An Irish Anglers World

Kilcoole, Co. Wicklow

Twenty years ago Kilcoole was recognised as one of the best beach angling venues in Ireland. Major club, provincial, and international events were held on it annually. In terms of consistent mixed species angling, from June until January it was hard to beat. Codling and plaice were the mainstay, along with flounder, dab, coalfish, pollack, bass, gurnard, mackerel, dogfish, and various ray. Today like most of the north Wicklow beaches it is feeling the effect of unregulated whelk fishing and mussel dredging, two practices which have broken the offshore food chain. This along with commercial over fishing in the Irish Sea means few fish visit the beach now.

Kilcoole beach from the big tree, looking south towards Wicklow Head.

That said the venue is still worth a visit, bass run the shoreline particularly at the north end from beyond the big tree up to and around the point into ballygannon. The ground is rough here, especially in the gutter where boulders from the sea defences have been washed down. In calm conditions during early morning or late evening free lined crab or fresh mackerel fillet can be very effective for bass in this area. Try two hours either side of low water from July to September. Coalfish also still make an appearance in autumn and winter along with small whiting and dabs. Lugworm tipped with mussel was always a good winter bait here for codling, coalfish, and dab. In summertime ragworm or lugworm tipped with mackerel strip proved a successful combination, in particular for plaice. Crab caught most everything else.

Mackerel, plentiful off Kilcoole on calm summer evenings.

Summer evenings in July and August can be very good for mackerel, again the best area is northwards from the big tree. For sport clip on a 32 gram silver Kilty Catcher, cast out, let it sink and come around with the current, then reel in slowly. Bass or sea trout will quite readily take this lure also, so a bonus catch is always on the cards. The 01.oz bass pictured in the header above was targeted by local angler Gerry Mitchell one evening in 2007 on Kilcoole while mackerel fishing. Gerry saw the fish working, swapped his feathers for a silver grauvel lure, and the rest is history. Kilcoole has a reputation for producing large bass.

Coalfish, an Autumn and Winter visitor to Kilcoole.

In recent years shore tope have become a real prospect especially in October and November, although there is no reason why they cannot be targeted in the summer and autumn. Ledger a whole small mackerel one hour either side of the low water slack tide, or cast out a tope trace with a small worm baited hook attached to the main hook. Small dab, whiting, codling, or coalfish takes the small hook and tope takes the lot.

Kilcoole like most of the north Wicklow shingle beaches fishes best either side of the low and high tide slack water periods. Plan to fish two hours before and one hour after slack tide for best results. Slack tide at Kilcoole occurs two hours before low water and again two hours before high water. A strong lateral current, exacerbated on spring tides, sweeps the beach, flowing south on the ebb and north on the flood. Experience suggests that the dropping tide (south run) is more productive. Floating weed after onshore gales can be a problem. Although Kilcoole has seen better days it still has its moments so do not write it off.

See also: Musings of a Travelling Sea Angler, Return to Kilcoole.