Archive for the ‘Sea Fishing’ 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

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”.

Creating a Managed Marine Protected Area off County Wicklow, Ireland

Saturday, February 20th, 2016
Ashley Hayden boat fishing off Greystones, Co. Wicklow, Ireland.

My family roots lie firmly in Greystones, Co. Wicklow, Ireland, a once thriving fishing village situated 25 miles south of Dublin city on Ireland’s east coast. I possess experiential knowledge of the offshore fishing grounds comprising the Moulditch Ridge, Kilcoole Bank and the Breaches Shoal (all located south and east of Greystones) dating back to the late 1960′s.

I am familiar with the local marine traditions and I am fully aware what has been lost due exclusively to bad fisheries management decisions encapsulated by habitat destruction the resultant of licenced mussel dredging which commenced back in the early 1980′s.

I have a vision to establish a “community driven” Marine Protected Area (MPA) between Bray Head ( to the north) and Wicklow Head (to the south) encapsulating both holistic and socio - economic principles.

Best practice would suggest that the process to achieve this viable proposal will require most likely the setting up of a “driver organisation” possibly a registered charity with philanthropic and or EU funding to underpin it linked to a campaign ran by the wider local community while being supported by the state, which will include all vested interests and not just a narrow “marine” focus.

The MPA will be for “all” the people locally, nationally and from abroad.

The MPA will act as a pilot project which if successful can then be incorporated as a modal for best practice inshore fisheries management and subsequently rolled out nationally.

I envisage that:
  • Management of the MPA will include an academic research mandate to aid “best management practice” as well as to further progress marine scientific knowledge.
  • That the inshore/offshore MPA will be an extension of the Wicklow National Park so making the County not only unique nationally but also internationally.
  • That the MPA will extend out to the old three mile limit and its northern and southern limits will be designated by a virtual extension of the respective county lines.
  • That the MPA will not be exclusively “no take” but will allow sustainable commercial artisan fishing methodologies, recreational sea angling and a variety of water sports and activities under a progressive management plan aimed to encourage local business and employment opportunities while both rehabilitating and preserving the integrity ongoing of North Wicklow’s offshore environment.
  • That within the MPA though there will be areas designated as “No Take” for both scientific and “spill over” purposes.
  • That when established in time the MPA will garner enormous credibility for Co. Wicklow internationally, will underpin efforts to maintain and increase onshore and offshore biodiversity, will resurrect a now defunct local artisan commercial fishing industry, will enable Co. Wicklow to market an International standard tourism sea angling product and will act as a catalyst for marine cultural, heritage, tourism, educational and recreational activities such as diving, sea kayaking, natural history engagement and small boat hire.
In short the investment in time and effort will be returned many fold.

I am proposing that the vision is worth adopting because:
  • It will be a unique step for a county (public and private entities) to recognise and claim ownership of an offshore coastal resource with a view to managing its usage and future rehabilitation/development as an integral and symbiotic element of onshore economic development.
  • Rehabilitation of the inshore benthic habitats off Co. Wicklow will enable the county to market and sell itself abroad internationally as a local community that really cares for and understands the socio - economic benefits of pristine natural environments.
  • That the County Council supported by Public and Private interests can lead the way in proposing and developing a forward thinking “coastal county by coastal county” approach to national inshore fisheries management where community and state Dept’s/Agencies work side by side to manage and develop “their inshore/offshore patch” collectively on behalf of the nation.

Yours sincerely,

Ashley Hayden

 

Ireland Ranked Worst Offender in EU Waters for Over Fishing

Saturday, February 13th, 2016

Well it would appear to be official, Ireland is the EU member state with the worst record for politically granted over fishing within North East Atlantic waters.

A report entitled – “Landing the Blame” – compiled by the New Economics Foundation, an independent organisation promoting economic well-being based in London, was produced to assess and clarify those EU member states most responsible for setting fishing quotas above scientific advice.

EU commercial fishing quotas are set annually each December at a closed door meeting of EU agriculture and fisheries ministers in Brussels attended by Ireland’s Minister for Agriculture and the Marine Simon Coveney.

The report concluded that Minister Coveney negotiated the largest proportional increase in fishing quotas for Ireland above scientifically advised levels last December, with Ireland’s quotas exceeding scientific advice by 25%.

Griffen Carpenter, a co-author of the report, is quoted as saying “there is a lack of transparency around these closed-door negotiations and pressure should be placed on member states to recognise the benefits of following scientific advice and managing marine ecosystems in a sustainable manner”.

Environmentalists world wide agree that over fishing is harmful to the marine environment threatening the long-term viability of the worlds marine habitats.

Over fishing also contravenes the reformed EU Common Fisheries Policy which set 2015, where possible, as the target date by which to end EU over fishing.

To read the Report Click On: Landing the Blame for Over Fishing in the North East Atlantic 2016.

 

Analysis of Specimen Sea Fish Records for Co. Wicklow 2011 – 2015

Friday, February 12th, 2016

The argument to introduce wider stakeholder inclusive and environmentally focused management structures for Ireland’s inshore fisheries is indisputable as this follow on analysis of an earlier study based on Irish Specimen Fish Committee Records for the inshore waters off north Co. Wicklow clearly shows:

Bass – 5.31.kg (11.70.lb) – Wicklow – 10/10/2014 – Keith Marsella – Crab

Bass – 4.62.kg (10.19.lb) – Greystones – 24/06/2012 – Damian Blackwell – Lure

Specimen 12.lb 1.oz  Kilcoole, Co. Wicklow bass for Gerry Mitchell.

Bull Huss – 7.82.kg (17.25.lb) – Wicklow – 17/07/2013 – Peter Schiffer – Mackerel

Flounder – 1.20.kg (2.65.lb) – Wicklow – 07/10/2014 – Stephen Gibson – Crab

Flounder – 1.12.kg (2.47.lb) – Wicklow – 06/10/2015 – Craig Murphy – Crab

LSD – 1.59.kg (3.50.lb) – Wicklow – 22/08/2013 – Bert McGregor – Mackerel

Thick L. Mullet – 3.27.kg (7.20.lb) – Arklow – 31/07/2014 – Craig Murphy – Bread

Thick L. Mullet – 3.18.kg (7.00.lb) – Wicklow – 01/07/2015 – Des Chew – Bread

Thick L. Mullet – 2.95.kg (6.50.lb) – Wicklow – 25/09/2015 – Ken Garry – Bread

Thick L. Mullet – 2.54.kg (5.60.lb) – Wicklow – 02/07/2015 – Des Chew – Bread

Thick L. Mullet – 2.49.kg (5.50.lb) – Wicklow – 21/06/2015 – Craig Murphy – Bread

Thick L. Mullet – 2.40.kg (5.30.lb) – Wicklow – 17/08/2015 – Des Chew – Bread

Thick L. Mullet – 2.32.kg (5.12.lb) – Wicklow – 20/07/2015 – Dan Smith – Bread

Thick L. Mullet – 2.27.kg (5.00.lb) – Wicklow – 11/08/2015 – Dan Smith – Bread

In total 10 x T. L. Mullet were ratified for County Wicklow in 2014.

In total 7 x T. L. Mullet were ratified for County Wicklow in 2013.

In total 3 x T. L. Mullet were ratified for County Wicklow in 2012.

In total 6 x T. L. Mullet were ratified for County Wicklow in 2011.

Grey mullet from the Vartry estuary, Co. Wicklow

Smooth Hound – 8.62.kg (19.00.lb) – Wicklow – 24/05/2015 – Garech Murphy – Crab.

In total 48 smooth hound were ratified for County Wicklow in 2015 with most being caught off Wicklow town on board Kit Dunne’s Wicklow Boat Charters, a small number being landed in the Arklow area. The smallest hound was 3.04.kg (6.70.lb) caught on the 12th July off Wicklow.

In total 21 smooth hound were ratified for Wicklow in 2014 the largest weighing 6.92.kg (15.25.lb) caught on squid 22/06/2014.

In total 63 smooth hound were ratified for Wicklow in 2013 the largest weighing 7.37.kg (16.25.lb) caught on crab 06/07/2013.

In total 40 smooth hound were ratified for Wicklow in 2012 the largest weighing 6.35.kg (14.00.lb) caught on crab 13/07/2012.

In total 5 smooth hound were ratified for Wicklow in 2011 the largest weighing 6.21.kg (13.69.lb) caught on squid 02/07//2011.

Spurdog caught on Kit Dunne's Wicklow Boat Charters off Co. Wicklow, Ireland.

Spur Dogfish – length only – Wicklow – 16/05/2014 – Pat Swan – Mackerel

In total 4 spur dogfish were ratified for Wicklow in 2014 all caught in May.

In total 4 spur dogfish were ratified for Wicklow in 2013 all caught in Oct/Nov.

In total 1 spur dogfish were ratified for Wicklow in 2011 caught in Nov.

T. B. Rockling – 0.86.kg (1.90.lb) – Wicklow – 15/11//2011 – Andrew Boyce – Mackerel

T. B. Rockling – 0.85.kg (1.88.lb) – Wicklow – 19/04/2015 – Belinda Kennedy – Mackerel

T. B. Rockling – 0.82.kg (1.80.lb) – Wicklow – 22/01/2014 – Craig Murphy – Mackerel

T. B. Rockling – 0.82.kg (1.81.lb) – Greystones – 03/04/2015 – Andrew Boyce – Mackerel

T. B. Rockling – 0.81.kg (1.79.lb) – Greystones – 09/03/2015 – Pat Fagan – Mackerel

T. B. Rockling – 0.79.kg (1.75.lb) – Greystones – 15/08/2015 – Andrew Boyce – Mackerel

In total 3 T. B. Rockling were ratified for County Wicklow in 2011.

Specimen female tope boated in October 2009, Greystones, Co. Wicklow, Ireland.

Tope – 22.23.kg (49.00.lb) – Wicklow – 22/07/2015 – Martin Corr – Crab

In total 7 more tope were ratified for Wicklow in 2015 with the smallest fish weighing 19.05.kg (42.00.lb) caught on 12/08/2015.

In total 12 tope were ratified for Wicklow in 2014 the largest weighing 29.03.kg (64.00.lb) caught on mackerel off Greystones 05/07/2014.

In total 21 tope were ratified for Wicklow in 2013 the largest weighing 24.66.kg (54.37.lb) caught on mackerel off Greystones 22/08//2013.

In total 3 tope were ratified for Wicklow in 2012 the largest weighing 27.30.kg (60.19.lb) caught on mackerel off Wicklow 20/10//2012.

In total 1 tope was ratified for Wicklow in 2011 weighing 22.68.kg (50.00.lb) caught on mackerel off Greystones 30/08//2011.

Specimen Size Species Recorded off County Wicklow 2011 – 2015

Number of Species: 9

  • Bass x 2
  • Bull Huss x 1
  • Flounder x 2
  • LSD x 1
  • Thick Lipped Mullet x 33
  • Smooth Hound x 177
  • Spur Dogfish x 9
  • Three Beard Rockling x 8
  • Tope x 44

Relative to the on going study tracking County Wicklow based specimen fish records going back to 1975, the number of specimens recorded post 2010 by species  has increased from 4 (bass, tope, smooth hound and grey mullet) to 9 ( the aforementioned species plus bull huss, flounder, LSD, spur dogfish and rockling).

The one newcomer to the list is flounder, the remaining four bull huss, LSD, spurdog and rockling all featuring on previous specimen lists for the area. Are these species making a comeback? Relative to flounder and T. B. rockling the species were always present just that people were not targeting them. An increase in specimen hunting effort where species are targeted in specific locations at specific times of the angling season has resulted in flounder making the list and also an upward movement in T. B. Rockling claims.

The presence of Wicklow Boat Charters post 2011 with subsequent increased effort aimed at so called “rough species” has resulted in a marked increase in smooth hound and tope claims and is definitely a factor in recent claims for specimen bull huss and LSD, both species always present albeit reduced in average size and population.

Spurdog are making a tentative comeback probably due to a current ban on commercial fishing for the species within Scottish waters. However when one considers how prolific this particular species was in spring and again in early winter certainly up to the early 1980’s, the jury is still out as to their ongoing recovery.

Matching Wicklow Boat Charters overall recorded catches for 2014 and 2015 to specimen fish returns for County Wicklow in the same year provides a more accurate picture of the inshore fishery off North County Wicklow.

Wicklow Boat Charters Catch Returns 2014

  • Tope – total boated 179 – total specimens ratified 12.
  • Smooth hound – total boated 912 – specimens ratified 21.
  • Bull huss – total boated 176 – zero specimens ratified.
  • Spur dogfish – total boated on a single outing 09/11/2014 = 55 – zero specimens ratified.

Wicklow Boat Charters Catch Returns 2015

  • Tope – total boated 185 – specimens ratified for Co. Wicklow 7.
  • Smooth hound – total boated 912 – specimens ratified for Co. Wicklow 48.
  • Bull huss – total boated 103 – zero specimens ratified for Co. Wicklow.
  • Spurdog – total boated 2 – “limited fishing due to bad weather

Tope and smooth hound populations would appear to be in a reasonably healthy state, on the ground evidence of pups from both species suggesting this status quo should continue. That said, this writer witnessed in 2015 a reduction in average size of smooth hound caught in the Arklow area and the presence of dead smooth hound in 40. kg fish boxes for use as whelk pot bait.

Significantly specimen bull huss and spur dogfish returns are low for the amount of boat man hours directed towards fishing large fish baits in key predator fish locations on board the two vessels operated by Wicklow Boat Charters, with only a few ray encountered (14 in 2014 by Wicklow Boat Charters).

On the plus side a lot of male pack tope are encountered earlier in the summer with larger female tope showing up from August through to October weather permitting.

Codling haul from Killoughter, Co. Wicklow, circa 1980's.

White fish returns on the north Wicklow fishing grounds though are very poor, the dearth of traditionally targeted edible species other than small grey and tub gurnards, which appear to be quite numerous, reflected in catch returns gleaned from Greystones Ridge Sea Angling Club competition records (boat and shore) for September 2015 & January 2016 respectively, all posted on Facebook.

Competition results courtesy of Greystones Ridge Sea Angling Club, January 2016.

A 24 cm dab, 26 cm flounder and a 33 cm whiting, all recorded in January 2016 post a shore competition off Five Mile Point with no sizeable codling or coalfish present speaks volumes as to how far biodiversity standards have dropped along the north Wicklow coastline in tandem with bottom mussel bed exploitation, the connection when one knows the fisheries history being indisputable as the above image courtesy of Liam Kane taken at Killoughter in the 1980’s makes clear.

Pre 1980 and the commencement of inshore bottom mussel dredging off County Wicklow 16 species of fish swam in the then abundant north Wicklow waters that grew on or above Irish rod and line specimen weight to include edible species such as cod, plaice, black sole, thornback and blonde ray. Today these species other than the odd juvenile are a distant memory, marine biodiversity reduced wholesale as the dredgers did their work.

Circa 2016 four species, bass, grey mullet, tope and smooth hound (all non quota species) still swim in reasonable numbers and grow to specimen size off Co. Wicklow, while flounder and T. B. rockling exist because they are non commercial and inhabit safe estuary and harbour wall locations respectively. Spurdog, LSD and bull huss though still run the gauntlet of commercial exploitation, a fate which currently threatens the future of the current mainstay Wicklow specimen species bass, grey mullet, tope and smooth hound as commercial interests continue to diversify their catch by fishing down the food chain as prime species become uneconomic due to over exploitation………

Further reading: The Inshore Fishery off North Co. Wicklow from an Angling Perspective.

Greystones Tourism Shore Angling Circa 1989

Friday, January 29th, 2016

A tourist shore angling spends on average between €800 – €1000 over a week long stay.

The following link http://bit.ly/23xl2GR accesses an RTE archive of most likely the “Seiko” competition held on the beaches south of Greystones back in September 1989. The competition attracted 200 shore anglers worth a minimum of €10,000 to the local economy if held today.

European Surfcasting Championships 1989, Greystones, Co. Wicklow, Ireland.

The following month, October 1989 Greystones hosted the European Surfcasting Championships which attracted 11 International teams of five plus their entourage. Staying a minimum of 5 bed nights this competition today would inject €100,000 plus into the local economy before advertising such as the above free TV segment is taken into account.

European Surfcasting Championships 1989, Team Sheets.

Look at the composition of the England team alone, Clarke, Owen, Golds, Toomer, household names back then as a result of the Sea Angler magazine. Imagine the message Wicklow and Ireland could deliver through social media platforms alone if Greystones could stage such a competition today!!

Can we enable our fish to return please?