Sunday, December 11, 2011

Poachers , Cod and Lifeboats.

Apologies readers, I haven't been posting much lately and the truth is I've only been fishing twice in the last month or so. Both of those outings were to target cod for the table aswell ,so I haven't had my finger on the pulse as regards the bass fishing lately.
   I've heard of some big ones getting caught but can't confirm any particular catches. We've had a decent run of cod here lately and with all the catch and release of the slow growing bass through the year its been nice to bring home some fresh cod, as I do enjoy eating seafood. Ofcourse I've no problem with anyone keeping a bass for the table I just personally prefer to keep the faster growing species of fish to eat if I can. I get more of a buzz catching bass than eating them.
  Apologies also to you guys who have left comments without reply. Every time I've tried I couldn't get it to work (I'm no computer whizz thats for sure) but now it seems I have it sussed so won't be ignoring your comments in future.

Some of my spare time has been taken up with volunteering for the Kinsale Lifeboat boat crew and I've been enjoying the comradery of the lads and ladies involved in the boat crew, shore crew and the fund raising team. The training is of the highest standard and for me very stimulating. It is a big commitment but I hope to become an integral part of the team and give something back to the community over the next decade or so. Even though I've years of experience on the water I never saw myself joining the RNLI , that was for "other people", but we all change as we grow and I'm delighted to be involved now , I'm sure it will become a big part of my life.
                                                A nice day off The Old Head of Kinsale

Travelling at speed out to "shouts" in force 6's and 7's at night or day will test the knees and back of anyone to the limit. The retirement age of 45 on inshore lifeboats as opposed to 55 on the bigger all-weather lifeboats is a reflection of the working environment . If you can stay in good shape, a medical each year after retirement age can prolong your service. "Going with it" I'm told is the key to protecting the body (trickier at night when you can't see the next wave too well) . So far so good, but bigger tests to come , its a good job I love the sea.

          A  fine winters day in Kinsale and we've just washed the boat down , time to put the kettle on :-).

On a more serious note ,and I'm a bit late with this, but please watch out for bass poachers this time of year and especially in the East Cork/Ballycotton area . Big catches may be landed into harbours or even quiet coves for export to France by unscrupulous fish buyers. With prices for fish rising this time of year, plenty of darkness to operate in and lots of bass about these people cash in on this seasonal bonanza . The fisheries boys are too understaffed to keep watch on these activities and the poachers are sneaky ,so its up to us anglers to try and get some information together that may help lead to a prosecution.
      Targetting the buyers is the way to go in my view as if there is no market there will be no poaching.With catches of a dozen boxes and more at times, its obvious that this is no restaraunt back door operation , to shift large quantities of illegal bass you need good contacts and people in the fish business have good contacts!

If any of you have any info regarding poaching please email me at , thanks.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Lure , bait , lure , bait ??

 With the weather conditions very changeable the last month or so, it's been good practice to keep tactics changeable aswell .
    Once the gales have passed and the water given enough time to clear up some great lure fishing has been found. Marauding groups of fish in the 5-8lb bracket have been roaming the shoreline in some pretty big surf. Catches of 4 or 5 fish in an hours fishing have been made by us with hard plastics taking their fancy.

This one took a liking to Julians' large maria chase , a firm favourite of his in big surf conditions.

This one caught over rough ground was part of a lovely haul of fish that all took the Komomo. The feed shallow has been doing the business suprises there!

Ofcourse the water hasn't always been suitable for lure fishing so we've also been dusting down the bait rods.

"Bait fishing after a big blow can be good" .
                             That is the common accepted theory and in fairness it quite often is . I think though ,a lot of the time "after the blow" is too late and the bigger fish have already come inshore with the weather ,had a feed and gone again.
             There are usually plenty of smaller (sub 5lb) bass about after the main event and they can often be fussy over bait type ,with slow gentle bites and lots of dropped hooks, they may have a lot of food to choose from ?
      If you can find the right spots to fish safely and have suitable tackle to use, some exciting fishing can be found "during" the main blow. This is especially so if the weather has been relatively calm beforehand.
  It's not comfortable , there is no finesse about it and its not easy to drag a mate along with you ,F-that being the common answer, but a big bait on a pennel rig can find you some big fish this time of year.
     I'm talking about the type of weather when any thoughts of going lure fishing are just ludicrous, unless LRF in the harbours floats your boat , which it does for many and is probably a good bit of fun.

I prefer to take 2 or 3 clams and a few lugworms hooked and bound onto a pair of 4/0 to 6/0 hooks , or squid , mackeral , crabs , whatever takes my fancy aslong as it's big. Lob it out into the seething mass and remind myself of the virtues of patience ,2 rods helps with the patience bit as it keeps you busy but can also be a pain at times. Takes I find are very positive in these conditions , they just pick it up and run . I've had from schoolies up to fish around the 8lb mark already this year so that size of bait isn't too selective. Generally the average size of fish is good though and for me it beats watching the forecast and moaning .

   Neither Julian or I have "landed" a double yet this year and with only a matter of weeks to go its not looking too promising , tis always one of the season's targets . Quantity this year has been better than last year, and thats pleasantly suprising given 2010 was an excellent season, but we've had to work a lot harder for our fish this year. I'll wait till newyear before making the full report on 2011.

Thanks must go to Minister Simon Coveney for making the good decision to keep protecting our favourite fish .
 Marine morgages and diesel bills, thats where the money would have gone from the sale of a decimated bass stock , the crew man would have seen little money to spend in his community , bankers and oil companies missed out there, thank god............. well actually no , thank John Quinlan and his associates.
   Also well done to everyone else who helped in the fight, you know who you are, our unity,strength and efforts have won through for now , and we can sleep a little easier until the commercial sector mounts the next challenge........................ Now back to fishing ,whats the weather forecast saying? :-)

Friday, October 14, 2011

Master Angler 2011

I haven't followed on from the soft plastics float fishing blog because I've had the small matter of preparing for the Master Angler.
This competition decides the captain of the Irish team and puts 10 anglers through to the "fish off" which decides the final 4 other places in the team and 1 reserve.
As many of you will know Ireland are the current World Champions and the standard here at the moment doesn't get any higher, anywhere.
Four of us travelled up from our club West Cork and District SAC , Paudie O'Driscoll , Stephen O'Donovan , myself and Derek Kendrick who was a member of that World Championship winning team which won in South Africa last year.
A fifth member of our club ,JP Molloy the captain of that WC team would also be heading up fresh from coming 2nd in the Irish pairs in Kerry the weekend before.
    The event was held in Sligo and there was three 4 hour competitions held over 2 days which covered 6 different beaches and around a hundred miles of coast line . Once you had drawn your three envelopes out of the three boxes at the opening ceremony, along with the other 125 anglers, you knew your peg numbers,zones and what beaches they would be on.

To some it's a weekend away to be enjoyed even though it takes a year of matches to qualify for this chance.
   A few pints , a bit of rugby on the box and a chance to catch up with familiar faces and old adversaries, while enjoying a spot of fishing against the beautiful back drop of the Sligo coastline .
    To us four (and JP) we only had one thing on our minds , the top ten of the leader board . Consistency was key over the three matches , a poor result in any match and your chance was blown.

"Fail to prepare, prepare to fail" as one famous Cork man puts it.
In our case this involved a lot of hard work collecting , 40 king rag , 1000 maddies , 150 lugworm and dozens of peeler crabs each just for starters .Throw in shellfish , sandeel , mackeral ,salted black wraps and you're starting to have enough bait for 12 hours match fishing.
 Will you use it all ? not a hope , but you have to cover all possibilities as you don't even know whether you're fishing a beach or an estuary at this stage?
Aswell as collecting the bait it has to be kept in tip-top condition , tricky enough in a vehicle over three days!

If any of you lure only guys are still reading I can imagine your thoughts :-).

With an 80 kilometre drive to the first match watching the rugby (Ireland v Wales) in the morning lost its priority status, it was breakfast then hit the road.
Enniscrone that first venue greeted us with a lively surf and plenty of kelp washing around , luckily we were able to drive on the beach because I was pegged right at the top end .The match would be from 10am-2pm.

I started with a flapper rig and the 6oz pyramid leads I chose to use let the rig trundle slowly through the surf from right to left . I baited with maddies or crab and lug tipped with maddies and fished with 30lb mono straight through as I didn't want to waste time dealing with lots of weed stuck on a leader knot.
   My first cast produced a double shot of flounders, to the envy of those around me, and the heavy mono tactic was working well.  I could confidently retrieve the gear without worry about the mainline parting under the weight off the kelp, unhook the trace, slide off any weed and be back in the water while those around were still struggling with their leader knots.
  The flounders kept coming in and I have to admit it was a great buzz . The guys around me were getting the odd one now and again but it was clear I was doing well.

   By the last cast the buzz had turned to mild horror as the water had reached the back wheels of my van , moving higher up the beach wasn't an option either as the sand was too soft . I just managed to get the gear into the van and get moving with a push from one of the lads . My nerves were shredded at this point and thoughts of losing the van (the tide still had 2 hours till high) were running through my head as I slalomed my way back down the beach , zig-zagging between rod stands , vehicles and anglers while trying not to stop the van .
 By the time the four of us met up I'd calmed down a bit and was able to enjoy the fact that I'd caught 13 flounders and was in the top 5 in my zone. The other three lads had done well enough too and we left that venue in high spirits.
    JP had had a bad first session and hit the road back to Cork ,6 hours away .He must have been wrecked/fished-out from the Diawa pairs as he's one of the best anglers in the country but had failed to bag-up when there was plenty of fish in his zone?

There was no time to rest as we had a long drive to the next venue Streedagh , for a 6pm-10pm session, we ate food as we drove. I felt great and for a few hours I was able to dream of maybe getting myself into the top ten and maybe even the Irish team..............?

I was pegged at the far end of this beach aswell and the walk with seatbox, beach buddy, coolbox , rods , rod stand and bucket full of crabs was as gruelling as any walk I'd ever done before. As it was raining the water proofs had to be worn which didn't help matters, they just made me boiling hot. I was exausted !  there was no two ways about it.
Fish short was the general consensus , for coalies and flats. In the first couple of casts two flounder were caught a few pegs up from me and conditions looked perfect, we were all looking forward to the action that would surely happen once it got dark.
  Those two flats turned out to be the only two fish caught at our end of the beach for the whole competition!
We fished short , long , crept with the gear , every conceivable bait was used but it all came back in as perfectly presented as it went out , there wasn't even any crabs to have a go , it was a dead zone!
A blank was looming and the dream slipping away , any couple of fish would have kept me in with a chance after my good start but it wasn't to be.
I didn't feel as bad as I probably should have? so much effort had gone into getting here but the fact that all around me failed to find any fish was some sort of solace.

When I finally made it back to the van it was disappointing to tell the lads I'd blanked , thankfully they had done better and were still in the mix otherwise spirits would have been low. I knew I would be driving back in the morning as my chance was gone and fishing the last competition was pointless, I was also out of energy.

      In the last comp the lads kept it going and Derek finished well in his zone and in 4th place over-all on the final leader board, he's a brilliant angler and it was no suprise to any of us , the guy just has a knack for finding fish and his gold medal is proof of that fact.
 We were also delighted that Stephen had finished in 6th spot on the leader board, his consistency over the three comps has got him a well deserved place in the fish-offs and I wish both the lads the very best of luck in that.
  Paudie fished a stormer on the last comp winning his zone and catching more fish than anyone in any zone. Infact during the whole tournament he collected the 5th highest amount of fish points! Unfortunately though his night session on Streedagh had been nearly as bad as mine. The couple of fish he caught were just not enough on the night and he paid for that in the end , finishing a respectfull 28th over-all but a cruel quirk of the format when taking his fish points into account. He will be back though , I've no doubt about that.
  Species landed over the weekend included turbot, flounder, whiting, dogs, seatrout(not counted), mullet and probably a few more that I can't confirm yet.

On reflection it was damn hard work , the bait gathering , the hours on the road and the consistent effort fishing and walking .
  I knew I was a bit out of my league before I went , it was my first and possibly the only time I'll have a crack at making the fish-offs. The lads with me are very experienced match anglers and that definately helps having fished the Masters before. On hindsight I would have spent a lot more time fishing at distance in my last comp instead of waiting/expecting the fish to come feeding inshore soon. I will take these experiences forward with me now and I'm pretty sure they will improve my match angling in the long run.

    Congratulations to Martin Howlin from Wexford who won over-all and is now the new captain of the Irish team .

  I haven't tried for bass in weeks and am looking forward to some proper fishing again :-).............

Monday, September 26, 2011

Float-fishing Soft Plastics.

We've all been there, you turn up to fish your chosen mark and find yourself confronted by the anglers enemy, WEED !

At times it can be impossible to fish conventional methods , even weedless rigged lures can be covered in seconds leaving you no option but to walk away or wait until the weed has past.

One method I use ,for situations like these and also for fishing in clean water, is float-fishing with lures.
I like to rig up using a pike float(though most floats will work fine), bead ,a bullet weight, a strong piece of mono 25 lb+ (as it needs to be able to handle a bit of wear) and a couple of swivels .
Tie a swivel to one end of the mono, slide on the bead, then the float coloured end first. Next slide on the bullet weight and tie on the last swivel.
The whole rig is about a foot or 30 centimetres long and can easily be stored in a container in the lure bag, ready to be attached onto your lure-clip and thus avoiding the hassle of making it up at the venue.
            All you have to do now is make up the business end and tie it to the swivel that supports the bullet weight. This is best done at the venue when water depth and conditions have been taken into consideration.
  In very clear water I will use an 8lb Airflow flourocarbon hook length about 5 feet or 150 centimetres long . I don't generally add any shot to this but if the tide and wind were going in the same direction, or the float was just travelling very fast, I might add a few to keep the lure down. I prefer to leave off the weight though, so the lure can move with more freedom.
    Choice of lure is something I would encourage you to experiment with as different venues and situations will favour different lures and only you can work out what suits your marks best. Just to get you started though ,a natural looking soft plastic like the smaller Slug-go will behave well in the water and takes fish.

One of my customers Cuan playing a bass ten minutes after I'd rigged him up with a float and lure, and showed him what to do.He was pretty impressed at the time.
       If you're fishing off rocks or wading on sand into an estuary, casting uptide and letting the float carry the lure down past you until it stops and swings in, can be the best approach . Retrieve it slowly ready for the next cast, you never know what might follow ?
 If its very weedy cast into a clear patch of water and the float and lure will travel at the same speed as the weed. This will help to prevent the lure getting clogged up until it stops and the weed catches up.
  It will also flow with the water like a natural bait might ,getting sucked into eddies and currents that form in the band of water infront of you and hopefully on to waiting bass.
If there is a chop on the water it will work the lure making it flutter up and down, while travelling in the current.
    Some venues you can walk along with the float , "trotting" it for long distances until you find fish.
On clean ground you can also rig a lure to be trundled along the bottom , the float will dip as the lure hits a ripple or bank in the sand but will then pop back up and keep floating on working the lure behind it .
   There are so many possibilities with this method from using shrimp lures on the bottom, to paddle tail shads raced through strong current near the surface, it just takes some use of the grey matter to design a hook length/trace to suit your venues unique geography.

This fish took the small slug-go on my first cast fishing on an open surf beach .
I offered this technique to a journalist, to use as an article, before, as it can be a very good method at times and is something different from the norm? As I recently wrote Cast, Retrieve, Remove the weed , Cast,Retrieve,............................ well you know it by now,  can get boring at times too.
    Shame it didn't come off because they would have made a much better job of it than I have here .
 Anyway you guys get the gist of things, ..........float fishing might not be for everyone and I'm not going to say its a killer technique. At certain times it works well and, as I've said, a float plunging under the water does it for me.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Rounding off with a bit of variety.

The wind stayed offshore for the weekend so I managed to squeeze in another couple of sessions.
   My favourite one was plugging into the waves on a surf beach . Anyone who has done a bit of bait fishing into the surf knows that the rhythmic pounding of the waves can put you into a state of mild meditation.
  Lure fishing the surf doesn't quite allow you to switch off in the same way but it still eases the mind and a lack of snags makes for a very relaxed angling experience.

Covering the features in the formation of the sand on the beach including banks , drop-offs and gullies created by run-off or streams was keeping me occupied but after more than an hour had passed I was beginning to doubt my prospects .
    Suddenly though the lure was hit two or three times in quick succession but no firm bend was registered on the rod. I stopped winding and could imagine the shallow diver I was using rising to the surface while being pushed around by the moving water hopefully imitating a stunned bait-fish , it induced another take and this time the rod let me know the fish was hooked .
  With the fish easily 60 yards out from me, it used the waves to aid its movement reaching ferocious speeds as it kited from one side on a long run, then turning and heading back again. Often its silver and gold flank would be visible travelling along the face of the peeling wave , its dorsal fin cutting through the waters surface as it powered along . It was a delight I have to say and all this from what we'd call a small bass over here at around 3 lbs or so.

Two more fish around the same size were landed during the next half hour , then the dreaded mobile phone called me away just as my anticipation levels had reached fever pitch , just aswell maybe ? I'd gone from nice and relaxed to heart pounding with excitement . Years and years of bass fishing and it still gets the pulse racing !
    Even though it wasn't outstanding when sizes and numbers of fish are taken into consideration , it was still one of my favourite sessions of the season so far , something different venue-wise than the norm I suppose ?

I rounded off the weekend on more familiar territory with a couple more fish taken off the rocks into nicely fizzing water.
     Apologies for the boring photos , I don't have a "Henry Gilbey" standing around ready to use his magic when needed and I don't like keeping the fish out of water for timed shots , so its a quick point and shoot and get the bass back in.

This fish, number 10 from the last few days, took a fancy to the 7.5 inch slug-go creapt through the rough ground and like the one pictured above , it hit the lure a few times without hooking up ,it was only by pausing that I managed to persuade it to really grab the lure properly thus ensuring it a photo opportunity.

So we got a break from the wind but 10 bass over a few days in September is not great fishing , you'd be hoping for those kind of numbers a day usually.
   It's said that after a blow is the best time to go fishing but I'd say if the wind has been blowing hard for a long time then most bass have already eaten well by the time it calms down.
  I look out to sea watching that seething mass of coloured water and often think to myself , those bass must be gorging themselves on worms , shellfish and anything else that is unlucky enough to stray into their paths.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Break in the weather atlast.

     So we had a bit of a blow over here and fishing was put on hold while we kept an eye on the forecast.
One good thing the bad weather did over the spring tides was dump large quantities of kelp on the high tide line.
    With a week or so of rotting time it could make for some decent angling opportunities when the weed gets lifted again on the next spring tides, with all those maggots , hoppers and slatters creating a natural feast. Ofcourse thats if its not blowing a total hoolie again.

  Julian was fly-fishing down in Kerry and over the two days that himself and two others managed to get out 25 seatrout and 2 salmon were landed between them ,with many other fish evading the net. All in all they were very pleased considering the conditions.

I myself ventured out once the wind gave us a break back here in Cork. I gambled by taking the dog (short haired border collie)with me as a new fishing companion. He must be a lucky mascot though as I found some satisfying fishing .

   His desire to lick the bass made it tricky keeping him out of the picture.

I float-fished some live sandeel for the first time this year and my lack of practice showed as I missed plenty of takes and lost a few fish that looked like they were coming ashore. I wasn't in the slightest bit put out by this as it was such a joy just to be out fishing again, as many of you will also know having been stuck indoors aswell.
  They didn't all get the better of me and I also managed to lure a few fish on a paddle tail shad , while plugs, slug-go's and other softs were ignored by the fish ?

Final tally was 5 bass landed around the 3-4lb size range ,  another day I would of landed a dozen as it was hectic action from the off, but I'm certainly not complaining at missing a few fish. There's always the next time the weather breaks ???

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Grip Shit.

Thankfully the wind has dropped as we're halfway through September already and not a great deal of fishing has been done by ourselves.
   Saying that Julian nearly landed a 12lbish salmon yesterday but his braid parted after the fish found a snag , ofcourse this was not until the fish had leapt out of the water right in front of him just to wind him up!
   He's in Waterville for the week with a group over from Scotland and as can happen they've been unlucky with the weather so far, hopefully conditions will improve for them now.

The last time I fished was when I caught the bass in the last post, luckily another angler was there to take the photo and it was a nice picture. The reason I mention this though is the said angler had a fish grip with him and offered to hold and weigh the fish for me during and after hook removal .
  I have never used one before and watched with interest at the process.
   Now I haven't always looked after fish perfectly in the past but I do make more effort nowadays , one thing I will not be doing is buying a fish grip though ! I was horrified at the damage done to the inside of the fishes mouth by the hard stainless steel , F'me they are some torture device ! Now maybe this was a rare occurrence but the grooves literally torn into the inside of the lower jaw were bad . It was a fine fish in its prime but the use of that implement did nothing to help its prospects on release.
  A pair of forceps are all you need for handling hooks around lively fish , I've managed just fine without any fish grip so far and am satisfied that atleast I've been doing something right by not using these contraptions in the past .

Now time to get back to fishing .................

Monday, September 5, 2011

Job Done.

We took Mike from Galway on his first night lure session , this guy is a great all-rounder and is normally found stalking mullet or tope fishing for 50-60lbers from the shore up on the west coast ! 

His best fish of the night at 6lb ,there seems to be a few of them about around this weight at the moment , the photo doesn't do it justice though......
 He's already planning on hitting a few venues around Galway at night now that he's got a taste for it.

The Joy of Fishing.

         Fishing can drive you insane sometimes and I recently had 24 hours that took me close to the edge.
First mark, jagged would be an understatement, the rocks here are so sharp like nothing I've seen anywhere else.
 Replaced the 20lb 8 strand for 30lb power pro and a long 15 lb mono leader , checked the knots and started fishing confidently. Hooked a bass over 6lb close in on a feedshallow, it took a few metres of line then came to the surface and gave me a clear view of itself. Quick thrash and it cut the mono so easily with what I can only presume was its gill-plate? It made a complete mockery of my attempts to beef up my gear and it hadn't even touched a rock. I was gutted , nothing is more upsetting than losing a fish with a lure stuck in it , or so I thought!
Fished on for a bit longer but my head was wrecked. Headed off to a second venue and met up with Julian and Mike . The guys made vain attempts to break my leader as I told them the story , I took some stronger line off them and changed it , just incase.
I was still feeling gutted and sat and watched the lads while they covered the area . Julian missed a fish straightaway and then it went quiet. Decided to give the water a break and sat around chatting for 20mins.

It was a misty dark evening by now and there was a good swell on the shoreline. I fancied trying a big lure and picked out a Storm Wildeye Live Anchovy ,at 6 inches long and 1.5ozs it was the biggest shad I had .
  A gentle lob put it out there and I started the retrieve before the lure touched bottom. Steadily winding  slowly with the rod held high, I could picture the lure in my minds eye swimmining just above the rocks , its big paddle-tail working away and sending out vibrations. I had no desire to "work " the lure and was just waiting for the nose to touch off a rock to signal to me to increase retrieve speed slightly.
 Slam ! the take was strong rather than violent and I knew it was a good fish, atleast 6 I thought to myself. The lads wound in quickly beside me as the fish made a couple of surging runs, they knew I'd have to make my way past them to land the fish. As it came closer to shore it seemed to get stronger and stayed deep in the water, I realised my first guess at its size had been an under-estimation.
    I was standing on the rocks in the pounding water up to my thighs , a white foamy fizz all around me when its head came out of the water 3 metres away , F*** ! was the only thought that accompanied the gasp I had on seeing the beast at close quarters , Mike standing next to me thought the same , it was a very big fish.
     Its mouth was still closed (no sign of the lure) and it was nowhere near ready to come in, but it was on the surface a swell was coming, my line was strong , my drag was set and my reaction was to lift the rod and pull as the swell picked up the fish and brought it towards me. I was hopeful of a quick landing as I wasn't comfortable with my position. Even though I had landed many fish into this gully/pool behind me before the swell made me feel uneasy on my feet and I just wanted to get out of it .
     Then for the first time in my life the rod I was using snapped.............

Right on the large eye on the butt, I remember the sick feeling as I write.  A false hope came over me as I grabbed the line and realised the fish was still attached and somewhere in between us was most of my rod . Could I hand-line it in ? .......With no leverage and little control the braid parted easily on a rock to rub my face in it in the most excruciating way,....... bye bye rod ,lure and definately the biggest bass I've caught in a good while . One cast and it was game over , the lads tried to raise my spirits but they were nearly in as much shock as me , I went home to bed .
   The head was tortured all night and after a poor sleep I got up went straight to the van , grabbed what was left of my rod attached a weighing scales to my line and tested the drag on my reel . I steadily pulled and I jerked , I could only get just higher than 3lb pull on the scales , it didn't help my confusion.
    I needed a fish to ease the pain and stop me feeling like the biggest numpty to ever cast a rod ,so after lunch I set off to the shore once again where I managed another first in my fishing career .
   I caught a seabird ! A cormorant to be precise , I could only laugh like a mad man losing the plot as I removed the hook from its wing , my other hand clamped in its mouth like a pacifier , it was time to consider new hobbies.

Eventually though I did what I'd planned to do when I started fishing over 24 hours earlier, I actually caught and landed a fish , relief would be another understatement ...........

A lovely fish as you can see but it was no consolation for the one that got away ! not in the same league at all I'm afraid.

As I drove home I pondered over the worst fishing experience I'd ever had ,but was happy now I'd broken the curse as catching a fish was obviously the sign it had ended. Then I ran over a cat (another first),............
I broke into a cold sweat......................

Monday, August 15, 2011

Full Moon Action!

     I like the August full moon ,on a memorable one in 2008 I caught 21 bass in a two hour frenzy of action. I was fishing soft plastics over a reef in the late afternoon and left the venue while the fish were still feeding hard  , I'd had my fill, the fishing was just too easy.
    Now my situation is different , I no longer fish only for my own personal enjoyment. There are other factors governing the decisions I make, including where I go and what techniques I use.
   Taking the easy option doesn't teach me anything new and also gone are the days when I can hammer a mark without caring whether it effects the territorial stock that may be present.
  Ofcourse I still love being on the coast trying to make sense of this fascinating fish and its habits but I'm looking at it from a different angle now.

On this years coinciding lunar event I spent an hour or two covering some new ground in the afternoon, it was tough going in the blustery conditions but was very satisfying when I acquainted myself with this 4lb fish ,taken over a likely looking reef, on a Komomo.
  Isn't it often the way how you stop concentrating and your mind drifts............. Then bang! all of a sudden the lurching rod and screeching drag shock you back to reality. This was one of those moments and was a nice reward for my efforts. Another mark , chalk it down.
 It was on a second outing under that big bright moon though that things really kicked off . I was getting  knocks on the shallow divers I was using , it may have been aggressive territorial behaviour, I'm not sure? Whatever it was they weren't biting the lures so I tried a rubber eel that I thought would induce a proper take and it didn't let me down.......first cast and this fish decided to have a go.

     The next hour was great and by roaming and fishing I took 9 more fish including a few that did take the hard plastics. One hit was after I let the plug sit static on the surface for over 20 seconds, the slightest of twitches and wallop!  I had a real tussle on my hands as this fish ran, paused, ran, paused and after another run it was a long way out and I was beginning to get concerned it might find a snag . I manged to apply enough pressure to force it up to the surface and after a lot of toing and froing I eventually brought my potential lunker in to the shore. Turned out to be a foul hooked 5lber and I had to laugh to myself ,what a scrap though.
    I left the area while the fish were still feeding hard and in no doubt that I would easily add to my tally . After a total of 11 fish for the day with a couple nudging the 6lb mark I was happy, and as said, hammering the mark didn't seem like it would be beneficial to future visits................Hope you all had a good weekend Danny

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Short and Sweet.

    Eddie a regular customer of ours from London was over in Kinsale on a family visit and was looking to try one of our night guided sessions on the fly and lure. He'd just come back from two weeks salmon fishing in Iceland but he still managed to get a free window from family duties once the little ones were tucked up for the night.
  Although the moon was big and bright occasional cloud cover stopped the glare long enough to keep our confidence high.
  A silvery patterned Komomo 2 got the ball rolling with this 3lb fish.

10 minutes later a Feedshallow accounted for a better fish nearing the 5lb mark.

  With a couple landed Eddie tried the fly rod and was getting a great line out . He was unlucky not to hook into one of the three bites he had over the next 45 minutes,it was frustrating and exciting in equal measures.
 We both think a bigger fly would have attracted more bass attacks on the night but alas Julian had our fly boxes and couldn't make it along so we were using the couple that Eddie had brought himself . (note to self , keep a box in the van!)
   A return to the lure rod bought instant success with a fish of around 4lb and rounded off this short but highly enjoyable session. Another Komomo 2 this time in joker flashing plate did the business.

  As Eddie was on morning duty with the little ones we didn't have the time to stay and try a few soft plastics but I'm confident they would have been gobbled up.
 It was great to get out before these big southwesterlies hit the coast today as the lures might have to take a rest for a couple of days?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Tough Spell Over.

Daytime fishing has come back on this last week thanks to bit of swell on the shoreline.
     Reading other blogs and internet catch reports it seems we weren't the only bass addicts finding fishing hardwork during July daylight hours.
 One mans poison is another mans pleasure though and boat anglers had great fishing off The Old Head of Kinsale with plenty of double figure cod around and more blue shark than I've heard of for years.
    I think we'll be joining them if the balmy weather comes back.

   It shouldn't be too long now before the sandeel start using the inshore sandbanks to breed and big catches of bass will be back on the agenda.

At 2.8kg ,or just over 6lb,this bass gave me a good deep fight on Sunday evening as the day was turning to dusk and was my best of the session and infact the weekend.
  It made up for the two decent fish I lost on my other outing on Friday night.
   One of the fish was played out and at my feet ,I was just about to land it when the line sprang slack . I had that horrible feeling that the line had snapped and just crouched down and put my head in my hands. It had been a real effort bringing that fish to shore , negotiating exposed rocks on the way and that feeling of horror had come over me thinking I'd lost the fish with the lure still stuck in it .
  Thankfully I came to my senses and wound in the slack line finding my slug-go was still well and truly attached , phew!
We all get those nights now and again though ,for whatever reason you're just not in the zone , missing bites , losing fish and generally getting frustrated with yourself .
  I still managed to match Julian at 4 fish each over the hour and a half we fished in the gloom ,but its the big ones lost that stick in the mind.

So no Monsters this weekend but theres always the next session ???
Happy Hunting.......

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Bright Balmy Days....

  Its been tough fishing in the daylight lately which is not uncommon in July and August. The northerly based winds have provided no wave action on the shoreline and bright sunshine has fiercely penetrated the calm inshore waters with its glare, creating a no-go area for fish who like to have a bit of cover as they go hunting. The estuaries with their stronger tidal movement and depth have provided the most consistent sport for us while the sun has been up. Cork harbour is throwing up a few fish for local anglers aswell.
       Its still worth a look on the rockier areas if you're very stealthy with your approach as fish can often be seen lulling about the place or sleeping up against the rock face inside gullies . A smaller lure often imroves your chances in my opinion .
  If your into floatfishing, live shrimp or another live-bait should get better results than even the most attractively worked lures in these conditions.
        Fishing at night time has been a lot more productive, the fish have just had more confidence coming inshore to feed under the cover of darkness.
       You need to be steady on your feet to confidently fish on the rocks in the dark as it's obviously more dangerous than fishing in the daylight.
One recent mission was to teach some lads from Limerick how to fish for bass . These guys who moved to Ireland from the Philippines and normally fish the Clare coast were great craic , laughing and joking all day.
     And as is often the case the son got the better of the father .

     Gabriel  16 yearold with his first ever bass at around 5lb, took to working soft plastics with ease.

Wilbert ,Gabriels  father wasn't quite finding the same quality fish and was the butt of jokes for this little fella, no problem to a man with great sense of humour.

   Another first and another happy angler with this fish falling for a Berkley soft plastic . A Maria Chase picked him up another fish as day progressed.
        Spirits were high at lunch time after a good start to the day . But the bright calm conditions made tough work of the afternoon with one bass and six pollack to show for the lads remaining efforts. Just as important as the catching of fish is the looking after your venues and time was spent, as always, discussing the importance of catch and release for this slow growing species.

 As ever all the fish on the day were happily returned . Even my badly taken "trophy shots" are a better prize than a dead bass.
    Hopefully these lads will now be able to find a few bass on their own grounds up in county Clare and I look forward to future reports.

Cuan and Feilim booked in the same extremely bright weather and I wasn't that confident ,on the morning ,with our prospects for the day . I hadn't factored in Cuan's infectious enthusiasm though, and the lads did a great job catching a couple each and losing the odd one .
  We will do some night session's in future during July and August as recent trials have gone well.
  We also saw our second "Moon Bow" lately , which was awesome! I've got to get get a better camera though as attempts to photograph it proved futile.
    We have a Peregrine falcon hunting near one of our marks so I need to get back and get a proper picture of that too. The waterproof digital just isn't up to the task anymore,  research will have to be done as I don't know a whole lot about camera's?
   Looking forward to getting out on the boat more now as all this walking in the hot sun is getting to me.  Bass wishes     Danny

Saturday, July 9, 2011

All Creatures Great and Small.

Great fishing to be had around Cork at the moment with a few good sized fish showing up in the catches aswell.
 Even the small ones bring a smile to the face though ,especially on a fine day.

Its hardly been settled for long though ,boiling hot one day cold the next.....

Shouldn't be wearing a hat this time of year, but if there's a few fish going the weather isn't going to keep me at home .  Got to catch them while they are there...............
I'll be having a weekend recce on the boat for a change , its been a while so I'm looking forward to that.. Infact I better get a move on......... no time for blogging with bass about.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Bent Double!

   Getting out when the weather has allowed this week has proved productive with some good fishing all around the coast. Consistency and a good average size is what I expect this time of year and if the weather settles properly some fantastic fishing opportunities will be found.
     During one such break in the weather Julians light Shimano rod is tested to the limit.
   A good sized bass makes a lunge for freedom on seeing us awaiting at the shoreline.He really had a battle with this fish which ran all over the place during the fight.
     At one point the bass took him over a shallow ledge which had the braid line rubbing off the rock, a very anxious moment ,as you can imagine! Finally the fish was under control and with the help of a wave it was brought to hand for a quick photo before being returned.

    Catching good fish on balanced tackle does it for us and what a buzz you get when it all comes together, happydays.

The braid had a few yards cut off before any more casts were made but it had stood up to the challenge when needed. Its our first season trying the Berkley Whiplash Crystal and so far so good , abrasion resistance is a big priority on a lot of our venues.
     Every now and again you get a fish that really punches above its weight and thats exactly what this bass above did after it had hammered a soft plastic I was fishing through a small shallow bay.
     It reacted with a breath-taking run across and out of the bay , around the low rocky point into open sea . Wow (Or words to that effect)this is a good fish, I called out to Julian, and in fairness it gave me a real scrap  making several runs and putting a proper bend into my own rod.
    On landing it I wasn't disappointed to see it was only about 6lb , i just felt the upmost respect as genuinely this fish had fought harder than fish much bigger that I've caught in the past, a brilliant rush that left me feeling a very happy chappy .
  Even though the bass are slim after the winter and breeding season ,it certainly doesn't seem like they are feeling weak, infact they're going off like rockets!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Mixed Bag

       Its been frustrating lately with spare time in very short supply. Reading catch reports on the net has kept me going but I was desperate to get to the shoreline and see what was about for myself.
      I finally managed to get out on the rocks yesterday evening for a short session and with a clear blue sky , blazing sun and calm water I knew I was going to have to work hard to find a few fish , but hey I was out fishing....
      As the sea  flooded through the weedy gullies  I could see a few mullet cruising by in the clear water just a rod length away . With another species on my mind I rigged a 6 inch Slug-go weed less and proceeded to fish this through the rough terrain. After a short while I had the privilege of watching a bass swim gracefully alongside the slug-go , it then turned its head towards the lure and engulfed the front end . I raised the rod and the fish was hooked right at my feet , not the best place to start playing a fish but to see the attack unfold infront of me was very satisfying.
      After a  badly taken photo it was back in the water to ponder the strange experience that had just happened to it.

     A short move onto a nearby rock put me into slightly deeper water and by retrieving the lure a lot slower with pauses I managed  to tease this fiesty little wrasse into having a go.

With pollack taking the Maria Chase BW  it was turning into a bit of a variety performance.
   Then just as I was about to leave this lovely red codling hammered a white Maria latex paddle tail  dropped between kelp covered bolders.

 I don't catch many of these and was very pleased it wasn't another pollack. 
        Not spectacular fishing but very enjoyable all the same , I was just glad to be out and catching anything in the barmy conditions. 

            The sunset wasn't bad either............................

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Soft Season ?

           Top lures so far this season have been the Megabass x140,  Ima komomo 2 , Feedshallow and the Maria Chase patterns.
      These lures are consistent bass catchers and although designed for subsurface use, some of them can also take bass on a very very slow retrieve where the lure just meanders along the surface, a method that is often called waking.   This technique can be very good in low light and calm conditions. I've even caught bass of over 7lb on a plug that was crawling along while lying on its side before.

    Although they have taken fish ,soft plastics just haven't been catching as consistently for us so far. Looking at other catch reports around Cork we're not the only ones who have been finding plugs more reliable lures this season.
   That could be all set to change though , and I will be expecting soft lures to really start making some decent returns on both numbers and size of fish. Infact judging from last season , I would be suprised if the biggest lure caught fish from Wednesday onwards were not to fall for one of the many rubbery creations available now.
     The Megabass Xslayer was last seasons favourite but with people unhappy about the price of them it will be interesting to see which of the better value newcomers will become anglers favourites.
     Its all a far cry from back in the day when the older bass angler in Wales would fashion "eels" from disused white electrical flex . "Clem" managed 7 bass one sunny afternoon fishing over some steep boulder strewn ground, the biggest over 6lb , and all falling for one of his homemade specials , now thats what I call re-cycling!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

One More Week........

As the end of the close season is only a week away I can start dreaming about getting back out there.
     Before our period of abstinence started on the 15th of May I managed to get a couple of sessions in and found a bit of sport but nothing landed over 4lb. The high winds in May certainly put a spanner in the works for lure fishing .
   It hasn't felt as hard waiting through the close season this year as the high winds have continued throughout the month ,but i will certainly be counting the days down  from now and will be expecting some good sport when it does re-open.

           A distant memory , but old friends again soon.......roll on the 15th of June.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Season Off With A Bang and a Screaming Drag!

Julian and I had our first session together, this season, yesterday.
 I'd come back from a trip to Kerry to find Julian was
able to get out and had been finding a few fish. Before Easter is a busy time for him getting his raku ceramic orders into galleries in the UK and Ireland before the galleries start getting busy.
Until then he'd been out once and blanked, I wasn't fairing much better with my only decent fish being a 4.5lber.

That all changed this week ,  yesterday we caught 19 bass in a three hour session! I managed 3  between 5-6lb with a mixture of 4's, 3's and a couple of schoolies bringing my total in the session to 9 fish. The best fish squirmed out of my hands and dropped back into the water as we were about to take the photo , I nearly grabbed it but only ended up with wet sleaves to show for my efforts. Here's one that wasn't camera shy.

Julian took 10 fish with similar sizes to mine . He has really made up for lost time this week, yesterday was his third day out in a row and he has managed 26 bass to 7lb in the three short sessions, that is quality angling!   Especially given the smallest neap tides , easterly winds and a sea with the clarity of tap water....

             Highlight of the evening though was the pair of us finding his glasses covered by over a foot of water on the incoming tide.
      In all the excitement he'd left them on a rock while unhooking a fish. After a long time looking with head torches over rough terrain we'd pretty much given up hope and knew the tide had covered them , an expensive downer on proceedings.
        Then he saw a glint off the lense under the water and happiness was restored.

Hard plastics outperformed the softs on this occasion . All the gear we took with us was a couple of spare lures in the pocket box, a pair of forceps each and the camera, kit bags weren't an option.
   The forceps make unhooking a lot less stressful and dangerous for you and the fish , and I'm glad to say all the bass went back strongly to fight another day.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Flounders on Soft Plastics.

Check out this great blog  "  " !   Fairplay to the man that is some great flatty fishing on lures , hopefully I will get a chance to try out a bit of that this summer.

Two more weeks then we should start seeing a few more decent sized bass starting to show up, mostly smaller sub 4lb fish about at the moment as far as I can tell, which of course is expected this time of year as the bigger fish have other things on their minds.
     Even though the closed season doesn't start until the 15th , which is supposedly when the fish start dispersing their eggs, it is very important to put the breeding sized fish back before this date as they may already be dispersing their eggs in your area,..... very important for your local stocks!

   The crab peel is well under way with the bigger Jacks/Cock crabs changing their outer skeleton first, water temperatures are rising slowly and spring is in full swing , everything is shaping up nicely for what will hopefully be another cracking season.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Brainy Bass !

       Bass learn to recognise lures.
                                                   I've believed this since my involvement in the commercial rod and line bass fishery in Wales in the 80's and early 90's.
        During the developement of this fishery it became obvious to the guys involved that somehow bass had the ability to suss out that even the most naturally presented bait can represent danger.
     Redgills were the first lure used and caught well for an artificial. Then one of the small boat crews got hold of a sandeel seine to catch this perfect bait and secretly went about using this deadly new technique. If you happened to be a very close friend of this crew they would give you some sandeels. If they gave you 30 eels, you caught 30 bass ! Thats how it was then , the bass attacked the sandeels with abandon and fishing with them became the only method used in the fishery.
     Not for one second, did anyone think then that one day the bass would stop attacking sandeels, after all they were their natural food.
     Day after day , season after season, the same boats with the same skippers fished the same areas using sandeels. This intense pressure cannot be compared to the amount of attention our shorelines receive from general angling. It was/is an unusual situation.
     The sandeels effectiveness declined slowly season by season until eventually it became practically useless as bait , other methods had to be used and caught plenty of fish but amazingly the shoals of fish had learnt , and through second hand (indirect) observation  in probably 99% of cases, that a sandeel "presented" on a long flowing trace of either mono or flourocarbon was something that was now dangerous to attack.
      This attitude shown by the bass lasted for whole seasons, and I suspect sandeels would have to be stopped being used for a number of years before they could attain the catchability they once had in the area.
       The above is a quick/shortened example of one of my experiences of observing that the bass has the capability to learn. But how does it apply to our fishing?
      That depends on the type of areas you like to fish in. The bass in Ireland are generally localised/territorial and especially so in rocky areas . If they do ,as I believe, learn to relate trauma or danger to a specific lure through ,either experiences they've had (direct), or through the observations of other fish (indirect) , then it is possible that last seasons "super lure" might not have the miraculous effect on your local fish this season as it did last .
    The lure will ofcourse not stop catching all of a sudden, but in my experience its effectiveness will decline and maybe "resting it" for a while may be a better option in the great scheme of consistent catches.
      I'm not suggesting either that you need a lure box that resembles a tackle shop to keep catching consistently.
     I just think a sensible rotation of lures will help to keep things fresh and is an approach I use in my fishing.

I don't expect everyone to agree with my theories , infact I've noticed most people don't which has in the past left me feeling a bit confused. But I was glad when recently, in the middle of a debate on this subject,  someone brought my attention to this Bassbuzz Link.
    A very interesting article that got me thinking "maybe I'm not going mad after all!"

  P.S. If any of you have a copy of the classic  "Bass Fishing on Shore And Sea" written by the brilliant John Darling ,you will find photos in the centre of the book of some of the Welsh bass boys that I know going about the fishery.I enjoy looking at the boats and seine netters from days past, and it could give you a bit of a picture of what I'm waffling on about.

 P.P.S.   The season is underway and bass along with seatrout are now being caught on lures around the coast, so get out there and happy hunting.