Posts Tagged ‘Hook Head’

Off the Hook

Sunday, May 13th, 2012

Hook Head is in equal parts an interesting yet frustrating angling location, a long narrow low lying peninsular with a remote and ancient personality, comprised of three types of sedimentary rock, slate and shale to the north, old red sandstone across the center, and fossil rich carboniferous limestone creating a stepped landscape in the vicinity of the lighthouse, I have no doubt of its fishing potential but to date it continues to allude me.

Hook lighthouse viewed from the east.

Smallish pollack and wrasse (relative to the west of Ireland) are caught in the vicinity of the lighthouse, especially on the eastern (deeper) side, I’ve caught a few and seen images, but are there bigger? Mackerel visit mid to late summer especially in the vicinity of Slade harbour, while bass and mullet frequent the shallow rocky bays which punctuate both the east and west side of the peninsula. Rock platforms from the lighthouse back towards Slade are numbered for competitions, so ground fishing is obviously practiced, what is the level of success though?

Jelly worming close to the Hook lighthouse, Co. Wexford, Ireland.

Living in north county Wexford the Hook still represents a 120+ mile round trip for me, with diesel costing €1.55+ a litre the decision to travel down is not taken lightly. Yes it is fun to explore but how far can you take that concept, at some point there has to be an end result. Does the Hook look fishy or is it? I know there are whopper bass available I’ve caught one or two, but it’s hard work when your fishing window is tight and you have that distance to travel. Weather also plays a part with on occasions floating mats of weed a problem in some bays, yesterday being a case in point.

Jelly worming rig suitable for pollack.

Saturday May 12th is early in the season and a month of cold north easterlies has possibly added a delay factor regarding species getting into gear, but to jelly worm for two hours over high water in various locations (regularly changing type and colour) and not get a touch. That said, I learned about the underwater topography along the eastern side close to the lighthouse, shallow (a count of twelve reaches bottom), with a stepped gradient. Maybe fishing will improve as the summer progresses, will I be out there? Diesel and distance limits, any advice gratefully accepted.

Duncannon Morning.

Sunday, October 9th, 2011

Saturday the 8th of October dawned bright and calm, by midday it was blowing a hooly from the south west/west and my fishing plans sank without trace. Having watched team Ireland eventually overcome by Wales in a cracking (at least for 60 minutes) rugby world cup quarter final, and with fishing and bait digging gear already packed in the car I headed for Duncannon, on the Wexford side of the Waterford estuary and a neap 10.00am low water.

Duncannon Fort, South Wexford, Ireland.

Taking a left at the crossroads before Ramsgrange, after about two miles the bay opened up on my left hand side, a wide expanse of golden sand, the sea glittering and calm framed by County Waterford to the west and Wexford’s Hook Peninsula to the east. A relatively unknown corner of Ireland with so much tourism potential and stunningly beautiful. Parking beside the Strand Bar I made my way down onto the pristine beach and commenced digging for fat fleshy lugworms.

Evidence of single digging for lugworms, Duncannon strand, South Wexford, Ireland.

The fine weather had early risers out walking the dog, beach combing, and generally just taking in the iodine laced view. A flat sheltered beach ideal for kite surfing, an introductory class was taking place close to where I was digging. The sport looks great fun, and what a location to learn. Digging bait here always attracts people curious as to what you are doing. Today was no different, the resultant marine biology based conversation and the visual size of what lies beneath the sand never ceasing to fascinate them.

Kite Surfing lesson, Duncannon, Co. Wexford, Ireland.

Knowing the area quite well Duncannon has it all, wonderful location close to the Hook Peninsula, the Arthurstown/Passage East car ferry, foody heaven with fine establishments such as Dunbrody House (Kevin Dundon), Aldridge Lodge (Billy Whitty), and the Strand Bar, two first class deep sea angling charter vessels, the fantastic beach previously mentioned, and with Waterford City, Dunmore East, Wexford Town, Kilmore Quay, and St Mullins all within a twenty five/thirty mile radius Duncannon is an ideal base for a holiday or short break.

Duncannon Strand looking south east towards Hook Head, Co. Wexford, Ireland.

Today it was not about the fishing, bait digging and what surrounded the activity funnily enough making up for the change in weather and subsequent best forgotten session. The sea, only just fishable due to the strengthening wind, looked to contain bass and with no weed showing except over the peak of the tide should have delivered. Instead a couple of small flats saved the blank but no matter, my endevours brought me to beautiful Duncannon on a sunny early October Saturday morning, I would not have swapped it.


Sea Fishing in Ireland, “Wild Swan” off the Hook.

Sunday, August 8th, 2010

“Wild Swan” is a 42′ fully licensed, insured, and equipped charter vessel working out of Ballyhack on the Wexford side of the Waterford Estuary. Skippered by Jim Foley, “Wild Swan” is powered by a 600 HP Caterpillar engine giving her a top speed of 28 knots, enabling Jim to put anglers on the offshore fishing grounds quickly and safely. Specialising in reef fishing off the Hook, deep water wrecks, and drifting for blue shark, “Wild Swan” provides a wealth of offshore sea angling opportunities, and if the wind blows there is always the estuary to explore.

A group of happy anglers on board the "Wild Swan" charter vessel.

A Friday evening call from Pat Cullen found me standing on the quay at Ballyhack, Co. Wexford, at the appointed hour of 09.30am the following morning. Having fished the Waterford estuary on board “Wild Swan” last year catching plenty of flounder, codling, and bass, I was glad of the call and the opportunity it presented to fish the rough ground off Hook Head. Jim Foley junior was skippering the vessel today. Stowing my gear and introducing myself to the group, most of whom I knew through the Rathdrum Anglers, we set sail at ten bells on what was a warm, greyish day, with a fresh north westerly blowing.

Codling caught off Hook Head, Co. Wexford.

First stop we fished a scarf of tide inside Hook Head for mackerel. As has been the form this summer they were scarce, it took various drifts over a two hour period to amass just about enough for bait. Luckily there was plenty of ragworm on board, and these along with a number of launce provided enough bait for the days reef fishing. Using feathers and hokais during this period drops to the bottom also resulted in some nice codling, pollack, and coalfish, in the two/three pound bracket.

Jim with a nice pollack tempted by a redgill.

Next stop saw our group drifting over a pinnacle rock feature which rose sharply from the seabed to within four/five fathoms of the surface. Jim advised gilling which I did to some effect, taking pollack which although not large provided great sport on the light gear with their initial crash dive. Other species landed over this mark included pouting and codling. Anchoring and fishing large baits into the base of this feature would surely produce conger and ling given the amount of pouting present, some of which came up two at a time.

Double pouting on the Wexford based charter vessel Wild Swan.

A move to general reef fishing saw our group drifting an area of mixed ground, rock interspersed with gravel patches, which produced a variety of species to include gurnard, wrasse, ling, pollack, and codling. A feature of the day was the number of codling landed, many returned to grow bigger. Not large, averaging a pound and a half, there is a future if the powers that be get their act together and manage the stock correctly. It was interesting to hear Jim, an experienced commercial skipper back in the day, talk about investment in large vessels and how in hindsight the policy was short sighted, given the present obvious damage to fish stocks.

Red gurnard off Hook Head, Co. Wexford.

At days end our group had returned thirteen species to include mackerel, codling, coalfish, pollack, ling, pouting, poor cod, red gurnard, grey gurnard, ballan wrasse, cuckoo wrasse, launce, and dogfish, not a bad return for a fun day out. The fishing on occasions was slow, but Jim kept working to put our group over fish, and you cannot ask for more then that. The species haul shows the potential of the area, and although a lot of fish were returned, some prime codling, pollack, mackerel, and ling were filleted for home consumption as we steamed for Ballyhack.

Skipper Jim Foley junior with a cuckoo wrasse.

Skipper Jim Foley trades as Mermaid Angling and can be contacted by email,, or by phone: 00353 (0)51 389225, mobile: 00353 (0)87 678 1245. The “Wild Swan” is a comfortable, beamy vessel with plenty of space for a group of eight anglers. The day was well worth my €50.00 contribution. Big thanks to Pat for giving me the call and skipper Jim Foley for what proved to be a fun day afloat in good company.

Further reading, Click on: Hey Joey.

By Hook or by Cullenstown?

Wednesday, July 14th, 2010

Fishing unfamiliar marks is a challenge that broadens our knowledge and improves our skill as anglers. New places, fishing conditions, and people, contribute to the fun of the sport, making the effort and preperation worthwhile even if we do not always catch fish on the first visit.

Bass fishing, the bar at Cullenstown, Co. Wexford

The estuary mouth bar at Cullenstown looks a dangerous enough mark to fish at the best of times. The volume of water flowing out through the approximately eighty meter gap is phenomenal. On arriving yesterday I spied a lone angler a hundred metres off the main beach, fronted by crashing grey waves and completely surrounded by moving water. An hour off low tide, reasoning that he was local and knew the form, I waded out. Mainly hard sand with occasional patches of shifting gravel, the water although never more than calf deep had such a force that I could not help feeling uneasy. One slip here and you are gone. Exchanging greetings we talked fishing. Paddy Deveraux has shore fished Cullenstown all his life. He has had bass to off the bar, always uses lugworm, and even fishes the mark at night, retreating to the main beach just before the tide turns. Not for the feint hearted, I’ll stick to the beach and fish the incoming tide thank you.

Hook Head, Co. Wexford, Ireland

The previous evening an exploratory trip to Hook Head after pollack using jelly worms resulted in a string of small fish. The biggest pollack, in the three pound bracket, seemed to prefer 60 gram barrel leads as against the lure. Twice in full view this fish came up from below hammering the lead, pulling the rod tip over, before diving back into the kelp. Hook Head is flat and the rock platforms, numbered for competitions, are stepped making them ideal for fishing. The water offshore is not deep, I counted to no more then ten before the lead hit bottom.

Beach fishing along the Hook peninsula, Co. Wexford

Later that evening Davy and I surf fished a likely bay at the base of the Hook peninsula close to the village of Fethard. Using lug for bait and on a falling tide to be honest we were not overly optimistic. With rocks at either end of the strand we knew that bass were present but would they show. A flounder and a schoolie bass later our hopes were raised only to be dashed by a blanket of weed washed across with the ebbing tide from a far corner of the strand. Calling it a night further investigation revealed that an incoming tide coupled with a southerly breeze will bring bass onto this strand. Outside of that lure fishing the rocks can be productive with fish to double figures, however there is no pattern with the result that fishing can be hit and miss.