Archive for June, 2014

Cod Heaven off Kilmore

Thursday, June 26th, 2014

Ready up boys where drifting over some kelp”, instructed “Autumn Dream” skipper Eamonn Hayes, seconds later members of the Pleasure Anglers and Kayakers Association were leaning into head thumping resistance 60 feet below, as codling up to six pound weight took a shine to the Welsh Dragons lures. Bright and fresh, mottled red from their kelpy home, it was wonderful to see both good numbers of a much loved species and the smiles of blokes on their annual trip to Ireland enjoying a great mornings fishing.

A nice reef codling boated off Kilmore Quay, Co. Wexford, Ireland.

Kilmore Quay circa 2014 is fishing very well at present across a range of species from codling and pollack to ballan and cuckoo wrasse. Anglers drifting across the various reef marks east and west of the Saltee Islands jigging rigs baited with ragworm, sandeel or mackerel are producing individual catches in excess of 30 prime fish for an eight hour trip excluding steaming time.

A Kilmore Quay beauty displayed by a happy Welshman.

The Welsh Pleasure Anglers and Kayakers Association members are good friends of Kilmore Quay, returning every year to sample the hospitality of Siobhan and Pat in the Quay House B/B and the superlative fishing enabled by top skipper Eamonn Hayes. A north east breeze hampered fishing due to contrary drifts, across as against with the tidal flow, however Eamonn did his best to keep the boys lines from going under the boat and the lads responded by fishing hard throughout the session.

Another Kilmore Quay codling in prime condition.

At lines up species caught included codling, pollack, coalfish, small ling, pouting, poor cod, launce, ballan and cuckoo wrasse. The sun shone, banter flowed and a tired but content bunch of lads stepped off Autumn Dream at days end. A quick shower then back down to the Wooden House for a customary chowder followed by battered haddock, chips and mushy peas, sure you have to. A few pints, the world cup and its back out with Eamon in the morning to do it all over again, HEAVEN………..

Forty Knots to Pollack Paradise

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

Clearing the pier head Dermot gunned the engine, 135 horses kicked into life and a whirlwind drive to the Saltee Islands ensued. Within minutes Fishion Impossible was racing through the sound before veering starboard to eventually nestle in behind the great Saltee. Gulls working the bay indicated bait fish in abundance, strings of greater sandeel quickly coming to our feathers and sadiki lures. If our traces managed to get to the bottom 60 feet below, small pollack and codling in the 2 lb bracket rattled the rod tips, all this and it was only 06.30 am.

Gerry Mitchell playing a nice pollack, reef fishing off Kilmore Quay, Co. Wexford.

The Brandies, Conningbeg and Conningmore are pinnacle rocks found to the south east and south west of the Saltee Islands respectively. Rising almost shear from the seabed, which depending on location averages 9 fathoms (54 feet) below but can reach 16.6 fathoms (100 feet)  plus, all bar the Conningmore only become exposed as the tide drops. Characterised by strong tides that deflect off these and other raised pinnacles which never show, the seas especially west of the Saltees can become very confused and dangerous in contrary winds.

Dermot Mitchell with a fine 8.0 lb reef pollack caught while small boat fishing off Kilmore Quay, Wexford, Ireland.

Drift fishing using three hook jigs or single shads is the standard approach when fishing the reefs off Kilmore Quay, the jumbled rock and kelp covered sea floor keeping anglers on their toes. Raising and lowering the rod to tap the weight off the bottom creates a mental picture of the ground below, while keeping the line more or less straight up and down as against streaming out maintains contact with the business end, reducing tackle losses and increasing productivity due to the lures working properly.

Shamrock Tackle's "Munster Mawlers" jigs in red, black and chartreuse, ideal for pollack and cod.

Shamrock tackles “Munster Mawlers” black, chartreuse and red jig combination worked a treat on the day, attracting pollack to eight pound along with a smattering of codling, an odd pouting and small ling. Dermot was adamant that baiting the lures was an unnecessary chore, advice duly ignored by Gerry and I religiously baiting our bottom hooks with sandeel strip, Dermot’s words at session end being justified. Yes, Gerry and I attracted a few more codling, Dermot’s rig however proved irresistible to the pollack.

Seagulls off Kilmore Quay, Co. Wexford, Ireland.

At three bells Dermot called lines up and we headed for harbour, not so fast this time as a north east breeze had picked up creating a chop. Fish, most of which were caught and returned, had come to the boat from the off with the only fallow period occurring as the tide strengthened close to high water. Glad of the invite, thanks so much Dermot and Gerry, it being ten months since yours truly had last dropped a bait into Davy Jones locker. The sun warmed us all day, fish were obliging and even the gulls made welcome companions as we gutted our catch. That’s sea fishing off Kilmore Quay, sure where else would you want to be……..?

Mid Summer Ray

Saturday, June 21st, 2014

The search for an early summer tope found me revisiting old haunts. Wicklows northern beaches, which were a second home twenty years ago rarely get a visit nowadays, gurnard, pin whiting, small dabs and dogfish, the survivors of a once great mixed fishery failing to stir the blood. Settled weather however had encouraged tope to venture along the shingle bank and a well placed whole mackerel might just get the rachet buzzing.

A nice spotted ray from the north Wicklow beaches.

Popping out the first cast into a dropping neap tide round 22.30 pm with the ebb tide easing, slack water into the first two hours of the flood may produce a run. Even using whole mackerel to a 7/0, home constructed wire trace, seven foot of mono to thirty feet of shock leader, the doggies got busy pulling and gnawing until the bait was small enough to cram into their little mouths. Shortly into the flood a staccato rather than a sustained burst of the ratchet signaled a more significant interest, cue a nice little spotted ray which was more or less it for the session.

David and David sharing a moment.

It was nice to cast a line eastwards again, Howth twinkling to the north and an ever expanding Wicklow town doing likewise to the south. The two Davids made for good company, a turf fire adding a touch of ambiance added to by the constant passage of ships heading towards Dublin port, deck lights betraying their presence. Tope didn’t show, however they are present and the summer, allowing for the impending solstice, in a fishing sense is only beginning……..

Ardaire Springs Eternal

Sunday, June 15th, 2014

Drawing the damsel fly nymph slowly through the layers using a figure of eight motion a heavy lean on my line indicates a presence. Left hand pulling main line down in conjunction with right hand raising rod, in a flash five meters of line zzzzzzzzzips away as the  drag sings. Left hand now feathering the spool, under control and playing off the reel a lively rainbow twists, turns, bores deep and runs left, right and centre. Occasionally thrashing on the surface, after a few minutes a mint condition fish slips over the net, steel head silver, fully finned, running a pound and a half it felt heavier due to its strength.

A fully finned rainbow trout in great condition, Ardaire Trout Fishery, Mooncoin, Co. Kilkenny, Ireland.

On a first entering Ardaire Springs Trout Fishery what grabs ones attention immediately is how the facility ticks all the right boxes, this is a game fishing water built by an angler for anglers. Proprietor Ned Maher has used his experience fly fishing abroad, from Canada to Iceland, to construct a wonderful fishery. Attention to detail is paramount from the club house which incorporates a cafe and tackle shop to the holding pond where fish are grown on and aclimatised before transfer to the main lake. Balancing the fish population to holding pond size mitigates against fin nipping hence the rainbows are fully finned upon entering the main water.

Unhooking the catch at Ardaire Springs Trout Fishery, Mooncoin, Co. Kilkenny.

Arriving round 09.30 am already about ten anglers are casting away. When the fishery was opened three years ago a pod of brownies was introduced, today a few of them are still present and have grown on, testament to the food rich spring fed water, yours truly landing a four pounder. Chatting with some of the anglers present, many of whom were seasoned game anglers equally at home on wild waters, revealed a love and loyalty to the fishery which spoke volumes.

Landing a rainbow at Ardaire Trout Fishery.

Open all year round from 10.00 am to sunset inclusive of weekends and bank holidays, Ardaire Springs Trout Fishery is located two miles inland from the N.24 Waterford to Carrick on Suir road, if driving from Waterford turn right at the Royal Oak pub just outside Mooncoin and follow the signs.

Further details, contact Ned @ +353 (0)86 812 8937

or email:

See also: Ardaire Springs Trout Fishery.

Royal Mail Issues Threatened Marine Fish Species Stamp Set

Friday, June 6th, 2014

The Royal Mail has issued a set of 10 stamps promoting sustainable fishing of marine species. A wonderful collaborative initiative designed by Kate Stephens, utilising the painting skills of David Millar in tandem with consultancy input from Callum Roberts, Professor of Marine Conservation, University of York, the stamps will make a unique contribution toward the discussion about marine conservation and the rehabilitation of sea fish stocks.

The once "common skate" now a rare catch by both anglers and commercial fishermen.

Divided into two sub groups “sustainable” and “threatened” featuring within the former red gurnard, pouting, herring, Cornish sardine, dab and the latter common skate, spurdog, wolf fish, conger eel and sturgeon, the stamps can be ordered as a “Presentation Pack” or “First Day Covers” both sets of which include insights on the UK fishing industry and featured species summaries authoritatively written by Professor Callum Roberts.

The once prolific but now endangered spur dogfish.

To order the stamp sets online, click on: Royal Mail Marine Species Collection.