Posts Tagged ‘Wicklow’

High Tide Tigers

Tuesday, August 14th, 2018

There’s mackerel showing north of the point and I’ve had a few bass and a nice sea trout to kilty lures while fishing of an evening over the last week or two“. It had been too long since I had met and spoken with Ger, too long since I had last cast a line. The beach called though and I responded, life is instinctive, maybe I was not meant to fish for ten months, a break to rekindle the desire, what better way to reconnect then to revisit a happy place filled with special memories.

Spinning rig for mackerel, pollock, coalfish, sea trout and bass.

The lads are catching mackerel this last week“, it was good to catch up with Dot’s, matriarch to a creative bohemian family and witness to great change along the strand rooted in both our lives. “Drop in for a cup of tea on your way back“, acknowledging in the affirmative I departed the cottage and initially followed the railway line north for a spell before scrambling over the rocky sea defences to fire my first cast seaward into the steadily rising tide.

A four meter 13.30.pm full tide pushed southwards at a clip speeding up as it rounded the point. The sea calm and relatively clear due to a glorious two month spell of fine weather, a warm north west breeze lengthening the flight of my 32 gram kilty lure, breaking the surface I count to twelve and wind slowly. The lure pulses, my rod top dips and the line zig zags, flashes of blue/white and a skittery tail run in the receding wave, a beached mackerel drum rolls the shingle.

Shimmering silver/white, black and green striped, slippy, scales everywhere and that oily fresh smell of the sea. Mackerel are where it started for most sea anglers and they never lose their appeal. A nice stroll, good conversation and a half dozen for tea, batteries recharged………..

Assisting Fellow Tourist Anglers & Fishers

Monday, August 29th, 2016

In 2010 I set up the An Irish Anglers World website because as a traveling angler within my own country I could not access relevant and correct angling information that would enable me to hit the ground running wherever I chose to fish. Today An Irish Anglers World contains 329 posts and 129 pages of published articles across eight categories reflecting a range of Irish angling disciplines all of which provide current information relative to my own experience of Irish angling venues at specific dates and times.

A fine Greystones Co. Wicklow, Ireland tope and one happy sea angler.

It’s great to know that the sites ethos works especially when one receives messages of support and thanks from people who have contacted me for information. Such requests have emanated from countries as far away as New Zealand and the USA to the United Kingdom and as close as Co. Wicklow.

Typical questions would be:

Am over at the end of the month any suggestions as to were is fishing well, we’re staying around Kilmore way again so anywhere around that ways ….will be bringing my own bait over this time?

and

I’ve read your own angling report, Tope Alley, suggesting to fish at various marks inside and outside the red buoy using a mackerel flapper or whole joey but all I’ve managed, on at least ten occasions at this stage, is the odd LSD – is there any advice you could give me regarding tides, fishing depth, anchoring/drifting?! It would be greatly appreciated!

The end result for the latter question, caught within the last fortnight is pictured above, the anglers smile says it all, while the former sent me this report of an angling holiday in Wexford circa summer 2016:

Well them mullet are getting bigger had a few around 5lb.one of 6lb…but seen some that must be 10lb easy…but crafty as they come.had a go.at Rosslare yesterday had over 30 bass but none over a pound great sport tho….had a good day at Slade fishing for the wrasse and Pollock…

In all cases I am glad to help, like Ronseal An Irish Angler’s World does what it says on the tin…………..

Welsh Sea Anglers Embrace Wicklow

Monday, August 15th, 2016

Welshman Alan Duthie from Llanethlie, South Wales should be given the freedom of South East Ireland for the efforts he selflessly makes in championing, within his local community, Ireland as a sea fishing holiday destination. Last weekend beginning Thursday 11/08/2016 Alan and 12 enthusiastic sea anglers from the Swansea area traveled to and spent time and money fishing off both Wicklow Town with Skipper Kit Dunne and also Kilmore Quay, Co Wexford with the Hayes brothers Dick and Eamon.

Welsh sea anglers having the craic with Kit Dunne and Wicklow Boat Charters.

The second trip that this particular Welsh party have made this summer 2016 and the umpteenth since a formal request was made by this writer to Alan Duthie (Chairperson of the Welsh Pleasure Anglers and Kayakers Association, PAKA) regarding holding a presentation in South Wales on the tourism sea angling product south east Ireland has to offer back in September 2009. That presentation, which cost the princely sum of two return ferry trips, a couple 0f overnights in a B/B and living expenses, approx’ €700.00, has resulted in multiple visits to Ireland from a plethora of Welsh sea angling groups aligned to PAKA post 2010.

The information set out below, gleaned from a trip made to Kilmore Quay back in 2013, illustrates just one traveling groups contribution to South East Ireland’s local economy.

Revenue generated exclusive of travel and sundry expenses:

P.A.K.A South Wales, Angling Trip to Kilmore Quay, June 23rd – 28th 2013
B/B, €40.00 x 21 x 4 €3360.00
Charters, €400.00 x 2 x 3 €2400.00
Fresh Bait (ragworm) €200.00
Terminal tackle, and frozen bait. €630.00
Lunch (€10.00 x 21 x 3) €630.00
Evening meal (Average €25.00 x 21 x4) €2100.00
Pints (average over group 4 per night @ €4.00) €336.00
Bus collection/return from ferry port €300.00
Total € 9956.00

 

The average spend per angler exclusive of Ferry Travel was € 474.09 based on a four bed night stay or €118.52 per day, by translation that spend equates to €711.14 per angler for a week (6 x bed nights) long trip. Individually some of the traveling group would say that they spend more, however the above is an accurate account and translated over seven years to date based on the known repeat trips organised by Alan Duthie, his group alone have directly deposited €160,000 plus in Ireland on an outlay of €700.00, now that is some return.

Welshman Marshall Mainwaring displays a fine County Wicklow smooth hound.

Traveling for the scenery, craic and a different fishing experience, on this occasion the boys were targeting east coast Wicklow tope. Staying in the Grand Hotel the lads fished two days with skipper Kit Dunne and Wicklow Boat Charters. The first outing was tough with only a few dogfish and hounds showing, however on the second day pay dirt was struck with 9 tope boated partnered by a succession of bull huss.

A male Wicklow tope and one happy Welsh sea angler.

Skipper Kit Dunne has invested serious money in his business and the Welsh sea angling party travel with the primary motive of wetting a line. For this business arrangement to survive and prosper the fishing resource needs to be firing on all cylinders, unfortunately Co. Wicklow’s offshore fishery is stuttering badly due to inshore habitat destruction and over fishing within the greater Irish Sea.

A grand male Wicklow tope.

Government needs to recognise fully stakeholders such as Kit and the Welsh tourist sea anglers, for they having committed to travel and spend money within Ireland are stakeholders too. The current narrow Government marine fisheries focus on the commercial catching/processing sector as the only gig in town is limiting the return on a key national resource at a time when innovation and diversification are the buzz words of business. Kit Dunne exemplifies the former, pity our relevant national marine agencies and politicians still refuse to back his efforts. A starting point for a change of tack would be for both Ireland’s Ministers for Fisheries and Tourism and the CEO of Failte Ireland to meet with Welshman Alan Duthie then listen to and act on his recommendations, after all its his money and passion that contributes not only to their salaries but to their existence as public servants…….

 

A Stroll Along Kilcoole

Tuesday, July 26th, 2016

Kilcoole, Co. Wicklow, Ireland holds a special place in my heart, catching large red spotted plaice and brown/red mottled codling initially with my dad and latterly with friends such as Gerry Mitchell and Francis O’Neill “God Rest Him”. The village became my home for 16 happy years, a great environment for raising our kids, with countless happy memories and many friends made to include the aforementioned Gerry and the Meakin family both of whom I met yesterday while taking a stroll.

Ashley Hayden lure fishing on Kilcoole beach, Co. Wicklow.

Boy has the place changed especially down on the strand where steel fencing on the landward side of the railway line and chain link on the seaward side has created a disconnect between the beach and the village. Pre 2001 you could walk across the railway line at any given point and know one ever got run over by a train unless “with all due respect” they wanted to, which can still apply today if a person is that determined.

The resultant can be summed up in the words of Mrs Meakin, still a fit lady in her seventies who used to walk twenty meters across from her front door to the beach and go swimming every day. “Now in the morning I hear the water invitingly lapping and I cannot reach it due to the obstacle course in front of me”. In short her way of  life has been diminished by blind bureaucracy.

Equally I would say that the same blind bureaucracy killed the fishing when licencing the removal of the offshore mussel banks. Today on my stroll while casting a Kilty lure I caught a solitary launce in front of the “Big Tree”. I scared a sea trout and the bass may still be there, however no mackerel, no mussel shells on the beach and very little weed. Conversations with Mrs Meakin (over 40 years resident in Kilcoole) and her daughter Lizzy made it very clear, the inshore environment has changed radically, getting progressively lifeless.

One is not being negative in saying this, just realistic. Yes it is sad, but the people iterating it are perfectly balanced and happy, they just have lived, breathed and observed a fuller environmental alternative which can still be resurrected from the bland reduced diversity habitat Kilcoole presents today. Yes, the beating heart of Kilcoole’s wonderful seascape can be revived, it just needs good people to believe. A starting point is to support the idea of a community managed Marine Conservation Area between Bray Head and Wicklow Head………..

For Further Information Click on: Reviving North County Wicklow’s Inshore Fisheries Socio – Economic Modal.

Creating a Managed Marine Protected Area off County Wicklow, Ireland

Saturday, February 20th, 2016
Ashley Hayden boat fishing off Greystones, Co. Wicklow, Ireland.

My family roots lie firmly in Greystones, Co. Wicklow, Ireland, a once thriving fishing village situated 25 miles south of Dublin city on Ireland’s east coast. I possess experiential knowledge of the offshore fishing grounds comprising the Moulditch Ridge, Kilcoole Bank and the Breaches Shoal (all located south and east of Greystones) dating back to the late 1960′s.

I am familiar with the local marine traditions and I am fully aware what has been lost due exclusively to bad fisheries management decisions encapsulated by habitat destruction the resultant of licenced mussel dredging which commenced back in the early 1980′s.

I have a vision to establish a “community driven” Marine Protected Area (MPA) between Bray Head ( to the north) and Wicklow Head (to the south) encapsulating both holistic and socio - economic principles.

Best practice would suggest that the process to achieve this viable proposal will require most likely the setting up of a “driver organisation” possibly a registered charity with philanthropic and or EU funding to underpin it linked to a campaign ran by the wider local community while being supported by the state, which will include all vested interests and not just a narrow “marine” focus.

The MPA will be for “all” the people locally, nationally and from abroad.

The MPA will act as a pilot project which if successful can then be incorporated as a modal for best practice inshore fisheries management and subsequently rolled out nationally.

I envisage that:
  • Management of the MPA will include an academic research mandate to aid “best management practice” as well as to further progress marine scientific knowledge.
  • That the inshore/offshore MPA will be an extension of the Wicklow National Park so making the County not only unique nationally but also internationally.
  • That the MPA will extend out to the old three mile limit and its northern and southern limits will be designated by a virtual extension of the respective county lines.
  • That the MPA will not be exclusively “no take” but will allow sustainable commercial artisan fishing methodologies, recreational sea angling and a variety of water sports and activities under a progressive management plan aimed to encourage local business and employment opportunities while both rehabilitating and preserving the integrity ongoing of North Wicklow’s offshore environment.
  • That within the MPA though there will be areas designated as “No Take” for both scientific and “spill over” purposes.
  • That when established in time the MPA will garner enormous credibility for Co. Wicklow internationally, will underpin efforts to maintain and increase onshore and offshore biodiversity, will resurrect a now defunct local artisan commercial fishing industry, will enable Co. Wicklow to market an International standard tourism sea angling product and will act as a catalyst for marine cultural, heritage, tourism, educational and recreational activities such as diving, sea kayaking, natural history engagement and small boat hire.
In short the investment in time and effort will be returned many fold.

I am proposing that the vision is worth adopting because:
  • It will be a unique step for a county (public and private entities) to recognise and claim ownership of an offshore coastal resource with a view to managing its usage and future rehabilitation/development as an integral and symbiotic element of onshore economic development.
  • Rehabilitation of the inshore benthic habitats off Co. Wicklow will enable the county to market and sell itself abroad internationally as a local community that really cares for and understands the socio - economic benefits of pristine natural environments.
  • That the County Council supported by Public and Private interests can lead the way in proposing and developing a forward thinking “coastal county by coastal county” approach to national inshore fisheries management where community and state Dept’s/Agencies work side by side to manage and develop “their inshore/offshore patch” collectively on behalf of the nation.

Yours sincerely,

Ashley Hayden

 

Analysis of Specimen Sea Fish Records for Co. Wicklow 2011 – 2015

Friday, February 12th, 2016

The argument to introduce wider stakeholder inclusive and environmentally focused management structures for Ireland’s inshore fisheries is indisputable as this follow on analysis of an earlier study based on Irish Specimen Fish Committee Records for the inshore waters off north Co. Wicklow clearly shows:

Bass – 5.31.kg (11.70.lb) – Wicklow – 10/10/2014 – Keith Marsella – Crab

Bass – 4.62.kg (10.19.lb) – Greystones – 24/06/2012 – Damian Blackwell – Lure

Bull Huss – 7.82.kg (17.25.lb) – Wicklow – 17/07/2013 – Peter Schiffer – Mackerel

Flounder – 1.20.kg (2.65.lb) – Wicklow – 07/10/2014 – Stephen Gibson – Crab

Flounder – 1.12.kg (2.47.lb) – Wicklow – 06/10/2015 – Craig Murphy – Crab

LSD – 1.59.kg (3.50.lb) – Wicklow – 22/08/2013 – Bert McGregor – Mackerel

Thick L. Mullet – 3.27.kg (7.20.lb) – Arklow – 31/07/2014 – Craig Murphy – Bread

Thick L. Mullet – 3.18.kg (7.00.lb) – Wicklow – 01/07/2015 – Des Chew – Bread

Thick L. Mullet – 2.95.kg (6.50.lb) – Wicklow – 25/09/2015 – Ken Garry – Bread

Thick L. Mullet – 2.54.kg (5.60.lb) – Wicklow – 02/07/2015 – Des Chew – Bread

Thick L. Mullet – 2.49.kg (5.50.lb) – Wicklow – 21/06/2015 – Craig Murphy – Bread

Thick L. Mullet – 2.40.kg (5.30.lb) – Wicklow – 17/08/2015 – Des Chew – Bread

Thick L. Mullet – 2.32.kg (5.12.lb) – Wicklow – 20/07/2015 – Dan Smith – Bread

Thick L. Mullet – 2.27.kg (5.00.lb) – Wicklow – 11/08/2015 – Dan Smith – Bread

In total 10 x T. L. Mullet were ratified for County Wicklow in 2014.

In total 7 x T. L. Mullet were ratified for County Wicklow in 2013.

In total 3 x T. L. Mullet were ratified for County Wicklow in 2012.

In total 6 x T. L. Mullet were ratified for County Wicklow in 2011.

Grey mullet from the Vartry estuary, Co. Wicklow

Smooth Hound – 8.62.kg (19.00.lb) – Wicklow – 24/05/2015 – Garech Murphy – Crab.

In total 48 smooth hound were ratified for County Wicklow in 2015 with most being caught off Wicklow town on board Kit Dunne’s Wicklow Boat Charters, a small number being landed in the Arklow area. The smallest hound was 3.04.kg (6.70.lb) caught on the 12th July off Wicklow.

In total 21 smooth hound were ratified for Wicklow in 2014 the largest weighing 6.92.kg (15.25.lb) caught on squid 22/06/2014.

In total 63 smooth hound were ratified for Wicklow in 2013 the largest weighing 7.37.kg (16.25.lb) caught on crab 06/07/2013.

In total 40 smooth hound were ratified for Wicklow in 2012 the largest weighing 6.35.kg (14.00.lb) caught on crab 13/07/2012.

In total 5 smooth hound were ratified for Wicklow in 2011 the largest weighing 6.21.kg (13.69.lb) caught on squid 02/07//2011.

Spurdog caught on Kit Dunne's Wicklow Boat Charters off Co. Wicklow, Ireland.

Spur Dogfish – length only – Wicklow – 16/05/2014 – Pat Swan – Mackerel

In total 4 spur dogfish were ratified for Wicklow in 2014 all caught in May.

In total 4 spur dogfish were ratified for Wicklow in 2013 all caught in Oct/Nov.

In total 1 spur dogfish were ratified for Wicklow in 2011 caught in Nov.

T. B. Rockling – 0.86.kg (1.90.lb) – Wicklow – 15/11//2011 – Andrew Boyce – Mackerel

T. B. Rockling – 0.85.kg (1.88.lb) – Wicklow – 19/04/2015 – Belinda Kennedy – Mackerel

T. B. Rockling – 0.82.kg (1.80.lb) – Wicklow – 22/01/2014 – Craig Murphy – Mackerel

T. B. Rockling – 0.82.kg (1.81.lb) – Greystones – 03/04/2015 – Andrew Boyce – Mackerel

T. B. Rockling – 0.81.kg (1.79.lb) – Greystones – 09/03/2015 – Pat Fagan – Mackerel

T. B. Rockling – 0.79.kg (1.75.lb) – Greystones – 15/08/2015 – Andrew Boyce – Mackerel

In total 3 T. B. Rockling were ratified for County Wicklow in 2011.

Specimen female tope boated in October 2009, Greystones, Co. Wicklow, Ireland.

Tope – 22.23.kg (49.00.lb) – Wicklow – 22/07/2015 – Martin Corr – Crab

In total 7 more tope were ratified for Wicklow in 2015 with the smallest fish weighing 19.05.kg (42.00.lb) caught on 12/08/2015.

In total 12 tope were ratified for Wicklow in 2014 the largest weighing 29.03.kg (64.00.lb) caught on mackerel off Greystones 05/07/2014.

In total 21 tope were ratified for Wicklow in 2013 the largest weighing 24.66.kg (54.37.lb) caught on mackerel off Greystones 22/08//2013.

In total 3 tope were ratified for Wicklow in 2012 the largest weighing 27.30.kg (60.19.lb) caught on mackerel off Wicklow 20/10//2012.

In total 1 tope was ratified for Wicklow in 2011 weighing 22.68.kg (50.00.lb) caught on mackerel off Greystones 30/08//2011.

Specimen Size Species Recorded off County Wicklow 2011 – 2015

Number of Species: 9

  • Bass x 2
  • Bull Huss x 1
  • Flounder x 2
  • LSD x 1
  • Thick Lipped Mullet x 33
  • Smooth Hound x 177
  • Spur Dogfish x 9
  • Three Beard Rockling x 8
  • Tope x 44

Relative to the on going study tracking County Wicklow based specimen fish records going back to 1975, the number of specimens recorded post 2010 by species  has increased from 4 (bass, tope, smooth hound and grey mullet) to 9 ( the aforementioned species plus bull huss, flounder, LSD, spur dogfish and rockling).

The one newcomer to the list is flounder, the remaining four bull huss, LSD, spurdog and rockling all featuring on previous specimen lists for the area. Are these species making a comeback? Relative to flounder and T. B. rockling the species were always present just that people were not targeting them. An increase in specimen hunting effort where species are targeted in specific locations at specific times of the angling season has resulted in flounder making the list and also an upward movement in T. B. Rockling claims.

The presence of Wicklow Boat Charters post 2011 with subsequent increased effort aimed at so called “rough species” has resulted in a marked increase in smooth hound and tope claims and is definitely a factor in recent claims for specimen bull huss and LSD, both species always present albeit reduced in average size and population.

Spurdog are making a tentative comeback probably due to a current ban on commercial fishing for the species within Scottish waters. However when one considers how prolific this particular species was in spring and again in early winter certainly up to the early 1980’s, the jury is still out as to their ongoing recovery.

Matching Wicklow Boat Charters overall recorded catches for 2014 and 2015 to specimen fish returns for County Wicklow in the same year provides a more accurate picture of the inshore fishery off North County Wicklow.

Wicklow Boat Charters Catch Returns 2014

  • Tope – total boated 179 – total specimens ratified 12.
  • Smooth hound – total boated 912 – specimens ratified 21.
  • Bull huss – total boated 176 – zero specimens ratified.
  • Spur dogfish – total boated on a single outing 09/11/2014 = 55 – zero specimens ratified.

Wicklow Boat Charters Catch Returns 2015

  • Tope – total boated 185 – specimens ratified for Co. Wicklow 7.
  • Smooth hound – total boated 912 – specimens ratified for Co. Wicklow 48.
  • Bull huss – total boated 103 – zero specimens ratified for Co. Wicklow.
  • Spurdog – total boated 2 – “limited fishing due to bad weather

Tope and smooth hound populations would appear to be in a reasonably healthy state, on the ground evidence of pups from both species suggesting this status quo should continue. That said, this writer witnessed in 2015 a reduction in average size of smooth hound caught in the Arklow area and the presence of dead smooth hound in 40. kg fish boxes for use as whelk pot bait.

Significantly specimen bull huss and spur dogfish returns are low for the amount of boat man hours directed towards fishing large fish baits in key predator fish locations on board the two vessels operated by Wicklow Boat Charters, with only a few ray encountered (14 in 2014 by Wicklow Boat Charters).

On the plus side a lot of male pack tope are encountered earlier in the summer with larger female tope showing up from August through to October weather permitting.

Codling haul from Killoughter, Co. Wicklow, circa 1980's.

White fish returns on the north Wicklow fishing grounds though are very poor, the dearth of traditionally targeted edible species other than small grey and tub gurnards, which appear to be quite numerous, reflected in catch returns gleaned from Greystones Ridge Sea Angling Club competition records (boat and shore) for September 2015 & January 2016 respectively, all posted on Facebook.

Competition results courtesy of Greystones Ridge Sea Angling Club, January 2016.

A 24 cm dab, 26 cm flounder and a 33 cm whiting, all recorded in January 2016 post a shore competition off Five Mile Point with no sizeable codling or coalfish present speaks volumes as to how far biodiversity standards have dropped along the north Wicklow coastline in tandem with bottom mussel bed exploitation, the connection when one knows the fisheries history being indisputable as the above image courtesy of Liam Kane taken at Killoughter in the 1980’s makes clear.

Pre 1980 and the commencement of inshore bottom mussel dredging off County Wicklow 16 species of fish swam in the then abundant north Wicklow waters that grew on or above Irish rod and line specimen weight to include edible species such as cod, plaice, black sole, thornback and blonde ray. Today these species other than the odd juvenile are a distant memory, marine biodiversity reduced wholesale as the dredgers did their work.

Circa 2016 four species, bass, grey mullet, tope and smooth hound (all non quota species) still swim in reasonable numbers and grow to specimen size off Co. Wicklow, while flounder and T. B. rockling exist because they are non commercial and inhabit safe estuary and harbour wall locations respectively. Spurdog, LSD and bull huss though still run the gauntlet of commercial exploitation, a fate which currently threatens the future of the current mainstay Wicklow specimen species bass, grey mullet, tope and smooth hound as commercial interests continue to diversify their catch by fishing down the food chain as prime species become uneconomic due to over exploitation………

Further reading: The Inshore Fishery off North Co. Wicklow from an Angling Perspective.

Greystones Tourism Shore Angling Circa 1989

Friday, January 29th, 2016

A tourist shore angling spends on average between €800 – €1000 over a week long stay.

The following link http://bit.ly/23xl2GR accesses an RTE archive of most likely the “Seiko” competition held on the beaches south of Greystones back in September 1989. The competition attracted 200 shore anglers worth a minimum of €10,000 to the local economy if held today.

European Surfcasting Championships 1989, Greystones, Co. Wicklow, Ireland.

The following month, October 1989 Greystones hosted the European Surfcasting Championships which attracted 11 International teams of five plus their entourage. Staying a minimum of 5 bed nights this competition today would inject €100,000 plus into the local economy before advertising such as the above free TV segment is taken into account.

European Surfcasting Championships 1989, Team Sheets.

Look at the composition of the England team alone, Clarke, Owen, Golds, Toomer, household names back then as a result of the Sea Angler magazine. Imagine the message Wicklow and Ireland could deliver through social media platforms alone if Greystones could stage such a competition today!!

Can we enable our fish to return please?

Greystones, Co. Wicklow, January 2016

Thursday, January 28th, 2016

Turning to view Bray Head a chill north west wind morphed to cutting, burning my face as I leaned forward retracing my steps back along the north pier of Greystones Harbour. Nearly 3 months of interminable damp, wet, grey, dreary, unseasonably mild Atlantic based weather has tried the patience of Ireland’s population this winter, it’s grand to get out in the fresh air and experience some class of sunlight breaking through the clouds. Halyards clink, clink their lonely sound on masts and a lazy dirty brown ground swell rises up before swashing back in synchronicity along the north beach, pier breakwaters and the rocks in front of St David’s to the south.

Greystones, Co. Wicklow north pier.

Although Greystones exudes a familiarity to this writer, my family and many of my earliest memories rooted in the place, how alien it feels today walking through the building site of a controversial harbour development that one day might deliver on its promise so reinvigorating Greystones connection with its so recent maritime history especially the fishing. Ironically a no fishing sign on the pier head accurately describes what has happened offshore, I cannot but smile.

Greystones Harbour, Co. Wicklow, Ireland.

The extent of the new harbour development northwards has clearly exacerbated coastal erosion along the north beach, glacial deposits in the mud cliffs scoured and washed southwards by the strong ebbing tide to infill the cove, the mens bathing place and the south beach as far as Ballygannon point. I have never seen such coastal deposition in this area, granted north easterly gales have been infrequent over the past few years. It begs the question though, how are the offshore grounds changing?

Willie Redmond (left) and Seamus "Jago" Hayden (right) clean a trammel net of weed, Greystones, Co. Wicklow, Ireland around 1960.

My grandfather fished the offshore grounds as did my uncles and latterly me. In fact the amount of grandfathers, fathers and sons that fished out of Greystones could surely fill a book with names given the amount of people that I have witnessed preparing their boats for sea over the years. Compared to recent past times the harbour is soulless reflected in the tackle shop adjacent to the Beach House pub closing its doors for the last time due to falling trade. Ironically again, the answer to Greystones maritime economic malaise lies beyond the pier heads, rejuvenate those fishing grounds and the heart will beat again, ah the wisdom of middle age………….

Ireland’s Sea Fisheries Belong to All its Citizens

Monday, January 18th, 2016

My Grandfather Willie Redmond built clinker design boats in his shed behind Killians Hall a stones throw from the harbour in Greystones, Co. Wicklow, which was a great benefit to yours truly an outdoors loving young lad who gained access to a boat from a very early age. In my tenth year dad taught me to row, initially in and out between the moored boats in the harbour only letting me leave the confines of the pier head when I could show him that I could maneuver the craft to his satisfaction. The litmus test being that I could row between the said moored boats without touching them.

A young Ashley Hayden at the harbour Greystones in 1984 with his first born daughter Emma - Claire.

Around the same time I helped dad construct a long line out of heavy cotton line imported from Hong Kong to which were attached 100 mustad spade end hooks on two foot snoods at 12′ intervals. Dad’s modus operandi became clear in the late summer of 1971 when in early September we shot the line in a zig zag pattern off St David’s school, me rowing with the last of the ebb tide while dad payed out the baited hooks before two hours later as the flood tide commenced roles reversed dad rowed and I hauled, a series of large red spotted plaice flapping over the gunnels. The boy was hooked.

Today 45 years later I would be hard pressed as a young 55 years old grandfather of two wonderful grandsons to repeat the above exercise such is the decline that has occurred in Ireland’s inshore sea fisheries. If this decline had occurred due to natural causes one would not lament so, however the damage is solely man made. In 2007 I wrote a piece, “An Angler’s Tale” about that first day off Greystones in 1971 and considered how we all could work towards improving our sea fisheries so that my Grand Children might experience in some way the marine wonders that I saw, smelled, heard and felt as a young boy and latterly teenager.

Given that my first born grandson Myles is now three and second born Dillan is two months old that day is well nigh upon us and sadly Ireland’s marine fisheries have not improved, in fact things have only gotten worse. In the early 1980′s I considered the idea of artisan sea fishing out of Greystones but buried the notion very quickly as the writing was on the wall even then with regard to sea fisheries decline and I was only going to enter the industry if I could run a stand alone operation with no reliance on state or EU subsidies, what I caught governing whether I would sink or swim.

Would that other people had thought like that because today the Irish Government props up a failing industry due to political ignorance of how to manage effectively Ireland’s marine resource, political cowardice when it comes to the acceptance that the marine stakeholder brief is far wider than just those who choose to sea fish commercially and through State/EU funding continues to fuel an industrial sector that is mining itself into oblivion while stoking the raging bush fire of marine fisheries decline. By supporting the grossly undemocratic present marine fisheries development and management status quo the Irish Government and its servents are  denying my grandsons Myles and Dillan and their peers what is their natural heritage and birthright.

The industry talks about “Grandfather Rights”, well my two Grandsons have great great grandfather rights and it is about time that they were recognised. At this juncture there is little chance that either Myles or Dillan will be able to forge a career in marine sea fisheries either as commercial fisherman, charter skippers or sea angling guides such is the Irish Governments inadequate response towards rectifying the wanton destruction of what is arguably Ireland’s greatest natural resource. Myles, Dillan and their peers deserve better………….

Sea Trout Fishing in Ireland: Evening on the River

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2015

Working down a fast run my line snaked out, unfurling before depositing the flies, a butcher on point teamed with a claret bumble as batman into the seam under the far bank. Throwing a mend the pair swept round entering slacker water at the run tail I pulled a yard of line to speed up and rise the flies, BANG, my rod wrenched and a silver migrant launched skywards.

Sea trout fishing in Ireland.

It never ceases to amaze how powerful and lively sea trout are, for a species that is so cautious once hooked they transform Jeckyll and Hyde like into a whirlwind of leaps, runs and dogged determination. This fellow played to form jumping, darting and thrashing all the way to the net. Lying in the meshes, butcher firmly in the scissors, glowing silver in the evening light, one could only admire the fighting qualities of a fish barely touching three quarters of a pound.

Sea trout flies.

The expression boxing above your weight comes to mind, it’s one of the reasons why I love sea trout fishing and the species is the sole reason why I took up fly fishing. Brought up on sea trout tales penned by Falkus, Gammon and Bucknall I had to experience the rush they describe when evening solitude is broken by an angry silver migrant intercepted momentarily on its journey to the scene of its birth. Magic…………..