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…