An Irish Anglers World

An Irish Angler’s Year 2013

It is always interesting to look back and review the past year relative to the goals one sets at the commencement. On the angling front aware of missed opportunities due to having a broad range of fishing interests as against specialising in a particular aspect of the sport, this writer had vowed to become more focused regarding species choice. Applying a concentrated approach based on seasonality most certainly paid off in the seven months up to July, after that other than an arranged foray down to West Cork angling took a back seat as the more pertinent aspects of life took centre stage.

A summer pike for David Murphy from a local water.

A plan laid down in January earmarked pike fishing within my locality as a winter taster followed by the annual spring time River Barrow pilgrimage in search of bream, shad and what ever else you are having from this wonderful fishery. Priority was placed throughout May and June on reconnoitring various south eastern waters with a view to catching my first tench, followed by the annual boat trip off Kilmore Quay with friends from South Wales. Greystones and its run of large tope through July and August could not come quick enough, then as the leaves begin to turn through September the Wexford bass and flounder would be calling.

So it transpired with a couple of deviations up to August, with the weather playing ball both in late spring and of course throughout that fabulous July, when the Azores high sat over Ireland for three weeks. Successful fishing is about getting out there and casting a line at the appropriate time and place, using the correct gear and the right method. Applying this approach one quickly builds up a routine and a level of knowledge that translates into instinct, by extension the quality of ones fishing improves also.

A cracking Beara pollack for UK angler Keith Kendall.

Catching bigger fish or large bags is not easy but it is not difficult either, laying down a body of experience over time is the key. Place oneself on or beside water, try new and or established venues and above all meet people and share experience. In essence that was the modus operandi drawn up back in January 2013 and without question the plan worked as the following narrative and images will tell.

Back in January a phone call to Mike Hennessy sea angling advisor with Inland Fisheries Ireland about haddock fishing off West Cork had yours truly boarding skipper Butch Roberts boat Sundance out of Kinsale. A fine crew on a God awful day, the boat tossed and swayed, cold seeped into the bones and some bonny haddock were landed along with ling, cod, whiting and a specimen red gurnard.

The local pike fishing was mixed primarily due to not getting out enough however this was more then made up for by some quality spring brown trout fishing on the Wicklow streams. Come April though with warmer weather setting in the Barrow became a fixture and boy did it deliver some lovely bream, hybrids, dace and roach. The spring shad run never really got going with anglers putting a lot of hours in for one or two fish, on the plus side though some quality brown trout were happy to attack the customary blue and silver Tasmanian devils.

June was a most satisfying month kicking off with a first ever tench to double red maggot fished on the feeder. Having established and sought permission to fish a particular venue plans were laid and in text book fashion yours truly and friend Gary Robinson found us pitched bank side at dawn. By ten o’clock bite less except for a few stunted perch we were wondering, then it happened, Gary’s swing tip swung and shortly after a bottle green red eyed “Tinca” lay cradled within the landing net, happy days.

A brace of tench for Gary Robinson.
A mid June trip to the Beara Peninsula, West Cork promised much and yet again this glorious finger of West Cork delivered with some fine pollack, ray, wrasse, and grey mullet landed. That said, for the first time since travelling down back in the early 2000’s signs of over fishing were apparent, manifest by 16 blank rod hours fishing normally very productive clean ground for dab, codling, etc.

A first, sadly returning in late August things had not improved and if anything had got worse with not a grey mullet to be seen where they are normally prolific. The jury is out as to whether the poor fishing was a blip, however a 140 tonne haul of mullet taken by a pair trawling team out of Castletownbere close to Roche’s point in late November does not fill one with confidence, fingers crossed for 2014.

A fine tope for Gary Robinson.

The icing on the cake though was the July tope fishing in heat wave conditions off Greystones. Mackerel were scarce due to the ongoing attrition by all parties concerned out in the north east Atlantic, however enough were feathered to bait a few lines and the sleek fast running tope played ball. Jean Anne was anchored over ten fathoms of water east of the Moulditch buoy, and most satisfyingly David Murphy’s reel sang as a prelude to the lad boating his first tope.

An early morning grey mullet for Ashley Hayden.

Subsequent to the heat wave angling took a back seat with college and a Masters Degree programme taking over post September. Retrospectively the focused approach to fishing paid off with some quality angling across a range of species and disciplines, so much so that the system will be refined and applied ongoing into 2014. January to March will kick off with pike and perch leading into springtime trout fly fishing and general coarse angling on the Barrow. The tench will get another outing through May and early June by which time the focus will turn to summer sea trout and tope fishing. Tight lines and the best of luck to one and all for 2014………….

Ashley Hayden © January 2014

See also: An Irish Angler’s Year 2012.