Fishing in Ireland, sea angling, shore fishing

The end of the strand

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Sunday presented a small window of opportunity to fish, but the timing was not going to be exactly as I would have liked. With few salmon around and the trout loughs in the doldrums decided that a couple of hours sea fishing was going to be the best option but the tides were a bit tricky. The low water marks around here generally fish for Huss and Thornies, but both of those species feed much more avidly in the dark. I was free between 6 and 9, meaning the fishing should just be getting going as I was packing up. So instead I opted for a short session feathering for mackerel off the point of Bertra.

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My faithful old Daiwa reel

Truth be told, I had little expectations of sport. Reports suggested the Mackerel were holding in deeper water beyond casting range from the shore. My plan was to ambush some of them as they passed through the narrow gap at the end of Bertra beach. This has worked for me before but the fishing could never be described as hectic, just the odd stray fish now and again. I roped Ben on this scheme and we headed west into the setting sun soon after 6pm.

A new car park has been built at Bertra, a welcome addition as this is a very popular spot for tourists. The crowds were thinning out as we landed and trudged off up the strand in glorious weather.With hardly a breath of wind Clew Bay stretched out before us, shimmering in the heat.

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The inner bay with Westport in the distance

The water rushes through the gap between the point of the strand and an island. Extremely strong currents mean entering the water is an absolute no no. I much prefer to fish here either side of high water, but there are usually a few fish hanging around at any state of the tide. We fished for a while with out success but the views more than made up for the lack of action.

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Croagh Patrick

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Sunset over Clare island

We had rigged up with feathers and were casting across the channel. The flow of water swept the terminal gear around rapidly, meaning there was a lot of casting going on. I lost two sets of gear on the bottom and floating weed was a constant pain. Eventually though Ben gave a shout and he reeled in a small Mackerel. Some 20 minutes later he repeated the exercise, this time with a larger fish. We fished on but no more bites were forthcoming. I took a few photos before we packed up a headed off.

Bertra is an interesting place to fish but I believe it is over rated in the angling guides. I have read about Skate and Monkfish being accessible from the shore at the back of the beach but nobody I know can verify these fish have ever been landed here.The beach itself is open, gently shelving and looks to be pretty sterile to me. I regard Bertra as a reliable mark for a few mackerel during the summer but there are many better marks around here. Having said that, the views are stunning and if you are a visitor to the area it is well worth  visit if you have family.

It was starting to get dark by the time we regained the tarred road heading for the car park. we had both worked up a considerable thirst so a short stop in McBride’s pub in Westport was called for. Hard to beat a pint of Guinness after a walk along the beach.

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Well that has sorted out dinner tomorrow at any rate!

Ben kindly donated both Mackerel to a good cause (me) and I quickly filleted them and popped them into the ‘fridge when I got home. OK, so we didn’t catch a huge bag of fish, but it was 3 hour well spent in good company and in gorgeous surroundings. I’ll leave you with some more photos from the evening…………….

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Fishing in Ireland, sea angling

Clare Island

On the ferry out to Clare Island

On the ferry out to Clare Island

Saturday was a beautiful day in the West of Ireland with light winds and high clouds breaking up the sunshine occasionally. The ferry leaves from the busy little pier in Roonagh and we lugged the tackle down the steps and on to the bulky ship full of anticipation. Twenty minutes later we jumped off and took the very short stroll to the end of the pier. Targets for today would be Pollack and maybe some rays or flats on the sandy bottom. This was very easy fishing, no long walks or scary descents to slippery rock ledges. Just drop the lines over the side and see what was down there.

Fishing off the end of the pier

Fishing off the end of the pier

As we were expecting pollack to be living close in to the weeds we all set up with spinning rods and small lures with tiny feathers on a trace. Gentle jigging of this type of arrangement is usually effective, as are the newer weighted shads. A couple of small Pollack were soon hoisted up from the depths.

A smallish Pollack for Kirsten

A smallish Pollack for Kirsten

Chris’s rod gave a kick and bent into something a bit more substancial which turned out to be a female Ballan Wrasse. Not long after Kirsten did the same and over the day we landed 4 or 5 of these lovely fish,

Ballan Wrasse

Ballan Wrasse

By 1pm the tide was slack and the fishing slowed to a halt. Time to take a wander around for a pint and a bite to eat. We sat outside admiring the view back to the mainland and generally putting the world to rights.

A fellow angler had kindly given us some spare bait so I set up a bottom rod when we got back tot he pier around 2.30pm. The squid bait was lobbed out to the sand and left to attract whatever was lurking on or near the bottom. I like squid very much, it is tough (so it doesn’t fly off the hook when casting) and has a powerful scent which I think is good for attracting fish. Some light taps came to nothing and I was just thinking about reeling in to check if the baits were still there when a much more definite bite developed. I held off striking until the fish had taken the bait properly, then lifted the rod. The fish was obviously not big and soon the shape of a small ray appeared below the surface.

Small Thornback Ray just about to go back

Small Thornback Ray just about to go back

He was quickly unhooked and released. New baits were soon on the bottom again and soon after a positive knock on the rod indicated more action. This time it was another of our old friends the Lesser Spotted Dogfish. I find it hard to dislike these wee pests, on some days they are the only fish willing to bite.

A steady stream of small Pollack and Wrasse kept us busy during the afternoon. While it was far from hectic sufficient fish grabbed the lures and baits to keep us happy and the views around us of the bustling harbour and the distant mainland were a constant distraction. all too soon it was time to pack up and trot back along the pier to the ferry.

There are numerous rock marks around the island for those who want to explore further, so why not make the journey west and try out Clare Island? You may not catch any record fish but you will have a day to remember.

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Me with a wrasse

One of the ferries

One of the ferries

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