Category Archives: Musings

The Pollock Play Hardball

The mothballs have been rolling about this blog for a long time now, but now with Summer starting to finally kick in, the mothballs in my head are beginning to clear away and it is high time to start fishing proper. Before the bass closed season, in early May, a friend and I landed a few nice bass and flounder while beach-casting in east Cork with lug-worm, and I also dabbled in some cod and harbour fishing over the winter and spring months with mixed success (aka s.f.a.). However this is the time of the year I love most – just as the bass closed season is coming to an end and you just know (or hope!) that the fish will be there in numbers from June 16th when the season opens again.

NOTE: the photo below is from late April! (it is currently closed season for bass angling).

Early May 5lb Bass - Pre-closed season!

Late April 5lb Bass – Pre-closed season!!

Renovations...

Renovations…

The other thing which has been keeping me away from the fishing is the small matter of renovating a house that my partner and I purchased at the end of 2014. With a lot of pre-planning done, works finally began on the 1930’s house just a couple of weeks ago, and it will keep us on our toes until its completion at the end of the summer.  Just this past week however, I escaped the madness and trekked over with my family to the utopian getaway of Inis Oirr, off the Galway / Clare coast.

Inis Oirr has always been kind to me on the fishing front, with hugely consistent pollock fishing on it’s south-eastern coast.  This year however the fishing outings were scarce (just 3 sessions) and the conditions every single day bar one presented north-westerly, northerly or north-easterly breezes. Despite this we had lovely sunny days and we all managed to achieve lobster-like wind-burn.  The fish were playing a schnakey game this year, although I am convinced it was a combination of cooler than normal water temperatures and the northerly based winds which kept the numbers low. Baitfish were present in some areas, but notably absent at the deeper marks.

The Die-Hard Plassey

The Die-Hard Plassey

I was given a gift of a fly rod over year ago, and only recently decided to finally start to learn the basic cast, and ultimately try some salt water fly fishing for pollock and eventually bass.  It was on this recent trip to Inis Oirr that I first wet the fly line in the search of a first fly caught pollock.  Being a total novice, casting the fly in cross-winds was a struggle and it was hard not to fall back on spinning with the soft plastics.  I met up with a very generous and proficient swff angler (thanks again Peter!) who helped me with some casting pointers, and he was also extremely kind in gifting me a number of self-tied pollock flies.  After a few patchy sessions of casting some loops I still have to find my first fly caught fish, but I intend to persist and I’m full sure it will come in it’s own good time.

Some of the beautiful hand tied flies generously given to me.

Some of the beautiful hand tied flies generously given to me.

Fly vs Soft Plastic

Fly vs Soft Plastic

Fly and spinning reels

Fly and spinning reels

It was of course the soft plastics which found the fish for me, but they were very scarce.  In past years the island used to produce evening sessions where 10-15 pollock over a 2 hours was fairly common-place, with fish of 3-4lb and up to 5lb were encountered.  This year I caught a total of 9 pollock in 3 sessions, with the largest at 3.5lb.  Even so, it was hugely enjoyable as ever to be on such a special island and I found a couple of new marks to try on the next trip.

Most fish around this size - 1.5lb Pollock

Most fish were around this size – 1.5lb Pollock

3.5lb Pollock

3.5lb Pollock

3.5lb Pollock

3.5lb Pollock

Now back in Cork, and with just 2 days to go until the bass season re-opens, it is all systems go and I am itching to get back out on the coast with just a few lures and an open stretch of shallow rocky shoreline. Roll on Tuesday!

Red sky at night..

Red sky at night..

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Beyond the Sea Lettuce

Yesterday evening I headed to a mark, knowing full well that it was very likely to be weedy after the southerlies of the last few days… Denial drove me on, and sure enough on arrival (an hour before high tide), I was greeted with by a stretch of sea offering all kinds of weedy goodies.

With denial still flowing at full strength, on went an Asturie, a lure I have yet to catch on but have faith it will produce eventually, and out it flew. The plan was if I can cast beyond the weed at least I’ll get 5-10m of clean retrieve before the lure gets swamped – well that kind of worked, but it was like fishing into a bowl of salad, each cast was resulting in a lure coming back with with a weedy wig. The reality was starting the kick in so it was time for a smoke (not weed).

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There was a mark closeby that could be waded to which I knew would be clear of weed, but with the spring tide close to high it wasn’t possible to access yet. On went the soft plastics, which fished better but the weed was still annoying as hell. Then just around sunset I got a hit on a white waveworm, and landed a nice wee schoolie of around 40cm or so, my first fish this year on a soft plastic.

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Bass #1 on White Waveworm

Fishing into this floating weedy stuff is frustrating to say the least, but I often think if anyone could come up with a more effective way to fish the conditions that there must be a lot of fish in there to be caught. I had considered trying soft-plastic under a float but didn’t think it would really give any edge and that the lure would just get swamped in the same way.

When the tide had dropped enough I waded out to the other spot and sure enough it was beyond the weed line. The tide was flying out with the onset of darkness and it was time for the hard plastic lures again. Over the following hour I had two more fish and lost one, with the best at around 57cm. It was great to have got past the green stuff and managed an hour of pretty much weed-free casting.

 

Bass #2 on White Feed Shallow

Bass #2 on White Feed Shallow

Bass #3 on White Feed Shallow

Bass #3 on White Feed Shallow

A new season begins…

It’s been far too long a time since I mustered up the motivation to add a new post (my last post was way back in August), so apologies to all readers for the lack of updates. I think I hit a similar hiatus in 2012 when I failed to write a blog post through the winter months at the end of that year, there seems to be a pattern forming..

What makes this lack of posting worse, is the fact that I actually landed my personal best bass last September, and failed to post it here… 😦 That fish came in at 69cm in length, and I would have approximated the weight at around 8lb. She was built like a tank, as can be seen from the photo below, and had likely been feeding very well for the couple of months prior to catching her (there was an abundance of mackerel, sandeel, sprat and launce in the area).

Personal Best Bass @ 69cm

The fish was caught on one of those lovely calm dry nights, when the last of the summer warmth (for once in a decade we had a great summer in 2013) still makes for comfortable night time fishing. As far as I recall, I had waded out to waist depth, and had been fishing for about an hour before turning my attention to fishing the shallower water behind where I stood. A slow retrieve on the white Feed Shallow lure with an odd twitch or two was the usual approach, and a very subtle take was felt. Seconds later the fish let me know she was there and took off like a rocket, tearing line off the reel. One knows immediately when a decent fish is on, mainly from the strength at which they run. This fish took many runs, and my heart was pounding by the time I landed her, over the moon when I saw straight off that this was going to be a new personal best. The usual photo was taken (and submitted to a fishing competition I take part in), before being released back to sea (the fish took some time to recover but appeared to be none the worse for wear after getting her senses back).

Roches Point on a December afternoon

I fished on that night on a high, and landed another nice fish of approx 6lb about a half hour later. That was to be my last bass fishing session of the year, and my last outing until I managed to get out for an afternoon boat session in December. This was with a friend in Cork Harbour, where we hoped to find some cod knocking around. My cod jinx continued however when we couldn’t find any on the day, but we did land quite a few whiting and around 10 mackerel; the first time in my life which I caught mackerel in the month of December! Some photos of this boat fishing session are shown above and below.

One Last Cast..

One Last Cast..

I write this on the eve of my first fishing outing of 2014 – tomorrow morning for a dawn start, Cuan and I will again venture out into the harbour to see if the elusive cod will finally make an appearance for us..

The Shipping Lane

The Shipping Lane

A Fishing Medley

A couple of weeks back my dad came down to Cork for a visit, and to cash in on a birthday ‘voucher’ of going on a bass fishing trip with yours truly. We did the same last year, but on that occasion it was with a ‘professional’ guide in a boat in Cork harbour. Things did not go to plan on the previous year’s outing, partly due to the guide – he had neglected to tie a fresh leader onto a rod given to my dad, and when he caught a bass on his first cast, the leader snapped at the knot just before the fish was landed… sickening – and in my opinion it was totally avoidable if a fresh leader had been tied prior to the session. As it happened, that was the only fish caught on that day – making it a whole lot worse (and no apology was given by the guide)..

OK, rant over, this time I was hoping that my dad would catch (and land) his first bass at a mark which has produced a few fish for me this year close to the top of the tide. We arrived about half an hour before high tide, and were greeted by lovely conditions – a nice bit of chop on the water stirring things up and a moderate on-shore breeze. We both had Feed Shallow lures ready and clambered down to the mark. First cast out, here we go… *bang* fish on for my dad, and then *bang* another fish on for myself. I could see by the hoop in my dad’s rod it looked like a decent fish.. I quickly landed my fish, a smallish schoolie of around 40-45cm, released it, and scooted over to where my dad was. In the meantime he had been drenched by a big wave which arrived just as he was landing the fish. It looked like a 5lb+ fish, and measured out at around 58cm – a brilliant bass for a first ever caught and landed.

Dad's First Bass

Dad’s First Bass

The adrenaline was pumping then, as I headed back to my perch and cast out. Over to my left I watched my dad do the same. Just a few seconds later, and whack, another fish hit my dad’s lure… I went back and assisted in landing and unhooking the fish, this time a smaller one at around 52cm. Two bass on his first two casts!

Over the following hour, my dad hooked another few bass but lost them on the retrieve, and things were quiet for me as I couldn’t find any. When he decided to call it a day and sit back and relax, I figured I’d give the lucky spot a try and fished from the same rock. Some 15 minutes later, just as we were going to pack it in, another fish struck when close in. A couple of runs and a nice 6lb+ bass was landed, which went to 64cm on the ruler.

64cm: Best this year.. so far

64cm: Best this year.. so far

Since that outing I have been out on a couple of other sessions, one in my friend Cuan’s boat in Cork harbour. Cuan was skippering the beautiful 18 foot larch boat, which was built by none other than his dad. During its week long stay in the Cork harbour area the boat caught a few eyes I’m sure.

Pre-launch

Pre-launch

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Ahoy

Skipper on the lookout

Skipper on the lookout

We were hoping to catch a bass on the day, or a decent pollock / cod at depth in the channel. The mackerel were in abundance however, and we just couldn’t find a way past them. We pretty much tried everything, but the mackerel were hitting everything at all depths. At one stage, Cuan put a hook through the back of a mackerel, and let the live bait swim back down to try entice any monsters lurking.. some minutes later a take was felt and Cuan retrieved.. what came back up was a bigger mackerel who had hooked himself on the same rig, with the other mackerel gone 🙂

Leaving Aghada

Leaving Aghada

Tipping a Soft Plastic

Tipping a Soft Plastic

Macky Lunch

Macky Lunch

What the heck is this...

What the heck is this…

The following day I brought a friend to a harbour mark to stock up on some mackerel for the fridge. Within a few casts we were into the fish, which at times were no more than 2 or 3 metres from the breaking water on the beach. It was close to full tide, and the mackerel were in a total feeding frenzy, driving the terrified sprat up onto the beaches. This has been the case all over Cork harbour for the past week or two. It has been quite some time since I have seen so many mackerel stuffed into the harbour. We fished for an hour, before realising we probably had more than enough mackerel to bring home – 20 minutes of fish cleaning later gave us a tally of 37 fish.. one great thing about mackerel is most people love them, so on the way home many of these were presented to other friends and neighbours who happily shared the spoils.

Fishing the Harbour

Fishing the Harbour

Mack Attack

Mack Attack

Since that mackerel mayhem, I have gone on two more sessions targeting the old bassy fellas. On the first of these trips, I fished two different marks with lures in darkness with Cuan, but we could not find a single fish between us 😦 On the second occasion (which was last night) I caught a single bass of 52cm which gave a great account of itself before being landed. One more fish was lost on the retrieve and that was it for the night.

The sole fish of the Night

Single fish of the night

I had hoped for a couple more as conditions were nice, but as the tide went into the last hour of the drop everything went quiet. The mullet moved in and kept me on my toes, often deciding to splash at the surface right beside me, or swimming into my legs once or twice, almost causing a brown trouser moment..

Southerlies…

There are some very interesting looking winds being forecast for the coming week – after all the fine settled weather over the past 3 weeks, this could stir things up a bit and get the silver fellas into a more aggressive feeding mode…

Southerlies

Southerlies

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