Posts Tagged ‘Tope fishing’

Heatwaves and Tope

Thursday, July 18th, 2013

The Azores high centered over Ireland, four weeks of continuous sunshine, blue skies, slack winds, and regular 20 degree plus temperatures, what more can three pale skinned Irishmen do but go tope fishing of course. Greeted on the harbour slip by a millpond sea, Gary, David, and I prepared Jean Anne before embarking to catch the last of a very neap ebb tide in the deep channel east of the Moulditch bouy.

Gary Robinson displays a fine male tope.

Gathering enough fresh mackerel for bait, year on year becoming an increasingly bigger issue raised its head yet again. In a repeat of last weeks struggle three anglers boated four mackerel in two hours flitting between various known drops off Bray Head. Well into slack water and really wanting to put David, who had never caught one of these sleek marine athletes, over a fish I decided to make a run for our chosen mark anchor up and catch the flood as it picked up.

Gary Robinson playing a good tope off Greystones, Co. Wicklow, Ireland.

In a repeat of last week Gary had no sooner lowered fresh whole mackerel into Davy Jones locker when his ABU 7000 started purring. Off the tope went only this time everything went according to plan which was wonderful as David, still to land his first tope, had a grandstand view of not only what these fish are capable of but their graceful beauty as well. Scissors hooked, quick photo and away, a fine male tope that certainly looked and felt 30 pound plus.

David Murphy with his first ever tope.

Enthused by the spectacle David had to wait a further four hours before his wish came to life. Having been teased by an earlier dropped run just as the flood tide was easing Dave’s ratchet buzzed. Rod now in hand 10 seconds in David leaned and the fish tore off. Adrenaline flowing everyone on Jean Anne wanted this encounter to end happily which thankfully it did. Five minutes later the smile said it all as the female tope swished her tail and glided back into the depths…….

See also: Tope Antics off Greystones.

Click on: Tope Alley.

Tope Antics off Greystones

Friday, July 12th, 2013

A double knock registers, zzzzzz, zzzzzz, the ratchet emits audible staccato clicks, a four meter tide flows strongly past the anchored Jean Anne. Old yella now in hand, brain runs through a split second check list. Ratchet disengaged, reel disengaged, drag pre set, “cool”, thumb controled line strips from the narrow spool Penn 4, rhythmic banging transmits along taught braid as a heavy female tope powers away down tide. The run develops, ten seconds counted lean back no need to strike the fishes momentum will do the needful, in an instant fifth gear, old yella takes the strain.

A Greystones, Co. Wicklow tope swims alongside before being lifted carefully aboard.

Powerfully running towards Bray Head the wily female turns on a sixpence and doubles back uptide. Reeling like blazes the old glassfibre twenty pound class rod heels over as contact is made yet again, whoosh she veers left and the equally old Penn reluctantly feeds line. So it continues for five minutes in the rushing tidal flow, giving and taking, taking and giving until grudgingly the large female swims alongside ready for tailing. Not quite, a sight of the boat and off she goes, pre set drag whines,  now she’s sulking three fathoms down. Carefully pumping, the tope rises into view, no admiring this time. Gary grabs the running leader to gain control before swiftly transfering his hands to her dorsal fin and tail wrist, with all his strength he hoists the twitching, writhing, teeth knashing tope over the gunwale.

Thirty pounds plus of angry female tope.

Back in 2011 Gary and I set forth on four occasions in search of these underwater cheetahs before eventually striking it lucky at the fifth attempt, fast forward to July 2013 and we connect first drop, well almost. Motoring through the harbour mouth at 05.45am to catch the start of the flood our immediate concern was catching mackerel. Two hours later and with only four in the bucket I pointed Jean Anne towards a mark north east of the Moulditch ridge. Anchoring up we lowered our hard won bait to the seabed 10 fathoms below. Five minutes in Gary’s reel started to sing.

Mackerel, a top bait for tope.

Leaning into the fast running tope Gary connected preceeding to play the fish for around two minutes then nothing. Retrieving his line all became clear, a crimp had given way. Sods law but at least they’re about. However sod didn’t stop there, later while retrieving Gary gets hit again.  This time the tope powered off midwater before letting go after ten seconds. Reeling to the surface there she is following the bait, will she, won’t she, flick of her tail and she’s gone. Immediately lowering the rig within seconds a very determined run develops, she’s persistant but so was Gary’s bad luck, sod strikes three, now baitless we call it quits.

Playing a tope off Greystones, Co. Wicklow, Ireland.

What a day it had been, glorious sunshine the result of a blocking high centered over Ireland creating clear blue skies and searing heat with inland temperatures hitting 30 degrees. One fish in the boat, four runs, a bull huss and a tope swimming up sixty foot to say hello, nature in full view. Firing up the engine I point Jean Anne towards Greystones, the high stool and a welcome pint in the beach house………

See also: Screaming Reels.

Click on: Heatwaves and Tope.

Kayak Fishing for Tope, Co. Wicklow, Ireland.

Friday, September 16th, 2011

Gary Robinson is an all round angler and a good one at that. He is quite comfortable trotting a quill float on the Barrow for dace, fly fishing for wild brownies on Roundwood reservoir, or targeting twenty pound pike up in Cavan or Monaghan. His latest venture was to seek out and catch a tope from his trusty kayak fishing the inshore waters off north Co. Wicklow. Now having seen and caught some biggies myself in recent years, the idea of hooking, playing, and landing one of these fast running bruisers from a kayak is nothing short of madness in my opinion, especially if it turns out to be the size of Gerry Mitchell’s monster tope from a few weeks back.

A north Co. Wicklow tope on the run.

That said, and allowing for youthful exhuberance, yesterday morning, Thursday 15th September 2011, Gary availed of a break in the windy weather to launch his kayak of a north Co. Wicklow strand. Here is his story;

I headed back down to a Wicklow beach this morning after a forecast break in the “hurricane” winds. I paddled out to my usual mark an dropped anchor for what will probably be my last roll of the dice for tope this year, from the kayak anyway, maybe one more day next week, we’ll see what the weather does. I had a couple of frozen macks with me and that is what I started with, putting a full one down on the tope rod. I put the tope rod in the rod holder and started jigging hokkais with the smaller rod just in case any fresh mackerel were passing through. They were and I managed to get a couple of fresh ones into the yak, backup for when I lost patience with the frozen. That took about an hour and with no runs by then i decided to change to a whole fresh mackerel bait. Whether it was coincidence or not I don’t know but the bait was on the bottom no longer than three minutes when the rachet started to scream.

I let it go for about ten seconds and then flipped the reel into gear. The rod buckled over…

Playing a tope from a kayak off north Co. Wicklow, Ireland.
….and the fish just kept on going and going down tide. After about a hundred yards or so I managed to turn her but then disaster, the bait was dropped. As I reeled it in, cursing away to myself the rod arched over again and I was back in business. I’m guessing the same fish was particularly hungry/aggressive and it held station, not wanting to come up off the bottom no matter what I did. This “Mexican stand off” ensued for a few minutes, as soon as I gained some line, the tope took some back. After what seemed an eternity the fish finally came into view…I got it up alongside the yak for a closer look and to size it up….

“No bother”, I thought and grabbed it by the tail to bring it up on board but this just made the fish very angry. With a couple of powerful flicks of the tail she was back on the bottom again and started to give me hell for another couple of minutes. Finally the tope accepted what was happening and I managed to haul it up onto the kayak and get to work on the hook. I managed a couple of shots when she was onboard but I figured out this morning that my next rigging project for the kayak is going to have to be a decent camera mount…..

One for the memory bank, a kayak caught tope, fantastic.

Tired after the ordeal, it took a couple of minutes of holding the fish steady in the tide before I felt the muscles in it flex. Wouldn’t be long now and sure enough the tail started to kick and thrash and just after giving me a soaking which must have been way of revenge, she slowly swam across the tide for about 20 yards and then descended back to the deeps.. By this stage the wind had started to freshen and the sea was starting to roll a little bit so I decided to quit while I was ahead and make my way back to the shore. What a morning though!!!!

Boat Fishing off Greystones, Screaming Reels.

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011

Reilly’s Ridge south of Greystones was a premier large plaice mark until the mussel dredgers got at it. Back in the day specimen plus plaice were a regular feature from this tide swept mussel bank along with good sized codling. Only interested in the “clean” fish then we never targeted tope, based on yesterday’s experience why did we leave it so long? A weather window allowed Jean Anne, my 19′ lake boat the opportunity to take Gary and I out on another tope hunt. With light variable winds forecast another session in the deep channel was on the cards.

Gary Robinson displays a Greystones, Co. Wicklow, tope caught on whole mackerel.

A four meter tide full in at 13.00pm meant for a strong south run. Timing our arrival on the tope grounds for the turn of the tide, about 11.00am,  Gary and I initially made for Bray Head and a supply of mackerel for bait. Drifting off the cable we hit fish from the first drop, mainly two’s and three’s of a good stamp. In jig time the bait bucket was full and firing up the motor I pointed the bow south to a mark on the inside of the Moulditch, a strong north west breeze necessitating a change in plan, safety being paramount. Not the ideal location, but with conditions to improve through the day it would be a good jumping off point.

Playing a tope off Greystones, Co. Wicklow, Ireland.

Anchoring up on slack water I used whole mackerel, with the tail cut off to prevent spinning, while Gary presented a mackerel flapper. Our traces were 6 foot running ledgers incorporating 18 inches of wire to 7/0 Sakuma hooks connected to five foot of b/s mono rubbing leaders. Attracting LSD’s every drop Gary switched over to whole mackerel very quickly. The day started Grey, however within half an hour of anchoring what could only have been a weak front passed over us and suddenly we were bathed in blue skies,  and with the prevailing north west breeze dying away we decided to steam south and try a mark where Gary had caught a tope while kayaking the previous week.

A twenty pound plus tope for Ashley Hayden off Greystones, Co. Wicklow.

Dropping the hook at our chosen spot, I remarked to Gary that below us was Reilly’s Ridge, once a great plaice mark which had seen better days. By now the south run was well picking up and our traces were having to be cleaned of floating wrack every five minutes. Half an hour in and hungry I decided to prompt a fish by eating a ham roll. It always works, noticing my rod top dip, then dip again, suddenly the ratchet is screaming, FISH AWAY!! Thump thump thump I feel the powerful tail sweep from side to side as the tope heads towards Wicklow. Doubling back now I reel to regain line, then off again to port before sulking. A quick dip is transmitted through the rod and then nothing. B####r that the hook has fallen out, so I reel in re bait and try again. Almost immediately a repeat, this time the fight lasts ten minutes before freedom. I can only assume that the strong current is putting pressure on the hook hold, any slack and the hook is shaken free.

A specimen forty pound plus tope caught off Greystones, Co. Wicklow, Ireland.

An hour passes, the tide is really racing now, out of nowhere my ratchet sings again, this time there is going to be no mistake. Keeping pressure while the tope bombs southwards, Gary simultaneously weighs anchor. Negating the tide run we are now drifting towards the fish and the cards are stacked towards a successful conclusion. Spirited though the tope is she is soon alongside and swung aboard. Hooked in the lip, pliers, quick photo and away. Motoring up tide we re anchor and within minutes Gary is off, with the tide easing quickly this fish is manageable however on seeing the boat she took off like a bat out of hell. Eventually boated after a spirited ten minute fight, she too is released unharmed to swim away having also been lip hooked.

Motoring home, Greystones, Co. Wicklow, Ireland.

On slack water around 17.00pm another flurry of runs occur resulting in the biggest tope of the day pushing close to if not over forty pounds. This sister really gave a good account, running left and right, sulking before coming to life and rocketing off again, a real power house. All told Gary and I experienced eight runs with five hook ups and three fish boated. The two fish lost in play came off the hook leaving traces in tact and the tope free of impediment, which was nice to know. A red letter session on our fifth attempt, so achieving my goal of boating a tope in the Jean Anne before the end of August. Mission accomplished two happy anglers headed for home and a celebratory pint in the Beach House, sure hadn’t we earned it.

Click on: Greystones, Co. Wicklow, Sea Angling Information.

Click on: Tope Alley.