Archive for the ‘Fishing Diary’ Category

Return to Beara: Pollack Five Ways

Thursday, October 12th, 2017

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  rich 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

Lightening Does Pike Twice

Wednesday, January 4th, 2017

A slight tremor on the rod tip caught my eye, dip, dip, line peels slowly from the bobbin then stops momentarily. Tentatively commencing again dip, dip, peel, after ten seconds purpose replaces shyness as a fast spinning bobbin indicates intent. Rod now in hand the bump, bump of a swimming pikes tail transmits through the line, bait runner engaged, lean back, fish on.

A double figure pike placed carefully on the dehooking mat.

Initially the pike feels light however nearing the shoreline it gives a kick, about turns and doubles out towards deeper water the drag on my Shimano bait runner straining. Another few lesser runs and a grand mottled green double figure pike slips into the landing net. A mirror image of the pike which David caught a few days previous, two good pike in as many sessions what a start to the year.

Pike fishing reels for spinning (front) and dead baiting (rear).

Tackle used on each occasion were 10′ heavy spinning rods, Shimano Bait Runner and Spinning reels, running ledger rigs fished hard to the bottom with fresh rainbow trout the successful bait.

New Years Pike from the Barrow

Monday, January 2nd, 2017

Walking back up the tow path my gaze alighted on the now distant angler that I had passed and said hello to earlier on. Targeting pike in the slow water where a canal merged with the main channel his rod was in a noticeable hoop. Increasing my pace I reached the fisherman just in time to help him net the large jack pike. Only then exchanging greetings, there are priorities when fishing, I then offered to unhook the fish using a long nosed forceps while Pat gently held the pike within the landing net meshes. Quick photo and away.

A new years day 2017 River Barrow pike.

Watching the pike swim off we struck up a conversation about our collective fishing experiences on the river which established pike holding locations and possible reasons for their presence. Pat’s preferred methods are float ledgering and or sunk and drawn dead baits of which the fish pictured above was tempted by the latter approach. Wishing Pat well in 2017 I promised to forward him the photo, then turning I continued my walk back up the tow path…….

Festive Season Piking

Friday, December 30th, 2016

A slow staccato clicking sound prompted David to turn, peering through the steadily declining evening light he noticed a heavy lean on his rod tip. Running his gaze back towards the reel a slowly turning bobbin signaled action stations, pike on the take!! Five seconds, line peeled, rod now in hand David engaged reel while leaning back in unison, his rod arched to old Esox’s powerful first run. A second fish within an hour, the first a jack, this baby was the real deal, lunging here tail walking there, after a short scrap the well conditioned double figure fish slid into the capacious net before being transferred quickly to the unhooking mat. Wet hands, gentle use of forceps, quick photo and away amid a flurry of spray, cue handshakes and smiles.

David Murphy cradles a fine double figure Christmas pike.

Having recently returned from a five month Australian sojourn David had been itching to get out fishing. A short conversation prior to Christmas resulted in the procurement of fresh rainbow trout and a plan to ledger dead baits at a known “large pike” ambush point. Choosing last light the plan came together like a tee with firstly a good sized jack showing interest followed shortly after by the main course.

A large pike on and one happy angler.

Fishing is like that, plan well and one increases the “probability” for not only success but the opportunity to break out a “this is great craic” smile. Already a plan for the next day out is formulating and it’s not quite 2017. With very little fishing done in 2016 due to “life priorities” the new year has plenty of “opportunity gaps”. Have David and I hit the ground running? Time and good planning will tell………….

Estuary Flounder in South East Ireland.

Saturday, November 5th, 2016

Bright anti – cyclonic weather in early November draws out the flounder fisherman in me, a bucket of peeler crab (thanks to Jock Crawford), a chill north east breeze and a dropping neap tide created ideal conditions for a trip to the estuary. A fortnight ago Gerry Mitchell had a red letter day on a rising neap with flounder topping two pound weight albeit further up the main channel, would the olive green flatties still be in the mood?

Jock Crawford with the first flounder of the morning.

Commencing fishing about 1.5 hours after full tide we cast twin flowing paternosters baited with crab onto the ebbing tidal flow. Employing grip leads due to the strong current first cast optimistically produced a small flounder, which proved a false dawn as from then on things were slow.

Beaded flounder rig baited with peeler crab.

About an hour or so later a lift to my rod resulted in flounder number two running a pound an a half weight and that was it until the first evening push of the flood. A right good rattle caused my rod tip to pull sharply forward before straightening in unison with a belly of slack line. A big flounder or a bass? It remains a mystery as now rod in hand and line tightened the fish rhythmically bump bumped towards me. Transmitted through the rod, “this lad is on“, so I leaned into – nothing – clearly the action had pulled the bait from the fishes mouth.

Estuary flounder fishing in Co. Wexford, Ireland.

In such circumstances a moving estuary fish rarely returns for a second bite and so it proved. That fish moved on a November evening chill set in which was the signal for Jock and I to up sticks while being treated to a glorious red/orange winter sunset. It had been a grand day in good company, a few fish had shown, the conversation and craic had flowed, sure we’ll do it again soon Jock…………

Assisting Fellow Tourist Anglers & Fishers

Monday, August 29th, 2016

In 2010 I set up the An Irish Anglers World website because as a traveling angler within my own country I could not access relevant and correct angling information that would enable me to hit the ground running wherever I chose to fish. Today An Irish Anglers World contains 329 posts and 129 pages of published articles across eight categories reflecting a range of Irish angling disciplines all of which provide current information relative to my own experience of Irish angling venues at specific dates and times.

A fine Greystones Co. Wicklow, Ireland tope and one happy sea angler.

It’s great to know that the sites ethos works especially when one receives messages of support and thanks from people who have contacted me for information. Such requests have emanated from countries as far away as New Zealand and the USA to the United Kingdom and as close as Co. Wicklow.

Typical questions would be:

Am over at the end of the month any suggestions as to were is fishing well, we’re staying around Kilmore way again so anywhere around that ways ….will be bringing my own bait over this time?

and

I’ve read your own angling report, Tope Alley, suggesting to fish at various marks inside and outside the red buoy using a mackerel flapper or whole joey but all I’ve managed, on at least ten occasions at this stage, is the odd LSD – is there any advice you could give me regarding tides, fishing depth, anchoring/drifting?! It would be greatly appreciated!

The end result for the latter question, caught within the last fortnight is pictured above, the anglers smile says it all, while the former sent me this report of an angling holiday in Wexford circa summer 2016:

Well them mullet are getting bigger had a few around 5lb.one of 6lb…but seen some that must be 10lb easy…but crafty as they come.had a go.at Rosslare yesterday had over 30 bass but none over a pound great sport tho….had a good day at Slade fishing for the wrasse and Pollock…

In all cases I am glad to help, like Ronseal An Irish Angler’s World does what it says on the tin…………..

Welsh Sea Anglers Embrace Wicklow

Monday, August 15th, 2016

Welshman Alan Duthie from Llanethlie, South Wales should be given the freedom of South East Ireland for the efforts he selflessly makes in championing, within his local community, Ireland as a sea fishing holiday destination. Last weekend beginning Thursday 11/08/2016 Alan and 12 enthusiastic sea anglers from the Swansea area traveled to and spent time and money fishing off both Wicklow Town with Skipper Kit Dunne and also Kilmore Quay, Co Wexford with the Hayes brothers Dick and Eamon.

Welsh sea anglers having the craic with Kit Dunne and Wicklow Boat Charters.

The second trip that this particular Welsh party have made this summer 2016 and the umpteenth since a formal request was made by this writer to Alan Duthie (Chairperson of the Welsh Pleasure Anglers and Kayakers Association, PAKA) regarding holding a presentation in South Wales on the tourism sea angling product south east Ireland has to offer back in September 2009. That presentation, which cost the princely sum of two return ferry trips, a couple 0f overnights in a B/B and living expenses, approx’ €700.00, has resulted in multiple visits to Ireland from a plethora of Welsh sea angling groups aligned to PAKA post 2010.

The information set out below, gleaned from a trip made to Kilmore Quay back in 2013, illustrates just one traveling groups contribution to South East Ireland’s local economy.

Revenue generated exclusive of travel and sundry expenses:

P.A.K.A South Wales, Angling Trip to Kilmore Quay, June 23rd – 28th 2013
B/B, €40.00 x 21 x 4 €3360.00
Charters, €400.00 x 2 x 3 €2400.00
Fresh Bait (ragworm) €200.00
Terminal tackle, and frozen bait. €630.00
Lunch (€10.00 x 21 x 3) €630.00
Evening meal (Average €25.00 x 21 x4) €2100.00
Pints (average over group 4 per night @ €4.00) €336.00
Bus collection/return from ferry port €300.00
Total € 9956.00

 

The average spend per angler exclusive of Ferry Travel was € 474.09 based on a four bed night stay or €118.52 per day, by translation that spend equates to €711.14 per angler for a week (6 x bed nights) long trip. Individually some of the traveling group would say that they spend more, however the above is an accurate account and translated over seven years to date based on the known repeat trips organised by Alan Duthie, his group alone have directly deposited €160,000 plus in Ireland on an outlay of €700.00, now that is some return.

Welshman Marshall Mainwaring displays a fine County Wicklow smooth hound.

Traveling for the scenery, craic and a different fishing experience, on this occasion the boys were targeting east coast Wicklow tope. Staying in the Grand Hotel the lads fished two days with skipper Kit Dunne and Wicklow Boat Charters. The first outing was tough with only a few dogfish and hounds showing, however on the second day pay dirt was struck with 9 tope boated partnered by a succession of bull huss.

A male Wicklow tope and one happy Welsh sea angler.

Skipper Kit Dunne has invested serious money in his business and the Welsh sea angling party travel with the primary motive of wetting a line. For this business arrangement to survive and prosper the fishing resource needs to be firing on all cylinders, unfortunately Co. Wicklow’s offshore fishery is stuttering badly due to inshore habitat destruction and over fishing within the greater Irish Sea.

A grand male Wicklow tope.

Government needs to recognise fully stakeholders such as Kit and the Welsh tourist sea anglers, for they having committed to travel and spend money within Ireland are stakeholders too. The current narrow Government marine fisheries focus on the commercial catching/processing sector as the only gig in town is limiting the return on a key national resource at a time when innovation and diversification are the buzz words of business. Kit Dunne exemplifies the former, pity our relevant national marine agencies and politicians still refuse to back his efforts. A starting point for a change of tack would be for both Ireland’s Ministers for Fisheries and Tourism and the CEO of Failte Ireland to meet with Welshman Alan Duthie then listen to and act on his recommendations, after all its his money and passion that contributes not only to their salaries but to their existence as public servants…….

 

A Stroll Along Kilcoole

Tuesday, July 26th, 2016

Kilcoole, Co. Wicklow, Ireland holds a special place in my heart, catching large red spotted plaice and brown/red mottled codling initially with my dad and latterly with friends such as Gerry Mitchell and Francis O’Neill “God Rest Him”. The village became my home for 16 happy years, a great environment for raising our kids, with countless happy memories and many friends made to include the aforementioned Gerry and the Meakin family both of whom I met yesterday while taking a stroll.

Ashley Hayden lure fishing on Kilcoole beach, Co. Wicklow.

Boy has the place changed especially down on the strand where steel fencing on the landward side of the railway line and chain link on the seaward side has created a disconnect between the beach and the village. Pre 2001 you could walk across the railway line at any given point and know one ever got run over by a train unless “with all due respect” they wanted to, which can still apply today if a person is that determined.

The resultant can be summed up in the words of Mrs Meakin, still a fit lady in her seventies who used to walk twenty meters across from her front door to the beach and go swimming every day. “Now in the morning I hear the water invitingly lapping and I cannot reach it due to the obstacle course in front of me”. In short her way of  life has been diminished by blind bureaucracy.

Equally I would say that the same blind bureaucracy killed the fishing when licencing the removal of the offshore mussel banks. Today on my stroll while casting a Kilty lure I caught a solitary launce in front of the “Big Tree”. I scared a sea trout and the bass may still be there, however no mackerel, no mussel shells on the beach and very little weed. Conversations with Mrs Meakin (over 40 years resident in Kilcoole) and her daughter Lizzy made it very clear, the inshore environment has changed radically, getting progressively lifeless.

One is not being negative in saying this, just realistic. Yes it is sad, but the people iterating it are perfectly balanced and happy, they just have lived, breathed and observed a fuller environmental alternative which can still be resurrected from the bland reduced diversity habitat Kilcoole presents today. Yes, the beating heart of Kilcoole’s wonderful seascape can be revived, it just needs good people to believe. A starting point is to support the idea of a community managed Marine Conservation Area between Bray Head and Wicklow Head………..

For Further Information Click on: Reviving North County Wicklow’s Inshore Fisheries Socio – Economic Modal.

Kilmore in Jig Time

Tuesday, June 28th, 2016

“Kelp below”, intoned Eamonn Hayes, stalwart skipper of Kilmore Quay, Co. Wexford based charter boat Autumn Dream, in unison 10 Welshmen focused harder on working their jig rigs 10 fathoms down, on cue rods curved and danced to the tune of hooked pollack and codling interspersed with ballan and colourful cuckoo wrasse. Not large but numerous, codling averaging 1.5 lbs with pollack slightly bigger, most anglers at days end boating forty plus fish (predominantly returned alive) the heaviest being a codling of 5 lb weight.

Daron Lawry displays a colourful Kilmore Quay, Co. Wexford cuckoo wrasse.

Sea anglers off Kilmore Quay, Co. Wexford utilise the time honoured method of jigging three hook feather, rubber eel or shad rigs while drifting over extremely rocky, kelpy ground, baiting the bottom hook only with fresh mackerel or worm bait in the hope of attracting a larger pollack, cod, ling, ballan wrasse or pouting. The unbaited coloured feather or plastic lures proving especially attractive to pollack (colour black) and codling (colour red).

A plump Kilmore Quay, Co. Wexford codling.

The trick to success at Kilmore Quay is to employ a 20 lb class braid set up with just enough lead weight (usually eight to twelve ounces) to keep the angler in contact with the sea bed while his/her line is working straight down below as against being streamed out by tide and drift. At Kilmore Quay a streamed out line catches the seabed more times than it catches fish, the result costly rig/lead weight losses and one pissed off angler. Vigilantly working the rig by constantly tapping/lifting and feeling the contours of the sea bed produces more takes from fish while minimising tackle losses, Kilmore’s reefs offering no mercy towards lazy or inexperienced sea anglers.

A Kilmore Killer jig rig.

My first sea angling session of 2016, it was nice to catch up with Alan Duthie and the boys from South Wales. Annual visitors to these shores, as a nation we cannot get complacent as to their continued repeat business. The reason these Welshmen and others come is for a different sea angling experience to what they get at home, Kilmore Quay offering a wider range of species amid a challenging sea angling environment of deeper water, stronger tides and rougher ground in contrast to the shallow, sandy estuarine ground the lads frequent across the pond.

My fishing diary accounts since 2008 for Kilmore Quay clearly record a decline in average weight for pollack, codling and ling encountered on the reefs surrounding the Saltee Islands albeit numbers boated are still holding. The once famous fishing grounds off Greystones, Co. Wicklow followed a similar pattern before the fish disappeared. Tourism sea angling as a viable offering needs fish as a key element of a unique experience to successfully attract paying customers. Kilmore Quay still enjoys that mix and long may it continue, but a word of warning: “We cannot afford to get complacent and I see signs that we just might be”.

Coarse Fishing Tourism: Managed Access is the Key

Thursday, May 12th, 2016

Of all the tourism angling/fishing products Ireland has to offer coarse fishing has the greatest potential to provide a serious return on investment, primarily because Ireland’s coarse fishing species to include pike are not exploited commercially for food and are therefore in waters where they reside abundant and growing to a large average size. The downside to this major selling point is ease of access to Ireland’s best coarse fishing swims while carrying the amount of tackle and bait necessary to enjoy a productive match or pleasure fishing session.

Landing a hybrid while coarse fishing the River Barrow, Co. Carlow, Ireland.

The image above clearly shows the amount of gear an average coarse angler brings to the water, much more than can be carried without the aid of a pack horse. The best swims are never those that are immediately accessible from say car parks or bridges, most requiring a trudge along forest paths or over fields and ditches. Many out of the way prime swims though can be accessed by enabling managed vehicular access through upgrading/modifying existing rough tracks and walk ways.

A 3.5 lb River Barrow Hybrid and one happy coarse angler.

Thomas and I fished an out of the way section of the River Barrow yesterday and boy was access to the swim difficult and the return leg to my car a not looked forward to experience. Yes we caught some prime roach to a pound plus and hybrids to 3.5 lbs, however and we are fit, when the towpath was reached we set up shop, being too knackered to go any further.

Having co-authored and driven with Dick Caplice chairman of the Irish Anglers Development Alliance the hugely successful managed vehicular access coarse fishing infrastructure on Lough Muckno, Co. Monaghan and presented an adapted plan to modify sections of towpath along the River Barrow for managed vehicular access back in 2014 to Tourism, Enterprise and Co. Council decision makers in Co. Carlow with zero response it begs the question. When it comes to developing an innovative and commercially viable tourism product has official Ireland employed the best people available………………….?