Posts Tagged ‘Wexford’

The European Bass Fishery, Wake Up and Smell the Roses!!

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014

Let us be clear and with not a hint of arrogance this angler can catch bass. Living within south east Ireland yours truly has access to a variety of marks ranging from estuaries to rocky headlands, tide races to storm beaches, all local habitats where over the last fifty years bass once swam in prolific numbers, were summarily decimated by both angler and commercial activity in the 60′s, 70′s and 80′s before making a partial recovery post 1990. Between 1998 and 2008 the recovering south east of Ireland bass fishery delivered consistent sport, enough to sustain a burgeoning tourist angling product. Today it stutters after 24 years of Irish Government initiated protection, why?

Competition landings of bass for Cork Sea Angling Club members 1963 - 2013.

Ref: Ed Fahy, 2014

Yesterday afternoon this writer after close on thirty hours of fishing effort over seven trips landed two five pound bass attracted by a shallow diving plug worked through a tide race within five minutes of commencing fishing. Great stuff you say, however the bigger picture must be taken into account, late summer/early autumn in south Wexford relative to the tides, times and marks fished should have delivered those much appreciated bass thirty hours previously, bass fishing in Wexford unfortunately experiencing terminal decline since 2010.

Irish bass from the archives, 2008 to be precise.

To place the feat in perspective Jim Hendrick’s last ever French clients, yes Jim has closed his successful and professionally run high end bass guiding business, South East Angling Ireland, after 10 years trading, encountered only 9 bass in over 120 hours lure and fly fishing over the last set of spring tides. Five years ago the same three anglers would have averaged 180 bass between them. Yours truly has lovely images of four bass caught yesterday ranging from 4 – 8 lbs. Until professionalism and responsibility is applied from decision makers, commercial interests and recreational anglers alike, An Irish Anglers World will not publish another bass image ever, the image above an oldie from 2008.

Recent annual bass returns for South East Angling Ireland.

Having attended and presented a perspective on the actual benefit of recreational angling to south east Ireland at the North Western Waters Advisory Council Bass Workshop held in Dublin Castle last Thursday 18/09/2014 it became clear how little is known about the species at official level and how the way forward to better management of the species is staring all vested interests in the face, sadly many but not all of them cannot see the wood for the trees. “When all interested parties to include the political establishment view the resource as a public owned entity then begin to learn, understand and accept the needs and wants of all interested parties, then reach out and through dialogue build trust the bass will survive and prosper”. Continue on the same old tack regurgitating the same old failed self centered mantras and you may kiss the European bass fishery goodbye, Ed Fahy’s “LPUE” graph a true reflection of where the fishery is at today………

Pollack from the Black Rocks

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014

Welsh anglers love coming to Kilmore Quay, Co Wexford, some of the reasons for their repeated visits being a grand welcome, good fishing, familiarity and trust of the charter skippers ability, and craic in the pubs and restaurants of an evening. Centre stage in this appreciation is Alan Duthie, visionary chairman of the Welsh Pleasure Anglers and Kayakers Association, Alan has championed Kilmore Quay and Ireland since a presentation of tourism angling given by this writer in Burry Port, Llanelli, Carmarthenshire back in September 2009. Subsequently hundreds of sea angling trips by both groups and individuals have been taken, many by first timers based on recommendations, to not only south Wexford but also Cork Harbour and the Beara.

Alan Duthie, Chairman of the Welsh Pleasure Anglers and Kayakers Association.

Make no mistake, these guys love Ireland, a repeated comment being, “you live in a beautiful area”, indicating clearly that when hopping on the ferry at Pembroke its not just the fishing that attracts them. On this occasion, for the second time this summer Alan Duthie and a group of 15 anglers from the Swansea area descended on Kilmore Quay with intent to not only fish the reefs for pollack, wrasse and codling but also hopefully catch a few bass.

One happy Welsh angler off Kilmore Quay, Co. Wexford.

Dick Hayes, amiable skipper of charter vessel “Enterprise” listened to the boys wishes for the day and worked out a plan, first catch some mackerel then head east to fish the reefs inside of Carnsore Point. Initially employing standard size feathers it became apparent that the mackerel were small and not taking, swapping to sadiki rigs solved the problem and enough bait was secured in jig time.

Catching mackerel is easy with old yellow.

The sea appeared chock full of herring fry evident by gannets dive bombing and occasional schools of mackerel driving myriad whitebait onto the local beaches only to be left hopping and gasping in a silver carpet as the waves receded.

Whitebait driven onto the beach east of Kilmore Quay, Co. Wexford, Ireland.

Was this the reason fishing was slow on that beautiful sunny day in a three month long summer of continuous gorgeous sunny days. Were the fish stuffed to the gills with food and not interested in our offerings, who knows? Dick tried everything as did the crew until eventually a few pollack and codling came aboard, then drifting close to the Black Rocks it kicked off.

Double headers of pollack for Welsh anglers Darren and Richard.

The boys, some gilling some using baited feathers, rods collectively heeled over as Enterprise drifted over a shoal of pollack swimming close to the rock pinnacle. Doubles and singles came aboard in a welter of scales, spray and good humoured banter. Whoops, laughing and smiley faces lit up the afternoon and then it was over. “Come on lads it has been a good day we’ll head for home”, said Dick. No bother skipper, a shower, meal and a few pints beckoned then tomorrow once more into the breach. Kilmore Quay, it’s a special place………..

Six Species from a Rolling Sea

Sunday, September 14th, 2014

Codling, whiting, pouting, flounder, dogfish and bass, the beach mark which fished so poorly last week opened its autumnal door a chink and hinted at what is to come. A warm south east breeze pushed a heavy swell onto the strand creating a large, heavy, single crumping wave which roared on breaking before racing creamily up the shingle bank. Water fizzed, the air was muggy and mackerel fishers lined the strand as Ger and I cast southwards into the deep gully. Employing fresh black lugworm on a rising tide full at 21.30 pm, Ger hit immediate pay dirt with three schoolie bass weighing 2 – 3 pound each within the first hour, happy days.

Sea fishing in Ireland, playing a bass on a south Wexford strand.

Fishing slowed after the initial flurry, however as dusk merged into dark yours truly landed a whiting/flounder double followed by a dogfish, Ger beaching a pouting. Post full tide a succession of codling in the pound class came to both our rods. Indication of a year class probably spawned in 2012, these young fish which have been evident within offshore charter boat catches all summer giving hope for the future and of course the winter shore codding to come.

An Irish school bass for shore angler Gerry Mitchell.

Yesterday evening showed how much energy the sea has stored up, the single wave digging out a hole in front of us at least six foot deep which ran right along the strand, then filled it in again as the tide receded. Swimming here and or wading is a complete no no. Mackerel fishers who the previous night enjoyed good catches by casting their feathers and kilty lures into the marauding shoals found it difficult to fish this evening due to the forty meter wide maelstrom in front of them. Natures washing machine releasing stored up ozone and oxygen into the air, it is sights, smells and sounds like this which make sea fishing so interesting, all told a nice evening……..

Slow Evening on the Beach

Tuesday, September 9th, 2014

An Irish Anglers World describes and illustrates Irish angling as it presents, good, bad or indifferent. When reading the posts one has to take into account the competency of the angler, experience, effort, bait used, time of day, tide and other such variables. However what should never be lost on the reader is that the accounts are true, accurate and written with objectivity, when its good its good and when its bad, well………

Gerry Mitchell beach casting off a Sth County Wexford strand.

A first beach casting session for this angler since September 2013 has to be taken into account, after all one has been out of the loop, that said, a sum haul of 2 small flounder, a 30 centimeter codling and a dogfish for two competent and experienced anglers utilising four rods over a five hour session is a poor return from a once productive strand. A waxing moon, tides getting bigger, dusk into dark and freshly dug large black lugworm all should have helped. Yes there was a light northerly breeze which flattened the sea and yes it was a falling tide neither of which in principal should have made a difference, still bait came in as it went out.

Twin Daiwa 7HT's.

Beach casting is this anglers favourite way to fish. A lot of effort, thought and cash was invested in last Saturday evening, departing early in the day to dig bait, lunch in a local pub, snacks, petrol which amounted to €60.00 and of course the €1000.00 plus worth of tackle that was employed on the day. Given a healthy inshore environment this angler would go beach casting at least once a week from June to December spending more or less the above amount on each occasion, that’s €1700.00 shared between garages, pubs and shops in the south east. No fish means no spend, it is about time that the Irish government realised that sea fisheries are a public resource and as such should be managed accordingly. No business worth its salt should mine itself into extinction, no business has the right to destroy a resource and at the same time seek recompense through political means for their folly. Yet this is exactly what the commercial sea fishing sector does and worse still Government complies, the famine like experience of last Saturday on a once productive south Wexford strand the sad outcome…………

Cod Heaven off Kilmore

Thursday, June 26th, 2014

Ready up boys where drifting over some kelp”, instructed “Autumn Dream” skipper Eamonn Hayes, seconds later members of the Pleasure Anglers and Kayakers Association were leaning into head thumping resistance 60 feet below, as codling up to six pound weight took a shine to the Welsh Dragons lures. Bright and fresh, mottled red from their kelpy home, it was wonderful to see both good numbers of a much loved species and the smiles of blokes on their annual trip to Ireland enjoying a great mornings fishing.

A nice reef codling boated off Kilmore Quay, Co. Wexford, Ireland.

Kilmore Quay circa 2014 is fishing very well at present across a range of species from codling and pollack to ballan and cuckoo wrasse. Anglers drifting across the various reef marks east and west of the Saltee Islands jigging rigs baited with ragworm, sandeel or mackerel are producing individual catches in excess of 30 prime fish for an eight hour trip excluding steaming time.

A Kilmore Quay beauty displayed by a happy Welshman.

The Welsh Pleasure Anglers and Kayakers Association members are good friends of Kilmore Quay, returning every year to sample the hospitality of Siobhan and Pat in the Quay House B/B and the superlative fishing enabled by top skipper Eamonn Hayes. A north east breeze hampered fishing due to contrary drifts, across as against with the tidal flow, however Eamonn did his best to keep the boys lines from going under the boat and the lads responded by fishing hard throughout the session.

Another Kilmore Quay codling in prime condition.

At lines up species caught included codling, pollack, coalfish, small ling, pouting, poor cod, launce, ballan and cuckoo wrasse. The sun shone, banter flowed and a tired but content bunch of lads stepped off Autumn Dream at days end. A quick shower then back down to the Wooden House for a customary chowder followed by battered haddock, chips and mushy peas, sure you have to. A few pints, the world cup and its back out with Eamon in the morning to do it all over again, HEAVEN………..

Forty Knots to Pollack Paradise

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

Clearing the pier head Dermot gunned the engine, 135 horses kicked into life and a whirlwind drive to the Saltee Islands ensued. Within minutes Fishion Impossible was racing through the sound before veering starboard to eventually nestle in behind the great Saltee. Gulls working the bay indicated bait fish in abundance, strings of greater sandeel quickly coming to our feathers and sadiki lures. If our traces managed to get to the bottom 60 feet below, small pollack and codling in the 2 lb bracket rattled the rod tips, all this and it was only 06.30 am.

Gerry Mitchell playing a nice pollack, reef fishing off Kilmore Quay, Co. Wexford.

The Brandies, Conningbeg and Conningmore are pinnacle rocks found to the south east and south west of the Saltee Islands respectively. Rising almost shear from the seabed, which depending on location averages 9 fathoms (54 feet) below but can reach 16.6 fathoms (100 feet)  plus, all bar the Conningmore only become exposed as the tide drops. Characterised by strong tides that deflect off these and other raised pinnacles which never show, the seas especially west of the Saltees can become very confused and dangerous in contrary winds.

Dermot Mitchell with a fine 8.0 lb reef pollack caught while small boat fishing off Kilmore Quay, Wexford, Ireland.

Drift fishing using three hook jigs or single shads is the standard approach when fishing the reefs off Kilmore Quay, the jumbled rock and kelp covered sea floor keeping anglers on their toes. Raising and lowering the rod to tap the weight off the bottom creates a mental picture of the ground below, while keeping the line more or less straight up and down as against streaming out maintains contact with the business end, reducing tackle losses and increasing productivity due to the lures working properly.

Shamrock Tackle's "Munster Mawlers" jigs in red, black and chartreuse, ideal for pollack and cod.

Shamrock tackles “Munster Mawlers” black, chartreuse and red jig combination worked a treat on the day, attracting pollack to eight pound along with a smattering of codling, an odd pouting and small ling. Dermot was adamant that baiting the lures was an unnecessary chore, advice duly ignored by Gerry and I religiously baiting our bottom hooks with sandeel strip, Dermot’s words at session end being justified. Yes, Gerry and I attracted a few more codling, Dermot’s rig however proved irresistible to the pollack.

Seagulls off Kilmore Quay, Co. Wexford, Ireland.

At three bells Dermot called lines up and we headed for harbour, not so fast this time as a north east breeze had picked up creating a chop. Fish, most of which were caught and returned, had come to the boat from the off with the only fallow period occurring as the tide strengthened close to high water. Glad of the invite, thanks so much Dermot and Gerry, it being ten months since yours truly had last dropped a bait into Davy Jones locker. The sun warmed us all day, fish were obliging and even the gulls made welcome companions as we gutted our catch. That’s sea fishing off Kilmore Quay, sure where else would you want to be……..?

Toberpatrick, August Evening, 2013

Monday, August 19th, 2013

A lovely roll on the sea generated by a warm south/south west breeze created a single crumping wave which dissapated with a thump swoosh of sand and shingle along Toberpatrick strand, north Co. Wexford. A six thirty pm 3:1 meter high tide on a rising cycle towards full moon in tandem with the sea conditions screamed fish. Due to it being an impromptu trip and having only ragworm as against an array of bait which normally would have included peeler, lug, and mackerel didn’t deter, the rag, fresh, red and large would definitely appeal to a smoothie, flounder, bass, or dogfish.

Evening fishing on Toberpatrick strand, Co. Wexford, Ireland.

Three biteless hours later with night closing in, after placing baits from the gutter to well over 100 meters out, using fixed and rolling rigs yours truly didn’t wait for full on dark, the untouched ragworm telling their own story. Normally shrimps, prawns, crabs, small fish, something would nibble at the hook presented offerings over the standard ten minutes they are left to fish before rebaiting time. Other than being washed out the rag came in as they went out.

Normally as dusk closes in flatties come on the feed, doggies become more active and hounds make their presence felt. Being just a stones throw from both Kilmichael point to the north and Clone strand south of Castletown bass are a real possibility too. Back in the day Toberpatrick threw up ray, doggies, dab, flounder, bass, hounds, and certainly would have delivered a few decent fish in the conditions presented yesterday evening as light faded. Unfortunately nothing stirred, I could have been casting into a desert.

Yes it was a nice evening going through the motions and chatting to passing beach walkers about the great summer weather Ireland has enjoyed and how dogs love to cock a leg over your tackle box, however, and at this stage one feels like a broken record. When your youngest daughters fishing mad boyfriend at 23 years of age starts to question this shore fishing lark having spent a small fortune on the best of gear you begin to wonder.

Ireland has a wonderful but savagely abused marine resource, sea angling at €127.5 million is the third largest marine fisheries product category after pelagic at €213 million and shellfish at €148.1 million. With 71,000 sea anglers in the country, and 150,000 specialist sea anglers residing in the UK who like to travel to fish staying for up to eight bed night per annum, what are we doing. Ireland has a socio economic goldmine on its hands and we have all but frittered it away because politically we cannot prioritise management policies that engage all stakeholders as against the few usual suspects.

Quickly researching both the Sea Angling Ireland and East Coast Raiders SAC websites told me all that I needed to know, “the beach fishes slow”. In the past it most certainly didn’t,  we need to get our collective act together once and for all, this marine malaise has gone far enough……..

An Educational Evening at Cullenstown

Sunday, July 28th, 2013

Spent a lazy but informative Saturday evening on Cullenstown strand, Co. Wexford. Earlier while digging black lug at Duncannon I was regularly approached by interested observers eager to see what “that bloke is doing” burrowing away on the beach with his fork and bucket on a hot and sunny afternoon when every other sane person is paddling, playing with the kids, or just sunning themselves. Happy to give the spontaneous marine biology lesson, to a man, woman, and child the people were genuinely fascinated at the size of the worms, their life cycle, and how they engage within their sandy, tidal environment.

Digging black lugworm on Duncannon strand, Co. Wexford.

After a post getting the breath back meal and pint in the Strand Bar plan A was put into operation and the car was pointed towards Cullenstown, if plan B had been followed a 9.5 lb bass could have been mine, well done to a certain Frank Flanagan. As it transpired the primary decision paid off in spades due to the people I met, the varied conversations, shared information, and of particular interest a third party perspective on the current state of Irish sea angling both locally and nationally.

Paddy Barnwell of the Kilmore SAC with a typical South Wexford smooth hound.

On a practical level the main entrance to Cullenstown estuary has moved a few hundred yards east of the parking area creating an open ended lagoon off the main flow which still utilises the old entrance, an evening rising tide pushing in quite strongly. Ground fishing the entrance was hard work due to floating weed, however moving onto the beach west of the bar resulted in a few hounds being caught to crab and lug baits as night drew in. To bass lure fisherman Anthony and match angler Paddy Barnwell, nice to meet and spend time with you the discussions across a range of sea angling and marine issues were interesting and informative. Until we meet again tight lines………..

 

Reef Pollack and Welsh Dragons

Wednesday, June 26th, 2013

Aside from the prospect of Wales winning yet another rugby grand slam, the membership of the Welsh Pleasure Anglers and Kayakers Association can think of nothing better than drifting with the tide aboard a Kilmore Quay charter boat reef fishing off the Saltee Islands for a range of species to include pollack, coalfish, ling, cod, and wrasse. Late June sees up to twenty Welsh sea anglers, organised and led by the inimitable Alan Duthie, make the annual Co. Wexford pilgrimage to fish aboard charter vessels Autumn Dream and Enterprise skippered respectively by the Hayes brothers Eamon and Dick.

Phil Horton from South Wales displays a fine Kilmore Quay cod.

Kindly invited to fish aboard Autumn Dream the weather could not have been more pleasant with a gentle south west breeze hardly ruffling the surface, in contrast though a strong four meter tide ruled out fishing more productive marks west of the Saltees. Not to be deterred skipper Eamon Hayes worked his socks off placing the boys on a succession of drifts which yielded regular catches of reef pollack interspersed with an odd codling, coalfish, small ling, and wrasse.

Clive Jones from Swansea South Wales happy with a nice Kilmore Quay pollack.

One very happy angler making his inaugural Kilmore Quay visit was Marshall Mainwaring. Relatively new to sea angling Marshall had his heart set on catching a cuckoo wrasse to add to his species tally. This he did with interest boating both male and female of the species. Well in principal all he needed was one fish because they are hermaphrodite, however to make sure Marshall did the double.

Marshall Mainwaring displays a colourful cuckoo wrasse.

In total 21 Welsh sea anglers from the Swansea/Llanethli/Port Talbot area made the trip, seven of which were fishing in Ireland for the first time. Group leader Alan Duthie prepares the lads well holding up to four pre-travel meetings where every aspect of the visit is explained and an information pack outlining the fishing and other relevant details is handed out. In essence the membership hit the ground running on arrival. Reef fishing off Kilmore Quay can result in lots of lost terminal gear if you are not aware of specific angling techniques, it was clear that the boys had done their homework.

Steve Jones with a nice Kilmore Quay coalfish.

Staying at The Quay House Bed and Breakfast, Phone, +353 (0)53 91 29988, located on the left as you drive down the main street of Kilmore Quay, just up from Kehoe’s public house. A fine establishment well run by husband and wife team Pat and Siobhan McDonnell, the Quay House caters for anglers providing equipment storage, bait refrigeration, and catch freezing facilities. Full Irish breakfasts set up the day, hot showers are ready on return, and on this occasion bait was ordered in advance  through Joe Carley of South East Bait Supplies, phone +353 (0)87 944 0945. Fresh mackerel was the top bait  on this trip with ragworm attracting a number of quality wrasse.

Charter boat Enterprise out of Kilmore Quay skippered by Dick Hayes.

I would like to thank Alan and the lads for their hospitality and good humour throughout the day and in particular for not making me walk the plank after destroying Alan’s favourite Penn boat rod. “You should have let me use old yella”…….

See also: Angling Marks, Kilmore Quay, Co. Wexford, Ireland.

 

Bass Fishing, Surf Schoolies

Monday, May 13th, 2013

There are a few bass about down Wexford way, at least for surf enthusiasts, lure fishing to date being curtailed by coloured seas thrown up by our still unsettled weather patterns. Digging five dozen large black lugworm with a south Wexford beach mark in mind, on arrival although a lovely surf was creaming in with little evidence of floating weed, one cast was enough. In an instant, main line festooned with wrack, plan B was put into action, hit an east facing strand.

Waiting for a bite, bass fishing in South Wexford, Ireland.

That’s more like it, an hour before high water, again a nice surf allied to a bit of depth in close and no weed, happy days. Popping twin 4/0 kamazan paternosters at thirty and sixty yards respectively, second cast a decent haul over bite connects. Typical of a schoolie, announcing its presence in adult fashion, only to be found out when the much anticipated bullish head shaking is replaced by a light swimming sensation. A pound and a half of albeit solid muscle is no match for a thirteen foot beach caster.

Wexford surf schoolie.

That said, at least small bass are present in numbers and have been for a number of years now, a good sign for the future, however where are their parents? Definitely in the right place on numerous occasions when surf bass fishing over the five years this blog has been running, schoolies have noticeably become the predominant catch. Back in 2008, when I started back sea fishing in earnest, surf bass of four – six pound featured in my catches from south Wicklow around to Kilmore Quay. Post 2009/2010 the average size relative to my diaries has definitely got smaller. I’m fishing the same venues at the same times yet the catch returns have altered, lots of juveniles but fewer adults……….What, if anything, has changed?