Posts Tagged ‘West Cork’

Shore Fishing in Ireland, Pollack a Plenty

Friday, June 1st, 2012

Copper burnished sides, bottle green back, with their huge eyes and jutting jaw, pollack are a handsome predator designed to ambush small bait fish from below, swimming up from the dark depths at lightning speed akin to a fighter pilot attacking out of the sun. Present all around our coastline they are particularly numerous along our south western sea board and can grow to a very large size, double figure pollack on some deep water marks being a real possibility with the average size certainly running four pounds. A recent trip to a favourite West Cork haunt provided superb pollack fishing from a variety of shore locations along with an eye opening first kayak trip for close friend Gary Robinson.

An 4.oz shore caught pollack for UK angler Roger Ball.

Pollack like deep water kelp laden habitats where rock pinnacles or steep cliffs rise sharply upwards, the Beara peninsula in West Cork being home to an abundance of such marks. Jelly worming is a technique that lends itself well to these locations and over the last few days produced superb fishing for my friends and I. With depths ranging from 40 to 90 feet the experience is like gilling from a boat and equally as fun with on occasions a fish a chuck the order of the day. Rigs comprise Mr Twister worms threaded over 2/0 round bend hooks attached to 4/6 feet of amnesia line, swivel, main line, bead, and running 60 gram barrel lead, which are then cast out and allowed to sink until the lead hits bottom whereupon the retrieve commences.

UK angler Dave Hoskins casting jelly worms for pollack in deepest West Cork, Ireland.

Reeling slowly the jelly worm rises up at an angle from the sea bed imitating swimming sea worms or sand eels. The pollack see the silhouette rise up and engulf before kicking the tail, turning and swimming back down again. To the angler a first sign is a weight coming on the line as the pollack grabs hold of the worm tail, just keep reeling and don’t strike. Eventually the fish will have all the bait in its mouth whence it will crash dive for the bottom, that’s when the fun starts.

A nice pollack in the five pound bracket.

Have the drag set right and hold on, during this trip friends Roger Ball, Gary Robinson, and I got smashed by fish diving towards Neptune’s lair with incredible speed and power. Allowing for that we still landed shore caught pollack to 8.lbs 4.oz and kayak caught fish into double figures, we know this because Gary brought two fish home which were gut hooked, one weighed 4.oz hours after capture which was dwarfed by a fish he caught and released later. The shore pollack fishing we experienced this week was superlative and as for the kayak angling, “ridiculous” said Gary, he’d never caught so many large fish in his life. Without doubt big pollack are a sport fish to be reckoned with, in my opinion right up there with bass. They may not have the staying power, but that first crash dive, wow…….

Further reading, click on: Jelly Worms for Shore Pollack.


Shore Fishing in Ireland, Dab Hand

Friday, June 1st, 2012

Lugworm baited hooks flew through the air in an arc before splash landing 100 meters out from the rock platform that I was perched on, rig now resting on the clean sandy bottom a few turns of the reel handle tightened line against gripper and my rod tip curved over poised and ready for the anticipated bite. Ten minutes pass then tap, tap, tap followed by a heavy lean. Sitting on my hands quelling the desire to lift and strike, again the tip goes tap, tap, tap followed by a lean. Lifting with a backward sweep of the rod I now commence reeling and feel a solid resistance.

Double dab from a West Cork rock mark.

Winding and pumping hard I manage to raise both fish and trailing weight above the shallow reef in front of me. One quick dive down close in then its planing across the surface, phew, a cracking dab knocking a pound, the first of six landed in seven casts this evening to include the double header pictured above. Catching flatfish of this caliber in today’s over fished environment is something to be celebrated, roll on dinner time tomorrow evening.

Waiting for a flattie to bite in West Cork, Ireland.

Large dab are the nicest fish to eat, seasoned with sea salt then par fried back and front on the bone in butter, before removing to an oven dish and placing in a preheated oven at 180 degrees centigrade. Squeeze some lemon juice over the top, cover with foil and leave cooking for about twenty minutes. They will come out steaming and the meat will lift off the bone, sweet and delicious with chips, mayo, and peas.

A pound plus dab from a rock mark in West Cork, Ireland.

On the evening in question I fished a two hook paternoster baited with two day old lugworm cast into a secluded sandy bay. The dab residing here are plentiful and consistently large with many topping a pound, having only fished the mark on three occasions I’ve landed or seen caught at least two specimens. Bites came thick and fast for a period of an hour as the tide rose then died. Hoping for a codling to bolster the catch, this evening they didn’t show, maybe later in the year when the coalfish will be present as well……

For further reading, click on: The Humble Flatfish.

Shore Fishing in Ireland, Hole Lotta Wrasse

Thursday, May 31st, 2012

West Cork is home to a range of quality shore fishing opportunities where specimen sized fish are not only a possibility but almost an expectation, ballan wrasse fall into this category. Powerful, muscular fighters dressed in a range of colours, these cracking sport fish provided a wonderful afternoons fishing during a recent foray to an isolated rock mark within Ireland’s rebel county.

A cracking ballan wrasse from an isolated West Cork, Ireland, rock mark.

Armed with locally collected hard back crab and Wexford ragworm a wrasse hole which had delivered in the past was targeted. On arrival conditions were perfect, overcast and warm due to a southerly breeze, the sea relatively flat with a light swell rising and falling in the gully creating a nice aerated environment so beloved of wrasse. Utilising the services of a 13′ Daiwa surf pole teamed with a Slosh 30 loaded with line, I rigged a single hook short snood paternoster weighted by a spark plug and set to work.

The perfect bait for ballan wrasse, hard backed green shore crab.

Baiting with ragworm, my friend Roger Ball on a fishing holiday from the UK opting for hard back crab, I cast twenty meters out into the foaming gully and let the rig slowly sink back in towards the rock face. Keeping a taught line an immediate hard double knock was simultaneously responded to by striking and reeling at the same time. Over went the rod into its fighting curve as the wrasse bored deep for sanctuary in the waving kelp below.

Fighting a large ballan wrasse fom a shore mark in West Cork, Ireland.

There is no finesse employed when fishing ballan wrasse, the rule of thumb being get in control by bullying the fish or it will bully you, make no mistake these fish are tough battlers and demand firm respect. At any time a large fish upwards of four or five pounds could hit the bait and a wrasse of this size takes some stopping, testing both tackle and angler with that first crash dive. Even when the initial surge is tamed wrasse continue to fight, twisting, turning, and diving until lifted clear of the water.

A tropical coloured ballan wrasse from West Cork, Ireland.

Wrasse never cease to amaze with their varying colour schemes, on this occasion mottled olive green to bright orange with blue and red marbled undersides in between. My friends and I took fish after fish averaging 2/3 lbs with the best running just under five pounds, quality shore fishing on what turned out to be a red letter day with pollack to close on ten pounds landed and some fine pound plus dabs, but hey that’s another story…..

For further reading, click on: Bruising Ballan’s.

Beara Bass.

Tuesday, November 8th, 2011

The Beara Peninsula is not known for its bass fishing, in fact on the Richter scale of Irish bass angling the area probably doesn’t even register. However there are one or two locations which do produce consistent catches of Dicentrachus Labrax and it is with great thanks that I salute Paul Harris (Dromagowlane House B/B), John Angles, and Mike Hennessy for their collective advice and direction which resulted in a fine evenings fishing for both David Murphy and I.

David Murphy with one of three Beara bass caught on an evening tide.

Sustained for an evening session after bass with a bowl of hearty vegetable soup, brown bread, and a pint of plain courtesy of O’Neills bar in Allihies, David and I headed towards a noted low water bass mark. Having fished the location on numerous occasions with poor results, yours truly was a tad sceptical. Mike, Paul, and John all concurred though that from November through to January bass would show, some to specimen weight.

Waiting for a bite, November sunset on the Beara.

Fish close to the stream and you won’t go wrong“, and so it transpired. On casting my peeler and lug baited trace forty meters into the lazy swell, no sooner had it hit the bottom then bang and a slack line indicated bass. Instinctively running backwards I connected with the fish, a spirited schoolie of about 2.5 lbs which took crab. Dave was next in landing a carbon copy before on his next cast landing a fine bass close to 4.lbs. By session end amongst a few doggies we had landed five bass between us, my scepticism melting with each fish. The mark had delivered and upped the species tally for our November trip to a respectable six.

See also: Dab Hand on the Beara.


Dab Hand on the Beara.

Monday, November 7th, 2011

Finally the strong winds of late abated and a period of calm frosty weather enabled a long since planned Beara Peninsula trip to take place. Primarily targeting winter species but with a view to gauging when the summer visitors finally depart, this early November visit would answer a number of questions while hopefully providing some quality fishing. Booking into Dromagowlane House the superb angler friendly B/B ran by Paul and Anne Harris, situated in Adrigole half way between Castletownbere and Glengarriff, my friend David and I were central to a variety of tried and tested marks which we couldn’t wait to get out on.

A dab double header from the Beara Peninsula, West Cork, Ireland.

First port of call was a specimen dab mark sheltered from the still big Atlantic swell and it did not disappoint. Clear skies indicated a frosty night to come, and a north west breeze made the afternoon progressively chilly as the sun went down. Fishing a falling tide David and I expected codling to show along with the dabs and so it transpired. Baiting up two hook paternosters with lug and ragworm we casted onto sandy ground 100 meters offshore. The first hour was quiet then a nod on my rod top followed by a purposeful thump produced a nice codling in the two/three pound bracket. Next cast a rattling bite translated into a fine dab, followed by a double dab header, and so it went on until night closed in.

A cracking beara codling which fell for lugworm.

Tired from our five hour journey we called it a day as darkness fell with five species (codling, pollack, plaice, dab, flounder) and at least one specimen dab under our collective belts. The next day fortified by a substantial Dromagowlane full Irish we headed to a favoured plaice mark. The day was a scorcher, hard to believe it was early November, hopefully the spotted beauties would still be in residence. Linking up with Mike Hennessy of Inland Fisheries Ireland we casted our lug, rag, and peeler baited hooks into a rising tide full in at midday. Bites commenced immediately with lugworm tempting a plump codling for yours truly.

Double flounder for David Murphy on his first Beara trip.

Things slowed up after that with dogfish predominating, that is unless you were David Murphy. On his first trip to this wonderful sea angling outpost he hit pay dirt with a succession of prime flounder, including a cracking double header all taken on lugworm. The plaice didn’t show but we weren’t short of flatties,  and with dogfish adding to our species tally we upped sticks around 15.30 pm with a view to targeting bass later that evening, of which more later…

For further reading, click on: Beara Bass.

See also: Beara Peninsula Guide.

The Right Plaice at the Right Time.

Saturday, October 22nd, 2011

It’s fantastic when it all comes together. As anyone who reads this blog regularly will have gathered I love catching flatfish, especially big flatties. They look good, fight hard on light tackle (especially if boat caught), and taste great. Grossly over exploited commercially large plaice are a rare catch nowadays, in particular for shore anglers. Having fished a now favourite shore mark, initially on a hunch that plaice might swim within range, I was rewarded immediately with some fine fish to over a pound and a half. Instinct told me that bigger specimens were out there.

A three pound nine ounce shore caught plaice, wonderful.

So I was delighted when Paul Harris, who runs along with his wife Anne that fine angler friendly establishment Dromagowlane House on the Beara peninsula West Cork, Ireland, sent me the above photograph. One of six good plaice landed by two UK tourist anglers from that special mark. At 3.lbs 9.ozs it not only rubber stamps my hunch, but also shows how a protected location can allow fish such as the fine specimen above to reach a good average size, even in the 21st century. Great stuff….

Autumn Night Fishing in Wicklow.

Monday, October 3rd, 2011

Armed with fresh lugworm and frozen peeler crab I picked up Diego as arranged and headed towards a favourite local mark. The strong south easterly winds had backed around to the south and weakened, however the evening was damp and remained that way with a permanent mist in the air. Muggy, the air temperature being 17 degrees, if it was not for the rain you could have fished in your shirt sleeves. Hitting the beach as light was fading, our first baits entered the water around 19.30pm about two hours into the flood.

Diego Leccardi holds a fit Co. Wicklow smooth hound.

Having cast about sixty meters my rig had barely settled on the bottom when I received a serious slack line bite. Running up the beach I did not make contact for at least fifteen meters, then the rod buckled over. Could it be a bass? No, immediately the fish started swimming hard parallel with the shoreline, every so often turning on a sixpence and doubling back, a hound and no mistake. So it proved thrashing in the surf before Diego did the honours.

Baiting up, night fishing off a County Wicklow strand.

“That’s it for the night” said I to Diego, a good fish on the first cast always spells a lean session, and so it proved. Yes we caught fish practically every cast including many double headers, but they were all undersize. Whiting, rockling, flounder, and dab took the baits with abandon, plenty of them but all under 30 cms. We fished on till 11.00pm then called it a night. An enjoyable evening, here’s to a good session after bass on the south Wexford beaches next weekend.

Beara Peninsula Blues.

Saturday, July 16th, 2011

I love the blues, from the Delta to Chicago, Son House, Muddy Waters, and Buddy Guy, the music that gave us modern rock and roll. The swimming variety equally has its place, even more so if they exceed 100.lbs in weight and can be caught on a cloudless, windless, scorcher of a day miles out in the Atlantic off West Cork, such is the case presently as the annual migration of blue shark follow the Gulf Stream into Ireland’s warmed up coastal waters. Chasing shoals of mackerel blue shark although recorded all around the coast of Ireland are most plentiful along the southern, south west, and western sea boards.

A specimen blue shark caught 12 miles off the Beara Peninsula, West Cork by Adrian Sparrow.

A pelagic species averaging 50 – 60 lbs weight in Irish waters, any blue over 100.lbs is considered a specimen, while the current rod and line record is a fish caught off Achill Island in 1959. Lovers of deep water, they prefer depths in excess of 15 fathoms, blue shark first begin to appear in June/July if the weather is warm usually 10 – 20 miles offshore, moving to within 5 miles of the coast by August/ September before departing as our inshore waters cool down into October.

Feeding on mid water shoals of mackerel, sprat, and pilchard, they will venture to the bottom in search of food and are quite common in areas where whiting frequent. Sleek, steel blue in colour with a large streamlined head, pectoral fins like wings, and an angular tail, they are a indeed a handsome fish and a worthy quarry.

A 14.oz Whiting for John Angles, skipper of charter vessel Tigger II out from Castletownbere, West Cork, Ireland.

John Angles is the skipper of charter vessel Tigger II working the fish rich waters off Castletownbere on the Beara peninsula, West Cork. When conditions allow he will take out groups of up to five angler’s blue shark fishing, charging €440.00 per charter which is very good value. On his first trip after blues this season an hour into the first drift Adrian Sparrow hit the jackpot with a spectacular specimen. Two further blue sharks of and were boated also on what was a red letter day.

John along with his wife Maree runs Inches House and Boat Angling Centre, offering B/B and self catering accommodation close to the village of Eyeries on the Beara peninsula. They can be contacted through their website, or by phone at, +353 (0)27 74494. Why not combine a shore and boat angling safari to this beautiful corner of Ireland, John knows plenty of first rate shore marks and can advise on a range of species from pollack and wrasse, to conger, ray, bull huss, flatfish, codling, and bass. While offshore, besides the blues, he can put you over quality mixed ground fishing for haddock, cod, whiting, pollack, and coalfish, before hitting the rough for large conger and ling.

Sea Fishing in Ireland. Coastal Mullet.

Thursday, May 26th, 2011

Setting out onto the headland we chose a bluff in the distance as a fishing platform and walked towards it. The sun was shining but the winds were still strong from a west/south west direction. Even though the seas had abated all our favourite rock marks were dangerously unfishable. Only for the shelter of the aforementioned bluff Roger and I would not be fishing today at all. Approaching and looking down we saw at first what looked like a raft of floating weed which on closer attention proved to be a large shoal of mullet about 2 – 3 metres wide and about thirty metres long feeding on the surface.

Shore caught mullet from the Beara Peninsula, West Cork.

Waves were bouncing off the cliff face, surging back on meeting the next approaching wave they clashed producing a foam line where obviously food particles or plankton were collecting so concentrating the mullet. Setting up a coarse float rig using a large balsa float cocked with four swan shot Roger proceeded to break up sliced pan, wetting the bread before moulding the pieces into a ball before tossing it into the sea along the foam line. On impact the bread broke up into fine particles and small lumps. Almost immediately the mullet started feeding which was not our normal experience, it usually takes longer if at all. In fact they went at the bread with abandon and were not in the one bit shy which we put down to the choppy sea.

Shoaling mullet on the Beara Peninsula, West Cork, Ireland.

Roger folded a ten pence piece size of bread around a number eight hook and cast out. The float bobbed in the waves and grey ghostly shapes came over to investigate. She slid under and with a turn of the wrist the mullet was hooked. Line fizzed from the reel against the pre set drag, however this was a small fish weighing about 2.5 lbs and was soon in the net. Out went a new bait  followed by a dipping float and no connection. This form was repeated over another couple of casts before Roger set the hook on a better fish. Backwards and forwards the mullet ran boring deep on occasions the fish would just not give up. Eventually I readied the landing net and a fine fish slid into the folds. Broad backed this could be a specimen, we will never know for on removing the hook it flipped and landed back in the water.

Roger Ball playing a Beara mullet.

Roger fished on quickly landing another good mullet before he set the hook into another strong fish. This time there was no mistake, after a good tussle the mullet was netted transfered to the weigh net and brought the scales down to 4.oz a specimen. We shook hands on a fine achievement, the mullet were on but it took skill and knowledge to winkle out four in the manner that Roger did given the conditions.

A specimen 4.oz Beara Peninsula mullet for Roger Ball.

Two more mullet were landed by yours truly before we turned our attention to wrasse and pollack. Mullet have a mystique about them that they are impossible to catch. Roger is a Cornish man and a regular visitor to this corner of Ireland primarily for the fishing. He grew up targeting mullet and is not phased by any situation, “if you get them feeding they are no more difficult to catch then any other fish”. I would not doubt him and am indebted to his knowledge having now landed numerous mullet up to specimen size under his tutelage. Thanks Roger.


Sea Fishing in Ireland. Stormy Monday Flatties.

Thursday, May 26th, 2011

It is always possible to find fish on the Beara even in the worst of weather as I found out over the last couple of days. Prospects looked grim for Roger and I with serial fronts blowing in from the Atlantic. Rain driven by strong winds which moved from north west to south and back again in the space of 36 hours makes for heavy seas and little shelter on this wonderful but exposed sea angling outpost. That said, a  weather window gave us an evening and one full days fishing before it all closed in again and we made the most of it.

A Beara flounder tempted by lugworm tipped with white ragworm.

Digging fresh lugworm and white rag  for bait we chose a relatively sheltered mark with flat fish in mind. Roger used a two hook flowing trace while I baited up a two hook paternoster. Distance has proved decisive on this location before and so it transpired again. From the get go dogfish made their appearance more or less every other cast to plain lug baits. Tipping off with white rag and being able to get that little bit further out due to the rig employed, a decisive pull down of the rod top followed by a slack line resulted in a fine flounder, the next cast producing a good codling. With night closing in we called it a day.

Evening sea fishing during rough conditions on the Beara Peninsula, Ireland.

The following evening during a temporary lull we used up the remainder of our lugworm fishing a different rock mark that again gave access to clean ground. This time we both used two hook paternosters banged out and what a session we had. Fishing about two hours into the rising tide we hit codling averaging 2.0 lbs on our first casts with no let up until the bait ran out. Super fishing similar to what we experienced last October capped off by a cracking pound plus dab, one part of a codling/flattie double header.

A pound dab tempted by lugworm while sea fishing on the Beara Peninsula, Ireland.

The fishing continued with double codling shots occurring at least three times. At close of play Roger had the best fish topping 2.5 lbs. We kept a few codling for the pot returning most to the water. Two year classes were evident, one year and two/three years. Codling breed in their forth year so we are not out of the woods yet, however as stated before if this obviously prolific stock is managed rather than exploited then there is hope for the species.

A mixed bag caught sea fishing on the Beara Peninsula, Ireland.

The Beara is full of surprises, I have not caught codling like this in May since the late 1980′s, and as for flatfish well I will keep coming back. In the last three trips I have landed numerous plaice to 1.5 lbs and dab to a pound plus, with a friend catching a 1.5 lb specimen dab. This is quality fishing for the times we are living in, long may it last.