Posts Tagged ‘tope’

Boat Fishing off Greystones, Tope Quest, A Result.

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

Exhilaration and frustration amid the mayhem, is how I would describe the roller coaster of emotions that encompassed the last hour of what proved to be a very eventful outing off Greystones. Although tope were the prime target, Gary and I also included four score of lugworm with a view to test fishing recognised marks on the Moulditch ridge and Kilcoole bank for codling, pollack, coalfish, plaice, and dab.

Gerry Mitchell with an absolute monster tope, certainly 60.lbs+, off Greystones, Co. Wicklow.

Leaving the slip underneath a cloudless steel blue sky, mill pond conditions lay before us as we rounded the pier head and pointed Jean Anne south towards the Moulditch buoy. With high water at 10.00am our plan was to fish a number of marks inside the ridge and on the Kilcoole bank down to low water slack, before heading out to the deep channel and gearing up for tope. Anchoring first on the inside of the ridge, our lugworm baited hooks dropped to the kelp covered rocks below, the light southerly run a resultant of the current set of neaps making fishing easy.

Preparing the Jean Anne on the new slip at Greystones, Co. Wicklow.

The next few hours hammered home the truth, the once prolific cod shoals of the Moulditch have been replaced by dogfish. Not even a coalfish or small pollack found our baits, with the same result repeated on two locations over the Kilcoole bank. The once great fishing grounds “are devoid“, and that is official, of cod, plaice, and a host of demersal white fish species, reflecting the damaged ecosystem which is the Irish Sea. What we did find when fishing lug baits in the deep channel were small dab and lots of gurnard, not big, but fun to catch on a light rod with their rattling darting bites. Sadly though, the heady days of quality mixed species catches are for the present a distant memory.

Small grey gurnard, Greystones, Co. Wicklow, Ireland.

Having anchored up east of the red buoy shortly after 14.00pm, to catch the start of the north run, Gary and I fished two rods each, one for tope and the other with worm baits. What transpired is the reason people go fishing, when it all clicks and nature combines with sport to generate vivid memories which will last a lifetime. The experience also drove home the short sighted policies which have decimated Ireland’s inshore waters, and equally highlighted what could be if the fishing grounds were restored, with recreational angling on an equal footing to commercial interests.

The Mitchell brothers, Dermot and Gerry, in tope heaven off Greystones, Co. Wicklow, Ireland.

A more expanded piece will give the full story, however as the north run eased yesterday evening tope filled the channel east of the Moulditch hitting baits with abandon, in particular those fished by Dermot and Gerry Mitchell, who arrived out shortly after lunch and anchored uptide of ourselves. I got hit by two fish, one on lugworm which initially I thought was the mother of all smooth hounds until after about four minutes the line was bitten through. Then another followed my whole mackerel sixty foot to the surface only to take the bait in full view 10 foot short of the stern. This tope in the thirty pound bracket took off like a scalded cat only to find a weakness in my trace and also was lost after a short fight.

Dermot Mitchell displays a fine Greystones tope, one of ten caught and released from his boat on a red letter day.

The Mitchell’s on the other hand couldn’t put a foot wrong and ended up boating 10 tope, experiencing numerous dropped runs, and like myself witnessed two tope follow a bait to the surface before one decided “this is mine”. A red letter day which no one who was there will ever forget, topped by a tope that Gerry caught on free lined whole mackerel which was estimated at well over 60.lb. At six foot long and as fat as a pig, it could have been more. All released to fight another day, these occasions are what sport fishing is all about, sharing a great day with good friends, generating timeless memories.

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

Boat Fishing off Greystones, Tope Quest (Part 2).

Thursday, July 14th, 2011

Another scorcher, reaching 22 degrees with clear blue skies and light variable winds greeted Jean Anne as she motored away from the slip to catch the start of the ebb off Greystones, Co. Wicklow. An early 08.00 am start would give Gary and I enough time to secure some mackerel off Bray Head before heading south towards our chosen mark off the Moulditch reef. With high water at 11.00am we intended to fish down to low water slack, if there are any tope about we should know by then.

A view north towards Bray Head, off Greystones, Co. Wicklow, Ireland.

Other then a potting boat we had the sea to ourselves and it was glorious. Off the cable rock, unlike last week, we hit mackerel almost first drop. Of a larger stamp they still were not numerous, but drifting down tide and motoring back to repeat the exercise over a small shoal gave us enough bait for the day within half an hour. With that we gunned the engine, and in company with a coastguard helicopter and an air corps coastal patrol plane, we anchored up north east of the Moulditch just as the south run was picking up.

The ubiquitous lesser spotted dogfish or LSD for short.

Setting up six foot flowing ledger rigs using 8/0 Kamasans and wire traces below a running boom, a pound of lead was more then enough to hold bottom at peak tidal flow. Using whole mackerel flapper as bait both Gary and I got savaged with LSD’s from the off. A conversation with a boat crew who anchored close to us, also targeting tope, gave us the solution to reduced dogfish interference, USE WHOLE MACKEREL, AS THEY CANNOT GET THEIR MOUTHS AROUND IT. As they say, staring you in the face, “thanks guy’s”.

A welcome thornback ray caught boat fishing off Greystones, Co. Wicklow.

Accompanying the dog’s were some fine huss. These fish have a habit of holding onto the bait without getting hooked. Gary had a beauty, easily ten pounds plus at the side of the boat only for yours truly to lose it. Grabbing the trace instead of the tail first, the fish proceeded to open it’s mouth so letting go of the bait. Frustratingly it hung in the tide below the boat for about ten seconds before swimming away. Easily four foot long with its big pug face and sandy coloured rough skin punctuated with big black blotches and spots, quite a handsome specimen. To make amends a while later a knock on my rod resulted in a small thornback ray, not a patch on the twenty pounders that used to swim here, but welcome none the less. From small acorns and all that. Again no tope, but a great day out for Gary and I, third time lucky?

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

Boat Fishing off Greystones, Co. Wicklow.

Saturday, July 2nd, 2011

A two day weather window enabled the Jean Anne to have her maiden sea voyage out off Greystones, Co. Wicklow. With settled anti cyclonic conditions, variable light winds, a biggish tide full at midday, Gary and I arranged to meet on the new slip at 08.30am. The new harbour, a monument to all that was wrong with the Celtic Tiger, looked impressive and even might have potential, if only they would finish it. For the moment at least though you can launch and retrieve a boat at low tide, I still believe however that silting will be a problem just like before.

Motoring north along the south beach, Greystones, Co. Wicklow, Ireland.

Having planned a tope session fresh mackerel were a priority, at two humps off Bray Head we started trolling. An hour and a solitary mackerel later we were getting anxious, then off the cable rock we scored, mostly joeys with a few half decent fish, enough for bait though. With that we motored a mile or so to catch the start of the ebb at the back of the moulditch bank. Fishing into ten fathoms of water as the south run picked up a succession of doggies savaged our mackerel flappers along with one small huss.

Preparing to fish off the Moulditch, Greystones, Co. Wicklow, Ireland.

Greystones fishing is an anti climax, it’s great to be out but you know what lies beneath and the evidence is all around you. Off Bray Head and southwards beyond the Moulditch strings of whelk pots litter the sea bed their presence indicated by makeshift plastic marker bouys. Three boats worked the area, one having steamed from Wicklow another from towards Dalkey/Dunlaoghaire. It’s called fishing down the food chain, these once prolific grounds in the recent past were fished by men with skill using traditional methods such as trammel and seine nets, long lines, and pots for large plaice, cod, sole, ray, salmon, sea trout, lobster and crab. Today these unregulated pirates in their smelly whelk boats take what is left after everything else has been removed, and to cap it all use edible crab for bait!

The new harbour entrance, Greystones, Co. Wicklow, Ireland.

The tope, a ray of light amongst the desolation, did not show, still a little early perhaps. A few small boats were out though and it was nice to help on the slip and swap stories of the day, some traditions never change. Mackerel were scarce for everybody and any clean fish caught were small. Gary and I boated undersized gurnard, whiting, coalfish, and codling while jigging, and we heard reports of decent smooth hounds off the head to crab, squid, and worm baits. We will be back shortly for the tope and bigger huss which still run the deep channel, as for the rest? Forever the optimist….