Specimen Fishing Opportunities in South East Ireland

The annual report of the Irish Specimen Fish Committee is eagerly awaited by pleasure anglers and dedicated specimen hunters alike. Representative of game, coarse, and sea species the report is a true and accurate record of fish caught on rod and line from Irish waters that have grown above a high average threshold weight. Of great benefit to angling tourism both at home and abroad, the annual presentation of awards for fish ratified in 2013 will be held on Saturday 15th of February 2014, from 14.30 pm at the Bewley’s Airport Hotel, Swords, Co. Dublin.

Irish Specimen Fish Committee report 2013

Living in south east Ireland it is interesting to note that a respectable 132 specimens or 22% of the total 595 specimen fish ratified nationally in 2013 were caught within the counties of Wicklow, Wexford, and Carlow. Ranged across 10 species to include bass, lesser spotted dogfish, bull huss, flounder, thick lipped mullet, twaite shad, smooth hound, tope, ballan wrasse, and cuckoo wrasse, a dedicated thinking angler could very well keep themselves busy specimen hunting in south east Ireland from May until November.

Three species dominate returns for south east Ireland with east coast anglers returning 65 smooth hound, predominantly caught off Wicklow, and 22 tope a large proportion of which were caught off Greystones. The late spring run of twaite shad, although down on previous years, still returned 24 specimens above the 1.1 kg (2.426 lbs) threshold weight. To these one could add a single mighty bass of 11.75 lbs, one each of LSD, bull huss, ballan wrasse, and cuckoo wrasse, along with 7 x thick lipped mullet and 8 x flounder. At this point credit has to be given to specialist angler Ian Mulligan, who not only landed the specimen 11.75 lb bass but also on the same day, 20/11/2013, beached a specimen 1.39 kg (3.06 lb) Wexford flounder.

A specimen Greystones tope, unhooked and just about to be released.

Specimen fish do not turn up every outing, however it is possible to increase ones chances of connecting with a potential leviathan by just getting out there and wetting a line. Making use of the data available within the ISFC report an angler can plot quite easily the optimum time and place where large fish of a particular species may well be encountered. The most important step then is to put oneself beside or on the water, luck, knowledge, and a degree of skill will do the rest.

A downside of the specimen report is that venues can get hammered especially post the advent of social media. That said Irish waters relatively speaking are very lightly fished, and if one travels and fishes mid week even the hottest of hot spots will probably be devoid of or only populated by a few anglers.

A cracking Wexford flounder for Ashley Hayden

Of the featured species above flounder and thick lipped mullet  most certainly have the ability to increase their share of specimens returned from south east venues, especially given the availability of quality estuary and harbour marks. Bass too could be added to this list although there are worrying signs that south east stocks, taking into account their supposed protective legislation, are being commercially targeted somewhere. How else can one explain after 24 years of protection the dearth of large adult fish along the Wexford/Wicklow coast line.

Assessing the ISFC data relating to south east Ireland in its entirety though, planning a trip to the region in search of large fish is well worth the effort.  Smooth hound (June РAugust), twaite shad (May), and Tope (July РOctober) are certain targets along with flounder (October РNovember), thick lipped mullet (June РSeptember), and bass (June РNovember).

Available species that may not reach specimen size but most definitely run close are bream, roach/bream hybrid, tench, carp, river pike, and sea trout. Next door to Dublin and only a three hour ferry ride from the UK, counties Wicklow, Wexford, and Carlow punch their weight when it comes to targeted specimen hunting, a 22% share of the ISFC report testament to that statement.

See also: Floundering around in Co. Wexford.

See also: Tope alley.

See also: Estuary mullet fishing.

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