Fishing in Ireland, sea angling


Still as dry as a bone here in the West of Ireland but the forecast is for a belt of heavy rain to move across the country at the weekend so there is some faint hope of action before the end of the season.

Sunset over the islands

Until then all there has been is the occasional sea fishing outing. Everyone is sated with Mackerel this year and when Ben and I visited Roonagh yesterday evening it was deserted (not a sinner to be seen as they say around here). We tackled up and right from the first cast we were into Mackerel. A bucket was quickly filled and unwanted fish returned safely to the sea. We filleted the fish there and then to save on the mess back at home, always a good idea.

On one cast I hooked what seemed to be a small mackerel until I got it to the surface when it turned out to be a Scad. I was pretty delighted with this lad as I have never caught one of these wee chaps before. Try as I might I could not repeat the feat. Scad are a handsome fish with a pearly body and distinctive black spot in the gill covers. Watch out when handling them, they sport impressive spines on their fins and body.

my first ever Scad

  It is had to see from the photos but they also have a line of finlets on each side of the body on the lateral line in front on the tail, just like Tuna

The eyes are large in relation to the size of the fish. I think my one was average for the species, around a pound or so in weight.


Fishing in Ireland, sea angling

Smoking is good for you

Thursday has been muggy and moist, the air hardly circulating at all. It feels thundery but nothing comes of it. Hardly the best conditions for fishing but we had agreed that we would try a mark out West in the evening. Now as it turned out there was a last minute change of plans which meant I headed off on my own. A further change happened as I drove past the foot of the holy mountain, the wind was getting up and the rain started to fall with a surprising force. Maybe the low, rocky mark I was thinking of fishing was too dangerous tonight after all. I whipped the wheel hard right just past Louisburg and rolled on into Roonagh as the light faded.

A stiff westerly was blowing across the pier making it easy to fish and only 3 other anglers were busy when I arrived. Some Mackerel were present and I was quickly into fish on my usual set up. Squally rain and the wind seemed to keep other anglers away and only a handful ventured down for a look and not many landed a fish.

I ended up with 15 Mackerel to take home, enough without over-doing it. It was dark by the time I trudged back to the car and drove slowly home in the mist, thinking about the meaning of life and that kinda stuff. us anglers tend to drift into fairly deep thoughts at the drop of a hat, it must have something to do with being grounded in nature.

Back home I filleted the fish. Mackerel don’t keep well and leaving them overnight was not an option. The fillets rested in the fridge until today, when I dusted down my faithful old smoker and got to work………..

The smoker is a custom made job, a present from the engineering department of a papermill in Finland (don’t ask, it is a long story). It’s fashioned from a length of stainless steel pipe, sealed at one end and with a hinged lid on the other. Inside there is a grill running the length of the unit. Woodchips go on the bottom and direct heat is applied to the outside of the pipe causing the chips to smoke and cooking the fish which have been placed on the grill.

The fillets were placed on the grill and the smoker positioned on top of my camping stove. I had to do the job in two batches but they came out perfectly.

So that is dinner for tonight sorted out. Those of you fellow anglers who don’t yet smoke their catch should seriously consider investing in a smoker. A bit of home smoked salmon or mackerel is a real treat!

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.