Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Winter cod fishing

It has been quite a while since I updated the blog. The last couple of months I have been focused on cod fishing. After a slow start in early November it significantly improved later in the month. Using large hooks (4/0 - 5/0) on pennel pulleys with big baits and fishing in the right place I have managed to avoid the small nuisance fish. If it can't get its mouth around a 4/0 hook then I am not interested.

The numbers have not been large but the quality has been superb. I have had some very good fish, cod of 6 and 6.5 lbs as well as a few in the 5-6 lb range and a number of others above 4 lbs. It is proving to by my best ever cod season.

Some photos below:

I will try to do up a full report over Christmas.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

A few bass over the last two weeks

I have been very busy with work so didn't get the chance to update the blog for the last few weeks so here is a summary of the recent fishing:

29th September: The conditions looked good so I headed to an East Cork mark that can fish well in relatively calm weather. The water was still rather coloured but better than it had been through most of the summer. I worked my way eastwards with the rising tide but nothing was biting. After a couple of hours I got the eastern end of the bay. I tried a few soft plastics first then put on a Feed Shallow. After a few casts the lure was snatched by a bass about 25 m out. It wasn't a big fish with a length of 47 cm but fought well all the same.

I had another three takes in fairly quick succession after that, the first was only lightly hooked and came off after a few seconds, the second stayed on a bit longer before breaking off. The third stayed on all the way in, I had it at my feet and was trying to surf it on to the rock platform on the crest of a wave, but just as the wave lifted it the fish flipped over and shook the hook.

The tide pushed me back and I began fishing into narrow gulleys along the flank of a small embayment. As it was fairly deep water here I switched to a Zonk Gataride. After a few casts a small fish made a lunge for the lure and was on for a few seconds. I don't think it was a bass - more like a coalfish. However, shortly afterwards the lure was snatched by a bass right at my feet. As it was in so close it only took a few seconds to land, it was a plump 44 cm bass,

As the light began to fade the pollock came on the feed. I had about six plus one coalfish in quick succession, but no more bass.

4th October: I headed to a mark which had produced a few bass in mid-September in the last few hours to high tide. I arrived about an hour before dusk. The sea was much rougher than I had anticipated. I was not too hopeful of catching anything at all but thought I may as well give it a go since I had driven all the way there. I used lures that have a fair bit of movement, such as the Savagear sandeel and the Zonk Gataride. After about 40 minutes a Gataride was hit by a fish about 30 m out. It fought very strongly and stayed deep all the way in to the edge of the shore. I was convinced it was a pollock until I eventually raised it to the surface and saw that it was a bass. Since I was standing on a ledge 1.5 m above the sea level for safety as big swells were crashing onto the rocks I had to try to land the fish on the crest of a wave. The fish had other ideas but eventually I got it on the rocks to a place where I could safely grab it. It was a very well fed 54 cm bass. Unfortunately in the struggle to land the fish the vane on the Gataride was broken off.

I switched to a large Savagear silver/white sandeel. A little later I had a bass take the lure about 20 m out. This put up a good fight but I was faced with the same problem of landing the fish. I tried to surf it onto the rocks on the breaking waves three times but it was a larger, more powerful fish and wasn't going to be taken so easily. On the third attempt as the fish slid back the braid caught on the edge of the rocks and snapped!!!!

Next time I fish there I must remember to bring a landing net!!!

6th October: It was a nice sunny Saturday afternoon. High tide was late, 10.40 pm so in the late afternoon I headed to the same location I fished the previous Saturday. The conditions looked good, not too rough, water clarity OK although there was a lot of fine rotting seaweed floating close to shore. There was not much happening but out to sea I could see several disturbances on the water with lots of seabirds diving or snatching sprat off the surface, presumably forced to the surface by shoals of mackeral. The bass were probably out there too.

Close to dusk the fishing began to improve. First I had a pollock of about 3-3.5 lbs on a large Savagear Sandeel followed shortly afterwards by a 48 cm bass on the same lure.

After that I could feel plenty of fish hitting the lure but they were not hooked, probably smaller pollock that couldn't get their mouths around the larger lure. I switched to a yellow tailed jellyworm and shortly afterwards it was taken by a small pollock. However, since I was really interested in bass I put on my last Zonk Gataride and fished on for a while but there was no more interest.

13th October: This was another nice Saturday  - three good Saturdays in a row - that was something we did not experience throughout the entire summer!!! I headed to a West Waterford mark where I had some good bass last year but so far this year had fished very poorly. I reckoned it might be time to try there again. The water was quite clear so it looked promising but unfortunately the fish didn't think so. I worked my way westwards for several hours without a sign of a fish. I reached the western end of the bay which has a deeper water gulley. It was now close to high tide so I thought I would try for pollock. I got a few but they were small, 1-1.5 lbs. I began to work my way back, got to a small bay close to dusk and could see some fish activity on the surface. I fished a variety of lures and caught a number of pollock and a few coalfish but no bass. The total for the day was 13 pollock and 2 coalfish, but all fish were small, nothing over 1.5 lbs.

14th October: Another nice day so I headed out in the late morning to catch the start of the rising tide at a favourite East Cork mark. There was a moderate westerly wind blowing parallel to the shore which flattened out the swell but the water was still quite coloured. I worked my way eastwards without a bite. I got the eastern end of the bay about 2.5 hours before high tide. The rising tide had brought in clear water but still there was nothing. Then a large Savagear sandeel was grabbed by a bass about 40 m out. I had it on for about a minute before it shook the hook. But at least that indicated there were fish there.

A little later a small shoal of mackeral chased a shoal of small fish into the corner of the bay. I had a go at fishing for them as a diversion, got two on Xlayers and another on an Asturie but then they moved on. A little later close to dusk I noticed some more activity on the surface in the same area. I thought the mackeral were back but it was pollock and coalfish chasing the sprat. I caught about 10 pollock (1-2.5 lbs) and two coalfish mostly on Xlayers. I was hoping that there might be a few bass joining in the feeding frenzy and fished across the area with a Gataride, Feed Shallows and several other lures without any interest.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Couple of bass from two weeks ago

I have been a bit slow updating the blog over the last few weeks due to too much work. So here is a report on some sessions from two weeks ago:

Friday 7th September  - I headed to a reliable rock mark in East Cork early on the evening rising tide. Although there was not much wind there were still big swells breaking on the rocks and the water was highly coloured. I fished for a while without a bite so close to dusk I decided to move on to a more sheltered location.

I got to the new mark just as the light was beginning to fad and made my way down the rocks. I had a few casts with a Feed Shallow but as the sea was quite choppy the lure wasn't sitting well in the water. I changed to a weighted paddle tailed SP. On about the third cast it was snatched by a bass about 25 m out. It put up a good struggle especially as I got it near to the shore. It was a 55 cm bass and weighted about 4 lbs.

It was now dark so I switched to a Zonk Gataride hoping that the movement of the lure would attract a bass. It worked!! After a couple of casts the lure was hit by a bass of about the same size probably about 30-35 m out but unfortunately it was only lightly hooked and shook itself off just a meter from the rock ledge I was standing on.

I had another two bass take the lure in quick succession shortly after that but again they were not securely hooked. One came off just as I was about to lift it out of the water and I lost the other half way in. I fished on for a little longer but the bass seemed to have moved on.

Saturday 8th September - I had to work on a report that was overdue during the day but later in the evening headed to the same mark. I arrived at much the same time in the evening just as the sun was setting. After a few casts I had a bite but it was just a large mackeral. Then after dark the Zonk Gataride was hit by a good fish (this time I was using a brand new one rather then the one I had lost three bass on the previous evening in case the hooks on that had been a bit blunt). This fish was well hooked. It fought very strongly all the way in, turnned and stripped a little line when I almost had it in. But eventually I coaxed it back and on to the rock ledge. It was almost identical to the fish I had the previous evening , 55 cm and 4 lb in weight.

I fished for about another hour but it was quite after that. There was no sign of the shoal I encountered the night before.

I had one more session there last week on a much bigger tide but the sea was rougher. There was a strong onshore wind and big swells were breaking over the rocks. This time I had no fish.    

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Trip to Kerry - 1st & 2nd September 2012

I have been very busy with work over the last few weeks so didn't get the chance to do any blog updates. So here is a quick report on a couple of days we had in Kerry at the beginning of September.

We left home on a lovely calm sunny Sunday morning and got to the hotel by 2.30 pm, checked in and promptly headed out to the coast. I brought both the lure and bait fishing gear and was well stocked with freshly dug big juicy lug, peeler crabs and frozen razor. There was quite a strong on shore breeze which had whipped up a mice surf so the conditions looked more suited to bait fishing. I set up two rods both with 4/0 pennel pulleys, one baited with lug and the other with crab.

Over the next three hours I hade four large plump flounder. I left my fish ruler in the car but three of them were at least 40 cm.

I had a few missed bites most of which felt like more flounder but I had one stronger fish which fought like a bass but the gripped weight got snagged on a submerged rock ridge . I let the line go slack and the fish pulled out of the snag but then shook the hook.

After dinner I headed to another beach for some night time fishing for the last few hours of the ebb and over low tide, which is the optimum time for bass at this particular mark. The wind had died down and the surf was weaker than I would have liked. I had three small dogfish first; then close to low tide I had a strong tug on the rod and line went slack. I rapidly reeled in the slack and caught up with the fish. It was fighting more strongly than the dogfish and after a few minutes I hauled a small bass of about 44 cm on to the sand.

I had one more dogfish after that plus a tiny weever, not sure how it managed to get itself hooked as it was smaller than the hook.

As the wind had totally died down at this stage and it was a clear night with not a cloud in the sky I was hopefully of some nice weather the next day and was looking forwared to some lure fishing. However, when we awoke on Monday morning we were greeted by low clouds, misty rain and strong wind!!! To make it worse I had a text from home to say they were basking in the sunshine.

With the conditions it looked like another day of bait fishing. After breakfast I headed to a different beach for the start of the rising tide. However, after half an hour of struggling with stringy seaweed I was forced to move on. The next mark was a beach that fishes well closer to high tide. I was a bit early but at least it was weed free. Unfortunately it was also free of fish!!  I had hoped the weather might clear up as there was a brief period of brighter weather on the horizon but it got even worse  later in the afternoon and I couldn't seem more than 50 m down the beach.

Close to 6 pm I spotted some taps on the rod tip, waited until there was a stronger tug and struck. At first I thought I had a big fish, it felt heavy although surprisingly was not fighting very strongly. I was uncertain of what I had until I pulled it out of the surf. It was a dog fish which had been hooked in the mouth by the upper hook of the pennel and foul hooked midway along the body by the lower hook.  

At that stage I was cold and damp so decided to pack up and have an early dinner.

Friday, 31 August 2012

Bass amongst the dogs - 30th August 2012

I headed out to bait fish a couple of hours of the ebbing tide and an few hours of the rishing tide last night. It was a nice night to be out, mostly clear and the beach was illuminated by a bright full moon. There was a moderate surf and very little seaweed.

I didn't have time to dig lug earlier in the day so just had some razor out of the freezer. I set up two rods with 4/0 pennel pulleys (although later changed one to a 1/0 three hook flapper). No sooner had I cast out the first bait and had just put the rod on the stand when there was a subtle knock on the rod - I struck but the fish didn't feel like a bass as I retrieved. It was a small dogfish.

Another dogfish followed. Then close to low tide I had another fairly strong bite but the fish was not putting up much of a fight and turned out to ba a small 42 cm bass.

I had a couple of missed bites after that. One was most likely another dogfish but the second felt to be a strong heavy fish before it came off after a few seconds. Then as the tide began to push in a dogfish onslaught commenced. I had about five in quick succession and lost a few more. These were bigger dogfish than the first two and fought strongly all the way in. Each time I was convinced I had a bass until I saw the fish do the sideways twisting  motion in the shallow surf characteristicof dogfish.

Since it looked like that was all that I was going to catch that night I packed up and headed home to bed.

Thursday, 30 August 2012

First cast bass - 27th August 2012

I was tempting fate with my last post "Signs of Improvement" from a session on 9th August two and a half weeks ago. The following evening saw a deteoriation in the conditions as a strong ESE wind picked up. I returned to the same mark on 11th August but it was practically unfishable with big swells and chocolate coloured water. I stuck it out for a couple of hours in to dusk but had nothing to show for it. The pollock that were there in profusion two days previously were absent never mind the bass.

Unfortunately that was just a foretaste of what was to come. The south coast was hit by a massive storm the following week which ruled out lure fishing for the next week. I had one bait session a few days later but on an ebbing tide which was not the best for that particular beach and needless to say I blanked. Interestingly I gathered up the carcasses of about 12 spider crabs from the high water mark 20 m either side of where I was fishing. These weren't empty carapaces left after moulting. The strom must have battered them and threw them on to the foreshore.

The water was just beginning to clear when we were hit by another Altantic depression with strong wind and rain. I did have a few short attempts a lure fishing late in the evenings but not even the pollock showed up.

After a rather stormy Sunday night, the following day, Monday 27th, was much more pleasant so I decided on another bait fishing session. I arrived just after dusk and set up two rods, the first baited with rag and the second with razor on 4/0 pennel pulleys. Shortly after casting out the rod with the razor I spotted some twitches on the rod tip. Then it bent over sharply, I grabbed the rod but at that stage the fish was running a slackliner in towards the shore. I rapidly reeded in the slack and caught up with the fish. It fought strongly for a few minutes until I hauled it through the surf. It was a 53 cm bass.

That was a good start and I was hopeful of a few more but that was it. I should have packed up then and gone home but I perservered for another three hours but only had a small coalfish towards the end of the session.

Friday, 10 August 2012

Signs of improvement - 9th August 2012

Yesterday was the first day in ages that felt like a summer's day. So after work I headed down to the shore. I arrived as the tide was pushing in. Although the weather had been calm all day there were still sizable swells breaking over the rocks. I started fishing an area of very shallow water that can produce bass early on the rising tide as they move in looking for crabs. I wasn't too happy with the colour of the water, it had a yellowish tinge. It didn't seem to be due to sediment more likely an algal bloom so I hoped that would not have a detrimental effect on the fishing. I fished the first mark for about an hour without success but I did see a couple of splashes just beyond casting distance.

I made my way eastwards, fished a mark where I lost a good bass a couple of weeks ago but again nothing. Close to dusk I reached the eastern end of the bay. I tried a few different soft plastics then put on a yellow tailed jellyworm as the water was even more murkey than in the western part of the bay. I thought that might be easier for the fish to see. First cast I felt tugs on the lure but the fish was not hooked. On the second cast the lure was grabbed by a fish. Initially I thought it was a pollock but then it burst on to the surface and I realized it was a bass. It was not a big fish but still gave a good fight as I eased it in across the shallow reef in front of me. It was a 49 cm fish. After measuring it I went to get my camera and discovered I had left it at home!!!

Next cast with the jellyworm I could feel the lure been hit several times as I retrieved and then just a few meters out it was grabbed by a pollock of about 1.5 lbs. After that almost every cast was finding fish, some were just striking the lure without been caught and quite a few managed to shake the lure before I landed them but I did get some onto the shore. Then I felt a strong tug but a second later the fish was gone. When I retrieved I found that there only about 3 cm of the jellyworm left on the leadhead!!!

I then changed to an Xlayer and picked up a few more pollock. On about the fourth or fifth cast with the Xlayer I hooked a fish about 30 m out which was putting up a different fight to the pollock and broke to the surface about half way in. This was another 49 cm bass but plumper than the first.

I had a few more casts but again the pollock were attacking the lure almost as soon as I began to retrieve. I changed to a surface lure - an Asturie -  hoping that might attract a bass. Second cast the lure was snatched by a fish 40 m out. This was struggling on the surfare, not diving like a pollock, so I reckoned it had to be a bass. I had it in close, to the edge of the reef but as I was waiting for a breaking wave to surf it over the rocks the fish managed to shake the lure. The bass was probably much the same size as the two I had previously caught.

I had a few more casts with the Asturie and then tried a Patchinko but there were no more takes. I changed back to the Xlayer. It was dark at this stage but the pollock were still hitting the lure. Then it was struck by a much stronger fish. It kept deep so I reckoned it was another pollock but bigger than the 1-2 lb fish I had been catching. It fought very strongly, keeping deep all the way in. It was the biggest fish of the evening, a stocky 52 cm pollock weighing a little over 3.5 lbs.

I had another small pollock after that and then decided to pack up.

That is the first time this year that the pollock have been out in force. I fished that mark at the same stage of the tide and similar time of the day about two weeks ago and struggled to get three small pollock. But this time, while I lost a lot of fish, and a lot were not hooked, I could feel pollock hitting the lure on almost every cast on the jellyworm or Xlayers. Interestingly I failed to get a bite on Waveworms, Slug-gos, Spindel worms and Savagear sandeels.

So after a very poor spell it looks like the fishing is finally beginning to improve with the warmer weather.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

The last few weeks

It has been a few weeks since I last updated the blog. Poor fishing was part of the reason for the inactivity but the main reason for the lack of updates was that my father passed away after a short illness. So I didn't feel much like going fishing never mind adding to the blog.

The best fish over the last couple of weeks was a fine chunky bass of 61 cm caught on 26th July. It weighted just under 6 lb, so was well over weight for its size. So while bass have been very scarce along the south coast over the last two months this one was feeding well where ever it was.

I got the fish out of a deepish pool flanked by shallower water to the east and west. A guy was fishing much the same spot before me but moved on without catching anything. I was working my way along the shore and eventually reached the same mark close to dusk. I tried a few hard body lures and several soft plastics before putting on a weighted Xlayer aiming to fish deep into the hole I knew to be there. On about the second or third cast the bass snatched the lure and put up a very strong fight. As there was a steep rock face to my right I had to turn the fish and guide it  to the left but it was not keen on obliging. After a few minutes I eventually turned it and coaxed it onto the rock platform where I was standing.

Earlier I lost a good bass on a waveworm. I was fishing into a narrow but deep gully and just as I was about to lift the lure out of the water a bass grabbed it and dived snapping the flurocarbon leader just above the clip knot.

I had a few other sessions but just had a few pollock ranging in size from less than a pound to three pounds and a solitary mackeral that must have strayed from his shoal. But at least the pollock are now beginning to show up, a few weeks ago even the pollock were absent.

Now that the weather is finally beginning to warm up to close to normal summer temperatures I am hopeful that the fishing will also improve and maybe bass will move close to our shores again.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Tough month - July 2012

I havn't updated the blog for a few weeks, partly since I have been busy with work and partly as there was not much to report.

I focused on lure fishing but have very little to show for it. The best fish was a 58 cm bass on a waveworm caught on the 8th July.

I had a number of lure sessions after that in various locations without a bite. I then decided to return to bait fishing last Wednesday (18th July). I fished a beach where I expected to get bass but just had five dogfish and a plump 32 cm flounder. There was no indication of any bass about.

On Friday I headed to Tramore for Absolute Fishing's Bass Festival, picked up my ID number and special ruler and headed to a Copper Coast mark, arriving at low tide. The location I was fishing looked like a superb bass mark, a gulley lined with kelp which led back into a broad depression in the rock platform. I was confident that a stream of bass would come through once the tide started to push in. But after 4 hours I had to admit defeat and move back to more familar ground for high tide. But again nothing!!

After the disappointment of the previous day I headed to a more reliable mark on Saturday. The weather was very calm and sunny in the morning which was good for this location as the water can become highly coloured if there is even a moderate onshore breeze. The water quality looked good, not totally clear, but clear enough for fish to be easily able to see the lures so I was hopeful of a better session.

Shortly after the tide began to push in I was fishing on a ledge into water about 2 m deep and saw a bass slowly swim up to a waveworm and then move on. I tried a variety of other lures but could not interest it again.

I moved further east along the shore to a location of very shallow water that can produce bass early on the rising tide. I put on a red and black waveworm and first cast was hit by a bass. It fought well and I was surprised that it was only a 53 cm fish, although it was a stocky well fed one.

Shortly afterwards I had a bit of a mishap. The tide forced me to move back, but as I was crossing a deepish sand floored gulley the side collapsed and I slide into the pool and water filled my waders. I was totally soaked. But that didn't stop me fishing. I took off my clothes, emptied the waders, put them back on and continued fishing. I could see several fish in very close, they looked very like bass but showed no interest in any lure I fired in their direction. It is possibe they were mullet but I think they were bass which were just not interested in feeding on anything other the crabs which they seemed to be foraging for under the bladderwort.

I moved to the eastern end of the bay. I had a couple of bass follow a Feed Shallow but as the lure approached the shore they turned away and that was the last I saw of them.

As the sun set below the hill behind me I was beginning to feel cold since I was just wearing waders so I reckoned it was time to pack up. I made my way back to get my clothes which I left drying on a rock. Then as I was leaving a large fish lept out of the water about 30 m out. I had to stop and have another go but again it was not interested. I could see fish splashing about in the shallow water but could not tempt them. The final straw came when one lept clear out of the water just 3 m in front of me and I swear it was looking straight at me and laughing. Time to go home!!!!

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Back to bait - 2nd & 3rd July 2012

After a few fruitless lure session last week and over the weekend I decided to return to bait fishing.

2nd July:  All I had for bait was frozen razor but throught I would give it a go as I did not have time to dig fresh bait earlier in the day. I headed to a beach which produced a couple of nice bass two weeks ago and would be fishing much the same stage of the tide. There was a good surf and low cloud totally blocked out the full moon so I was hopefully of getting a few bass.

These was a lot of fine weed in the surf close to the shore so I had to cast out further than I would have liked. Shortly after setting up I had a good knock on one of the rods, at first I was convinced it was a bass since it was pulling strongly but as I retrieved the fight weakened. A few minutes later I hauled a large dogfish out of the surf. That was followed by a rather plump coalfish. I have never caught coalfish in July from that beach - probably an indication of how cold the water is, well below the average July sea temperature.

As the tide began to push in more strongly I had another dogfish. Again it was a large one which fought well and had me thinking it was a bass until I had it on the beach.

Another coalfish followed. Then I had a sharp tug on one of the rods, I picked it up and could feel a strong fish on the end. It was pulling hard so I knew it was definitely not a dogfish. As I got it in close I could see a good fish splashing about in the surf and was sure it was a bass until I had it on the beach - it was a Bull Huss!!

That was a bit of a surprise, I have never caught one on this beach before and dont think I have heard of one been caught there either.

I fished on for a bit longer but had no more bites so packed up about half an hour later.

3rd July:  I dug some rag worms at lunch time and that night returned to the same beach but fished a different location further to the west. The surf was much weaker compared to the previous night but it was relatively weed free. I cast out one rod and was setting up a second when I spotted some tugs on the first. I struck and began to retrieve. I could tell from the way the initial fight died off that this was another dogfish.

Another two dogfish followed. Then I had a fish which was putting up a much better fight. This must be a bass I thought - but I was wrong - it was another Bull Huss, smaller than the one I had the previous night.

The tide began to push in after that but there were no more bites. I fished for about another two hours with only a few gentle nibbles which were probably small fish pulling on the bait.

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Eventually a bass on lure - 24th June 2012

I have had several lure fishing sessions without a bite since the end of the bass closed season. The conditions were not ideal with highly coloured water and lots of fine seaweed. On Sunday I headed to a sheltered bay where I thought the water may have had a chance to clear. As I made my way down to the shore I could see that the water was still quite murky and the sea was rougher than I expected.

As I was walking along the shore, heading towards a mark that can fish well early on the rising tide, I spotted a splash about 40 m out in a broad embayment which I seldom fish. I immediately stopped, put a lure on and cast in the direction of the disturbance. I tried several lures but it was only when I put on an Asturie that I got a reaction; a bulge of water rose up behind the lure and a fish made a grab for it but wasn't hooked. Unfortunately I could not tempt it again. I changed lures several times but it was no longer interested.

After about half an hour I made my way further down the shore. I tried a range of hard and soft plastic lures to no avail. The water was quite cloudy and most casts snagged a little weed. I worked my way along a series of small bays and promontories without a hint of a fish. Eventually I decided to move back to the first mark as that was the only place that showed any sign of fish activity.

At first I tried fishing off a rock promontory. Then move back to fish across the corner of the bay. I put on the Asturie which was the only lure that the fish had shown any interest in previously. First cast the lure was grabbed by a bass about 30 m out. It put up a strong struggle until I eventually coaxed it in and across the shallow rocks at my feet. It was a 52 cm bass.

While not a big fish I was delighted with that, my first bass on a lure this year. It was a slow start this year compared to last year when I had plenty of lure caught bass in April. But hopefully if the weather calms down and the water gets a chance to clear the fishing will significantly improve next month.

I fished on for a little longer into dusk but there was no sign of any more fish activity, so I packed up just as the light was beginning to fade in order to get off the rocks before it got totally dark.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

A couple of bass after a tough start - 18th June 2012

The strorm that hammered the south coast last Thursday and Friday certainly had a detrimental effect on the fishing, producing highly coloured water, weed choked bays and estuaries full of dark brown flood water. As last Saturday was the first day after the month long bass closed season I had to give it a go so went bait fishing to a beach that can fish well in daylight on a rising tide. But the surf was still very big and I guess the bait scent was just lost amongst the sediment charged breakers. I packed up just before high tide without a hint of a fish.

The next day the weather was calm and sunny. After doing some gardening I headed down to the shore to try some lure fishing for a few hours over high tide. But again the water was highly coloured. I perservered, trying a range of hard and soft plastic lures, but it was to no avail.

Monday 18th was another nice fairly calm day. I still had some lug left over from Saturday and picked up some crab on the way home from work. I planned to try a small beach that I have not fished for about two years. I took both the bait and lure fishing gear as there is good lure fishing ground either side of the beach. However, when I got there a couple of hours before low tide I found the bay was full of seaweed, with masses of kelp floating for about 30 m out from the shore. The water was still highly coloured. So it was pointless fishing there. I back-tracked to another beach which I thought might be cleaner.

By the time I got set up it was 11.30 pm, much later than I had intended to start. The water was weed free but the surf was quite weak. It was a lovely clear night and although there was no moon it never got totally dark. Due to the clear skys there was a glow of daylight to the north as it was only a few days before the longest day of the year. Even at 2.00 am there was still a glow in the north, after that it started to get brighter again.

I set up two rods, one baited with lug, the other with crab, both on 4/0 pennel pulleys. Shortly after setting up I noticed some subtle nibbles on the rod with the lug, picked it up, then felt a strong tug, lifted into the fish but after having it on for a few seconds it was gone!!!

There then follows a succession of missed bites, about six on the lug and two on the crab, some were fairly subtle knocks, others were stronger tugs. I felt a sense of frustration, it was like watching Ireland play football in the Euro 2012. A change of tactics were required. Over the last few months I have not been striking when a fish bites due to a post on Sea Angling Ireland where a far better angler than myself said he never struck and let the fish hook itself. Obviously that was not working for me despite using brand new rigs with new hooks!!!

So next bite I struck hard - this time there was no mistake, the fish was well hooked. It fought strongly and at first I thought I had a bass, but when I hauled it out of the surf I could see it was a large dogfish. Two more dogfish followed, one on lug the other on crab.

At about 12.30 am I had a much stronger bite on the rod with the lug and again struck to set the hook. This fish was putting up a better fight so I has hoping that it was not another dogfish. Fortunately this time it was a bass, a well fed stocky fish of 55 cm and approximately 4 lbs.

A little later I spotted a slight knock on the rod with the crab but then it went quite. At first I thought the fish was gone but then there was another small tap. I retrieved and found a small codling on the end. That was a bit of a surprise for mid-June!!!

At about 1.30 am I noticed some subtle taps on the rod with the lug so picked it up, waited until I felt a stronger tug and then struck strongly. I was into a bigger fish, it was fighting very strongly, stripped some line as it tried to escape, pulling the line to the right. It felt a powerful fish, especially as I got it in close and I could see a good size bass splashing about in the shallow surf. It was a chunky 61 cm fish with a weight of 5.75 lbs.

I fished on until about 3.00 am, no more bass but I did have two coalfish and another dogfish. Interestingly from the moment I changed tactics and reverted to striking on a bite I did not miss a single fish.

Friday, 15 June 2012

12 hours to go !!!! - 15th June 2012

Less than 12 hours to go until the end of the bass closed season!!!

Unfortunately the south coast has been battered by strong winds and heavy rain for the last two days so it looks like it will be back to bait fishing. It's probably fairly pointless trying to lure fish for a few days until the sea calms down and the water clears.

Last year at the end of the bass ban I headed out and was ready to make my first cast on the stroke of Midnight but I think I will wait until Saturday morning this year. Dig some lug at low tide and then head to a favourite beach that can fish well in daylight and hope that it is not covered with seaweed.

P.S. At lunch time I took a quick drive down to the coast. There is a massive surf rolling in, with white water extending out 100 m from the shore and chocolate brown coloured water stretching way out to sea. I hope it calms down a bit by tomorrow, even bait fishing in those conditions would be challenging!!!  

Saturday, 9 June 2012

At last - fish to put a bend in the rod - 2nd June 2012

Upon my return to Ireland after the holidays I was very keen to get out and catch something bigger than the small fish I got in the Aeolian Islands. So on Saturday afternoon I grabbed the lure fishing gear and headed to a bay which has a number of deep water marks where I had caught a few sizable pollock last year.

Although the bay was sheltered from the westerly wind the sea was still very choppy and the water rather coloured. I tried a couple of deep gulleys first without a bite. Then close to high tide I moved to the western end where there is a deeper embayment. I tried a range of soft plastics (Xlayers, Slug Gos, Wave worms, Senkos) and a few small metal lures but there was not a hint of a fish. I was almost going to pack up but had one last try with a yellow tailed jellyworm. I cast it out to sea, parallel to the side of the embayment. On the second cast I was hit by a strong fish which was pulling downwards - it had to be a pollock. It keep deep all the way in and fought strongly as I pulled it up. It was a 52 cm fish, weighing just over 3 lb.

I then tried the jellyworm in a deep gulley at my feet and a few casts later it was snatched by another strong fish. This stripped some line before I got it under control and fought well until I eased it on to the rocks. This was a larger chunkier pollock, 58 cm in length and weighed just over 4 lbs

A little later I had another pollock on the jellyworm from the same gulley. This was much the same size as the first at 52 cm.

Shortly afterwards a torrential rain shower started. I fished on a little longer but by 5.20 pm decided to pack up. So despite all the expensive SPs I got all the fish on the cheapest lure in my collection. A few years ago I got a packet of 12 of those yellow tailed jellyworms for about 3 euros!!!

Friday, 8 June 2012

Fishing in the Aeolian Islands: Part 2 - May 2012

On Friday 25th we moved on to Stromboli Island, an active volcano, after five days on Lapari Island. The weather during that time had not been great, there was a strong cold wind blowing most of the time and one day had been quite wet but when I awoke on Friday morning the sky was blue and clear and the wind had completely died down. This was more like the Mediterranean weather I had been expecting.

Before getting the hydrofoil I went down to the tackle shop in Lipari's old town and restocked on rag worm and maggots. We approached the island at about 3 pm and as the ferry sailed around the northwest flank of the volcano we got to see a small eruption.

After checking into the hotel we went for a roam around the village and had a light late lunch. As it is a tectonically active zone the coastal road had a number of signs for tsunami escape routes heading up hill. I guess it is hoped that a major seismic event does not coincide with a major eruption!!!

That night we ate in a restaurant close to the hotel and I had a delicious meal of black squid ink pasta stuffed with swordfish. My mouth still waters when I think about it!!

26th May - It was another lovely calm sunny day so in the morning I asked around and found a small boat for hire. There is a volcanic plug called Strombolicchio about 1.5 km off the northeast corner of the island. I reckoned that would be a great spot for fish so we headed there first. As we got close it looked like something from the set of Lord of the Rings, an imposing rock mass with sheer cliffs rising vertically out of the sea.

However, after two hours of lure and bait fishing without a bite I had to admit defeat and headed back towards Stromboli. I dropped Melissa off as she was getting too hot on the boat and made my way southwards along the coast. But it was only when I moved close to the shore that I started to get bites. The fish seemed to be most prevalent on the edge of the drop off where the flanks of the volcano plunge down to the Mediterranean sea floor. First fish was an Ornate Wrasse, followed by some Rainbow Wrasse and Comber. The last fish was a Sea Bream, the biggest fish of the entire holiday. Unfortunately it was then almost 5 pm and time to return the boat.

That evening we headed up through the narrow streets of Stromboli, too narrow for cars, so the preferred mode of transport is golf carts. Even the police car is a golf cart with a blue flashing light on its roof. I was hoping that we might see a high speed golf cart chase but that was not to be!!! 

27th May - Since all the fish I caught from the boat had been within casting distance of the shore I made my way down the black volcanic sand beach south of the village, over some rocks, along a couple of other deserted beaches to the area when I had most of the fish the previous day. Right away I was getting bites. The first was a Painted Comber followed by lots of Rainbow Wrasse and a few Comber. Nearly all the fish were taken on rag.

That evening I had the best pizza of my life, cooked in a proper wood burning pizza oven, not like the soggy based crap that passes for pizza in Ireland.

28th May - We headed back to the same mark. I only had one rag worm left but did have plenty of maggots. I started off with the rag worm, cutting it into four segments. The first fish was a small comber, followed by a Rainbow Wrasse. However, after all the rag was used up the bites died off. The fish were just not interested in the maggots. I did get one decent size Rainbow Wrasse after that but by 4 pm I decided to pack up and emptied the remainder of the maggots into the sea.

We had a boat trip later that evening around to the northwest side of the island to hopefully see a volcanic eruption after dark. Unfortunately clouds had built up around the summit of the volcano although we did get to see one eruption which burst through the clouds and sent shower of red hot glowing pyroclastics down the flank of the volcano.

The following day we got the hydrofoil back to the mainland and made out way to Catania for our flight home the next day. At the beginning of the holiday we had a very nice lunch in a litttle restaurant on a small plaza close to the fishmarket so we headed back there for out final Sicilian dinner. We were not disappointed, both Melissa and myself had the "Fantasia du Chef", the best pasta dish I have ever tasted, pasta with shell fish in a creamy tomato sauce.

Following that I had grilled fish, a large tuna steak with three smaller fish, the best fish meal of the entire trip. The next day it was back home to Ireland and our glorious summer weather!!!

While I did not catch anything capable of putting much of a bend in the rod I was happy with the fishing and it was a great relaxing holiday with plenty of great pasta dishes, although in general I was disappointed with the fish dishes I had in the restaurants apart from the final dinner.