Posts Tagged ‘Sheeps Head Peninsula’

Fishy Rambles in Deepest West Cork

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013

South west Ireland besides being wild and rugged delivers some of the best mixed species shore fishing this country has to offer. Pollack, wrasse, conger, and in season mackerel are the mainstay, however for the intrepid sea angler prepared to put in a little planning coupled with a fair amount of effort bull huss, codling, dab, plaice, coalfish, ray (thornback and spotted), mullet (thick and golden grey), scad, garfish, bass, and trigger fish could also have your rod tip nodding. No LRF here, although if you want to practice this new branch of the sport by all means. My advice though is, leave the light rods at home because the four rocky peninsulas jutting out into the Atlantic give access to adult fish, most of which due to the nature of the rough ground habitat they reside in still can reach their full potential size, you have been warned, as this soldier found out the hard way.

A nice Beara pollack tempted by mackerel fillet.

Having never set foot on the Sheeps Head peninsula, and wanting to suss it out, yours truly took a left turn off the Cork ring road onto the N.71 passing through Bandon, then cut across rolling country taking in Enniskean, Dunmanway and Drimoleague before rejoining the N.71 south of Bantry. A short hop and another left turn pointed me towards the village of Durrus, then on out towards Ahakista a beautiful harbour community centrally located on the south side of Sheeps Head.

Ahakista harbour, Sheeps Head, West Cork, Ireland.

Quality self catering accommodation with two pubs close by, one serving great sea food, you couldn’t ask for more. A quirk of the local language which became apparant is the use of north, south, east, and west when discussing where people are traveling on the peninsula, for example one drives west from Ahakista to Kilcrohan, east to Durrus, and north if heading over to Bantry. Concentrating on the fishing, on this my first occasion down I generally just mooched, driving along lanes getting my bearings casting an odd line here and there, mainly for pollack, while conversing with people that I’d meet. What became clear is that very little shore angling is practiced, especially ground fishing, so who knows what could turn up.

A good pollack from the Sheeps Head peninsula, West Cork, Ireland.

The south side of Sheeps Head has some nice pollack marks, evening fishing at two locations producing copper sided beauties to 5.lbs. Mackerel were running during my stay and mullet showed their presence in quiet backwaters. People that I met talked about “Connors” which is a local name for wrasse, so they are present as I’m sure are conger. The airport mark near Bantry is a 15 minute drive from Ahakista so include thornbacks, bull huss, and dogfish, the latter of which I caught when fishing a morning tide at the venue.

Beara mullet from the pond.

After a couple of days sussing out and sight seeing accompanied on occasions by Victor Daly (a great host) whom I rented the cottage off, it was off to meet UK based friends Roger and Dave making their annual Beara fishing trip. A species hunt, after 24 hours we had nailed six, by day two the marker was up to nine to include mullet, pollack, wrasse, dogfish, conger, mackerel, codling, flounder, and dab. This for me being just a flying visit we only hit established marks, that said the pollack and wrasse were there in force albeit smaller than usual and it was nice to see mackerel in reasonable numbers.

A strap conger caught shore fishing on the Beara peninsula.

The high light though was fishing a rough ground mark for conger. Using very simple end rigs baited with fresh mackerel we caught three straps to about 8 – 10 lbs before my rod registered a gentle pull, pull. Now in hand I felt the fish surge forward prompting me to lift and wind my Daiwa slosh simultaneously. Rod heeling over hard I knew the fish was clear of the bottom by the strong free movement registering through rod and line. After a couple of minutes pumping the conger surfaced, dark blue with a white under belly, a big solid head very thick set. Twenty pound plus for sure, I’ll never know the exact weight as a down swell caught it just as one of the lads was about to grab my leader. Thirty pound main line snapped like cotton, well that’s fishing West Cork style…………..

See also: Beara Peninsula Magic.