Archive for July, 2012

The Causeway Coast

Sunday, July 29th, 2012

Had a lovely drive along the causeway coast heading out in a loop from Belfast city center through Carrickfergus, Larne, Glenarm, Waterfoot, Cushendall (Redbay), Ballycastle, on to the Giants Causeway, Bushmills, then back down through Ballymoney (God bless you Joey Dunlop), onto the M2 and on towards Belfast again. Close to 300 kilometers in all, the scenery was fabulous from the Glens of Antrim, to Fair Head, Carrick a Rede, the Causeway, Rathlin Island, and across to the Mull of Kintyre and Islay in the distance.

Ballycastle was lovely looking across to Rathlin Island and Fair Head. The weather was so good that we could see Ailsa Craig in the distance.

Ballycastle harbour looking across to Fair Head.

A highlight for me was passing through Waterfoot (Redbay), once famous for its plaice fishing amongst a range of other species, I believe the venue like so many others now lives on its past memories.

Redbay, Co. Antrim, RNLI station.

Of course we had to take in Carrick a Rede and the Giants Causeway, bit of a shock though what the National Trust has done, whatever about the rope bridge, paying £17.00 sterling (two adults) for the privilege of parking your vehicle and walking down to the Giants Causeway was excessive, people know when they have been ripped off.

Carrick a Rede rope bridge, Co. Antrim.

The history of the salmon fishing tradition at Carrick a Rede though was very interesting, in fact this was the reason for the rope bridge being constructed in the first place. Without a doubt I will travel up and visit the area again before too long, only next time I will stay a few days.

Kayak Fishing in Ireland, “I Think I Need a Bigger Boat”

Sunday, July 29th, 2012

Gary Robinson is an angler who puts a lot of time, thought, and effort into his fishing. Set up now with a state of the art kayak rig Gary has spent the early summer putting her through its paces. The weather recently has been kind with light winds, calm seas, and blue skies, enabling a trip out off Dunlaoghaire which resulted in a nice codling.

A plump codling for kayak fisher Gary Robinson.

Taking advantage of the settled conditions Gary paddled out a few days later after the big stuff off the north Wicklow coastline. His efforts produced a superb tope, which judging from the images Gary sent me is well over the specimen forty pound mark and could easily top fifty. Handling a fish like that in a boat is difficult enough, but from a kayak takes some skill. Well done Gary on a cracking fish caught and released.

Specimen Wicklow tope for Kayak angler Gary Robinson.

For the record Gary’s tope was tempted by ledgered whole mackerel and played on an old faithful ABU 7000 reel.

See also: Kayak Fishing for Tope.

See also: Screaming Reels.

Sea Fishing in Ireland, Pause for Reflection

Saturday, July 21st, 2012

Where have all the fish gone? It’s mid July and mackerel are scarce off shore, yes we have had unseasonably¬†wet and cold weather and a red tide developed along the west and north west coastline, but not as I understand it along the south and east coast, so why do beaches that would normally deliver at this time of year appear devoid of life. Flounder were always a summer mainstay on the beaches that I fish but have been getting more scarce over the last two seasons, likewise after twenty two years of bass conservation where are the bass that were frequenting my local beaches up to two years ago?

Fishing a dawn tide for bass.

My wife joked that I am losing my touch, but no, sea fishing is on a downward slide, and since reactivating my fishing diary in 2007 this downward trend is very apparent. Logic dictates, nothing has been done to address seriously depleted and continuously falling fish stocks within EU waters other than plenty of rhetoric but no action. Also there has been no widening of the brief to include interest groups other than the commercial sector at both EU and Government level. Too many departments have a finger or two in the marine without any joined up thinking, action, or policy emanating. The buck is passed on a number of fronts especially when it comes to illegal fishing and poaching (reference a deterioration in local bass stocks). The clock is ticking, our marine environment needs people with courage and vision to make key decisions swiftly. Please, if there is anyone out there possessing both of the attributes previously mentioned, make yourself visible NOW before it’s too late……

Sea Fishing in Ireland, Trotting After Flounder

Sunday, July 15th, 2012

Flounder or fluke are a favourite species which I seek out in various estuary locations within Co. Wexford. It’s funny how sometimes we miss opportunities right under our noses, a case of the grass is always greener elsewhere maybe. Well a couple of weeks ago having witnessed a mullet angler take a number of quality flounder from a local estuary mark while float fishing, I decided to follow suit, which proved not only fruitful but fun as well.

A nice Co. Wicklow flounder tempted by float fished lobworm.

An urban harbour location where a major river system meets the tide, I set up a float rod with a clear stick float to a size eight hook attached to test, plumbed the depth along a likely seam, baited with lobworm and cast out. Slightly out of the main current my float settled then twitched and bobbed before gently sliding under. Setting the hook with a turn of my wrist a nice flounder proceeded to show how sporting these fish can be on light tackle. Nudging a pound and in tip top condition the flounder was one of a dozen plus flatties and slob brown trout I landed within a short three hour session up to and over high tide. Just as I was leaving Polish light line lure specialist David Kopczynski introduced himself to me. A thinking angler David has adapted freshwater light line lure techniques learned in his home country and put them to good use in Ireland catching some fine bass, wrasse, and flounder. Nice to finally meet and chat with you David, tight lines and good fishing…….

Sea Fishing in Ireland, Hound Dogs and Shifting Baselines

Friday, July 6th, 2012

They’re taking shy tonight, dogfish tend to do that in very calm conditions, just playing with the bait, signaled by a trembling of the rod top with an occasional slight nod. For the umpteenth time I pick up the rod, immediately as this bite ain’t going to develop, no more struggling with a deep hooked LSD wrapping its sandpaper hide around my hand. Leaning into the fish all hell breaks loose, zzzzz goes the drag, rod butt into the groin, rod tip in a hoop, instant transformation, smooth hound and a good one.

Surprise smooth hound from a Co. Wicklow strand, tempted by lugworm.

This lad really had a go, trademark lateral runs supplemented with head shaking and a last ditch run for the hills. Yes, the hound actually took off back out to sea which is very unusual, mostly they fight in a zig zag fashion parallel with the shore. Giving line eventually the fish was beached whence the hook promptly fell out, quick photo and away, excitement over, re cast and it’s back to dogfish central with a few small dab thrown in for good measure.

Waiting for that hound to bite, Co. Wicklow, Ireland.

I remember catching my first hound off Tinnebearna back in 1985, in those days we targeted them through May and early June along the east Wexford beaches. Smooth hound were the new kids on the block and everybody wanted to catch one, now they appear to be ten a penny as most definitely they’re range has extended, probably filling the void created by over fishing of other key species, unfortunately a sad fact of modern marine life. Not to put a damper on it but the beach that I fished last night reflects the theory of shifting marine baselines very clearly. It’s not a question of glass half full, the trajectory is downwards. In 2007 the mark would produce mixed bags of flounder, dab, codling, gurnard, bass, dogfish, and smooth hound. Today the clean fish have markedly reduced in size and numbers or just plain disappeared. Sad but true……..