Fishing in Ireland

Last casts

Last Saturday was earmarked for a sea angling session but other commitments got in the way and instead I ventured out with the beachcasters on Sunday. The weather forecast was for a fine day but the wind was due to strengthen from the east overnight. It didn’t look too bad when I left town in brilliant sunshine but after an idyllic drive down to Killery it became obvious the situation had changed en route. A gale was blowing in Connemara.

The mark I had selected was exposed and so I decided to go to the end of the rock point and fish with the wind behind me. That was grand except the wind was so strong I was literally blown down the rock shelf as I headed for the water’s edge. My big black tackle box was acting like a sail, making it hard for me to balance (bear in mind I suffer from very poor balance due to vertigo). It was tough going just to get to the mark!

I set both beachcasters and punched the baits out a fair distance thanks to the wind behind me. The wind was blowing dead offshore, so at least the waves were small. Bites were hard to register as the gusts of wind were tossing the rods around but I hooked a couple of fish which came off when they buried themselves in the kelp. At the top of the tide all action stopped. The wind had picked up if anything by now, making the smallest task seem like the labours of Hercules.

Each cast resulted in a trial of strength as the foul bottom clung to my gear. Snap-offs were the norm and I was losing a lot of tackle for no return. Time to have a coffee and rethink my options.

The ground I was fishing was extremely rough and with the tide starting to fall the current would add to my difficulties. Maybe another mark over in Clew bay could be a better option? I packed up and hiked back to the car into the teeth of the wind.

Cocooned in the motor I quickly recovered from the tossing and battering of the gale and I made good time pushing back up the winding road to Westport and then out along the southern edge of the bay to the fine concrete pier at Lecanvey.

The tide was high and just starting to drop but the sun shone in a cloudless sky, not ideal when fishing shallow water marks like this one. I was using a new bait to me, sardines. The smell off them was pungent but the flesh is very soft and it requires a lot of elastic to keep the bait on the hooks. Even still the crabs were able to nick the bait at every cast, so after a couple of hours I gave it up as a bad job and dismantled the rods for the last time this year.

It is going to be back to the vice for the any free time I might have for the next couple of months. My fly boxes have some glaring gaps to fill and I’ve got some ideas for flies to try out. I will keep you all updated with the new patterns!

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Fishing in Ireland, sea angling, shore fishing

Who let the dogs out?

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Bank holiday weekend and the calm weather has continued here in the West, so I decided to try a new mark for me, Little Killary. With Google Earth consulted and the mountain of gear packed in the car the night before, all that remained was to sort out some food to take with me and I was off on the road South just after first light. I knew I was going to be too early but I wanted to get  look at the mark at low water. I need not have bothered as it is very straight forward, deep water to close in and a sandy bottom once you are past the kelp on the edge – period.

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The Irish countryside is looking its best right now after the long settled spell. Roadside ferns turned lustrous copper, birches still clothed in golden olive leaves and mountain ashes heavy with vermilion berries. I crossed the Errif near Carrowkennedy, it’s so low I could have walked across it dry shod in places. On then through Leenaun and along the side of Killary before branching off on to the road past Culfin. Such a shame to see this fishery with those damnable cages plonked right in the middle of the lough. The roads narrowed appreciably as I got nearer to the diving centre and destination, the carpark at Glassillaune. Once I pulled up it was only a few minutes work to sort out layers of clothes and swing the heavy tackle box onto my back. Then a scramble along the shore to the mark itself, an open and exposed rock ledge but easy to fish on a windless day like today. The views across Little Killary were stunning.

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As expected, it was approaching dead low as I tackled up so expectations were not high. A pendulum rig with Mackerel bait was tossed 70 yards out and left to its own devices while I got my bearings. Checking out the rocks to my left I found a couple of other platforms but none were as comfortable as the one I was already on so I made my self at home and had a coffee while tinkering with some rigs in the box. About an hour after I had started things began to get interesting. A good solid take and run failed to turn into a fish but the bait had gone when I reeled in. Re-baiting I cast into the same area, roughly 100 yards out and there was an immediate response from a fish. A rattle on the rod was followed by slack line and picking up I momentarily contacted something before everything went slack again. This was getting frustrating! More bait and a change to a larger hook seemed to be required.

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The change up to a 3/0 Aberdeen did the trick and I struck the next bite hard, putting a nice bend in the beachcaster. Not much of a fight though and it soon became clear the doggies were out to play.

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The next hour or so brought more Lesser Spots, all safely returned of course. The mark simply screamed Thornbacks to me but there was no sign of any rays, just dogs. As quickly as they appeared the dogs moved on and everything went quiet again. Time for another cuppa.

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I set up the spinning rod while having my coffee and commenced operations with it only to find the 20grm lure was taking too long to get down deep. I switched to a 30 gram Dexter Wedge and that helped me to get down much more easily. By now the wind had picked up and I changed the plain lead on the beachcaster for a gripper to help me to hold the bottom.

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Annoying rattles indicated that the crabs had woken up and were robbing my bait almost as soon as it hit the sand. I normally counter these pesky critters by enveloping my mackerel in squid which is much tougher but I had forgotten to bring any with me in my rush to get out of the house in the morning.

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Before the crab attacks

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After the crabs have had a go!

Eventually a mackerel grabbed one of my feathers and was kept for the freezer. A gap of maybe an hour then ensued before three mackerel in three consecutive casts brightened up the day. One of them was the skinniest mackerel I have ever seen!

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The east wind swung through 180 degrees in the space of a few minutes and a fresh westerly started to blow into the bay. The tide was making rapidly too and some bites produced another dog and a smallish pollock to the bait rod.

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High tide was late in the afternoon so I decided to call it a day rather than wait for the ebb and the onset of darkness. It would probably have been the best part of the day but I was getting tired and had no lights with me. The way back to the car was not very hard but I had to cross a number of old ‘lazy beds’. Chances are these had been abandoned during the famine in the 1840’s.20161030_1551101

From the car park I looked out on Glassillaun Bay, reportedly a good winter mark. It looks worth a throw on a night tide when the Whiting are in.

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Tired and hungry, I swung the wheel and backed out on to the narrow road. While I had not broken any records or landed anything huge or interesting it was still a great day to be out and about on the shore. It is definitely a mark which is worth another visit this autumn and I mulled  over the possibilities as the the westering sun sank behind the reek.

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