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.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Fishing in the Aeolian Islands: Part 1 - May 2012

I headed off to Sicily on the 16th May for a couple of weeks holiday. As I have been working flat out for the last year I wanted to have a lazy relaxing holiday this time and do a bit of fishing. We spent the first few days in Sicily, had a trip to Mount Etna on the second day but unfortunately there was a gale blowing across the flanks of the volcano which was not too pleasant.

On 20th May we got the ferry to Lipari Island, one of seven volcanic islands off the northeast coast of Sicily. Our hotel  - Hotel Mea - was on the hill overlooking Lipari Town and harbour, a very nice setting.

The first day we roamed around the old town and down to the harbour to check out the fishing potential. I also spotted a fishing tackle shop in the town!!

The next morning after breakfast I headed down to the pier, stopping at the tackle shop on the way to buy a box of rag worms and a carton of maggots. I also got some squid and prawns in the supermarket. Unfortunately the wind had strengthened again and was whipping across the harbour. Initially I tried fishing off the end of the pier but then found a more sheltered spot on the seaward side of the pier. It was closed off with wire mesh but somebody had forced it open. There was a walkway there with a low wall in front so it was perfectly safe.

I tried a variety of lures and bait but the fish were only taking the rag and occasionally the maggots. Fishing was slow at first but then I moved along the pier to shallower water closer to shore and it picked up. As is typical for the Mediterranean all fish were small requiring small hooks, size 10 or 12. I caught Saddled Bream, Two Banded Bream, Ornate Wrasse, Bogue and a Salpa.

After dinner we stopped in a bar whose tables had spread out onto a pedestrianised street in the old town. We ordered a couple of beers and got a largest collection of free snacks I have ever had in my life. We need not have bothered with dinner.

22nd May - I had intended hiring a small boat but the wind was still very strong and the sea was very choppy so I headed back down to the pier. However, this time the Bogue were proving to be a pest. They were on to the bait like piranas, as soon at it was in the water about 50 or 60 of them would be on to it in an instant and whipping the bait off the hook. But I did catch 13 of them plus Saddled Bream, Two Banded Bream and Rainbow Wrasse.

23rd May - The wind had died down but the morning was very overcast and later there was a period of persistant light rain. After the Bogue infestation the previous day I decided to try a rock mark below the citadel which dominates the skyline of Lipari. It was sheltered and provided access to a mixture of shallow and deep water. I caught Comber, Painted Comber, Two Banded Bream, Ornate Wrasse, Peacock Wrasse and another bunch of Bogue. I finished up early as the rain became more persistant.

24th May - This was the last full day on Lipari Island. We did a bit of tourist stuff, walked up to the citadel and had a look around. I had been thinking of hiring a boat for the last day but it was again quite windy so in the afternoon I returned the the rock mark I fished the previous day. It was sunny and warm with the shelter of the cliff behind. This time I had Ornate Wrasse, Rainbow Wrasse, Painted Comber, a couple of Salpa and again plenty of Bogue. Melissa had a go and got a Comber.

The next morning we got the hydrofoil for Stromboli for a four night stay and some more fishing. See next post.