Ireland 2018 – Part Two

Well, you can see from the above picture that on his last full day of fishing UJ did finally lose his lure caught bass virginity…. and it really was getting near the last knockings when it happened!

The day started so dramatically different to any of the previous one’s we’d had all week – hardly a breath of wind and the seas had completely flattened off so first up we decided on a spot of pollack fishing for a couple of hours. The fish duly obliged with bends in rod aplenty! Nothing big but good sport nonetheless. Next up was a stunning bass spot John wanted us to fish where he knew there would still be a decent surf running given it’s location – it would have been totally unfishable earlier in the week. First cast for Nobby and ‘bang’ – fish on! We thought we might be in to a shoal but not another sniff…. strange how it can be at times.

With nothing more happening at this mark it was getting to the time in the tide where John wanted us back fishing the reef I’d caught at the day before. Back in the wagon and soon enough our lines were in the water. Nobby and I were fishing the DoLive Stick but UJ had switched to the new Gary Yamamoto Swim Senko in white. He was fishing between Nobby and myself when all of a sudden his rod looped over and a few expletives filled the air followed by a “you beauty”…. UJ had at last got his bass!!!! It wasn’t the biggest bass you’ll ever see but it was the most hard earned and well deserved bass I think I’ve ever seen experienced and we were just off the scale chuffed too bits for him….

It really was the fish that made our week when I look back on it – Nobby and myself have been lucky enough to catch a few in our time but to see someone who is new to the trade catch their first lure caught bass and work so damn hard to get it, in such a stunning  place… well, it really was the highlight of the week and we could only do one thing after that to celebrate…

Day six and UJ didn’t need to take off until after lunch so with his bass virginity lost the day before it gave him the opportunity of a further half day fishing. There was a better swell and surf running so we were off to a mark we’d looked at earlier in the week which had been unfishable. Today it looked good and after starting on the far side of the bay we worked our way to almost the middle of the bay where there appeared to be a gulley running behind a sand bar – it created a nice bit of movement with water running against the incoming surf. On went the Line Thru Sandeel  working it through the current and second cast ‘bang’ fish on!

Unhook, release, cast again and the next fish hits. By now Nobby and UJ are also into fish with UJ picking up a small sea trout and then his second ever lure caught bass…

Meanwhile, whilst we were obviously into a decent shoal of fish John is trying to get some scale samples and tags into the fish – I think at one point there were three fish hooked up and one on the beach!

These fish weren’t monsters but with the tough conditions we’d endured earlier in the week it was very welcome to get into a run of a few fish on the light gear… they certainly scrap better in the surf with the more oxygenated water giving them a bit of a turbo boost. The fish moved on though and so did we to rocks the other end of the bay where Nobby and I  picked up a couple more bass including one off the top on the Patchinko 125. UJ picked up a pollack as well so he’d had a three species final morning –  a nice way to finish you’re first foray into lure fishing I’d say and more than merited for the effort he’d put in all week.

After lunch at Thatched Cottage we bid UJ farewell and headed out again, fairly local thsi time, with a few more schoolies found over reef ground before an executive decision to declare early for a well earned pint. It had been a twenty bass day in total which was decent given the cold November winds, we’d certainly have taken that after the conditions at the start of the week.

Our penultimate day was once again different – things had flattened off again with much less surf running but given the success at the spot the previous day John couldn’t ignore it and we went back to see if the fish were still around. By now we had been joined in Ballinskelligs by Malcomn and Ian who had made their way down from the Dingle area. The fish were still there but not in the same numbers with half a dozen between us I think, here’s Ian with one…

The afternoon saw us back over a bit of reef where Nobby picked up one on the ever reliable DoLive before we headed back to the surf as the tide flooded – despite looking fishy, and one missed take, neither of us hooked up. The final mark for the day saw us fishing into the dark over shallow reef but aside from a couple of small pollack that was it – the bass certainly weren’t playing ball so it was time for a pint and John’s fish and chip supper!

Our final day was now upon us and the conditions could not have been more different to those when we rocked up a week earlier – it really was benign in the bay with hardly a ripple on the surface. We tried a couple of marks but there was nothing happening so it was off to a spot again we’d been too earlier in the week which had a better chance of some current in the water with the option to fish from the beach or from some rock groins. I stayed on the beach in the surf and picked up four schoolies while John took Nobby off the rocks where he nailed a few pollack on surf lures… spot the fish in this picture!

We were nearly done for the week but one last throw of the dice back in Ballinskelligs Bay as the tide flooded yielded a small bass each for Nobby and myself – both on DoLive Sticks – and that was as good a place as any to finish on as the sun headed for the horizon…

This was my fourth trip to Ballinskelligs and Thatched Cottage and as I said at the very beginning of the ‘Ireland 2018 – Part One‘ post it’s been a fantastic week. Tough at times, especially to begin with, but lots of smiles, banter and laughter along the way in a quite stunning part of the world. Big thanks to Malcomn, Ian, UJ and of course Nobby for your splendid company and enjoying the craic, but I’ll reserve my biggest thanks for John and Lynn….. yes, it’s the fishing that draws us back year on year but hats off to you both for the huge efforts you put in to make it happen for us anglers day in day out, often without a sign of a break – it doesn’t go unnoticed by many of us and is hugely appreciated.

Keep that spirit of Ballinskelligs Bay riding high my friends…. it’s a very special place and thing you have going there.

Until next time…

Ireland 2018 – Part One

Another year and another fantastic week in the company of John and Lynn  at Thatched Cottage Fishing Lodge in beautiful County Kerry has come to an end. Fishing was tough at times, particularly to start with – no two days were the same that’s for sure – but really and truly that just added to the challenge. I’ve said it before and will say it again, there’s something very special about this place and I don’t just mean the fishing – it’s the whole backdrop too it – the scenery, variety of ground to fish over, the people and above all it’s the spirit of the place which has really, really gotten to me.

This year’s trip saw the usual suspects of Nobby and myself joined by his mate Richard (‘UJ’) for whom this was a first delve into the wonderous world of lure fishing for bass…. excuse the pun but he was definitely in at the deep end!

After a few early inconveniences, like having a chat with Mr Plod about being slightly overexcited to catch the ferry and then the ferry itself delayed for a couple of hours, we eventually found ourselves on the good shores of the Emerald Isle. It was then the jaunt from Rosslare to Kerry before us…. you could have worse journeys and the anticipation of getting there meant the miles and time were eaten up –  before we knew it we were through Caherdaniel, over the hill and before us was Ballinskelligs Bay (with some  ferocious looking swells and waves I might add). Shortly after we arrived at Thatched Cottage to be greeted as warmly as ever by John and Lynn. A quick decant of fishing kit, chatter, a couple of wee shots, lovely food, and a couple more wee shots and we were ready for bed ahead of our first day of fishing.

I’ll make no bones about it, the first couple of days were tough – the big swells and waves were still there and the water colour was downright filthy in most places. Not ideal. Between three of us, in the most sheltered and best coloured water John could find, we had one pollack for Nobby and a lost bass to UJ to show for our efforts.

That provoked  a change of plan from John for day three with us heading north to the Dingle peninsula to try the surf beaches there – a first for us on our trips to Kerry. There we also met up with a couple of well known bass anglers Ian and Malcomn who were giving the bait option a blast in the surf. The decision to head to Dingle finally paid dividends with our first lure caught bass of the trip landed, albeit only a small fish. The Savage Gear Line Thru Sandeel doing the business for my good self.

I had one one more hit that didn’t hook up as did Nobby but that was as good as it got despite fishing hard into the evening…. tough November fishing all round but at least the bass account had been opened. Our bait fishing friends only managed one in the same surf on the same session so not bad for us lure fishers we surmised…. we called it a draw anyway!

Day four back in Ballinskelligs and dawn brought us brighter, calmer conditions and thankfully clearing water with a nice table of surf running in the bay which John got us fishing first off. Nobby and myself cast out pretty much side by side and he shouted across to me “Looks fishy, doesn’t it?”….. “Oh yes it does” I respond with the devil in my eye as I’m into a bass first cast! Only a fish of a couple of pounds and again the Savage Gear Line Thru was on the money. That was the cue for a few more fish for Nobby and myself, here’s John with one of them…

UJ was still plugging away but was yet to be rid of his lure caught bass virginity – we were all quietly willing it to happen but it wasn’t to be in this  surf session. The fish had moved on and that was the cue for John to get us on the road too and off the surf beaches altogether to fish some shallow reef on a flooding tide. This was a familiar and favourite spot of mine from previous trips and it came up trumps again with the ever reliable DoLive stick accounting for this bass…

Both Nobby and myself had further hits – alas no hook ups – but the tide was now pushing us off the reef anyway so it was  time to retreat and once again move on. A couple more spots saw no action as we finished after dark but it had been a better  day on the bass and a couple of pints of the black stuff made for a suitable reward.

Whereas Nobby and myself still had four days fishing ahead of us UJ was always heading back early so only had one more full days fishing ahead of him…. was he going to lose his lure caught bass virginity?

Until next time…

Frustrating start but a few bass in the end…

Fishing for me is my time to relax and forget about the day-to-day things in life and very seldom do I let anything to do with fishing dishearten me. However, I must admit that’s how I felt just as the light got up on Sunday morning. My intention was to get some early morning fishing done in the dark for an hour or so before dawn. So, I’d dragged myself out of bed just before 3 a.m., drove for an hour and a half and then yomped for a further 30 minutes to get to chosen mark. I like to fish here at low to particularly get the first push of the tide and the timings were favourable for this early start in the dark at this spot.

It’s usually a fairly reliable mark and I was surprised that for that first hour or so in the darkness I didn’t have any interest whatsoever… top water, shallow divers, soft plastic – zero interest. Then the light started to come up and  the reason became fairly clear – if you look carefully in in the cropped photo below you’ll notice what I was faced with…

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Yep, strewn out for probably 200 metres in front of me was a net pretty much in casting range, in fact if I’d had a metal lure to give me extra distance I would definitely have hit it. Frustrating and above all disheartening. Needless to say I moved on and later I saw the net owner come along in his little boat to retrieve the net with his catch. Really wish there were some ‘no net zones’ for the good of all marine life and not just to appease the recreational anglers amongst us.

Anyhow, the move along the coast was a positive one and soon enough my mood was pepped up as I was into a few fish. As with my last post the bass were all small with the best topping out at 55cm. At least they put a bend in the rod and there do seem to be plenty of them around this year which I guess can only bode well for future bass stocks…. if they’re left alone of course.

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You’ll notice the Patchinko 125 was once again the weapon of choice, definitely my favourite lure of the moment. I just feel really assured it will pick me up fish versus other options… amazing how much confidence plays a part in lure fishing eh?!

Hopefully, will be out again in the coming weeks for a few local(ish) sessions but the countdown to Ireland in November is well and truly on now. Shouldn’t wish your life away I know but I can already picture it… and of course taste the Guinness.

Until next time…

Liking this Patchinko 125…

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Well, once again it’s been a while since I’ve blogged and to be frank I’ve disappointingly managed relatively little fishing over the summer period – general life stuff getting in the way and the real need to get a project completed at home…. more on that later. The few times I have ventured out over summer I’ve found to be relatively hit and miss on the bass front. So with autumn knocking on the door it’s been good to finally get out and have two multiple fish sessions in quick succession – albeit all schoolies up to the 3lb bracket.

What has been particularly encouraging is the catching ability of the new Patchinko 125. Let’s face it, it had a lot to live up to with both its’s smaller brother the P100 and the bigger Patchinko II, both of which have been proven ‘catchers’ for a number of years. The problem with the two siblings, in my humble opinion, is there was too much of a size difference. The smaller version would sometimes be ineffective if conditions got bouncy, be out of reach for the fish, or simply be too much of a magnet for smaller fish whereas conversely the big brother can be too ‘noisy’ in calmer conditions and lack the subtlety that is required in a given situation.  The P125 looks to have filled that void very nicely with very few compromises. I’ve found it casts slightly differently compared to the Patchinko II which you could fairly wallop out to the horizon if you put your body and soul behind it. To get the best out of the P125 I’ve found it’s all about hitting that sweet spot and then it will give you that distance and there’s no question it can fly! The nice thing about it is it seems to be consistent in the disturbance you can create on the surface with it and by that I mean it seems to work as you would expect equally between it’s two siblings – capable of a bit more disturbance than the P100 but not too much that it puts fish off, it can hold it’s own in choppier conditions and like both of it’s forebearers is incredibly easy to work. Above everything else though it has maintaned that irresistible action that bass seem to love.

That brings me nicely to Saturday when I took a trip down to Dorset where the Patchinko 125 was the weapon of choice and amongst a plague of garfish, and a few mackies, a dozen bass were caught – nothing big as indicated but okay numbers. The white version of the P125 was certainly working well (apologies for picture quality below)…

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The second session on the P125 was on Monday for a couple of hours at a venue closer to home and again it did the business with the infamous 500g version a clear winner. This was a classic case where the P100 just would not have reached where the fish were shoaled up. Again, roughly a dozen caught similar size to below… the P125 certainly gets the thumbs up from me!

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Generally, it’s nice to experience, see and hear of more fish being caught as autumn looms large so let’s hope for more of the same in the coming weeks… particularly ahead of the now annual trip to Ireland which is in November this time around. Just cannot wait!

Before I finish, you remember that project at home I mentioned earlier? To cut to the chase it was basically a shed building exercise that got out of control…. I’d got so far with it so thought why not make it into a part fishing den/man cave sort of shed thing…. somewhere to hang the Patchinko’s up at least!

The Tackle Box

Until next time…

New season – unexpected start…

After a long lay off and the annual bout of cabin fever my fishing urge finally got the better of me yesterday and it was off to the coast for my first session of the season. To be honest with the March cold snap, relatively low water temperatures and only a few catch reports my hopes of a bass weren’t high but my head told me ‘you got to be in it to win it’ so I dragged myself out of bed at some ungodly hour to give me a good couple of hours before the published high water.

Arrived and the water was already much higher than I expected and I thought I must have mis-read the tables so I tackled up and hurriedly got going. It was still dark when I started but you could see there was a nice little chop to the water. Nothing at the first couple of spots so I gradually made my way west along the shoreline switching lures in the process and it was after one of these changes to the smaller Tackle House Feed Shallow 105 that just as the light was up I got hit… for all the world I thought I’d got lucky with an early season bass but was beyond surprised when I saw it was a mullet!

After that brief excitement nothing more was happening at that spot so I was on the move again but a significant landslip right to the waters edge stopped me in my tracks and there was no alternative but to turn back. The slip was slicking into the bay making it horribly coloured… it will certainly need a storm or two to break it up otherwise, unfortunately, this spot will likely be unfishable for a while.

Fished my way back but nothing further to report though there were a few mullet there in the shallows. Did meet up with some familiar faces on the walk back and in discussion we’d all faired much the same on the bass front. Last year I had my first bass at the end of March, this season seems a good few weeks behind probably as a result of the colder Winter with water temperatures definitely down.

So, the mullet was a blank saver, it was good to be back out after a long lay-off plus good to catch up with some familiar faces but in all honesty I think it’s probably a few more weeks of cabin fever before I try again!

Until next time…

Ireland 2017 – Part 3

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Day 5

Refreshed from a good nights sleep and another hearty breakfast it was probably mid morning before we headed out and this time it was out of Ballinskelligs Bay itself to try and fish somewhere where there was a bit of movement in the water in the hope of bass being around. Again we had bright skies and a fresh northerly wind to deal with which weren’t ideal conditions but  when we got to the piece of coast John had earmarked, despite the lack of fizz and the pretty clear water, we were encouraged by the water movement.

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First area we could only manage several small pollack between us despite seeing a large bass mooching around with some equally big mullet – none of them appeared interested in feeding at all but then we were at the bottom of the tide by now. Soon enough John had us moving on and after an early lunch we were off fishing some likely looking reef with relatively shallow ground, intermixed with lots of boulders and plenty of weed. It looked good and it was time to clip on the Do Live Sticks for sure.

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It was slow to start with but then as the tide started to push and we found a particularly interesting looking boulder field we found fish. First I had a couple of plucks but no take and then a few casts later the rod slammed over and I thought I was into a really good fish the way it fought but as it turned out it was a feisty fine conditioned fish of about 4lb.

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A couple more followed on this stretch of coast and one was lost, all on the Do Live Stick, and all went like the clappers as if they were fish caught in highly oxygenated surf! Terrific ground to fish on and not a bad result in the end considering the bright conditions over head and the water clarity. We had a fair walk to get back to John’s car and set off in good time for dinner…. only to be way laid by an old boy who was repairing gate… I swear if we hadn’t rolled up our sleeves and helped him out he would still be there now! Nice too help out though and he was very grateful… not that we understood a word he was saying!!

A few pints of the black stuff that evening at Tig Rosie’s finished the day off nicely!

Day 6

We woke slightly bleary eyed to be met with an overcast sky and hardly a breath of wind on our penultimate full day in Kerry. Tides weren’t the best for bass fishing in the morning so we spent a few hours on deeper water marks having a blast at the pollack. We had a fair few in a short space of time up to about 4lb again I guess but no beasts!

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It wasn’t the easiest bit of climbing after a couple of those lovely Guinness drinks the night before and our general feeling of unsteadiness today was probably best demonstrated by Andy as he made his way across a particularly precarious little gully…

Andy staggering on rocks

After a spot of lunch on a nearby beach we headed around a headland with shallower reef looking for bass but it was still pretty calm and we only managed further pollack so John had us on the move again back into Ballinskelligs Bay over a shallow reef as the tide flooded. The wind had picked up but it still had a lot of northerly in it so wasn’t conducive to any swell or disturbance and the water was absolutely crystal clear… there were no bass to be had today.

Day 7

Our last full day in Kerry and it was raining with a nice bit of breeze…. the surf beckoned and we were joined by Nick and Ian at the same spot we’d caught right at the start of our trip. Conditions looked almost identical and we all waded in with hopes high…. but nothing! Not a single fish or even hit between the four of us!! So, John moved us on again to a more reefy spot where  Ian quickly picked up a small fish…

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The rest of us were struggling until Andy moved further on round with John and found life! Cormorants on the water and terns overhead he fizzed his Hound Glide out amongst them and within  seconds…. wallop!! Nick and I were probably some 300 yards back along the reef at this point but we heard the whooping as Andy pulled in the best fish of the week going 67cm on the tape…lovely fish!

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What a cracking way to end our final full day in Kerry and of course with a pint of Guinness to celebrate.

We did fish briefly on our final morning for one small bass but in all honesty we were fished out by now and it was time for us to reluctantly turn our thoughts to de-rigging, packing up and heading back cross the Emerald Isle for the ferry home. What an absolute blast it had been yet again!

Final Thoughts

I think one of my opening observations in the Ireland 2017 – Part 1 blog article about this trip was that this place gets under your skin and all I can say is that every time I come away it just gets that more tucked under. It’s not just the fishing… it’s the scenery, it’s the people, it’s the pace of life, it’s the quirkiness, it’s just the whole craic of the place…. it truly is magical being in this part of the world and it just wants you coming back for more.

I can’t finish without saying thanks to Paul, Rick, Ziggy and Monica for your company, to Nick and Ian (and Eileen!) for sharing fishing time and plenty of laughs but above all, once again, on behalf of Andy and myself a huge, huge, “Thank You” to John and Lynn not just for the guiding and the wonderful hospitality but for all the banter, laughs and friendship you show which makes our trips out to Kerry very, very special indeed. We will be back…. if you’ll have us!!

Until next time!

Ireland 2017 – Part 2

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Day 3

John had jokingly said “no two days are the same in Kerry” and he was right! After the wind and rain of the previous day we were greeted with sunny blue skies littered with broken fair weather cloud and calm winds on this the third day of our trip. It had all the hallmarks of a tough day on the bass front but with the previous days rain it did give us a different opportunity which John put to us… the river would have a bit of flood water so the option of trying for a salmon was now definitely in play… why not eh?

Quick stop off en-route to get licences and we were on our way for a completely different day in Kerry. Fishing for the salmon here is all single barbless hooks and strictly catch and release. It was spinning gear for me and both spinning and fly for Andy who had done a bit on the fly in years gone by. After a drive up the Inny valley and a couple of stop offs by John showing us marks we would fish later in the day we arrived at the start point for our jaunt on the river where he gave us the insight into how we should be spinning for the salmon here as well as giving Andy a refresher on the fly technique required. A little walk upstream until we found a pool where John said I should start and suggested a practice cast or two… I only had a follow first cast with the fish turning away last minute! That however was nothing compared to Andy who walked maybe 100 yards upstream from me to another pool where within a matter of minutes he hooked a salmon on the fly…. pretty good for a bloke who, by his own admission, has not fly fished in years and never for salmon! After a lovely scrap John slipped the net underneath and within the first half hour we had a salmon on the bank and then safely released!

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What a cracking start…. this salmon fishing must be easy eh? Oh how wrong one can be! We then fished the river hard for a few hours for nothing at all until an inspired spinner change from John got me into a fish! The take on the spinner felt for a split second that the lure had been snagged but then all hell broke loose with the fish hurling itself out of the water and running first up then back down stream. Just when I thought I had it under control and it was coming towards the net off it went again at a rate of knots. Finally, though it was beat and John was able to slide the net underneath a lovely fresh run grilse with a hand shake to follow! A proper good scrap!

Salmon handshake

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Andy had a another take on the fly that dropped but other than that we then went fishless for the rest of the time on the river but we were more than happy to both have had our first Irish salmon!

Now, I can’t really leave our day on the river there without fronting up to my clumsiness and the general hilarity at my expense which John, with that Irish mischievous tinkle in his eye and knowledge of my blunder-bus ways, had the foresight to have his camera at the ready for!!! Let me set the scene… we needed to cross over two barbed wire fences about a metre apart with thicket in between – things looked ominous when first John and then Andy both struggled over the fences which were, let’s just say, less than rigid. So, John – camera at the ready was in prime position for what followed… I’ll let the video do the talking!!!

Needless to say both John and Andy were justifiably wetting themselves with laughter barely able to talk in the field beyond that damn fence!! It goes down as a classic that’s for sure!!

Anyway, back to the fishing! With the day on the river done and back at base we still fancied having an evening session for the bass at the mouth of the estuary where it met the surf and met up with Nick down there as the tide ebbed. White senkos were the order of the day in the small tables of surf where we waded to waist height and cast out. As darkness fell (though the full moon made it feel somewhat lighter), we started to notice sand eels skitting across the surface and all around our feet – literally thousands of them – when you moved you stirred them up even more! We started to get pulls on the senkos but no definite takes which was frustrating and which we put down to small bass though of course we could not be certain. We moved along the bay and it was the same all the way – just thick with sand eels. Eventually, Andy and myself decided our day had been long enough and bid our farewell for the night to Nick and started to walk back to the car…. only to get a wolf whistle as we were half way back – a quick flash of red beams on the head torches confirmed it was Nick and we guessed what was coming next! Sure enough by the time we got to him he had a nice 65cm bass on the sand in absolutely beautiful condition which had rammed into his senko! That was pretty much it though and we headed back to Thatched Cottage to get our heads down.

Day 4

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Tough day. Don’t ever go to Ireland thinking the bass fishing is easy and if you want to talk about fishing in weather that’s all over the place then today was the day. We covered a lot of venues in quick spurts but could we find bass…. not so much as a sniff. The wind direction was inconsistent at best starting north to north westerly and for August it was cold with what seemed like incessant heavy squalls coming through…at times it felt more like November! We did hook into some small pollack and a surprise coalfish at one mark but that was it – not even a hint of bass during the morning. Back to base for lunch and a brew where we met John’s mate Ian who was over for an extended period from the UK – another fishing fanatic! The afternoon took us east around the bay to some decent looking bass marks but by now the skies had cleared and it was bright sunshine with the wind still coming in from the north but ever so slowly dropping off. We just couldn’t buy a bass so decided to bail early with a view to heading out under the cover of darkness which, after dinner, we did along with Nick once again. The water was much calmer now and it didn’t look too promising but the sand eels were back in their droves so it was on with the senkos again with more occasional plucks before yours truly finally caught a small bass of a couple of pounds…. it wasn’t really happening though and we all took the opportunity to have a relatively early night and were back at the ranch by midnight pretty tired out!

Ireland 2017 – Part 3 to follow!

Until next time…