Archive for February, 2011

Hooked Live 2011

Sunday, February 27th, 2011

What does one do in the close season but think about, read up on, and prepare for the new season ahead. Trade shows fill the barren months and Hooked Live at City West certainly delivered in terms of exhibitors and celebrity anglers. It was refreshing to see home grown talent such as Andrew Ryan (Clonanav), International shore angler John O’Brien, and Wexford and Ireland’s number one bass guide Jim Hendrick, rub shoulders with the likes of Henry Gilbey and Paul Young.

Bass supremo Jim Hendrick at Hooked Live 2011.

Jim was gearing up for his eighth season guiding bass in South Wexford. His record speaks for itself, you do not get invited to guide on Andros Island (Bahamas) if you cannot cut the mustard. Jim leads the way in lure fishing and particularly fly fishing for bass. County Wexford is his home patch and Jim knows the marks intimately, check out his website,, and give him a call.

Paddy Clarke, a high class rod maker from Co. Waterford.

You occasionally uncover a gem at these events and rod maker Paddy Clarke certainly falls into this category. Using top quality blanks Paddy produces a range of bespoke trout, sea trout, and salmon fly rods,  alongside a selection of spinning rods suitable for both fresh and salt water. With specifications to suit all pockets these rods are built to the highest standards using top quality fittings and the finish is superb. Paddy’s sales and marketing incredibly is by word of mouth only and that has to change, for his prices and product quality are a match for any of the known rod manufacturers. Thinking of buying a new rod, give Paddy a call on +353 (0)86 3820147.

Avonmore Tackle Products and Irish Fly Craft combine to good effect at Hooked 2011.

Many exhibitors catered for the fly fishing enthusiast, and one stand that stood out combined skill, knowledge, expertise, and quality products. Jimmy Tyrrell, the county Laois based fly dresser who is, Irish Fly Craft linked up with Pat Cullen and Peter Driver of Avonmore Tackle Products, suppliers of quality fly tying and fly fishing materials, to produce a fine display of tip top products suitable for the fly angler. Deep in conversation with the lads when I arrived was the Irish Fly Fisher himself Liam Stenson. Follow Liam’s exploits through the new season on

Anne and Paul Harris combined with John Angles to produce Beara Sea Anglings dream team.

Sea angling is close to my heart and the Beara Peninsula extending West Cork out into the Atlantic is in my opinion Irish shore fishing’s jewel in the crown. Totally under fished, I’ve been going down there six years now and it still wows me. The offshore fishing for pollack, ling, conger, cod, and haddock is superb, and as for the shore fishing, try mullet, pollack, coalfish, codling, mackerel, scad, plaice, dab, trigger fish, wrasse, conger, ling, ray, huss, and bass. Anne and Paul Harris run Dromagowlane House and specialise in shore angling packages, while John Angles skippers Tigger II a fine charter boat based in Castletownbere and markets self catering cottages close to the village of Eyeries.

Eric Parkes (on left) editor of Irish Angler's Digest, Ireland's number one rod and line fishing magazine.

The time passed so quickly, meeting friends and perusing stands. In its second year Hooked certainly delivered showcasing Irish Angling across a variety of sectors from boat building to rod making, accommodation to fishing guides. A stand that epitomises Irish rod and line fishing for so many was Eric Parkes Irish Angler’s Digest. A fixture since the 1980′s the Irish Angler’s Digest and its contributors such as Liam Kane, Brian Cooke, Bob Moss, and Leo Farrell have inspired and encouraged us all to get out there and cast a line. Yes it was a fine show which did whet my appetite for the coming season. I most definitely will be buying some new kit and thanks to attending the show know exactly where to purchase it.

Guided Fly Fishing in County Wicklow, a New Departure.

Saturday, February 19th, 2011

I am told that Chinese people use the same word for both crisis and opportunity, and that Homer Simpson regularly has a crisortunity, so there may be something in it. As anyone living here can attest Ireland most definitely is experiencing a crisortunity, the economy is in melt down and our politicians, in election mode, are carrying on in the same old fashion, that is, “party before country”. In that light starting a new business can seem like a good idea, no greater challenge when the country economically speaking cannot get much lower, and at least it keeps you positive.

On Sunday the 01/05/2011 I will be open for business offering guided lough style fly fishing on Lough Dan, in Co. Wicklow. A beautiful water high up in the Wicklow National Park close to Roundwood, a village that is supposed to have, “The Highest Pub in Ireland“. Lough Dan is a narrow, long water at the head of the Avonmore River. Secluded and with limited access, its location is very scenic and most importantly the lake holds a large quantity of free rising mountain trout. Sporting a variety of colours, sometimes one would think there are various strains of trout in the lake, they fight above their weight providing great sport on light tackle.

Mountain trout, Lough Dan, Co. Wicklow, Ireland.

Having made the decision, based on circumstance, to create a job for myself, I’m one of the half a million kicked into touch by the outgoing Fianna Fail Government. This Irishman is going to rise from the ashes, enter the fray, and deliver a first class service to tourist or indigenous anglers keen on experiencing fishing in Counties, Wicklow, Wexford, Carlow, or further afield in Ireland. Backed up by forty years of fishing experience, a professional realistic vision, and a willingness to continually learn and improve my craft, I look forward to getting started after five months planning and pulling the various strands together.

The website is up and running and my boat is ordered, a 19′ Lough Arrow lake boat, designed and built by Mr. David Gray up in Co. Sligo. The business, based on American outfitter operations will be mobile enabling me to fish various waters, and over time include bass and pike fishing offerings, along with wild trout rambles and guided shore fishing. An Irish Anglers World highlights real fishing in Ireland through the eyes of one fisherman. An accurate reflection but only a smidgen of what is actually out there. Browse the site, or better still drop me a line, either to book a days fishing or gather information to design that great Irish fishing holiday. Tight lines, Ashley. Email:


Coarse Fishing in Ireland, Athy Marina, Co. Kildare.

Friday, February 11th, 2011

The River Barrow rises in the Slieve Bloom Mountains, Co. Laois, flowing in a south easterly direction through counties Laois, Kildare, Carlow, and Wexford, before meeting the sea below the town of New Ross. Ireland’s second longest river at 192 km from source to sea, the river Barrow is navigable from St Mullins in Co Carlow to Athy in Co. Kildare, a distance of some 68 km. An essential drainage artery historically linked to the spread of christianity, colonisation, and commerce, today the Barrow has a significant role to play both as a tourism resource and social outlet.

Anglers coarse fishing the marina, a venue smack in the centre of Athy town, Co. Kildare, Ireland.
The Barrow is a superb mixed fishery within whose waters reside coarse fish such as roach, perch, rudd, bream, dace, and the mighty pike. Brown trout populate the faster flowing stretches, while salmon and sea trout return annually along with the mysterious shad, a herring like fish which enters the river from the sea in May, to spawn at the head of the tide close to the village of St. Mullins. Coarse fishing on the river has become increasingly popular spearheaded by two local clubs, the Athy and District Anglers, and Carlow Coarse Angling Club.

A large River Barrow Perch for angler Ian Warburton.

Gerry McStraw is the progressive chairman of Carlow Coarse Angling Club, a recent conversation with him elicited information that the marina at Athy was fishing its socks off and would be well worth a visit. Having heard of the venue but never fished it I had visions of floating pontoons, pleasure cruisers, and narrow boats, the reality was not what I expected. A derelict development site smack in the middle of Athy, adjacent to the Barrow and connected by a narrow channel, it has become an oasis for fish of all descriptions particularly when the river is in flood.

Carlow Coarse Angling Club chairman Gerry McStraw with 31.lbs of Athy marina, Co. Kildare, roach, dace, and hybrids.

Leased annually by the Athy and District Anglers, preliminary works have created twenty six fishing pegs including two with disabled access. Day tickets at €5.00 or annual membership of €20.00 can be purchased at Griffen Hawe on Athy main street, or by contacting John Shaughnessy, email: What an amazing fishery, in four relaxed hours Gerry and his friend Ian Warburton amassed an incredible 62.lbs of roach, hybrids, dace, and perch all returned to fight another day. This facility should be made a permanent fixture, as a tourism venue for visiting anglers and a social outlet in particular for youth it has tremendous potential. There are few towns in Europe hosting fishing of this quality, Kildare County Council, Inland Fisheries Ireland, Waterways Ireland, and whoever forms the next Government please take note…

Further reading: Feeder Fishing, River Barrow, Athy, Co. Kildare.

Gale Force Wexford Flounder.

Friday, February 4th, 2011

I love flounder fishing so when Gerry Mitchell rang to say he was heading down to south County Wexford for an end of season flattie hunt he had an instant companion. Ordering lugworm from the human JCB, thanks bimbo, we arranged to meet at the prearranged mark around 10.00 am. With low water set for midday that gave us approximately two hours of the ebb and the start of the flood, a good time to target flounder at the chosen venue.

A quality south Wexford estuary flounder tempted by lugworm.

On arrival I could see that John “Ringo” Ring had made the journey as well. Deja vu kicked in, the last flounder hunt I had spent with John in November 2009 a gale had been blowing, today was no different. A south westerly increased through the afternoon blowing force 8 by the time we called it a day. Grey skies promised rain but luck was on our side as it did not fall during the session. On the previous occasion we had caught good numbers of flounder with “Ringo” excelling landing doubles and a fine treble. Today things were slower but we were still hopeful.

Estuary fishing for flounder, south county Wexford, Ireland.

Crab and floating weed can be a problem at this venue, today the crab were less active (a legacy of the cold winter no doubt), however weed was wrapping itself around our lines, thankfully not too much. As the tidal run eased towards low water it fell away. Correspondingly the flounder which had been conspicuous by their absence started to show. Gerry let a whoop as a prime flattie slid from the water being not able to resist Sandymount lugworm.

Gerry Mitchell with the stamp of flounder common in south Wexford estuaries.

It’s possible that the floating weed had been masking the bead festooned traces and lugworm baited hooks, because over the turn of the tide before the flood started to push up the estuary channel four good flounder were banked. Easily averaging a pound and a half and in great condition, Gerry landed a brace with a single to John and I.

John "Ringo" Ring with a quality County Wexford, Ireland, flounder tempted by crab.

All fish were caught on lugworm bar John’s which fell to crab. Considering six rods were in action baited frequently this may seem like a poor return, not so. February is the tail end of the season, most flounder having left the estuary on their spawning migration. The quality and size of fish were good, and as a parting wave to this writers 2010/2011 sea angling year the session was a complete success. Roll on May…..

Further Reading: Floundering Around in Co. Wexford.

Coarse Fishing in Ireland, River Barrow.

Friday, February 4th, 2011

A relative newcomer to coarse angling and keen to unlock any secrets that the River Barrow might hold, I was happy to accompany Gary for a days fishing on a favoured section of his between Carlow and Athy. The Barrow is navigable from New Ross in Co. Wexford to Monasterevin in Co. Kildare, shallow areas bye passed by a system of canals which in the past served a number of milling operations. Today many are derelict although some have been restored for private use. Waterways Ireland maintain the canals and manage the lock gates enabling private pleasure craft and narrow boat hire companies to avail of this wonderful resource.

Gary Robinson trotting a float down a River Barrow canal section.

Overnight rain had rendered the main channel unfishable so Gary and I turned our attention to a canal section. Fish seek shelter in these waters during times of flood, and with water fairly pushing through Gary decided to try out his new Adcock Stanton centrepin reel. I on the other hand stuck to the game plan of feeder fishing with red maggot. Employing a light coloured groundbait mix of crumb, sweetcorn, and various particles we set to work. Bites were fairly immediate mainly from quicksilver dace and small roach.

A beautiful red finned River Barrow roach.

Missing a lot of bites, those dace are quick, Gary advised me to step down from using four maggots on the hook to just one or two, the result was three roach on the bounce and a couple of small hybrids. My efforts would have put a match fisherman to shame, but hey I was having fun. The Adcock Stanton reel was performing well, Gary trotting a quill float down his swim winkling out small dace supplemented with a few silver bream, roach, and hybrids.

Gary Robinson with a bag of roach, silver bream, and hybrids from the River Barrow, Co. Kildare, Ireland.

The day had been cold throughout, sunny interspersed with a number of heavy showers. A constant breeze from the south west hinting at worse to come. By 16.00pm with bites becoming less frequent we decided to call it a day. Gary had a mixed bag of, the less said about mine the better although I was happy to have caught all four species mentioned above. A feature was their good condition and how cold they were to touch. We did not connect with any perch or notice evidence of pike although they are definitely present. The day though was positive, a steady stream of fish to christen Gary’s new reel and one or two of the Barrow’s fishy secrets revealed.