Return to Beara: Pollack Five Ways

Driving into Glengarriff around lunchtime I pulled up adjacent to the tidal pool in front of the hotel just in time to see David netting a nice thick lipped grey mullet for Roger, what is it about Cornishmen and their love affair with these fish? Quickly hopping out of the car I ran across and between handshakes and welcomes (it had been three years since we had last met) photographed the fish subsequently returning it to the water. Species number one and our fishing trip to Beara was kick started in style.

A nice Glengarriff thick lipped for Roger.

Over many previous visits to the fish rich waters that surround Beara my friends and I have landed 19 species of fish overall with a haul of ten the best in any single trip. It was our intention to surpass the single trip species catch this time, so with that goal in mind we bade farewell to Glengarriff stopping off in that famous watering hole “McCarthy’s Bar” in Castletownbere for creamy pints, chowder and brown soda bread (sure you have to), before high tailing the last 24 kilometres out to our self catering cottage base.

A nice shore caught Beara Peninsula pollack tempted by a 32 gram kilty lure.

The amount of tackle and sundry items one brings on these expeditions never ceases to amaze me, however two hundred miles from home out on the Wild Atlantic Way is not the place to be missing something vital, cue Roger’s home brew stash of cider and ales plus Henry Gilbey DVD’s (funny and entertaining) to while away the evenings. Having unpacked the cars there was only one thing to do, go fishing.

September/October are months associated with gales and the legacy of three back to back Atlantic hurricanes made sea/weather conditions off Beara challenging to say the least. Rain, north westerlie winds and large swells born far out in the Atlantic limited our fishing to certain rock marks relative to the prevailing daily conditions, however undeterred we set forth. What an evenings fishing, deciding to feather and lure fish for bait, pleasure and food in that order we landed mackerel, launce, coalfish and some quality pollack, day one and our species hunt had reached five.

A double header of Beara coalfish for tourist sea angler Roger Ball.

The rolling sea was alive not only in its visual and aural majesty but below the surface too evidenced throughout our stay by gannets constantly wheeling and dive bombing disappearing below the waves in a welter of spray and bait fish, while a pod of a dozen or so dolphins patrolled the bay and grey seals bobbed their heads watching us with apparent curiosity.

Tourist sea angler David Hoskins lands a nice Beara Peninsula dab.

Days two and three were windy/rainy washouts rendering most marks unfishable however persevering we added to our species tally knocking out lesser spotted dogfish, bull huss and dab off a couple of sheltered locations to leeward. Catching evening mackerel on DOD pier the wind finally died providing a 24 hour window of opportunity which we gladly availed of the following day hiking out onto a favoured headland rock mark.

Hiking towards a favourite rock mark on the Beara Peninsula, County Cork, Ireland.

A pet day, we always get at least one, evolved into a pollack fest. Employing standard jelly worm tactics (two ounce barrel lead, bead, swivel, five feet of line, 2/0 round bend kamazan 496B, jelly worm), first cast in on a rising tide, count of 26 seconds to bottom then reel, three or four winds of the handle and WALLOP pollack on, cue multiple power dives, head shaking zig zaggy runs and joyful sea angler whoops.

Tourist sea angler Roger Ball with a fine Beara Peninsula, Ireland, pollack.

The action never stopped, at one stage all three of us were simultaneously into fish, averaging 3 – 5 lbs on odd pollack leaning towards 6 plus with on two occasions real mothers parting company after savage fights had given clues as to their possible mega size. Having collected a few hard back crab earlier that morning we took a successful wrassing break to up the species tally further which at close of play was increased to ten when yours truly extracted a soft biting, hard pulling angry conger.

A soft biting, hard pulling Beara Peninsula conger eel.

The weather closed in again limiting fishing until the last morning which dawned bright and although breezy was from a more favourable quarter. Needing that elusive eleventh species to set a new “single trip” record Roger and David decided to bottom fish some clean ground for flatties while I set about fly fishing with a possible scad in mind. Pollack to three pound made for a fun session which was capped by David landing a flounder to whoops and handshakes, we had broken our record, a job well done.

Beara flounder to a happy sea angler.

Postscript:

The Beara Peninsula, West Cork, is an area of outstanding natural beauty along south west Ireland’s section of the Wild Atlantic Way. In terms of tourism sea angling it stands head and shoulders above most shore angling destinations within the British Isles and Ireland, the Beara Peninsula really is a jewel in the crown. Roger, David and I travel the long distance, they from Sussex and Cornwall respectively while I make the round trip from Wexford because due to commercial over fishing, undersea habitat destruction and generally bad sea fisheries management our local waters have been rendered deserts.

The Beara is one of the last bastions of ┬árich marine biodiversity within Ireland’s coastal waters, out where we fish it is pristine and teeming with life. However this underwater aquarium is under threat due to a Government licence granted to an Irish company enabling them to clear fell an initial 2000 acres of underwater kelp forests, the very habitat which underpins the wonderful fishing described above. Referring to just one of the species mentioned within this narrative, juvenile pollack spend their formative years growing up within such kelp forests before as grown adults migrating offshore, remove the kelp and you say goodbye to pollack, it’s that simple.

Anybody who has enjoyed reading this article and who cares about the marine environment should write to the Irish Government asking them to rescind the Bantry Bay kelp harvesting licence before another rich habitat is rendered as useless as the once rich fishing grounds that abounded along Ireland’s east coast but which today due to undersea habitat destruction (in this instance bottom mussel dredging) lie denuded and degraded.

Yours sincerely,

Ashley Hayden

October 2017

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