Posts Tagged ‘Dab’

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.


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

Double Top on the Beara

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014

Twin paternosters baited with freshly dug lugworm settled on the clean sea bed one hundred meters offshore, a flooding spring tide and a setting sun heralding the promise of fish, I was not to be disappointed. Within two minutes a rod top nodded, first tap tap before a strong downward pull then slack line as the fish swam inshore. Picking up rod number one while reeling to make contact a heavy gliding weight signaled flatfish. Having cast off a rock platform into relatively deep water as the fish came closer dives and a circular motion of the mainline confirmed my assumption, double flounder a great start.

Evening sea fishing on the Beara Peninsula, West Cork, Ireland.

Thump, thump, slack, “what is this no time to think“, having barely had time to unhook my initial catch away goes rig number two. In hand and winding fast to maintain contact over goes the rod into a nice curve, now pumping the fish to clear an inshore kelp bed the white underbellies of two nice codling become visible through the crystal clear water. Ensuring a few turns of shock leader are wound around the reel spool I point my rod down towards the brace and lift them up and onto my fishing station, running a pound and a half plus each they will make a nice tea.

Double flounder on the Beara Peninsula, West Cork, Ireland.

What a start and it did not stop there, six species to include dab, flounder, codling, pollack, coalfish and wrasse over a three hour session to dusk high water. How many fish were caught I do not know it became a blur of double codlings, double dab and any combination of the species list in between. The best fish was a pollack about four pound in weight which hit a trailing bait as I was reeling in a coalfish, what a session on a much loved mark quite obviously back to form. A muggy mid October evening belied the time of year, having made the decision to travel at short notice based on a weather window, one could not have planned it better.

Sea fishing on the Beara Peninsula, West Cork, Ireland.

In todays’ world of diminished marine fish stocks the Beara is a sea angling destination worth visiting and getting to know, traveling down for a decade now this angler has only scratched the surface. Yes I’ve seen changes, while numbers of fish encountered remains high mackerel are both scarce and small, while the average size of pollack on certain regular marks that I fish appears to have halved in weight. That said, a fish a chuck in the bracket with at any moment a possible lunker ready to snaffle your jelly worm, then heaving your rod over as it dives for the kelp always making the journey worthwhile.

Sea fishing tackle check.

On this visit over two and a half days yours truly landed nine species, the six already mentioned plus scad, dogfish and conger eels to 15.lbs. Sea food chowder with slabs of buttered brown bread, pints of stout, the full Irish breakfast, traditional music of an evening, a nice welcome wherever you went and of course the scenery, what more could one ask for? It’s why I keep returning……..

Sea Fishing in Ireland, Mini Marathon

Sunday, October 21st, 2012

Sea angling sessions dominated by juvenile fish catches are a sign of the times, oh for the pull of a decent cod or flattie. A steady southerly wind creates a lovely surf along the south Wexford beaches but equally in the summer and autumn has the habit of throwing up piles of weed, couple this with a big four meter spring tide and fishing becomes nigh impossible. Digging the requisite five dozen lug a decision was made to avoid the weed and target early codling, dabs, and flounder within the confines of the Waterford estuary.

Sea fishing in Ireland, double shot of codling and dab.

Again, just like a fortnight ago immature codling made hay, attacking the baits with gusto, every other cast producing a double shot. Small dabs and flounder made up the numbers, most casts producing fish right through the rising tide. At peak run fishing became difficult, a result of floating weed, casting into the margins during this period helped to avoid the worst of it. Tired of tiddler bashing I hit the road on high tide around 21.30pm – 22.00pm. Five minutes into the drive it was nice to receive a call from Gerry Mitchell, his son Robert had just landed a 6.oz bass off an east facing Wexford strand, you make your own bed as they say…….

Down on the Jetty

Sunday, October 7th, 2012

Pier angling is much maligned, associated with casual summer mackerel fishers and youngsters learning how to cast a line, both true. However man made structures such as harbour walls, pontoons, and jetties provide a haven for species such as conger, protection for juvenile fish, peaceful sub habitats within harbour confines of which mullet and flounder take a particular liking, and by deflecting tidal currents create conditions which attract and channel within season bass, codling, whiting, and coalfish.

A cracking pier caught flounder landed by Martin O'Leary, Co. Wexford, Ireland.

Having experienced some cracking codling sessions through last winter fishing a couple of harbour marks within close proximity of each other, I decided to test the water a little earlier this season. Retracing a well worn routine of digging five dozen black lug followed by homemade cheese burger, salad, and chunky, very crispy chips, washed down with a pint of Arthur’s best, “you just have to look after yourself “, I drove around to my chosen fishing mark. A rising neap tide and flat calm sea limited proceedings, “a bit of a stir always proving better in terms of fish landed”, That said, the pleasant conditions made for a nice evening and from the get go fish were biting.

Digging lugworm on a sheltered strand, Co. Wexford, Ireland.

Juvenile 25 – 30 centimeter codling were present in abundance, what I would term a “positive” nuisance, a good sign for the future but I wish something bigger would happen along. Double’s to both rods being the order of the day, practically every cast, with an occasional dab thrown in for good measure. Sharing the venue with Martin O’Leary, his young son, and nephew Darren (an up and coming Kilmore SAC member), using crab they tempted some nice flounder and an odd coalfish to up the species count.

Pier fishing on a crisp, frosty, October evening, Co. Wexford, Ireland.

Using 2/0 round bends limited gut hooking with most fish returned to the water safe and sound. No big ones this evening although Martin landed a fine flounder, on the other hand, rods continuously nodded and many of the codling landed will be 1.5 – 2.0 pound weight this time next year, so prospects are good. The session was enjoyable, chatting, and sharing information with the lads. Most importantly though the two boys present caught fish in good numbers from a safe location. XBox or fishing? Fella’s you made the right choice……..

Further Information, click on: Estuary Codling.

Sea Fishing in Ireland, Hound Dogs and Shifting Baselines

Friday, July 6th, 2012

They’re taking shy tonight, dogfish tend to do that in very calm conditions, just playing with the bait, signaled by a trembling of the rod top with an occasional slight nod. For the umpteenth time I pick up the rod, immediately as this bite ain’t going to develop, no more struggling with a deep hooked LSD wrapping its sandpaper hide around my hand. Leaning into the fish all hell breaks loose, zzzzz goes the drag, rod butt into the groin, rod tip in a hoop, instant transformation, smooth hound and a good one.

Surprise smooth hound from a Co. Wicklow strand, tempted by lugworm.

This lad really had a go, trademark lateral runs supplemented with head shaking and a last ditch run for the hills. Yes, the hound actually took off back out to sea which is very unusual, mostly they fight in a zig zag fashion parallel with the shore. Giving line eventually the fish was beached whence the hook promptly fell out, quick photo and away, excitement over, re cast and it’s back to dogfish central with a few small dab thrown in for good measure.

Waiting for that hound to bite, Co. Wicklow, Ireland.

I remember catching my first hound off Tinnebearna back in 1985, in those days we targeted them through May and early June along the east Wexford beaches. Smooth hound were the new kids on the block and everybody wanted to catch one, now they appear to be ten a penny as most definitely they’re range has extended, probably filling the void created by over fishing of other key species, unfortunately a sad fact of modern marine life. Not to put a damper on it but the beach that I fished last night reflects the theory of shifting marine baselines very clearly. It’s not a question of glass half full, the trajectory is downwards. In 2007 the mark would produce mixed bags of flounder, dab, codling, gurnard, bass, dogfish, and smooth hound. Today the clean fish have markedly reduced in size and numbers or just plain disappeared. Sad but true……..

Shore Fishing in Ireland, Dab Hand

Friday, June 1st, 2012

Lugworm baited hooks flew through the air in an arc before splash landing 100 meters out from the rock platform that I was perched on, rig now resting on the clean sandy bottom a few turns of the reel handle tightened line against gripper and my rod tip curved over poised and ready for the anticipated bite. Ten minutes pass then tap, tap, tap followed by a heavy lean. Sitting on my hands quelling the desire to lift and strike, again the tip goes tap, tap, tap followed by a lean. Lifting with a backward sweep of the rod I now commence reeling and feel a solid resistance.

Double dab from a West Cork rock mark.

Winding and pumping hard I manage to raise both fish and trailing weight above the shallow reef in front of me. One quick dive down close in then its planing across the surface, phew, a cracking dab knocking a pound, the first of six landed in seven casts this evening to include the double header pictured above. Catching flatfish of this caliber in today’s over fished environment is something to be celebrated, roll on dinner time tomorrow evening.

Waiting for a flattie to bite in West Cork, Ireland.

Large dab are the nicest fish to eat, seasoned with sea salt then par fried back and front on the bone in butter, before removing to an oven dish and placing in a preheated oven at 180 degrees centigrade. Squeeze some lemon juice over the top, cover with foil and leave cooking for about twenty minutes. They will come out steaming and the meat will lift off the bone, sweet and delicious with chips, mayo, and peas.

A pound plus dab from a rock mark in West Cork, Ireland.

On the evening in question I fished a two hook paternoster baited with two day old lugworm cast into a secluded sandy bay. The dab residing here are plentiful and consistently large with many topping a pound, having only fished the mark on three occasions I’ve landed or seen caught at least two specimens. Bites came thick and fast for a period of an hour as the tide rose then died. Hoping for a codling to bolster the catch, this evening they didn’t show, maybe later in the year when the coalfish will be present as well……

For further reading, click on: The Humble Flatfish.

Bass Fishing in Ireland, Seasons Opener.

Sunday, June 19th, 2011

A chance phone call from marine scientist Ed Fahy was the precursor to an enjoyable days bass fishing in Ireland’s showery south east. “I have a mountain of bait and nobody to share it with”, enough said “I’ll meet you in Gorey” and with that a sort of plan was laid. Strong southerly winds had backed around to the south west and decreased 4 – 5 making the beaches north of Carnsore point worth a pop as the big offshore swell would create a nice surf. There was no point in trying the south Wexford strands as these would have been blanketed with weed and so it proved.

A nice early 2011 season bass from a south Wicklow strand.

First port of call was Ballytrent strand, as expected a nice surf was running and initial evidence pointed to a weed free zone. Ominously though weed was evident about a quarter of a mile up the beach to our left. Unfortunately on casting our lines got snagged up with wrack and smaller pieces of weed. After half an hour we called it quits deciding to move further north and fish in the vicinity of Blackwater.

Ed Fahy surf casting on Ballinesker strand, Co. Wexford.

The weather God’s were kind, although hit with showers all day in between it was warm and sunny the wind staying in the west. A move to Ballinesker north of Curracloe, the stage for the awesome opening scene from “Saving Private Ryan” looked promising but again our hopes were dashed. A crumping surf hid a myriad of broken half rotten weed, a bi-product of the recent south easterlies. This time we persevered for an hour but again fishing was impossible. “Third time lucky” says I, “we’ll find a beach out of the main tidal current”.

Awaiting that bite, beach fishing in Co. Wicklow.

On arrival a nice rolling wave promised bass. Having never blanked on this beach I was confident that it would deliver. Baiting up with double fresh razor clam and popping the rig sixty meters out, the rod was barely in its rest before a lively pull down signaled our first fish, a schoolie promptly returned. From then on things were slow, not unusual for this mark for it has an all or nothing nature, but as stated it always delivers. So it proved an hour in when a good heave on the rod followed by a slack line resulted in a spirited fight with a three pound plus bass. Not the biggest from this venue but welcome nonetheless.

A school bass from a Wicklow beach for marine scientist Ed Fahy.

I was delighted for Ed, as the full time whistle sounded on his last cast he landed a small bass with which to christen his new surf pole. He will catch bigger this year but importantly the fish provided scale samples from which Ed will be able to continue his fine work in trying to understand the biology of this wonderful species. On packing up I thanked Ed for his morning call, we both agreed it was a fine day out and certainly will plan a repeat performance or two before the summer is out.

Sea Fishing in Ireland. Stormy Monday Flatties.

Thursday, May 26th, 2011

It is always possible to find fish on the Beara even in the worst of weather as I found out over the last couple of days. Prospects looked grim for Roger and I with serial fronts blowing in from the Atlantic. Rain driven by strong winds which moved from north west to south and back again in the space of 36 hours makes for heavy seas and little shelter on this wonderful but exposed sea angling outpost. That said, a  weather window gave us an evening and one full days fishing before it all closed in again and we made the most of it.

A Beara flounder tempted by lugworm tipped with white ragworm.

Digging fresh lugworm and white rag  for bait we chose a relatively sheltered mark with flat fish in mind. Roger used a two hook flowing trace while I baited up a two hook paternoster. Distance has proved decisive on this location before and so it transpired again. From the get go dogfish made their appearance more or less every other cast to plain lug baits. Tipping off with white rag and being able to get that little bit further out due to the rig employed, a decisive pull down of the rod top followed by a slack line resulted in a fine flounder, the next cast producing a good codling. With night closing in we called it a day.

Evening sea fishing during rough conditions on the Beara Peninsula, Ireland.

The following evening during a temporary lull we used up the remainder of our lugworm fishing a different rock mark that again gave access to clean ground. This time we both used two hook paternosters banged out and what a session we had. Fishing about two hours into the rising tide we hit codling averaging 2.0 lbs on our first casts with no let up until the bait ran out. Super fishing similar to what we experienced last October capped off by a cracking pound plus dab, one part of a codling/flattie double header.

A pound dab tempted by lugworm while sea fishing on the Beara Peninsula, Ireland.

The fishing continued with double codling shots occurring at least three times. At close of play Roger had the best fish topping 2.5 lbs. We kept a few codling for the pot returning most to the water. Two year classes were evident, one year and two/three years. Codling breed in their forth year so we are not out of the woods yet, however as stated before if this obviously prolific stock is managed rather than exploited then there is hope for the species.

A mixed bag caught sea fishing on the Beara Peninsula, Ireland.

The Beara is full of surprises, I have not caught codling like this in May since the late 1980′s, and as for flatfish well I will keep coming back. In the last three trips I have landed numerous plaice to 1.5 lbs and dab to a pound plus, with a friend catching a 1.5 lb specimen dab. This is quality fishing for the times we are living in, long may it last.

High Times in South Wexford.

Saturday, January 22nd, 2011

A blocking high is centered over Ireland deflecting Atlantic weather systems up and over us to the north. Winds are slack, the sky is clear, and frosty conditions prevail with temperatures at night down to minus five. No matter about the big spring tide, with the sea calm and clear experience dictates that fish will be hard to come by.

Frosty conditions on Rostoonstown Strand, South Wexford.

A fortnight previous on a similar tide codling had showed on a south Wexford strand along with flounder and dab. Today with high water around six pm I could expect fish as dusk fell from around 16.30 pm. Fishing two rods baited with freshly dug lugworm at various distances by 19.00 pm and one rockling later I called it a day. Late January traditionally sees a tail off in catches as fish prepare for spawning so allowing for that and the prevailing conditions I was not too disappointed.

Winter brace of codling and dab.

With bait left over the following evening I headed for Clones strand, a few codling and school bass had shown up the previous weekend, and the beach traditionally fishes well for flatties at this time of year. Dull and overcast but still frosty, the sea was calm a single wave slopping on the beach. Fishing a rising tide with high water around 23.00 pm small dabs and flounder were the order of the day. The signs are looking good for those competing in the forthcoming EFSA Winter Beach Festival, Clones Strand being a regular match venue.

Winter Beach fishing, South Wexford.

Thursday, January 6th, 2011

Not having shore fished since mid November due to the arctic conditions it was great to once again feel the crunch of shingle underfoot, wind up the surf casting pole, and send a five ounce lead fizzing towards the horizon. A planned session after codling along the south Wexford beaches delivered a pleasing result yielding four species and a few fish for the pot.

Winter beach fishing south county Wexford, Ireland.

Fresh/frozen razor fish from a previous session were supplemented with lugworm and clam dug from the back strand at Rosslare. A couple of fellow bait collectors hinted at the prospect of fish and information was traded as to the current hot spots between bouts of digging. Lugworm is the top bait at this time of year but don’t rule out mussel and razor fish or combinations of all three. Coalies love mussel and razor can be very good for flounder especially when fished in the gutter after a blow.Bait digging on the burrow shore, Rosslare, Co. Wexford, Ireland.

A quick spot of lunch then off to the beach. Winter codling fishing has become increasingly hit and miss due to commercial overfishing, however large numbers of one-two pound codling have been present along the south coast since the summer hinting at a bumper winter beach season. East Cork, in particular the Youghal estuary, has produced good bags of fish to five pounds+, so I was hopeful that the Wexford beaches would not disappoint.

Daiwa 7HT's and Paul Kerry combinations.

Night tides in early January can throw up codling to weight  along the south Wexford beaches west of Carnsore point. Few and far between in recent years I was confident that fish would show. Setting up twin rigs, a single hook clipped down and a two hook flapper, the former was fired out while the latter was lobbed to about 60 meters. An oily swell was running creating a single wave on the beach and there was little or no floating weed. With high tide at five pm approx, I commenced fishing around half past three. As the light faded fish came on.

Winter sunset in south Wexford, Ireland.

Initially bites were tentative then a full blooded rap led to a slack line. Backing up while winding I felt the weight of a reasonable fish which turned out to be a codling of close to 40.cms. The action was fairly constant for an hour or so over the top of the tide. A few bites were missed which might have been down to coalfish and the fact that I was using long snoods. That said codling, dab, flounder, and rockling were landed, with the highlight being a fine flounder tempted by razor at distance.

Winter beach fishing fare, south Wexford, Ireland.

A brace of codling coupled with a nice dab and flounder made the trip worth while. January will see the best of it after which the beach rods will be moth balled until May. If the weather holds up another session or two is definitely on the cards. Let’s hope the codling are still obliging.