Archive for September, 2011

Don’t Blow our National Asset.

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

As all of us are fully aware Ireland is experiencing the full effects of possibly the deepest economic recession in its history. With unemployment touching 500,000, in reality 20% plus of our working population and not the lesser figure so often quoted by the establishment and politicians, Ireland really needs to start looking at its key natural resources and managing them correctly. Rod and line sea fishing is such a resource with tourist anglers contributing upwards of €150.00 per rod day, guided bass angling easily doubling that figure, while staying on average 11.8 bed nights (Failte Ireland 2008).

UK tourist angler John Holmes from Blackpool with a 2.36 kg specimen ballan wrasse caught off Kilmore Quay.
Co Wexford, home to a host of sea angling opportunities encompassing boat and shore fishing, includes in its population people such as Jim Hendrick (arguably the best professional bass angling guide in the country), and Paul Noble (who recently took a bronze medal in the 2011 World Long Casting Championships while casting in the 175 gram lead category.), also boasts the largest charter boat fleet of any port in Ireland located in Kilmore Quay, with a further two top class vessels working out of Duncannon.

A European bass fishing Mecca on a parr with what is on offer along the north eastern states of the USA, and still lucky to have reasonable off shore reef and wreck fishing between the Tusker Rock and Hook Head, when are the powers that be, politicians, individual anglers, groups, vested interests, and associations going to get their collective finger out and develop something world class from this sadly underutilised, definitely unrecognised, and totally mismanaged pot of gold.

This writer is fully aware of how our bass resource might be improved and has highlighted, with as yet no real official response, the need to reform our inshore passenger boat legislation to allow guided small boat rod and line fishing in the open sea. This one activity will generate substantial direct and indirect jobs and become a flagship angling product if the politicians and legislators would only take the idea seriously. You know where I am.

Also, I am aware of a famous bass angling location south of Rosslare Harbour which has always been targeted, got wiped out in the sixties and seventies, started to come into its own since the commercial bass ban was adopted post 1990, but in recent years has seen a resurgence in nefarious activity from both commercial and angling interests which threatens the future viability of the mark.

I am calling on Wexford County Council to consider building a bass angling interpretive centre at this location (not my idea); Montauk Point in the USA I believe has one. In one fell swoop a marker will have been laid down recognising the significance of the bass resource to Co. Wexford, with the added benefit of seriously curtailing illegal and overfishing fishing in the area. Money well spent guys; again you know where to contact me.

First published in People Newspapers, Tuesday 27/09/2011.

Kayak Fishing for Tope, Co. Wicklow, Ireland.

Friday, September 16th, 2011

Gary Robinson is an all round angler and a good one at that. He is quite comfortable trotting a quill float on the Barrow for dace, fly fishing for wild brownies on Roundwood reservoir, or targeting twenty pound pike up in Cavan or Monaghan. His latest venture was to seek out and catch a tope from his trusty kayak fishing the inshore waters off north Co. Wicklow. Now having seen and caught some biggies myself in recent years, the idea of hooking, playing, and landing one of these fast running bruisers from a kayak is nothing short of madness in my opinion, especially if it turns out to be the size of Gerry Mitchell’s monster tope from a few weeks back.

A north Co. Wicklow tope on the run.

That said, and allowing for youthful exhuberance, yesterday morning, Thursday 15th September 2011, Gary availed of a break in the windy weather to launch his kayak of a north Co. Wicklow strand. Here is his story;

I headed back down to a Wicklow beach this morning after a forecast break in the “hurricane” winds. I paddled out to my usual mark an dropped anchor for what will probably be my last roll of the dice for tope this year, from the kayak anyway, maybe one more day next week, we’ll see what the weather does. I had a couple of frozen macks with me and that is what I started with, putting a full one down on the tope rod. I put the tope rod in the rod holder and started jigging hokkais with the smaller rod just in case any fresh mackerel were passing through. They were and I managed to get a couple of fresh ones into the yak, backup for when I lost patience with the frozen. That took about an hour and with no runs by then i decided to change to a whole fresh mackerel bait. Whether it was coincidence or not I don’t know but the bait was on the bottom no longer than three minutes when the rachet started to scream.

I let it go for about ten seconds and then flipped the reel into gear. The rod buckled over…

Playing a tope from a kayak off north Co. Wicklow, Ireland.
….and the fish just kept on going and going down tide. After about a hundred yards or so I managed to turn her but then disaster, the bait was dropped. As I reeled it in, cursing away to myself the rod arched over again and I was back in business. I’m guessing the same fish was particularly hungry/aggressive and it held station, not wanting to come up off the bottom no matter what I did. This “Mexican stand off” ensued for a few minutes, as soon as I gained some line, the tope took some back. After what seemed an eternity the fish finally came into view…I got it up alongside the yak for a closer look and to size it up….

“No bother”, I thought and grabbed it by the tail to bring it up on board but this just made the fish very angry. With a couple of powerful flicks of the tail she was back on the bottom again and started to give me hell for another couple of minutes. Finally the tope accepted what was happening and I managed to haul it up onto the kayak and get to work on the hook. I managed a couple of shots when she was onboard but I figured out this morning that my next rigging project for the kayak is going to have to be a decent camera mount…..

One for the memory bank, a kayak caught tope, fantastic.

Tired after the ordeal, it took a couple of minutes of holding the fish steady in the tide before I felt the muscles in it flex. Wouldn’t be long now and sure enough the tail started to kick and thrash and just after giving me a soaking which must have been way of revenge, she slowly swam across the tide for about 20 yards and then descended back to the deeps.. By this stage the wind had started to freshen and the sea was starting to roll a little bit so I decided to quit while I was ahead and make my way back to the shore. What a morning though!!!!

Dutch Gold on Lough Muckno.

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

Lough Muckno, Co. Monaghan, adjacent to Castleblaney has the potential to be the best natural coarse match fishing venue, not only in Ireland, but in Europe. Dubbed, “The Killarney of the North“, this beautifully located 1000 acre water is absolutely stuffed with fish, to include massive shoals of prime roach, large bream, and monster pike. With a variation of marks along its undulating and varied shoreline to keep the most discerning coarse angler happy for a week, Muckno is an angling tourism resource just waiting to break free.

A nice Lough Muckno bream for Shimano Holland marketing executive Chris.

Dutch coarse angler Christiaan Kooloos knows this only too well, having organised a successful week long trip to Muckno for twenty Dutch match fishermen last September 2010, he repeated the exercise and brought a group of sixteen, to include twelve of last years crew, this September 2011. Joining the group for their opening couple of days, I enjoyed some good fishing in excellent company and a humbling lesson in the art of coarse match angling to boot, “these guys are good.”

Casting the feeder while coarse fishing on Lough Muckno, Co. Monaghan, Ireland.

Pegging the top section of Concra Wood for a practice session on Saturday, the rules were “twenty meters maximum distance”. A strong south westerly wind and showery conditions made life difficult for the pole men and by half time all were on the feeder. Using maggots supplied by Laurence Higgins of Standard Bait (UK) fishing was patchy with the end pegs doing best. Roach, bream, hybrid, perch, and skimmers made up the catches with top weight of 6.5 kgs going to Henk De Graaf on peg one.

Dutch coarse angler Henk De Graaf fishing Lough Muckno, Co. Monaghan, Ireland.

Day two dawned windier and overcast with showers persisting throughout the day. Undaunted the group drew pegs and fished a pairs competition, having never match fished before yours truly was in the hat and boy did I get a lesson. Again, although the lads tried the pole it was the feeder that won out. With no limits to distance I commenced fishing at thirty meters and hit fish from the off, mainly roach and a few skimmers. Quickly it became apparent that those either side of me were catching at a rate of two to my one and this lasted throughout the day. The concentration and speed was pretty intense and these guys kept it up for five hours. It was fun, and different, but I’ll stick to my pleasure fishing. That said match fishing advances methodology and tackle design so it has its place, and boy did I learn some useful tricks, unveiled it has to be said after lines up.

Tom from Belgium with a brace of Lough Muckno bream.

Floating maggots are now in my armoury should I need them along with one or two other wrinkles which I will keep to myself. For the record Henk De Graaf won again with a bag of 9.2kgs. Species caught included roach, bream, hybrid, perch, skimmers, and trout. Most fish were targeted at thirty meters and regular feeding with special crumb, sweetcorn, and casters produced decent spells of activity. With White and Black Island earmarked for later in the week the guys should see some quality fishing. Here’s to the weather holding.

For more information click on: Lough Muckno.


Congers by the Double.

Tuesday, September 6th, 2011

David Murphy likes fishing for conger eels and every year in late August/September he devotes an evening or two in search of these slithery predators with attitude. Heading towards a favoured mark in Dunlaoghaire harbour, Dave commenced fishing around 10.00pm. A calm cold evening, high tide was scheduled for 01.00am. By midnight, bite less and feeling the cold Dave went for a short walk. Returning a couple of minutes later Dave noticed his line going slowly taught. Picking up his rig and feeling the fish there was no need to strike as the Conger immediately swam backwards, the tug of war had started.

A cracking pier caught conger eel for David Murphy.

After a few minutes the eel appeared on the surface and Dave maneuvered his catch towards some steps. Grabbing hold of the trace he manhandled the angry fish out of the water. Lip hooked, a quick use of the pliers, photo and back in the water. Casting out another mackerel bait close to the wall, within five minutes a few knocks resulted in another conger hooked. The same length but thinner this eel came in handy. After that burst of activity things went quite, so approaching high tide Dave decided to call it a night. The mark had delivered again, two eels in ten minutes, good sport by any standards.

A second smaller conger eel for Dave Murphy.

Southern County Fishing Resort.

Saturday, September 3rd, 2011

Pat Foley is a man with a vision, along with his family he has developed a fine angling and agri-tourism facility close to the village of Myshall in south county Carlow. The Southern County Fishing and Family Resort, 10 minutes from the M9 motorway, encompasses 45 acres of undulating landscaped surroundings in the foothills of the Blackstairs Mountains overlooked by Mount Leinster. Including 10 acres of water on three different rain fed lakes, stocked with rainbow trout reared from an on site hatchery, these fish are in superb condition fully finned and fighting fit. Ranging in size from 1.5 lbs to over 10.lbs, be prepared for fish to take you to the backing and tie on a leader of at least B/S.

Dr. Ken Whelan displays a quality rainbow trout tempted by a Woolly Bugger.

Officially opened by Minister Phil Hogan T.D. on 1st September 2011, the facility also includes 3 kilometers of walks and cycle ways, a pet farm, children’s play area, tackle shop along with a purpose built club house and function venue. Invited to the open day but not having the time unfortunately to fish, I did have the pleasure of witnessing fisheries scientist Dr. Ken Whelan land a cracking rainbow trout tempted by a Woolly Bugger,”They’re taking damselflies off the surface”, says Ken, so it seems the obvious choice.

Playing a good rainbow at the Southern County Fishing Resort, Co. Carlow, Ireland.

Most definitely in the premier league of Irish managed fisheries, I will most certainly be paying it another visit, this time I will carry a stock of rainbow trout lures along with a selection of naturals. An ideal location for a family day out, Southern County Fishing Resort will satisfy experienced and novice anglers alike and in my opinion is the ideal place to coach youngsters new to the sport of fly fishing. Being a rainbow trout facility fishing is allowed 12 months of the year, and with talk of a club being formed why not give Southern County Fishing Resort a ring, Tel: 059 915 7773, Mob: 087 837 3032.