Posts Tagged ‘Mackerel’

High Tide Tigers

Tuesday, August 14th, 2018

There’s mackerel showing north of the point and I’ve had a few bass and a nice sea trout to kilty lures while fishing of an evening over the last week or two“. It had been too long since I had met and spoken with Ger, too long since I had last cast a line. The beach called though and I responded, life is instinctive, maybe I was not meant to fish for ten months, a break to rekindle the desire, what better way to reconnect then to revisit a happy place filled with special memories.

Spinning rig for mackerel, pollock, coalfish, sea trout and bass.

The lads are catching mackerel this last week“, it was good to catch up with Dot’s, matriarch to a creative bohemian family and witness to great change along the strand rooted in both our lives. “Drop in for a cup of tea on your way back“, acknowledging in the affirmative I departed the cottage and initially followed the railway line north for a spell before scrambling over the rocky sea defences to fire my first cast seaward into the steadily rising tide.

A four meter 13.30.pm full tide pushed southwards at a clip speeding up as it rounded the point. The sea calm and relatively clear due to a glorious two month spell of fine weather, a warm north west breeze lengthening the flight of my 32 gram kilty lure, breaking the surface I count to twelve and wind slowly. The lure pulses, my rod top dips and the line zig zags, flashes of blue/white and a skittery tail run in the receding wave, a beached mackerel drum rolls the shingle.

Shimmering silver/white, black and green striped, slippy, scales everywhere and that oily fresh smell of the sea. Mackerel are where it started for most sea anglers and they never lose their appeal. A nice stroll, good conversation and a half dozen for tea, batteries recharged………..

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

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”.

Autumn Sea Fishing off Kilmore Quay

Sunday, September 20th, 2015

It’s not even nine in the morning and we are catching mackerel, drifting a half mile off the Burrow shore west of Kilmore Quay, Co. Wexford, John Devereaux skipper of charter boat Celtic Lady II placed us over the mother load. Smiling faces greeted full hanks of the tiger striped little beauties as they came dancing and skittering over the gunnels, their tails drumming on the deck while we feverishly unhooked them before lowering again our feathers towards the throng below.

Mackerel fishing off Kilmore Quay, Co. Wexford, Ireland.

Autumn sea fishing off Kilmore Quay, Co. Wexford is a special time as resident summer and returning winter species merge over the offshore reefs to create a quality angling experience. On this day a warm light north westerly beeze faded to nothing creating a calm sea with a blue green clarity. On occasions as one peered into the depths the water would glitter and shimmer as herring fry swam by no doubt pushed up by the mackerel preying on them at will. Gannets dived, seals bobbed their heads, all this a backdrop to a regular smattering of codling and pollack taking interest in our mackerel baited jigs as we drifted eastwards across the kelp covered reefs.

A nice Kilmore Quay codling for Belgian sea angler Jean Reginster.

Belgian nationals Karel and Jean, no strangers to fishing in Ireland, having just enjoyed three days pike fishing in the midlands were sampling reef fishing Kilmore Quay style for the first time. Drift fishing over foul, kelp strewn ground where one has to feel the tackle claiming ups and downs of the seabed combined with grabbing weed can be a tough learning curve for the uninitiated, however Karel and Jean coped well. Codling, pollack, ling, wrasse, pouting, poor cod, dab and mackerel came aboard while the following morning Karel added icing to the cake with a brace of shore caught 5/6 pound bass.

A copper coloured Kilmore Quay pollack for Belgian national Karel Deckers

Relative abundance is how I would describe the sea fishing off not only Kilmore Quay but the south and south west coast of Ireland in general, one has to place an honest perspective on the resource. The fish are there but in the main are smaller and thinner on the ground when measured against very recent times, by that I mean up to twenty years ago. Skippers like John Devereaux work hard to deliver a quality experience which Karel, Jean and I most certainly had last weekend. In tandem the powers that be should work equally as hard to maintain and enhance this wonderful inshore resource ongoing for it’s the reason people like Karel and Jean choose Ireland as a holiday destination. As they say, it’s not rocket science………..

Irish Kayak Fishing Open 2015, Courtmacsherry, Co. Cork

Monday, August 17th, 2015

The inaugural Irish Kayak Fishing Open was held in the beautiful, picturesque West Cork fishing village of Courtmacsherry last Saturday 15th August 2015. Sponsored by Progressive Distribution Irelands premier distribution source for adventure sports equipment, to the tune of €1750.00 broken down into: (1st prize €1000.00 Wilderness Systems voucher, 2nd prize a voucher from Palm Equipment for €500.00, 3rd prize a €250.00 voucher for Adventure Technology Paddles) plus ancillary prizes from Cox & Rawle , an enthusiastic group of competitors assembled early on Broad Strand to ready for the 11.00 am paddle off.

rish Kayak Fishing Open 2015 winner Ian Burton receives his prize from Shane Cronin, MD of event sponsors Progressive Distribution.

As usual the Irish weather did not play ball with a forecast light north west breeze increasing to 20 knots making for a hard paddle back to shore. Undeterred the competitors fished away under the watchful eyes of appointed Safety Officer Jeff Cochrane, course director of the Outdoor Adventure Education programme at nearby Kinsale College, with the eventual winner being Waterville, Co. Kerry based Ian Burton who landed seven species to include thornback ray, pollack, whiting, pouting, dogfish, scad and mackerel.

Irish Kayak Fishing Open 2015, Courtmacsherry, Co. Cork.

One of many interested spectators, I can only give praise to all concerned as to how this exteremely safe but fun event was structured and ran, it really is a blueprint for the future. To MD Shane Cronin of main sponsor Progressive Distribution, Jeff Cochrane who provided much needed local safety advice on the venue, Courtmacsherry RNLI Coxwain Sean O’Farrell who again gave advice, support and a demonstration on the use of flares, Inland Fisheries Ireland staff and of course to all the competitors who took part, a huge thank you I really enjoyed your company over the weekend.

rish Kayak Fishing Open 2015, flare demonstration with Courtmacsherry RNLI.

A special mention must go to Gary Robinson, who is passionate about kayak angling, the added dimension it brings both to the sport of angling and kayaking and of course the pursuits health benefits and ability to bring diverse people together. His passion to highlight the wonderful hobby of kayak fishing is the reason underpinning what will hopefully become an annual event.

Irish Kayak Fishing Open 2015.

Courtmacsherry is a cracking place to hold the competition, great pubs, local eateries and a beautiful rural hinterland. I stayed at Woodpoint B/B run by Patricia and Mark Gannon who also own the Courtmacsherry Sea Angling Centre. There are fantastic opportunities to shore and boat fish in the locality with bass, flounder, mullet, gilt head bream, pollack, ray, cod, ling, skate and offshore blue shark the main species to target. When you have a free moment get down there, you will have a ball and to the Irish Kayak Fishing Open organisers you can put my name down for next year……………

Irish Kayak Fishing Open, Courtmacsherry, Co. Cork, Saturday 15th August 2015

Wednesday, August 5th, 2015

The Irish Kayak Fishing Open will take place on Saturday 15th August 2015 at Courtmacsherry, Co. Cork, commencing at 11.00 am with fishing until 16.00 pm. Sponsored by industry leaders in the kayaking field, first placed on the day will receive a €1000.00 Wilderness Systems voucher, second placed a voucher from Palm Equipment for €500.00, with Adventure Technology Paddles donating a €250.00 voucher for third place.

Wilderness Systems KayaksPalm Equipment Kayaks

The competition will be open to all anglers over 18 years of age, however every entrant must meet a number of criteria to ensure their own safety and the smooth running of the event. Check in on the day will commence at 09.00 am.

Gary Robinson, A Kayak Fisherman in Ireland.

Based in a sheltered venue renowned for its sea angling, the scenic West Cork fishing village of Courtmacsherry enables kayak anglers access to a range of species to include bass, flounder, dab, ray, pollack, wrasse and conger.

Angling writer and event organiser Gary Robinson from the A Kayak Fisherman in Ireland website in advance thanks all those who offered advice and encouragement in helping him put together what promises to be a great day out in a beautiful and prolific sea fishing location.

All enquiries to Gary Robinson at: kayakfishermanireland@gmail.com

Adventure Technology Kayak Paddles

Event Details

Irish Kayak Fishing Open, Courtmacsherry, Co. Cork, Saturday, August 15th, Fishing 11.00 am – 16.00 pm.

The competition will be open to all anglers over 18 years of age, however every entrant must meet a number of criteria to ensure their own safety and the smooth running of the event:

  • Every competitor must have their own seaworthy kayak, paddle, appropriate clothing, PFD, camera, signalling equipment of some description (VHF, flares, etc.)
  • Must be confident in their own fitness levels, self-rescue and paddling skills and be well prepared for a day afloat
  • Must register to participate in the competition by sending an email to kayakfishermanireland@gmail.com by the Monday before the competition date
  • Must carry a measuring mat (to be provided by Inland Fisheries Ireland) and competitor’s card (distributed at check in on morning of event) as well as a camera.
  • Should carry relevant protection from the weather. Ireland has a tendency to throw four seasons at us in one day. With this in mind it would be a good idea to carry at least a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen as well as enough food and liquids for the day.

Competition Rules:

  • This event is weather dependent. In the event of bad weather an alternative site will be considered but ultimately the event depends on relatively safe weather conditions. Judges will make the appropriate call on the day.
  • This is an individual event. There are no team prizes or challenges.
  • Entry fee will be small, probably in the region of €10. It is hoped that funds raised can be donated to the RNLI
  • Fishing time from 11.00 am  - 16.00 pm. Kayaks that do not make it back to the launch point by 16.00 will be disqualified. Check in from 09.00 where gear (kayak, PFD, etc.) will be checked.
  • Paddles or pedals only. No motors. This is in the interests of fairness to all competitors. Other electronic equipment such as echo sounders, GPS units and chartplotters, etc may be used.
  • No more than two rods may be fished at any one time. Static fishing rigs should have no more than three hooks. Jigging rigs for baitfish should have no more than six hooks.
  • Bait or lures – angler’s choice
  • The competition is based on the ethos of Catch, Photo, Release. Images, not dead fish, will win prizes. Competitors are free to keep fish as they see fit but for prizewinning purposes it will be the photos only that will be judged. Each competitor will be given a competitor’s token at check in. EACH image submitted for prize consideration must include this token. Photos submitted without the inclusion of this token will not be counted.
  • Prizes for species count, 1st, 2nd and 3rd and longest fish categories for selected species.
  • Judges decision is final.

 

 

Shannon Pike

Thursday, April 23rd, 2015

Well that lad Murphy is at it again, everywhere the bold Smurf as he is affectionately called targets pike they succumb to his charms, by that I mean ledgered mackerel, hard on the bottom in this case. With the spawning season beckoning David made plans to fish a backwater off the main channel of the River Shannon which he had successfully fished before Christmas.

A 15.lb River Shannon pike for angler David Murphy.

Within 10 minutes of casting out David’s rod signaled a run which after a short fight resulted in the 15.lb fish pictured above. Immediately upon recasting his line tore off again as a second pike subsequently weighing 14. lb 2 oz showed interest in his mackerel offering. Three more dropped runs occurred before David finally upped sticks. Without question David’s 2014/2015 winter pike fishing season has been fruitful, then again the man puts the time in…….

Barrow Pike

Tuesday, December 16th, 2014

Winter fishing on the River Barrow invariably means targeting the quieter backwaters due to increased flow and subsequent higher water levels within the main river channel. Locks, canals and marinas are fair game and it was the former that David Murphy and his friend Robbie chose for an afternoon session targeting coarse fish, predominantly roach, perch and dace which had migrated into their swim, a fifty meter long narrow tail water below a lock which registered about ten foot deep. Ever the predator angler David also set up a pike rod to float ledger mackerel in a likely hole on the premise that concentrations of silver fish within a confined area tend to attract pike.

Predator angler David Murphy cradles a fine River Barrow pike.

David’s hunch paid off when a mid weight Barrow torpedo made off with what it thought was a free lunch only to find that it carried a sting in the tail. Startled into life the pike gave a good account of itself before sliding over the net. In great condition and beautifully coloured, his friend Robbie later banked another to cap what had been a fine session on a river that rewards those who put the time in and get to know its vagaries.

 

Pike on a Foggy Morning

Friday, November 21st, 2014

An evening phone call from David needed no second thoughts in the response, “Are you interested in going pike fishing tomorrow on a new water that I have become aware of? “Yes of course, thanks for asking”. “Be outside the gaff for 08.00 am then and we will go in my car”. Up and about at six bells, why is it so easy to get up when the motivation is fishing? Breakfasted, gear stowed and I was on the road by seven. Dark, damp and seriously foggy, visibility down to about twenty meters on occasions, conditions which persisted all day, the one saving grace was a constant temperature of about 9 – 10 degrees and no wind, in terms of piking it does not get any better.

A cracking double figure Irish pike for David Murphy.

Opting to float ledger into a very reedy swim we set up three rods baited respectively with frozen smelt, mackerel and roach, fanning out the offerings across three separate locations within thirty meters of our fishing station. Setting our bait runners and bite alarms David poured both of us a welcome cup of coffee and the vigil commenced. An hour in line started peeling off one of David’s reels, without further ado rod in hand David leaned into the fast disappearing pike as it bolted further into the reeds. Having turned the fish a degree of bullying ensued to get old esox into open water, from that point after a couple of short runs the well conditioned pike slipped easily into the net.

Nearly there, a double figure Irish pike is ready for the net.

Beautifully conditioned and running 11 or 12 pound, laid carefully on the de-hooking mat, forceps a couple of photos and back in the water to kick strongly away. David’s second double figure pike within a week from that swim and the only fish of yesterdays session, three more dropped runs confirming a healthy population of bottle green predators. Evidence for a revisit? Most definitely……..

Further posts on pike fishing: Pike Hatrick in Co. Cavan.