Archive for May, 2011

Coarse Fishing in Ireland, River Barrow at St Mullins.

Monday, May 30th, 2011

A month ago in the heat of April St Mullins was alive with bream and hybrids, today in late May Gary and I struggled. With high water at 16.00pm, Gary’s particle mix, red maggots courtesy of Carlow Coarse Angling Supplies, “thanks for the ice pops Gerry“, we were confident of bagging up. The day was dry with a strong chilly breeze from the west, having chosen our swim we commenced fishing about 11.00am. Employing a 30 gram open ended feeder and a size 14 hook to a two foot tail I built up the swim with about ten consecutive casts of ground bait before starting to fish.

Casting the feeder at St Mullins, Co. Carlow, Ireland.

A good bite early on resulted in a spirited fight from a three quarter pound brownie, a welcome fish but not what I was after. Gary like wise was connecting with trout, coarse fish being noticeable by their absence. Around 14.00 pm with the tide pushing over the scar, a set of rapids downstream of St Mullins, bites started to pick up. I connected briefly with a good fish before Gary landed a hybrid on four red maggots. We continued feeding regularly however for whatever reason the fish were not playing ball. By 16.00pm with only a few roach and hybrids to our names Gary and I called it a day.

A brace of River Barrow hybrids for Gary Robinson.

It had been an enjoyable although unproductive session in a cracking location, last month the keep net bulged today it stayed dry, Gary and I sharing his. We speculated as to the cause in the end putting it down to just fishing, the diaries show good results for last June, it’s just swings and roundabouts. The bream had a day off or just were not interested in feeding, who knows? Better luck next time.

Sea Fishing in Ireland. Coastal Mullet.

Thursday, May 26th, 2011

Setting out onto the headland we chose a bluff in the distance as a fishing platform and walked towards it. The sun was shining but the winds were still strong from a west/south west direction. Even though the seas had abated all our favourite rock marks were dangerously unfishable. Only for the shelter of the aforementioned bluff Roger and I would not be fishing today at all. Approaching and looking down we saw at first what looked like a raft of floating weed which on closer attention proved to be a large shoal of mullet about 2 – 3 metres wide and about thirty metres long feeding on the surface.

Shore caught mullet from the Beara Peninsula, West Cork.

Waves were bouncing off the cliff face, surging back on meeting the next approaching wave they clashed producing a foam line where obviously food particles or plankton were collecting so concentrating the mullet. Setting up a coarse float rig using a large balsa float cocked with four swan shot Roger proceeded to break up sliced pan, wetting the bread before moulding the pieces into a ball before tossing it into the sea along the foam line. On impact the bread broke up into fine particles and small lumps. Almost immediately the mullet started feeding which was not our normal experience, it usually takes longer if at all. In fact they went at the bread with abandon and were not in the one bit shy which we put down to the choppy sea.

Shoaling mullet on the Beara Peninsula, West Cork, Ireland.

Roger folded a ten pence piece size of bread around a number eight hook and cast out. The float bobbed in the waves and grey ghostly shapes came over to investigate. She slid under and with a turn of the wrist the mullet was hooked. Line fizzed from the reel against the pre set drag, however this was a small fish weighing about 2.5 lbs and was soon in the net. Out went a new bait  followed by a dipping float and no connection. This form was repeated over another couple of casts before Roger set the hook on a better fish. Backwards and forwards the mullet ran boring deep on occasions the fish would just not give up. Eventually I readied the landing net and a fine fish slid into the folds. Broad backed this could be a specimen, we will never know for on removing the hook it flipped and landed back in the water.

Roger Ball playing a Beara mullet.

Roger fished on quickly landing another good mullet before he set the hook into another strong fish. This time there was no mistake, after a good tussle the mullet was netted transfered to the weigh net and brought the scales down to 4.oz a specimen. We shook hands on a fine achievement, the mullet were on but it took skill and knowledge to winkle out four in the manner that Roger did given the conditions.

A specimen 4.oz Beara Peninsula mullet for Roger Ball.

Two more mullet were landed by yours truly before we turned our attention to wrasse and pollack. Mullet have a mystique about them that they are impossible to catch. Roger is a Cornish man and a regular visitor to this corner of Ireland primarily for the fishing. He grew up targeting mullet and is not phased by any situation, “if you get them feeding they are no more difficult to catch then any other fish”. I would not doubt him and am indebted to his knowledge having now landed numerous mullet up to specimen size under his tutelage. Thanks Roger.


Sea Fishing in Ireland. Stormy Monday Flatties.

Thursday, May 26th, 2011

It is always possible to find fish on the Beara even in the worst of weather as I found out over the last couple of days. Prospects looked grim for Roger and I with serial fronts blowing in from the Atlantic. Rain driven by strong winds which moved from north west to south and back again in the space of 36 hours makes for heavy seas and little shelter on this wonderful but exposed sea angling outpost. That said, a  weather window gave us an evening and one full days fishing before it all closed in again and we made the most of it.

A Beara flounder tempted by lugworm tipped with white ragworm.

Digging fresh lugworm and white rag  for bait we chose a relatively sheltered mark with flat fish in mind. Roger used a two hook flowing trace while I baited up a two hook paternoster. Distance has proved decisive on this location before and so it transpired again. From the get go dogfish made their appearance more or less every other cast to plain lug baits. Tipping off with white rag and being able to get that little bit further out due to the rig employed, a decisive pull down of the rod top followed by a slack line resulted in a fine flounder, the next cast producing a good codling. With night closing in we called it a day.

Evening sea fishing during rough conditions on the Beara Peninsula, Ireland.

The following evening during a temporary lull we used up the remainder of our lugworm fishing a different rock mark that again gave access to clean ground. This time we both used two hook paternosters banged out and what a session we had. Fishing about two hours into the rising tide we hit codling averaging 2.0 lbs on our first casts with no let up until the bait ran out. Super fishing similar to what we experienced last October capped off by a cracking pound plus dab, one part of a codling/flattie double header.

A pound dab tempted by lugworm while sea fishing on the Beara Peninsula, Ireland.

The fishing continued with double codling shots occurring at least three times. At close of play Roger had the best fish topping 2.5 lbs. We kept a few codling for the pot returning most to the water. Two year classes were evident, one year and two/three years. Codling breed in their forth year so we are not out of the woods yet, however as stated before if this obviously prolific stock is managed rather than exploited then there is hope for the species.

A mixed bag caught sea fishing on the Beara Peninsula, Ireland.

The Beara is full of surprises, I have not caught codling like this in May since the late 1980′s, and as for flatfish well I will keep coming back. In the last three trips I have landed numerous plaice to 1.5 lbs and dab to a pound plus, with a friend catching a 1.5 lb specimen dab. This is quality fishing for the times we are living in, long may it last.

Shadless at St Mullins.

Wednesday, May 18th, 2011

The alarm rang at 04.30am and through the fog of sleep I heard wind driven rain bouncing off the window. Is this a good idea, do I really want to go? The bed felt warm but the arrangements had been made so up I got, a brew of coffee and away, the car having been packed a few hours before. Six thirty saw me on the river bank at St Mullins greeting a small cohort of equally determined anglers who made the trip, hoping not only to land a shad or two but to claim that elusive specimen.

Ken Murphy from the rebel county displays a shad for the camera.

Anglers from counties Cork, Kildare, Dublin, Wicklow, and Wexford bore testament to the popularity of the annual shad run. Blue and silver Tasmanian devils, some modified by replacing the central wire spine with a length of nylon to which the swivel and treble are attached, were the main lure of choice. Immediately on my arrival Ken Murphy from Cork obliged with a nice shad for the camera, a great start but they were few and far between.

The Tasmanian Devil lure so popular with shad anglers.

On a bream fishing trip during late April I witnessed large shad being caught, that day was a spring tide the tides since then have been small until now. Did the run come early or will the Barrow see a late influx? Certainly reports this season lean towards an intermittent showing of shad with no large shoals materialising and anglers catching only one or two fish. A good year would see anglers returns over a session reaching well into double figures, this season has been a struggle.

The Blackstairs mountains close to the village of St Mullins, Co. Carlow.

That said I enjoy the drive down through towns and villages with place names such as Bunclody, Ballindaggin, Kiltealy, Ballymurphy, and Glynn. The sweep of the Blackstairs Mountains with Mount Leinster standing sentinal, deep greens, gorse yellows, and whitethorn softening the valleys in contrast to the grey scree slopes higher up.

Kevin McCrea an angler with a special passion for large trout.

By 09.30 only one or two shad had announced their presence but not to me. This could be the first year in a while that I remain shadless, hopefully it is just a temporary condition and that a large run of this endangered species occurs before the month is out. I enjoyed the morning making aquaintance with a number of fellow anglers while chewing the fat on various angling issues of importance. A big hello to Kevin McCrea, thanks for the cup of tea and the few tips, I’ll see you on the water before too long.

Tinahely Riding Club Show Jumping Event, Coolboy, Co. Wicklow.

Sunday, May 15th, 2011

A great day was had at the TRC show jumping event held at Coolboy last Sunday 15th May 2011. Committee and club members worked hard before the event gathering sponsorship and organising the various competitions and entries, with the result that everything ran like clockwork on the day.

A happy crowd at the TRC Show Jumping event, Coolboy, Co. Wicklow.

Mandy Hayden marked the scores and ushered the various competitors into the arena.

Mandy Hayden cracking the whip.

Competitors and their steeds were well dressed for the occasion.

Lorna Rothwell and friend.

Competition was fierce and a jump off was required before the main prizes could be handed out.

An EU dimension at the TRC event in Coolboy, Co. Wicklow.

A nicely laid out course in a very pretty location.

Flying through the jumps at Coolboy, Co. Wicklow.

Lift those legs.

Heading for a clear round, TRC event at Coolboy, Co. Wicklow.

There’s always a jump to repair, rock on Howard Woods.

Four faults and a jump to rebuild at Coolboy, Co. Wicklow.



Fly Fishing in Co.Wicklow, Hailstones and Trout.

Saturday, May 14th, 2011

Sporting early summer colours Lough Dan looked beautiful as we drifted along its eastern shore pushed by a stiff north/north west breeze. The unseasonal warm weather of recent weeks has morphed into a chilly showery pattern more akin with April than May. In between when the sun shines temperatures can reach 16 – 17 degrees, but boy when the wind blows and the grey clouds close in, it bites. Around lunchtime today a haymaker passed over bombarding Gary and I with hailstones, any wonder the trout dived for cover.

Lunchtime on Lough Dan Co. Wicklow, or could it be an olive grove in the Med'.

The lake has a personality that changes with the wind, fly fishing being totally at its whim. Last week we were drifting up the lake in front of a south east breeze, today a stiff wind from the north west pushed us in the opposite direction. Located high up in a steep sided glaciated Wicklow valley, Lough Dan, the largest natural lake in the county, is dog legged shaped and this feature allied to a number of conjoining valleys causes the wind to behave in mysterious ways. Respect is the key word on the water.

A half pounder from Lough Dan, Co. Wicklow, typical for the water.

We had a great day, fishing a number of drifts all told we had a dozen trout to the boat supplemented with visual displays of every rise imaginable from boils and swirls to full on splashy rises to Polaris missile becomes flying fish. Now that was special, the trout  clearing the water by at least six inches while arking over a metre through the air, missing the flies of course. I recast in the vicinity receiving an immediate savage take but failed to set the hook. Lough Dan trout are free rising and fight hard, give me this kind of lake fishing any day. You could drive to the west and flog away on more famous waters for one or two larger trout, or experience regular fireworks in a gorgeous lightly fished location less than an hour from home, for me it’s a no brainer.

Click on: Lough Dan.

Click on: Becalmed on Lough Dan.

Coarse Fishing in Ireland, Royal Tench.

Saturday, May 7th, 2011

One of the first fishing books that I possessed was titled “Fishing Days” by Geoffrey Bucknall, a great read profiling the authors early angling exploits. In one chapter he fishes for tench and describes a fish that likes shallow marginal water, is a doughty fighter, and is best targeted before the sun gets too high in the sky. Gary Robinson recently fished a secret location for tench on the Royal Canal and had a spectacular session along with two friends Mark Handsley and John Herrieven.

Gary Robinson with a cracking Royal Canal tench.

Fishing the waggler and using three red maggot on a size 14 hook the trio bagged up over a weekends fishing. Sunday was the best day with fish surprisingly coming on the feed around 10.30am and continuing sporadically until 19.30pm. On arriving the lads had cleared a swim of weed a prerequisite for this hard fighting species, who like their cover and will head for sanctuary with a powerful run on the first instance of being hooked.

Playing a tench on the Royal Canal, Ireland.

At sessions end Gary and the lads had accumulated over sixty pounds of tench which is some haul for the first few days in May. The best tench fell to Gary’s rod at 4.lbs 2.ozs with the average size nudging 3.lbs. If the mild weather continues tench fishing can only improve.

A royal catch of canal tench, Royal Canal, Ireland.

I would like to thank Gary for the report and images, an all round angler with a particular passion for coarse fishing Gary writes articles for “The Irish Anglers Digest”, and delivers introductory courses in fly fishing.

Ray time on the Beara.

Wednesday, May 4th, 2011

In advance of my trip down to West Cork it is nice to see that the fine weather has brought in the Ray. Fishing Dunboy Head a Dromagowlane House regular on holidays from England landed a 12.oz specimen homelyn ray. The dry warm weather had brought sea temperatures up to a balmy 15 degrees encouraging fish to move in earlier than usual.

A specimen 12.oz Homelyn Ray from the Beara Peninsula, West Cork, Ireland.

Other fish of note included pollack to 6.5 lbs, huss to 12.oz, thornback ray to 8.5 lbs, and conger to 20.lbs. As May progresses the fishing will continue to improve only slowing down inshore if there is a prolonged period of rain.

Thank you to Paul Harris, Dromagowlane House, Adrigole, Beara Peninsula, Cork, for the update and image.