boy can they scrap. Well conditioned they could be mistaken for steelheads, and strip line just as fast.

Garrett Byrne with a Rathcon rainbow tempted bt a small sedge immitation.

The weather was glorious with clear blue skies and just a slight breeze from the north east. Arriving at midday Liam and I introduced ourselves, and as you would discussed fishing before heading off to our favourite corners. A number of anglers were already trying their luck with some success, one being Garrett Byrne who quickly added to his tally with a hard fighting rainbow tempted by an elk hair caddis. Medium size sedges were skittering across the surface and fish were rising, using his polaroids to good effect Garrett was placing his fly in front of cruising fish and they were happy to oblige.

Running hard and deep, Rathcon Trout Fishery.

Having initially tied up a daddy and a bibio and not responded to the obvious signs of a sedge rise, I duly replaced the daddy with a sedge imitation and bingo, fish on. Close to three pound the rainbow sipped down the fly before exploding into action with a number of lively runs. Safely netted and admired it was put back to fight another day. By now the lake was mirror calm, fishing had slowed and there were few rises. The choice was fish buzzers or a big dry daddy, the latter being more in hope.

Barry Rogerson with a Rathcon rainbow which took a deep sunk booby.

Meanwhile Liam had been fishing New Zealand style with a buzzer fixed under a large dry indicator. The method was working too well, he had been smashed three times, Rathcon rainbows are unforgiving. The highlight of the day was witnessing a smash and grab take from a very large fish. The angler fishing a dry daddy placed the fly in front of the cruising trout, which it duly nailed stripping five meters of line off the reel and totally clearing the water before going to ground in a weed bed. One nil to a Rathcon bruiser.

The clubhouse at Rathcon Trout Fishery, Grangecon, Co. Wicklow.

At six bells I said my goodbyes to Liam, fish had been hard won today but hey that is angling. It had been nice to witness some good action and talk fishing with anglers such as Garrett Byrne and Barry Rogerson. Rathcon is a delightful managed fishery approximately one hour south west of Dublin. Take the N.81 towards Baltinglass and follow the signs for Grangecon. In the village take the junction at Moore’s pub and travel the road for half a mile, the (tiny signposted) entrance will be on the left. Contact Dermot Paige through their website,, in advance. A half day is priced €20.00 which is great value.

Click on: Rathcon Trout Fishery.