Thatched Cottage with John & Henry

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For the past two years I’ve been lucky enough to get myself on one of the co-guided fishing trips run by John Quinlan and Henry Gilbey based at  Thatched Cottage Fishing Lodge out in Kerry, Ireland. I’ve written up the ‘catch report’ details for both of those trips elsewhere on my blog but what I really wanted to do was give a more all encompassing review of my experiences of the trips and some related thoughts to ponder. For both excursions I have been in the good company of pals Andy and Paul -fishing with lures and on the hunt mainly for bass but with some  pollack  fishing thrown into the mix as well. Our trips have been  in October both years. This article is written very much with this type of fishing and time of year in mind.

Before I go any further I do want to make it 100% clear that I have not been asked by anyone at all to write this review, it’s something I’ve been meaning to do for a very long time and the views expressed are entirely my own. If it feels like I’m singing the praises of the experience too loudly… I make absolutely no apology for that as I’m going to state right from the off, that in my opinion, this is one hell of a trip to get yourself on!

Getting there

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On both occasions Andy and myself have travelled from the UK via the road/ferry option and then scooped Paul up from Cork airport. We’ve tried both the Stena ferry from Fishguard to Rosslare and Irish Ferries from Pembroke to Rosslare. Similar crossing times but in my opinion the Irish Ferries service out of Pembroke is a far, far superior and comfortable option considering there is very little difference in price. Paul flew in from Bristol to Cork with Aer Lingus so around an hour’s flight time I’d guess. From disembarkation at Rosslare you’re probably looking at a 4.5-5 hour drive down to Thatched Cottage, from Cork airport you’re looking at a 2-2.5 hours stint on the road.

It’s far from an unpleasant drive down whichever route you take so don’t be put off by the journey times because the scenery just gets better and better as you head further west!

Thatched Cottage itself is merely a couple of minutes away from Ballinskelligs Bay in an absolutely perfect location.

Hospitality

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From the moment you pull onto the driveway of Thatched Cottage to the minute you reluctantly have to leave the hospitality you receive from Henry, John and Lynn is top notch. They’ve always been there to greet us with a smile and you honestly feel immediately at home in their company. Rooms are all clean and comfortable, the wood burner is on, and there’s plenty of space for all your kit in the ‘fishing parlour/shed’! If you’re a fan of homemade and wholesome food then your stay at Thatched Cottage will not disappoint… whether it be the hearty Irish breakfast, the pack up lunch that always hits the spot or the delicious evening meal you really could not ask for more…. John even dons the apron after a days’ guiding as the support act to Lynn’s headliner on the food front!

In a nutshell, you couldn’t wish for a lovelier place and people to spend a few days with enjoying yourself fishing.

The Guiding

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The double act of John and Henry is perfect…. there are serious moments where they’re trying to get you amongst the fish with all the guidance you’d expect…. where to cast, reading the water, what lure, what technique, etc. but they do it with a mischievous amount of fun as well – the banter between them is infectious and an important part of the trip in my eyes – fishing with a smile on your face and a big dose of laughter… it doesn’t get much better does it?

To be more specific on the serious stuff though, John will spend a lot of time thinking, watching and mulling things over which critically means he is uncannily accurate at  knowing when things aren’t right and when to move on – it feels like he’s already  three or four steps ahead in his thinking of where the fish might be holding up. Obviously he wants you to catch fish and he works really hard to make that happen. He is extremely switched on and  knowledgeable about what is going on in the environment around him… in particular all things fishy! John obviously lives and breathes this spectacular part of Kerry day in day out but don’t think for one minute that Henry doesn’t know his onions either. His intuition on marks is astute and you often see and hear him bouncing ideas off of John to get the most out of a session whether that be his knowledge on specific lures to use, techniques to employ or specific spots to try out. With Henry, to top all this off, you’ve got the added bonus of his incredible photography of you and your group  fishing in the most stunning, jaw-dropping of Irish backdrops.

They are a proper team in the way they work, they compliment each other superbly…. they have a good thing going here!

The Fishing

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As I hinted in the section above John and Henry work hard to put you on fish and I think pretty much every session at least one of us caught, but if you think the bass fishing is easy then think again. Ballinskelligs Bay and the surrounding coastline is a huge area and the fish could be literally anywhere… finding them is one thing, catching them is another. As an example, last year we had birds working baitfish within casting distance and you would have surmised there was a good chance there were predatory fish there ….. well, if they were then they were so pre-occupied with the sprats that not one of our lures was given the time of day. It felt the wrong thing to do but John and Henry had us moving on…. and guess what? We moved on, we caught!

Similarly, if you’re thinking you’ll have the best chance of pulling out a double figure bass of a lifetime in Kerry and that is your main objective for going there – you may wish to reconsider? You would probably be better served with fishing somewhere like The Copper Coast area of Ireland if that is your sole intent. It’s not to say they’re not there – I’m sure they are, but I would say compared to the example given of The Copper Coast there are probably a greater quantity of bass in the 3-6lb bracket in this part of Kerry… and believe me that will keep you nicely occupied. I certainly don’t think it’s to be sniffed at to be playing feisty fish in that size bracket over snagged ground in a good run of current do you?

That brings me nicely to my next point – the ground you get to fish over  is truly mind blowing… shallow rocky reef, fast flowing tidal estuary, big sandy surf beaches, small rocky bays, and then there are the deep water rock marks for some serious pollack – pretty much everything you could wish to experience as a lure angler in UK and Irish waters. Catching bass in the tasty surf last year was a highlight – hooking into these bars of silver in fizzing, highly oxygenated water on light gear when they are completely revved up does not get any better than this trust me!

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And remember…  all this framed with the stunningly beautiful backdrop of the wild Kerry landscape and sky line.

As for the lures to use, all I can say is over the past couple of years the ones mentioned below I know have caught us bass, there may be a couple more I have missed off but if I was going tomorrow I would make sure I had these in my bag:

  • Dexter wedge (or similar metal)
  • Fiiiish Black Minnow
  • IMA Hound Glide
  • IMA Komomo II
  • IMA Komomo SF-125
  • IMA Salt Skimmer
  • Megabass Zonk
  • OSP Do-Live Sticks
  • Xorus Patchinko II
  • Xorus Patchinko P100

If you head off after the pollack then you can certainly add soft plastic shad type lures to that list with the colour range of pink, red and orange proving best for us. Without a doubt though it is  worth investing in a few Fiiiish Crazy Sandeels – the pollack here love them!! This is proper pollack country with some nice specimens to be had… and on the light gear hold on tight as they go like the clappers!

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Fret not though if you find yourself without the right lure or any other gear come to that, John or Henry will soon get you on track again.

One thing I haven’t mentioned is the timetable for a typical day and I know it varies throughout the year so I can only speak for the October trips we have been on. The schedule on both occasions has been something along the lines of the following:

  • 5 a.m. Cup of coffee/tea then off fishing for sun rise
  • 7 a.m. Back to Thatched Cottage for breakfast
  • 9 a.m. Back out fishing for the day
  • 1 p.m. Lunch in idyllic location then fishing again
  • 7 p.m. Back to Thatched Cottage for dinner after sun set

These are full on days, plenty of fresh air, plenty of exercise and after every day you certainly know about it and enjoy the nights sleep that follows.

The fishing is just plain fantastic.

To sum up…

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I wanted to give a honest and measured review of both of my trips over to Thatched Cottage and that would have included anything I thought could have been done differently or better… but the reality is  I personally find it impossible to do so. The fishing, the wildness of Kerry, the hospitality, but above all the comradery and banter I and my fellow partners in crime have experienced is truly something to behold. John and Henry should rightly be extremely proud of what they are doing here.

I’ve fished The Copper Coast both times on the way down to Thatched Cottage and it’s one hell of a place to fish but there’s something about this part of Kerry that has truly got in my psyche over and above  any of the marks on The Copper Coast. If someone gave me the choice to head off fishing to one or the other tomorrow it would be this part of Kerry every time… to the extent that at times I actually find myself daydreaming off there, stood on a particular rock, working a surface lure with all that amazing Kerry light show and wildness going on around me. You may think I’m slightly deranged saying that but I think those who have been will know exactly what I mean.

The shame for 2017 is the dates for us to get on the trip with Henry did not quite work out due to various commitments but after all I have enthused over above we couldn’t not go at some point could we?

Of course not – roll on August – Thatched Cottage Fishing Lodge…. we’re coming for you! We’ll treat you nicely John and Lynn…. and raise a glass to Henry!

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Until next time…

Ireland 2016 – Kerry

 

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Apologies for the delay in getting to the second part of the review of the Ireland trip back in October…. the small matter of work and having a new bathroom fitted seem to have gotten in the way the last month or so….. and now Christmas is almost upon us!

Anyway, I’ll continue if I may……..

With our time on the Copper Coast over for another year we set off for Cork to pick up Paul who was inbound from Bristol. Even the trip down to Cork gets you thinking about all the coastline passing you by that must be ripe for bass fishing…. Let alone that west of Cork down to Kerry – mind-blowing stuff really. After picking Paul up it was with eager anticipation we headed on to Thatched Cottage.

After a decent run down and after an initial chin wag with John and admiring Henry’s new French multi-purpose vehicle we went for a swift hour’s fishing…. Lots of birds working the water but no fish. Back to base for more talk over dinner and meeting up with Mark, who was over from Switzerland, and the fourth member of the party. Plans were afoot for the next few days.

Every day was fishing before breakfast so we started in the dark and fished an estuary mouth with a couple of small bass to start but as it got light the most striking thing was the birds further out in the bay working the surface…gannets, gulls and terns all hitting the surface and feeding on what turned out to be 2-3 inch sprats…. you couldn’t help but think that’s where all the big fish would be sat too hoovering up underneath the baitfish.

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After breakfast we were out for the day and tried to follow the birds but whilst at times we could just about cast to them the reality was the bass were not being fooled by our lures and with a probable belly full of sprats just weren’t interested in our offerings. Eventually we found fish though as a rising tide came over a shallow reef…. not big fish but decent scrappers all the same. Do-live sticks and the ever dependable Salt Skimmer doing most of the damage.

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Day one was done and as always with a large amount of  laughter as well as the excellent guidance from John and Henry. Lovely food back at base thanks to Lynn’s fine cooking and then it was get prepared for day two.

Morning of day two was simply stunning light-wise – Kerry really does put on some phenomenal light shows…

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Bass before breakfast and then it was on to fishing  an estuary venue again but aside from a small rogue sea trout it was tough going with none of us hooking into bass… sometimes that’s the way though and it was time for lunch…

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We fished several venues on the way back and had a few small fish – both bass and pollack but that was pretty much it for the day. Back to ranch for dinner, and then prep for next day before bed.

Conditions were a bit  more lively when we got outside on the morning of day three – there was some really nice surf coming in at several marks along the coast and it looked proper surfy bass fishing conditions. Nothing quite like this type of bass fishing in my book…

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The fish were again not big, 3-4lb bracket, but they certainly go like stink in the fizzed up conditions and the only way to fish for them was metals flung out as far as you could get them…

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A cracking day with a couple more taken over reef  later in proceedings. and then a well earned pint or two of the black stuff at Rosie’s to end the day off nicely.

Somehow we’d reached day four in what seemed like the blink of an eye and with conditions flattening off a lot from the previous day the decision was to see if we could find some decent pollack… not before Paul had managed to lose a decent bass before breakfast pretty much where he was fishing here…

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After that  breakfast we headed west and to our first pollack mark where we all had fish with Mark’s the best fish of the morning…. this spot is just truly awesome…

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We headed back to base for lunch and a delicious BBQ lunch before our final guided session of the trip took us after more pollack…. another stunning location and it wasn’t just the pollack that turned up with wrasse also showing ….

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Later I had another nice pollack and lost a nice bass as braid pinged against a rock but we won’t let that spoil another epic few days! And so it was off for the obligatory trip end couple of pints of Guinness and back for our final evening in Thatched Cottage.

The Saturday morning we said our farewells but Nobby and I couldn’t resist a final quick session in the morning and it was well worth the effort with my pal nabbing a nice fish of around 5lb as the day dawned…

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My thanks once again to John, Henry and Lynn for your generous hospitality, guidance and for all the banter along the way – it’s a special place, a fantastic thing you have going there and I can’t recommend it enough. Thanks  to Henry also  for kindly allowing me to reproduce some of his awesome photos on here. Thanks finally to Mark, Paul and especially Nobbs for the laughs, the driving and putting up with me for ten days on the road!!

I’ll leave you with some more shots from Kerry…

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Until next time…

Ireland 2016 – Copper Coast

In the surf

Well the 2016 trip to Ireland is now done and dusted and once again it has been a hugely enjoyable experience  both from a fishing  perspective and the general craic of it all! Conditions were tough at times particularly on the Copper Coast where we were coming off the back of a run of easterly winds and we had to work hard for our fish.

On the Copper Coast Andy and myself based ourselves in Tramore and  spent four days fishing both over clear sandy ground and rock marks. The first day was particularly hard going as the wind continued to blow in from the east and we couldn’t find a fish between us despite our best efforts. Day two started in much the same vein but we kept moving and eventually we started picking up a few fish with the best being Andy’s below taken on the IMA Hound Glide…

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Day three we toiled hard once again for a few smaller fish but then bumped into one of the Irish lads James whom we had met last year and he promptly pulled in a fish of around 6lb first cast just to show us up!  Just typical but in fairness James is a very good lure angler so we tipped our lids to him for sure!

The weather forecast for day four was looking a bit of a stinker and unfortunately it didn’t disappointed. Rock marks were just too dangerous to fish and even the surf beaches were looking challenging…

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James joined us again and we all tried a back channel to no avail but by now the weather had eased slightly allowing us to get into the surf….

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Both picture’s above just don’t do any justice to the conditions but suffice to say there were some serious waves coming in at times! Fishing was tough and we only picked up a single bass between us in amongst a raft of surface feeding mullet which in the surf, in that quantity,  was something I’ve never seen before…. there were obviously bass there too so it was frustrating.  The swell then picked up again and it was just too dangerous to be out there so we retired for a Guinness or two in the evening before our trip west to Kerry the following day.

Here are a few more shots from  the Copper Coast…

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So, the Copper Coast was done, no big fish like last year but still hell of  place to fish and we will be back. Our thanks to James and Cian again for their company and advice respectively.

Next stop the beautiful Kerry coast….. via Cork airport to pick up our mate Paul!

Until next time….

Back in the saddle

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It’s been a while but pleased to report have managed to get a few sessions in of late with a fair few fish taken but none of any particular size. All the fish have been in really great condition though which is good to see.

Venues have been varied from rock marks, estuary and shingle beach and a lot have come to tried and tested lures like the good old  IMA Komomo SF-125’s and the Patchinko’s. Have found myself fishing more hard lures and less with softs like the Fiiish Black Minnows in these sessions but I’m sure that balance will be redressed as we head into the Autumn….. for me there’s nothing like fishing surface lures on a early summer  morning or late evening! Don’t get me wrong the softs are proven catchers but I find when you get a hit on a hard lure, and particularly with a surface lure, it’s just that bit more exhilarating!

Next three months I’m planning to get a lot more fishing done including a trip back  to Ireland in October…. don’t like to wish my time away but simply cannot wait for it!

Anyhow below are a few pictures from recent sorties…

One on the IMA Komomo SF-125 Lemon back at dawn…

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And another…

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Posing for the camera…

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Off the top on the Patchinko II…

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Tiddler on the Patchinko 100…

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Even more of  a tiddler on the bigger Patchinko II…

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Estuary as sun sets…

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Until next time…

Ireland Trip To Remember… Part Three

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We were  now in the final furlong of our trip to Ireland having taken in The Copper Coast and now Kerry.  Here’s how the final few days mapped out…

Day 7…. It’s not all about the fishing

Conditions today were probably as benign as they had been all week so it wasn’t looking good for bass fishing in many respects. Still, we tried and started  back at the successful mark from the previous morning but this time not one of us had a sniff at all – what a difference a day makes! Time to move on and we headed closer to base before breakfast where I did manage two takes but dropped them both… with it went my chance of bass for the day which was frustrating.

After another hearty breakfast the only realistic option for the day was pollack fishing so John had us heading off to a new location… and what a location it was – breathtakingly beautiful. First mark in this area both Nobby and I blanked but Paul and Joran picked up pollack and wrasse between them. Moving round the mark we were then all into pollack before lunch. The setting for our lunch really wasn’t bad at all…

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Lunch

Post lunch we headed back out to some different points and outcrops on the mark and again all hit into the pollack with Nobby unfortunately dropping the biggest pollack of the week right under his rod tip. Joran had hit a purple patch and was outfishing the English contingent at this point! The tide turned and the fishing dropped off so it was deemed appropriate to ‘refresh’ ourselves with a couple of pints at an idyllic inn before we set off back to Thatched Cottage! It had been a tough day on the fishing front but what a place to fish – just awesome…

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Back at base it was apron on for John as he and Lynne refuelled us for the evening. Tough day fishing but sometimes just being out there is enough to make you feel alive.

Day 8…. The Last Knockings

Final full day in Kerry with the normal early start but a new mark to fish in the dark. Nice surf and when Nobby and Joran had bass pretty much first casts we thought we were in for a good session but the fish passed through and that was that for the bass but strangely I picked up a small mullet on a IMA Sasuke (think it must have been trying to kiss it rather than eat it!) – most bizarre, and Nobby nailed mackerel off of a point around from the bay. That was all we managed in the dark before brekkie.

With flat gin clear seas still upon us we were off for our final bash at the pollack and again we fished some stunning spots with some healthy pollack coming to all of us largely on  paddletails of all shapes and sizes. Nobby had one of the better fish…

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There was some interesting rock pools as we headed off this mark which were absolutely teeming with starfish and anemone life…

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John and Henry had us believe we were going to pick up lunch on the way back through to the next mark but instead surprised us with an impromptu lunchtime BBQ back at Thatched Cottage – terrific – just what the doctor ordered!

The afternoon had us all back on the pollack and then a quick fish for a bass on the return to Thatched Cottage but it wasn’t to be and that was the end of our Kerry fishing on this trip. A few beers watching the All Blacks annihilate France in the rugby after dinner and we were all well and truly done!

Whilst the fishing hadn’t been explosive in Kerry it really didn’t need to be…. just being in those truly stunning locations with both John and Henry’s excellent guidance and the company of the whole group was something that will stay with me for a very long time. Underpinning all this fishing there was a huge amount of laughter, childish at times but my God was it funny. I have to say to Joran that I hope you didn’t go home wondering what the hell you had just been part of!!??!!

Day 9…. Homeward Bound

A relative lie in but we were still up around 6:30 as we needed to get Paul back to Cork for an 11 o’clock flight. With a heavy heart we said our farewells to Henry, John, Lynne and Joran and were on our way. What a top top time we had in Kerry…. can’t thank John and Henry enough for their guidance, the knowledge they imparted, and with Lynne’s magnificent help the hospitality…. all of it way, way surpassed my expectations….. very much appreciated guys – we will be back!

After dropping Paul at the airport Nobby and myself had time to kill so made our way back to the Copper Coast and as tired as we were, we vouched to fish for a few hours. We found a likely spot that we fished on the ebb and wouldn’t you know it Nobby hooked into a decent fish, indeed had it beat but it took off on one last run and shot behind a rock and cut the braid….. not a happy chappy, I had a knock too but that was it and to be honest we were done in by now. The trip back to Rosslare, the ferry and the trip home from Fishguard were all a bit of a blur but after ten fantastic days away I wasn’t going to complain.

So many memories and highlights – will definitely be back – there’s something about Ireland that’s for sure. Finally, once again my thanks to Nobby, Paul, John, Henry, Lynne, Joran, Cian and James for making my first fishing trip to Ireland just terrific…. I hope you all enjoyed as much as I did. Cheers all!

After a hard day

Until next time….

Ireland Trip To Remember… Part Two

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Having fished The Copper Coast for the last few days the next part of the journey was about to get under way with the trip down to Thatched Cottage, Ballinskelligs in Kerry under the capable wings of John and Henry. Here’s how it panned out….

Day 5…. First fish in Kerry

Today was mainly our travel day from Dungarvan down to the far reaches of Kerry but we did manage a fruitless hour on a local spot…. Again bright blue skies, flat calm water and a light prevailing easterly wasn’t the best but we did find some nice ground with current which could definitely do with being investigated further next time!

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We packed up, checked out and drove the hour and a half down to Cork airport to pick up fishing buddy Paul for the onward trip to Kerry hoping we’d get there in time to have a quick fish before the day was done. After making good time through some awe inspiring countryside and plenty of banter we rocked up at Thatched Cottage to be greeted by John, Lynne and Henry. A quick unload of gear, into our kit, rods rigged and we were off for a swift fish before dinner…. and for a limited session it proved successful! No big fish from a local mark but we all bagged bass…

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Back at the cottage we settled in for the evening with Lynne’s lovely cooking and meeting up with the lone Dutchman Joran who would be fishing with us over the next few days…. smashing chap who enjoys his fishing for sure! Plan was set over dinner for early the next morning and then it was off to bed in anticipation…

Day 6….   Bass before breakfast then it’s all pollacks!

Alarms went early and after a quick brew  it was fishing in the dark first off for the four us under John and Henry’s guidance. We were well spread along the shore and it wasn’t long before we were all into bass – most around the 3lb mark – with the exception of Joran who nailed a healthier 5lb fish. Dawn was now upon us and a mighty fine one it was too…

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Once the light was up fully the fishing dropped off and that was the cue to get back to base for Lynne’s hearty breakfast. Once we had refuelled ourselves we were soon off again to a surf mark but there was only a small swell coming in and a distinct lack of bait fish which John explained was unusual.

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The winds still had a lot of easterly in them so it was tough going and after about an hour we were on the move again with none of us having picked up fish.

A pit stop for lunch followed with the afternoon spent going after the pollack at a truly awesome, unspoilt location. A bit of a yomp to get there but well worth it…

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No monsters with biggest fish around 4lb but boy do they smash you  up on the light gear….we lost our fair share of them too!  The anticipation before the take was hold on tight to your seat stuff….. ‘pluck’ ‘pluck’ ‘pluck’ before ‘wallop’ as the fish would engulf the lure! Nobby had the biggest fish I think and probably had the smallest too so obviously he had to pose for a picture with that one!!

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By the time we’d trekked back cleverly avoiding the electric  fencing and negotiating various other obstacles we were pretty much done for the day. Stunning location and good sport on the pollack! Back to base pretty knackered  but plenty more banter over dinner saw us through until bedtime ready to do it all over again the next day.

Day 7… Keep on moving!

Same morning routine – cup of tea and out the door soon after 5 a.m. to get the best chance of bass given the benign conditions. One thing that really struck me today was how well John knows his area. The conditions made it mighty tough all week but he put us on fish every day. Giving today as an example we headed out with him wanting to move us around quickly to find the fish. First spot we fished for no more than 30 minutes at most – no fish so move on. Next mark was shallow enough to easily wade out over an offshore reef but before we set off John implicitly said do not be tempted to wade “the fish will be under your feet”. My third cast, as I was about to lift the lure out of the water ‘bang’ I was hit right under my rod tip and a nice 3lb fish came ashore. A few minutes later and it was deja vu as a similar size fish hit me, again no more than a rod length out. As the tide ebbed we were allowed to wade out slowly and again I picked up a fish at no distance and in no more than 2 foot of water at that. Paul, Nobby and Yoran  all faired similarly. Good guidance eh?

After breakfast we were on the road again with John scouring the coast with his trusty binoculars looking for signs of fish! The tide was still dropping, seas were flat but we fished a mark for about an hour which John said we’d be back to fish on the flood. We drove on, had an early lunch and tried our luck in a beautiful estuary mark that for all the world smacked of fish – sandbars, decent current, plenty of broken ground mixed in but not a damn sniff! On it’s day it would be awesome… I’m convinced of it.

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The tide had started to turn now and we were on the move again  returning to the previous mark where both Nobby and Yoran picked up bass on the flooding tide as John had suggested. Again not big fish but bass all the same in what were proving tough conditions. Finally, after more yomping across rocks we headed back closer to base to fish at a more local mark where in the fading light Nobby picked up a bass and I managed the smallest of sea trout in the minimal surf.

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A tiring day to say the very least but with those nagging light easterly winds, flat calm seas and not a hint of bait fish anywhere to be seen  John had still put us on fish.  More frivolity and banter over dinner and a couple of drinks followed before we all crashed out knowing we’d be doing it all again tomorrow!

Days 7, 8 and 9 to follow soon!

Until next time…

Ireland Trip To Remember… Part One

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Well, well ,well – what an epic of a trip to Ireland’s Copper Coast and County Kerry that was…. conditions were far from ideal for bass by any stretch of the imagination but we managed fish and a whole lot of laughs along the way. First off I have to say a huge thanks to Cian and James at Absolute Fishing for their advice during our time on The Copper Coast and also without doubt to John and Henry for exactly the same during our time in Kerry…. what a brilliant time at Thatched Cottage where I’d extend my thanks to John’s wife Lynne not only for her splendid hospitality but for generally putting up with us for four long days! Thank you, thank you, thank you one and all!

Anyway, about the trip….. the general gist was Nobby and myself would get the ferry from Fishguard to Rosslare, spend three full days fishing on the Copper Coast, then drive down to Kerry scooping up fellow fishing comrade Paul from Cork airport en-route. Here’s how events unfolded:

Day 1…. Getting there

Two overly excited grown men set off in the rocking red VW Transporter at 8 o’clock in the morning for the Fishguard ferry with far far too much kit as always! Honestly, there was more kit in there than you’d find in most fishing shops – ridiculous but we had everything ‘just in case’. A fairly uneventful drive (apart from the odd bout of road rage) which was done in no time as we contemplated the fishing that lay ahead of us. Even at this stage the conditions were not looking favourable but we lived in hope that the run of easterlies might change. The ferry was dead easy as well, hardly a soul on there and aside from Nobby getting his head down and farting loudly at a fellow passenger in his sleep whilst I chuckled from behind Sea Angler magazine that too was uneventful. We were staying in Dungarvan so from the ferry we made our way there in the fading light, got our kit sorted out and headed off to the local bar for our first pint or two of the black stuff.

Day 2…. First fish

Nobby needed to pick up a rod from Cian which could handle the pollack when we got to Kerry later in the week so first stop that morning was Absolute Fishing….. just what we needed more shiny lures to tempt us!! It was worthwhile as after a few steers from Cian and his colleague James we were on our way to our first spot. Conditions were pretty benign and Nobby bagged the only fish of the session but still  we were off the mark with our first fish of the week…

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With the tide now on the flood we moved on to our second mark. There was some nice rocks and a decent churn hitting the beach which looked encouraging and just as James joined us for a cast or two I managed to land my first of the week on the IMA Komomo SF-125…. a nice fish of around 5-6lb… please excuse the dodgy looking glasses and head gear!

Ballytowane Bass

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That was all we managed there so James took us to a final spot for the day where we spent a final half hour or so without success. Given it was our first fish in Ireland we went back to our digs content to have caught, hatch a plan for the next day and headed for a couple more pints of the black stuff.

Day 3…. Surf’s Up Dude!

New venue and different type of lure fishing to start with as we made a bit of a hike and then bumped soft plastics in a steady estuary flow. Resulted in a single fish for me on the Fiiish Black Minnow with a wallop of a take… great fun in the current!

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As the tide dropped the surf looked decent at the end of the estuary where it met the sea and with a bit of southerly now showing  in the wind the water churned up nicely. We headed out into the surf and it wasn’t long before Nobby had picked up a couple of real fighters in the highly oxygenated water on the Savage Gear sandeel – what a reliable lure this is, seems to consistently produce fish in the surf…. speaking of being in the surf it was as Nobby was trying to get his third of the day in I managed to take a dunk in the drink as lost footing and subsequent balance issues gave me a soaking… there was bed wetting laughter from my mate as you can well imagine!  A few further fish followed all around the 4lb mark and then they were gone.  A smashing session despite the soaking! Yet more black stuff followed that evening!

Day 4…. It’s not over until it’s over!

Our last full day on The Copper Coast and we were greeted with blue sky, bright sunshine and a light easterly breeze as we surfaced…. it didn’t look ideal at all and we were a little stumped where to fish so we took a chance and  settled on the same venue as the day before in the hope of picking up the odd fish. Unfortunately,  the estuary failed to produce and the surf was flattening out by the minute – not a sniff….. what a difference a day makes.

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We went for some food following this blank session and after much deliberation decided to head back along the coast road in the general  direction of Dungarvan contemplating whether in fact to bin the fishing for the day. However, we called in at a couple of spots on our way back and luckily found a mark we thought looked a bit more ‘fishy’ and decided to give it a go for half an hour or so. There was certainly a bit more colour in the water here which was encouraging and the presence of a couple of seals suggested there might be fish around which encouraged us further. Like the rest of the day it turned out to be slow going but just as we were thinking of turning back I had an almighty thump on the line and the rod bent over… I was in and it felt decent! With seals precariously close all I could think about was getting the bass in before one of the seals snaffled it but that was easier said than done as the fish put in a couple of runs before Nobby could lift it out of the water for me close in….. it was a beauty going 71cm on the tape so about the 8lb mark. At this point Nobby was practically doing cartwheels while I was more in shock I’d landed it with the seals in such close proximity! The IMA Komomo SF-125 had done the business again!

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It turned out to be the only fish of the day but what a beautifully conditioned fish it was…. and to think we nearly didn’t fish that final session was a lesson for the future for sure. All done we headed back to our digs, packed up for our onward trip to Kerry the next day and celebrated with a few more of those lovely silky black drinks they have in Ireland!

Day five onwards to follow so….

Until next time…