Monthly Archives: March 2012

First Kayak Outing

Last weekend I finally got the opportunity to head out for my first kayaking adventure on the sea.  I had arranged for a 2 hour lesson with Kayak Cork Harbour (http://www.kayakcorkharbour.ie/), who are based out of Whitegate in East Cork.  The car was loaded up on Saturday night with what seemed like enough gear to move house (as I was also going shore fishing later in the day), and I was all set, weather permitting, to head out early on the Sunday morning.

I woke to bright dry weather, with absolutely no wind – perfect conditions to get out on the sea with a kayak!  Arriving at Roches Point (note – Roches Point lighthouse is shown as the background image of this blog!), I met up with the kayak instructor Mike, and two others who were coming out for the trip.  We got ourselves set up, carried down the yaks to the shore on a dropping tide, and after a quick theoretical lesson headed out onto the water.

I was immediately struck by how close to the water I was, and the blue-green water clarity was excellent, being able to see down to the sea bed from a depth of 2-3 metres easily.  It will take some time to learn the subtleties of kayak paddling, but I guess I did OK with the basics of moving and turning early on – only to discover later that I had the paddle upside down, and I found that I could get better movement by having my knees bent as opposed to having my legs straight out (mental note taken).

We spotted a pod of dolphins / porpoises in the distance at around the mid-way point of Cork harbour’s mouth, they appeared to be feeding – most likely on herring or possibly some early mackerel. Sadly we also found a dead porpoise along the shoreline, the reason for its demise was unclear. Due to this being my first outing, I hadn’t taken the chance of bringing along any camera / mobile phone with me, hence the lack of photos 😦

After some pottering around just inside the mouth of the harbour, the decision was made that it was one of those *very rare* opportunities, ie. when the conditions were calm enough to venture ‘around-the-corner’ and past Roches Point lighthouse, to bring us out of Cork harbour and into open sea. There was no chop on the sea, but a sizeable swell was apparent once we passed the lighthouse and began to head East along the coast in the direction of Trabolgan. See the map below for an overview of our paddling route – note when I begin fishing from the yak I will not be posting any catch locations!

I found myself trailing the other kayakers, who were all paddling in a different ‘Sit-In’ type of kayak, as opposed to my ‘Sit-on-Top’ kayak.  Their kayaks were also 3 foot longer than my own, and I figured that the longer, more slender kayaks made for faster paddling (or else I was just plain slow!).  The instructor announced we could head to a small sheltered beach less than a kilometre down the coast, and would attempt to ‘reverse’ the kayaks onto the beach (as opposed to going forward onto the beach and not seeing a big wave come up behind and drench you!).  Upon landing, we found a lovely small golden-sanded beach, with high cliffs on each side.  A well earned breather was taken and then, with the assistance of Mike, we launched back out to sea (not an easy thing to do on your own I discovered as you need to paddle directly into oncoming waves to get out from the shore).

First Kayak Outing - Roches Point

First Kayak Outing: Roches Point

At this point, Mike took a photo or two (see above – I am the dodgy looking kayaker in the background) of us posing with Roches Point lighthouse in the background.  After paddling back to the launch site 2-3 hours had flown by.  The kayaks were loaded back onto cars / trailers and we headed our separate ways.  I am planning another outing with Kayak Cork Harbour, hopefully next time doing some more practical safety drills such as jumping off the yak and trying to get back in..  Mike also noted that we may try to bring along a rod or two next time and have my first crack at fishing off the yak.

Lessons learned:

  • Don’t even think about heading out alone, for a long time yet..
  • Paddling easier with the knees bent
  • When landing on a beach with onshore waves, reverse onto a landing spot as oppose to paddling forward
  • Get a kayak trolley to bring the yak from car to shore and vice-versa – it weighs a bloody ton and won’t do the back any favours if carried without one
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10 Angry Bass

Well since it is going to be another little while before I get out fishing and put up my first report blog entry for 2012, I thought I would add one or two historical reports from the Summer / Autumn of 2011.  First up is a report of what remains my best ever lure fishing session, when I was lucky enough to land 10 silver fellas last August, here is that old report…

I’d had a few blanks when targetting bass in recent weeks, but figured I’d give it another go. The weather cleared to dry in late afternoon and with a rising neap high tide into darkness and light westerly winds, the conditions seemed decent.

Bass #1 @ 52cm, 4lb

I arrived at the mark at 18.30 and was fishing 15 minutes later. Water clarity was decent, with a little bit of murkiness after the daytime rain and there was some floating weed but nothing too bad. There was a also nice bit of swell coming in stirring up the water. After fishing 10minutes I switched to a Feed Shallow lure, and had a follow right to my feet on the first cast, this gave me some confidence at least to see that there were some fish around. I continued with the Feed Shallow but had no interest and didn’t see any more follows, so switched to the soft plastics and tried a weedless Slug-go for some time, still nothing. I then moved onto a different spot and had one more follow on a Feed Shallow but the fish still seemed reluctant to take anything.

After another while I moved back to first spot and finally had a take on the Feed Shallow, I connected with the fish about 30yards out and then the fish slack lined me, swimming fast towards me. I managed to connect again, and then he took off towards the right. After some coaxing the fish turned and was safely landed shortly after, a nice 52cm bass coming in at 4lb, quick photo and returned to sea.

Bass #2 @ 61cm, 4-5lb

I continued to fish the same spot for some more time but had no more follows or takes, so I decided to take a walk to another area. Again, on my first cast I had a follow (on the Feed Shallow), and after that nothing for 20 minutes so I moved on again.

The sun had set by now, with twilight and a quarter moon shining there was still plenty of light. I was fishing a pebbley beach area and cast out, started retrieving and bang fish on when the lure was just 4 yards from where I stood. Unforuntately I lost the fish after just a few seconds. I immediately cast again, and two casts later bang fish on, again really close to the shore. This fish was not lost and was landed after some line stripping, a lovely 61cm fish maybe between 4 and 5 pounds, it looked a bit skinny for its length.

I knew at this stage I was into something, maybe a small shoal which were actively feeding. I noticed a line of washed up kelp/weed just a few metres above the waterline and believe the fish were feeding on small bits of food being washed back down to them from the kelp by the backwash of the waves – and they were waiting just below the waterline.

I cast out again, and connected with but lost another fish close to shore. 5 minutes later I landed another nice fish, approx 56cm, maybe 4lb in weight. I was beginning to enter cloud cuckoo land and things became a bit blurry after this.. I won’t go through all the details but over the next hour and a bit I landed another 7 bass and lost another one or two. I’m still buzzing from it, I think it will be many a year before I experience a session like it again. Photos of some of the fish below, all taken on mobile phone :\

Bass #3

Bass #4

Bass #5

Bass #6

Bass #7

Bass #8

Every fish was taken on a Feed Shallow, 9 out of 10 fish were safely returned (one fish was badly damaged from foul hooking so was dispatched and kept), about 2 or 3 fish were schoolies around 2lb weight, but the remainder were upwards of 4lb with the best fish at 6lb – a new personal best. The brilliant Feed Shallow came through again, but to be honest I believe that if I had switched to another lure when I was into the shoal its likely it would also have caught fish – but if its not broken… I decided to pack it in just before high tide when I reached the magic number of 10 bass, if I had stayed there may have been a few more but 10 was more than enough for me – my previous best was 3 bass in one session.. Up to this bonanza I had a grand total of 5 bass this year, now it has tripled up to 15  Happy days!

Edit: I returned to the mark the following night and fished the same state of the tide at the same spot, hopeful some fish would show again but didn’t have a single fish, bass fishing is a funny old game..

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