Fishing in Ireland, sea angling, shore fishing

No macks

The pier at Roonagh is a favourite spot to fish and each summer I try to get over there to spin for Mackerel (macks). The great thing about Roonagh  is the views across to the islands, so even if the fishing is slow you can still be captivated by the ever changing vista.

the target………………..

Yesterday evening seemed to be a good one for such a trip. What constitutes optimum conditions for Mackerel? I much prefer calm seas and good water clarity. Mackerel hunt by sight so dirty water makes it harder for them to locate my lures.

Off we set and arrived to find the pier deserted – not a good sign! The word spreads like wildfire when the macks are in and the locals throngh the short pier, heaving strings of feathers into the sea. Trust me, venturing on to the pier when the fishing is at its height is not for the faint-hearted. The empty pier which greeted us was a clear sign the fishing would be tough.

Tackling up I decided to try a bait ledgered on the bottom as well as spinning, so the 4 ounce beachcaster was strung up and a sandeel cast out. Happy that everything was as it should be I turned to the spinning gear and perched myself in my favourite spot at the end of the pier. The old rythym of cast, snap back the bail arm, retrieve was repeated numerous times, each cast being completely ignore and shiny lure made its jerky way back to me totally unhindered by the fish.

Clare Island

Even as I had been tackling up my attention was drawn to a tiny boat out in the bay. It was too far out for me to be sure exactly what kind of craft it was but somehow it didn’t look ‘right’. As I was fishing the blue dot in the middle distance came a little closer and I could see it properly. Two men were fishing off of an inflatable dingy barely 12 feet long and with a freeboard which could be measured in millimetres. The sea calm enough for Clew Bay but even still there was a wave of maybe a couple of feet running. The bright blue dingy could be seen flexing in the middle with every wave which passed under it. I personally would not have got into that thing in a bath, never mind on the Atlantic! The closer the two anglers came the clearer I could see them and it became obvious they were not wearing life jackets. I was both stunned and angered in equal proportions, stunned at the stupidity  of not wearing life jackets but also angry that if they got into trouble the press would have been happily reporting two ‘fishermen’ were in difficulty. None of the fishermen I associate with would ever do something this foolhardy. Even the wash from the small ferry would have been sufficient to overturn that joke of a boat.

The beachcaster gave a languid nod, no more than that. Tightening up the line I could feel a very faint bite so I struck with an upward sweep of the 12 footer. There was a considerable weight on the end but not much of a fight as such. Out of the crystal clear waters emerged a mass of thick, brown weeds. Somewhere below a dogfish was wriggling so I hoisted fish and weeds on to the concrete. A lesser spotted dogfish, very dark in colour, had swallowed the sandeel. Far from the most exciting catch, he was none the less a welcome sight on an otherwise fishless evening. Unhooked, I lowered him back into the water and he swam off, none the worse for his adventure and probably thinking that was the last time he was going to eat a sandeel he found lying on the bottom!

At least I caught something!

We fished on but the macks were simply not there to be caught. Having failed to locate them on the north Mayo coast and now at Roonagh the next venue will be further south. Sunday may be a good day.


sea angling

An evening sea fishing in Mayo

This started when I took my car to my mechanic for a service. Mick told me he had been out in a boat doing a bit of sea fishing last week and that they caught ‘heaps’ of fish. Pollack and Mackerel were the main catch and they were caught out in Clew Bay. I had heard that the sea fishing had picked up recently so I began to think about a wee trip. Then I received a text from my mate Ben – was I going to go to Roonagh pier with him tonight to give it an auld lash for Mackerel? Obviously he had heard the news on the grapevine too, so a plan was hatched to head west after work and sling some metal and feathers into the ocean.

Roonagh Pier is a busy little harbour where the ferries for the islands depart and arrive at regular intervals. During the summer months it is a hive of activity and when the Mackerel shoals turn up the pier becomes thronged with tourists, locals and fishermen hoping to catch their dinner. With high tide near dusk and fine, settled weather this evening looked to be ideal conditions. On arriving at the pier it seemed that half the population of Mayo had exactly the same idea though!

All available space on the pier was already taken and the hot spots at the end of the new jetty were crammed to danger point with fellas lobbing strings of feathers in the sea. In an effort to escape the melee we headed over on to some nearby rocks and fished there for a while but the weed was a problem every cast and only a couple of tiny pollack grabbed the lures. So back to the pier we headed…………..

Ben perched on top of the sea wall

Ben perched on top of the sea wall

We perched ourselves up on the very top of the sea wall and started fishing from there. No fish were being caught and it took me another 20 minutes or so of methodical casting and searching different depths before that old familiar tug on the line signalled a mackerel had fancied my lure. After that it went quiet again and I wandered back down to the inside of the harbour to try for a Pollack which can sometimes be caught in there. The slow fishing was having an effect on the less enthusiastic fishers and they began to drift away, so I gradually worked my way up to the end of the jetty. For once my timing was good as the shoal turned up just I started to fish at the prime spot. Our bucket began to fill nicely as both of us latched on to pound plus Mackerel most casts. What became obvious was that the light levels were important and the shoal only came close to shore as it got dark.

Dozens of angler now appeared as if on cue and the pier became down right dangerous as kids and inexperienced fishers lobbed leads and lures around with gay abandon. We called it a day long before the fishing had peaked and headed off to leave the crowds to their fun.

A well-earned pint of porter in Mrs. Duffy’s pub in Louisburg rounded off the day for us. I suppose we had around 16 fish between us but we could have had lots more if we had stuck it out. As always, people are tempted to kill far too many Mackerel. The fish are all too often shown little or no respect and are left to die on the pier without being cleanly killed. I am sure many, many fish end up in a rubbish bin because they are surplus to needs, such a waste at a time when the species is under increasing industrial fishing pressure. So if you are fishing for these lovely and sporting fish please just keep what you need and let the rest back into the sea.