Archive for June, 2013

Reef Pollack and Welsh Dragons

Wednesday, June 26th, 2013

Aside from the prospect of Wales winning yet another rugby grand slam, the membership of the Welsh Pleasure Anglers and Kayakers Association can think of nothing better than drifting with the tide aboard a Kilmore Quay charter boat reef fishing off the Saltee Islands for a range of species to include pollack, coalfish, ling, cod, and wrasse. Late June sees up to twenty Welsh sea anglers, organised and led by the inimitable Alan Duthie, make the annual Co. Wexford pilgrimage to fish aboard charter vessels Autumn Dream and Enterprise skippered respectively by the Hayes brothers Eamon and Dick.

Phil Horton from South Wales displays a fine Kilmore Quay cod.

Kindly invited to fish aboard Autumn Dream the weather could not have been more pleasant with a gentle south west breeze hardly ruffling the surface, in contrast though a strong four meter tide ruled out fishing more productive marks west of the Saltees. Not to be deterred skipper Eamon Hayes worked his socks off placing the boys on a succession of drifts which yielded regular catches of reef pollack interspersed with an odd codling, coalfish, small ling, and wrasse.

Clive Jones from Swansea South Wales happy with a nice Kilmore Quay pollack.

One very happy angler making his inaugural Kilmore Quay visit was Marshall Mainwaring. Relatively new to sea angling Marshall had his heart set on catching a cuckoo wrasse to add to his species tally. This he did with interest boating both male and female of the species. Well in principal all he needed was one fish because they are hermaphrodite, however to make sure Marshall did the double.

Marshall Mainwaring displays a colourful cuckoo wrasse.

In total 21 Welsh sea anglers from the Swansea/Llanethli/Port Talbot area made the trip, seven of which were fishing in Ireland for the first time. Group leader Alan Duthie prepares the lads well holding up to four pre-travel meetings where every aspect of the visit is explained and an information pack outlining the fishing and other relevant details is handed out. In essence the membership hit the ground running on arrival. Reef fishing off Kilmore Quay can result in lots of lost terminal gear if you are not aware of specific angling techniques, it was clear that the boys had done their homework.

Steve Jones with a nice Kilmore Quay coalfish.

Staying at The Quay House Bed and Breakfast, Phone, +353 (0)53 91 29988, located on the left as you drive down the main street of Kilmore Quay, just up from Kehoe’s public house. A fine establishment well run by husband and wife team Pat and Siobhan McDonnell, the Quay House caters for anglers providing equipment storage, bait refrigeration, and catch freezing facilities. Full Irish breakfasts set up the day, hot showers are ready on return, and on this occasion bait was ordered in advance  through Joe Carley of South East Bait Supplies, phone +353 (0)87 944 0945. Fresh mackerel was the top bait  on this trip with ragworm attracting a number of quality wrasse.

Charter boat Enterprise out of Kilmore Quay skippered by Dick Hayes.

I would like to thank Alan and the lads for their hospitality and good humour throughout the day and in particular for not making me walk the plank after destroying Alan’s favourite Penn boat rod. “You should have let me use old yella”…….

See also: Angling Marks, Kilmore Quay, Co. Wexford, Ireland.


Conger Capers on the Beara

Monday, June 24th, 2013

Conger eels have both reputation and attitude most of it I believe misplaced, in my experience having caught conger up to thirty pound they are not fearsome or difficult to catch but are just awkward when hooked. Yes, one has to be careful of their powerful jaws, and they corkscrew and thrash on the surface if one is indecisive during the landing phase, but once aboard or on land a wet sack thrown over the head so covering their eyes calms them down. Shore fishing piers or rock marks tends to produce straps up to 10.lbs with an odd bigger fish, nothing to be sniffed at and well worth the effort. An excellent area to target conger is the Beara Peninsula, West Cork, and David “conger king” Murphy didn’t let the opportunity go astray last weekend.

Pier caught conger from the Beara Peninsula, West Cork, Ireland.

Fishing a rising evening tide from a small pier David used a twenty pound class boat rod matched with an ABU 7000. Ledgering a pennell rigged whole mackerel scored along the belly a few times to release juices his first run produced a very greedy bull huss. Re baiting, shortly afterwards a more purposeful bite developed, gently at first as they do, just a light knocking on the rod top, then the staccato zzzzz, zzzzz, zzzzz to which David engaged his reel leaning and lifting all in one go, cue brute force and ignorance.

Fighting a pier hooked Beara Peninsula conger.

Immediately on hooking it is essential to get the upper hand and lift the eel away from the bottom and any possible obstruction or crevice that the fish can get its tail around or body into, should either of those situations occur the fight invariably is over. On this occasion luck prevailed and David after a short fight lifted an angry conger onto the quay.

Rock mark conger, Beara Peninsula, West Cork, Ireland.

Conger fishing in daylight works well on the Beara also due mainly to the depth of water close in, most rock marks giving access to 40 – 60 foot of water, some going 80 foot plus so its dusk all day. Again you could hit a monster it really is the luck of the draw. An annoying feature of this fishing though is the amount of developing bites which on striking go solid resulting eventually in a lost trace and no fish. In these instances the bait has landed beside an eel which is still in its lair, subsequently it just reaches out and grabs the bait while saying “thanks very much you won’t catch me“. Persevere though utilising rotten bottom rigs and spark plugs for weights, one doesn’t need to cast far, and a free swimming conger could be yours……….

See also: Conger off the Pier.


Rays of Sunshine in Deepest West Cork

Friday, June 21st, 2013

Weather is the final arbiter when choosing a fishing mark on Beara, the sun might be splitting the stones but if a force 5 or 6 wind is blowing in tandem then many potential rock angling locations could be ruled out for safety reasons, Atlantic swells are not to be messed with. However there are a number of fail safe venues on this rocky peninsula which are fishable under most conditions, fair or foul, the inner harbour of Berehaven home to a clutch of them. Yes, they have a tendency to be all or nothing but when they’re on the fishing can be top draw.

Dutch tourist sea angler Martin with a close on 9.00lb shore caught Beara Peninsula thornback ray.

Visiting Ireland on a fishing vacation for the third time since 2010 Dutch sea anglers Tony and Martin were targeting ray off a well known sheltered deep water rock mark west of Castletownbere. Cloudless blue skies, a baking sun, and a one o’clock neap full tide are not traditionally the best conditions to chase shore ray, however casting 100 meters out into 8 fathoms does improve your chances. There is though the problem of negotiating a steep sub surface rock wall which juts out some 20/30 meters in front of the casting platform, utilising a fast retrieve fixed spool or heavy casting multiplier such as a Daiwa Slosh or ABU 7000 deals admirably with that issue.

Pumping up a shore ray from a rock mark in West Cork, Ireland.

Tony and Martin were well kitted out and fishing ledgered mackerel proceeded to land a small spotted ray and a fine thornback running close on 9.00lb. I can still hear Martin repeating “Holy shit” as he pumped his first shore caught ray to the surface. Kiting through crystal clear water the fish could be seen meters below the surface which was a great sight to behold, and even more special as she glided back into the depths on release.

Dutch sea angler Tony with a cracking 2.7 kilo specimen ballan wrasse.

A feature of this location is the range of species that can be accessed to include pollack, wrasse, conger, thornback ray, spotted ray, tub gurnard, dogfish, and mackerel. Tony while fishing down the rock wall with crab connected with a great fish which tested his tackle to the limit. Once safely in his landing net he couldn’t contain his joy as a very colourful 2.7 kilo Irish specimen wrasse now had his name on it. Weighed on certified scales and returned it’s special fish like this that bring Tony and his friends back year after year.

A fine shore caught West Cork spotted ray.

Trying my luck the next day under similar conditions using fresh mackerel caught by friend Gary Robinson jigging from his kayak right in front of my fishing platform, I managed to land a nice spotted ray which again looked special as it glided through the crystal clear water on retrieve, not quite a David Attenborough moment but memorable all the same…….

Further reading: Beara Baskers.

Beara Baskers, Burgeoning Biomass, and Guinness of Course.

Thursday, June 20th, 2013

Ten meters off the point a large shoal of grey mullet finned and opened their collective mouths in unison, sieving plankton and other microscopic organisms from the rich productive waters of a special West Cork bay which over the last eight years has become very close to this writers heart. Loose feeding bread flake after about 10 minutes a number of the multitude proceeded to suck in Mr Brennan’s best, time to introduce my quill floated, 2BB shotted, size 10 round bend, bread flake carrying terminal tackle.

A nice Beara Peninsula grey mullet caught on bread flake.

No sooner had the float settled in the water when a large white shape resembling a bin liner appeared about 5 meters outside the mullet shoal. Becoming closer and larger suddenly white plastic transforms into a cavernous mouth, gill rakers and an extended bulbous nose, a whopping great basking shark not ten feet from my stance attracted by the same plankton rich waters loved by the mullet, who by their body language couldn’t care less about this 20 foot long interloper now entering their parlour. As if to prove this point down goes my float, a turn of the wrist, an explosion of spray and the drag sings on my Mitchell fixed spool. Where would you get it, playing an angry mullet in close proximity to a marine Goliath, awesome.

United Kingdom visitor Keith Kendall sports a grand jelly worm tempted pollack.

Such is fishing on the Beara, marine surprises piled on top of quality sea angling, they don’t happen every day but not a trip goes by without at least one David Attenborough moment. Certainly it’s not just the fishing that encourages tourists like Keith Kendall from the United Kingdom to undertake a marathon 36 hour round trip by boat and car to this far flung outpost of Ireland, but it helps. Inviting Keith to spend a day pollack and wrassing with us we had a great time encompassing bracing headland walks, rock hopping, a smattering of prime fish, all topped off with a few pints and a nice evening meal in O’Neill’s of Allihies.

Tinca Time

Tuesday, June 11th, 2013

The tench is a lusty fighter”, so wrote Geoffrey Bucknall in his 1966 published volume of fishing reminiscences FISHING DAYS. One of the first angling books that I possessed and still a favourite today, Bucknall’s narrative is quirky, full of historical anecdotes, and really brings to life his angling  journey from fishing roach ponds in the Weald of Kent during the summer of 1940 while Messerschmidt 109′s and Spitfires fought dogfights overhead, to casting a fly line on the great reservoirs of Chew and Blagdon.

A plump Irish tench tempted by maggot and sweetcorn.

Bucknall observes that the tench is a lover of shallow margins, muddy bottoms and weed beds where they grub around fanning the silt with their fins in search of food items, and that the fish hibernates for a large part of the year because it does not like the cold. That good tench swims catch the sun early so warming up the water which gets old tinca tinca on the feed and most importantly on being hooked they make a beeline for sanctuary amongst the nearest lily pads. Having hooked my first tench only a week ago, I can vouch that over a span of some 47 years G.B’s observations still hold true today.

Groundbait mix and red maggots for the feeder.

Setting up a feeder rig to six pound main line with a meter long tail to a size 12 hook, I baited with double maggot and sweetcorn then built up a swim close to a bed of lily pads. Within an hour line bites commenced before a more determined take resulted in a hook up and initial tench like run which at first made Mr. Bucknall a liar by heading for open water. However Mr tench quickly reverted to type cutting right before swimming at full belt into the weeds close to my pitch. Landing net extended the fish was unceremoniously lifted ashore.

A welcome perch.

On recasting bites became more frequent, not from tench however but perch. Small though they were the little predators hinted at possible larger fish and an extended season on this new water. Tench, perch, rudd, what awaits next a bloody great pike maybe, time will tell………..

See also: Tench from a New Water.

Oh, It’s a Big Goldfish!

Saturday, June 8th, 2013

Planned for a number of weeks, boilies prepared, hair rigs at the ready, the major obstacle of college exams put to bed, David Murphy laid out his pitch on the shore of a secluded still water with one thing on his mind, catching his first carp. As dusk closed in on a balmy early June evening he fulfilled his dream.

Common carp from a secluded Irish stillwater.

Sucking in his popped up boilie, as the fish moved away bite alarm buzzing like a good thing David leaned into his rod to set the hook, in an instant raw power became manifest as his yet unseen adversary headed towards some lily pads. Drag set David hung on and the fish turned, after what seemed like an eternity but was only a few minutes the great fish slipped over the landing net rim, a fine common carp well into double figures, cue celebrations.

Summer pike from a small Irish water.

An earlier foray to clear his head during study time was rewarded with a nice double figure pike to a ledgered dead bait. With tench now in his sights a quality post exams hattrick is well on the cards, roll on the fine weather………

Tench from a New Water

Saturday, June 1st, 2013

Gary’s quiver tip jumped ever so slightly, a single knock, could this be the moment. A minute passed, two pairs of eyes glued to the tension induced curve of the rod, mainline taught between tip and feeder. A double knock spurs Gary into action, rod in hand he leans back reeling hard to connect with the in swimming fish. Veering left his rod heels over hard, “that’s a tench Gary”. “Certainly feels like it Ash”, and so it proved to be. Three and a half hours into our exploratory session on a new water we hit pay dirt, a plump tench running close to four pound.

A four pound Irish tench for Gary Robinson.

Homework to include web research, Google maps, visiting a few potential sites, plus asking locals the right questions resulted in Gary and I preparing coarse fishing tackle for an 03.30am wake up call. Struggling out of bed, half an hour later car packed and fortified by strong coffee we set off. At 05.30am just as the sun was rising, mist wafting off the water, our first casts broke the surface thirty meters out. Utilising a 15 gram feeder every 60 seconds a bed of particle mix was laid down. After fifteen minutes the frequency was lengthened. Combining red maggot and sweetcorn on a size twelve hook to a one meter tail, perseverence and belief eventually paid off, a great moment.

Landing a fat Irish tench.

Affectionately called “tinca” the tench has a reputation for being a hard fighting fish, a lover of still waters and weed beds. They supposedly feed best at first and last light during summer time especially if it is warm and muggy, hence our early start. Although dry and bright a brisk west wind added a chill to proceedings. An hour after Gary’s success my rod gave a double knock, lifting, a thump thump transferred through the rod as tinca number two swam up through the gears, these fish are powerful scrapping all the way to the net.

A first tench for Ashley Hayden.

My first tench, becoming two an hour later, mission accomplished. Not a red letter session but highly successful nonetheless. Gary and I had set out to fish a strange water with a view to catching a tench and netted three. Part one of my planned June bank holiday double is in the bag, now for that beach caught tope………

See also: Royal Tench.