Ireland 2017 – Part 1

Release

Where on earth do I start? Yet again my pal Andy and myself have just got back from another quite fantastic and awe inspiring jaunt down to Thatched Cottage in Kerry under the excellent stewardship of John Quinlan. This being my third trip to Kerry and I’m actually struggling to find the words that best describe this quite magical part of the world…. what I do know is it gets under your skin and you just want more of it.

We took the same route as last year via the early Irish Ferries sailing out of Pembroke Dock to Rosslare followed by approximately 5 hours on the road in Andy’s van down to Ballinskelligs Bay. After a quick cuppa with Lynn what else was there to do but get out for a couple of hours fishing…. and it didn’t take long to produce with Andy having this nice 63cm fish… and we hadn’t even started properly!

DCIM100GOPROGOPR0119.JPG

Day 1… proper!

The nature of the trip meant there were other people coming and going whilst we were there and it was first good to meet up with Nick and a couple of Dutch lads Paul and Rick whom we fished with on our first full day. John had us on an estuary to begin with and as the tide started to flood the fish moved in. Strangely in an estuary my first take was from a large garfish which nailed a Savage Gear Line Thru Sandeel but then the bass moved in – several bass were taken here amongst the four of us, – nothing big but nice rod benders all the same.

Fish on 1

The scenery of this area is breathtaking it really is and the beauty of fishing here is the diversity of the marks in relatively close proximity. After a spot of lunch within fifteen minutes we were at a rocky mark where once again John put us on the fish with bass in the 3-4lb bracket – Andy with this nice one…

Nobby Bass 1

All in all a damn fine first day in Kerry…. and that includes a bit of roadside maintenance on John’s wagon after his driver side front tyre, well, let’s just say may have perished slightly on the inside!!!!

IMG_0598

Day 2

We woke on day two with much more ‘bassy’ conditions, bit of rain, bit of wind and a nice looking swell coming in which meant only one thing…. get in the surf after the bass. The Dutch lads had headed home but Nick joined us for the session. You certainly needed a lure that was going to give you a chance in the strong head wind and the weapon of choice was most definitely the Savage Gear Line Thru Sandeel which proved very successful almost from the outset…

Line Thru

In a relatively short space of time there were circa. fifteen fish landed in total with Andy again nailing the best of the bunch after a really good fizzed up scrap in the highly oxygenated water. In the picture below he’d walked this one in a fair bit which doesn’t do justice to the way the conditions were playing out – there was certainly no clean tables of surf with the wind giving it a very random chop and standing waves up in multiples right in your face!

Nobby playing bass

Nobby Bass in surf

All good things come to an end and as if someone turned a tap off they were gone. Hung around to see if there were any big stragglers hanging on but alas it really had died off so it was back to base for a cup of tea and a change of clothes… unless you had 100% watertight clobber on you were always going to get wet in those conditions!

After all the mornings activity the afternoon was a bit of an anti-climax on the fish front… after another quick burst in the surf with nothing happening it was on to some more sheltered reef but even on a now flooding tide things had calmed down considerably and we couldn’t coax a take between us…. but it had been a good day and a pint or two of the black stuff topped things off nicely.

Ireland 2017 – Part 2 to follow!

Until next time…

Small fish

P7080093

Have headed off to Wales now for a week of walking the hills but not before I managed a quick session on the lures early doors the other morning. The trouble this time of year to get fishing for first light means I have to get out of bed at 2 a.m. to make sure I’m at my mark fishing before sunrise! With the weather forecast set to be bright and sunny later in the day it was always likely to be the best time to fish on a rising tide and so it proved. Managed to pick up half a dozen bass in total though none were of any size, in fact, three of them were barely longer than the lure itself! Size wise, it always amazes me what small bass think they’re capable of digesting!!

The first of them was taken still under the cover of darkness within the first half a dozen casts on the Salt Skimmer close in…

P7080091

Another even smaller fish followed so I moved on and kept working the rocky gullies changing tactics to soft plastics to see if that enticed anything but all I seemed to be getting were the tell-tale signs of small wrasse plucking at the lure – the teeth marks just confirming it. So, I switched to the trusty Tackle House Feed Shallow and again within half a dozen casts the lure got nailed by a bass  which after a short scrap was ready to release…

P7080092

Within a couple more casts a bass of a very similar size was landed from the same spot, same lure but then as the sun started to make an appearance, and top of the tide was reached, it seemed to kill things where I was so I moved on again finding a sheltered spot in the shadow of the cliffs where the sun hadn’t reached just yet.

Switched lures to the Komomo SF-130  Slim and with a couple of peregrine’s squawking overhead a tiny bass, who was determined that it wanted this lure,  was finally successful after a couple of failed attempts at grabbing it! Proves the point about the size of prey even the smallest of bass will attempt to ingest…

P7080094

One last lure swap to the small Patchinko produced my final fish of the session before it was time to head off and get myself packed for the week in Wales.

Always good to be out there and at it… just need some bigger fish to turn up now! Will try and get at least one more session in over the next couple of weeks before the much anticipated trip to Ireland at the beginning of August…. cannot wait!

Until next time…

Quick session

P7010088

Combination of a holiday and other commitments meant that Saturday evening was the first chance I’ve had to wet a line in over a month and then it was only for a couple of hours. After a good start to the season in April and early May the fishing went quiet on me thereafter with a couple of blank sessions so I was interested to see if things had picked up over the month I’d missed.

It was also only the second outing for the new DFR Entice 9’6” 6-28g rod that Richard at Dorset Fishing Rods has once again come up trumps with for me – stunning piece of work to say the least. After a blank the first time I used it I was very keen to get off the mark with it as you can imagine!! Once I’ve had a chance to get a few more hours on the water with it I’ll put a review up for all to read but early impressions are mighty impressive…. I don’t think I’ve used a rod that casts and recovers so effortlessly, and my word, do those lures fly with it! Watch this space…

Anyway, to the fishing…. was still a bit tough going if I’m honest which was a shame as there was a nice chop on the water with colour not bad either. Tides were OK as well for where I was fishing but sometimes it just doesn’t work out how you would like I guess? Did manage a single bass – though of no size. After casting out I gave the lure a good crank back for a few seconds, paused the retrieve for about a second and then began cranking again…..this small bass then hammered into the Zonk almost immediately! Gave a nice scrap to christen the rod…. and saved me a blank as well! Did connect and hook another fish a tad bigger on a Salt Skimmer but dropped it at my feet which was annoying.

P7010087

Only a short session but a bass nonetheless and pleased to have christened the new rod! Hoping to get out a bit more regularly over the coming month before heading to Ireland at the start of August which if previous trips are anything to go by will be pretty God damn awesome!

Until next time…

After the storm…

P5010020

After a spell of extremely calm conditions over the last week, with water clarity as clear as I have seen in a long while, it was nice to see a bit of swell and white water yesterday for a few hours. Bit of a yomp to get to the mark with my pal Nobby but nonetheless a mark we had been thinking about for a while and on arrival at low water it looked promising enough with that decent swell breaking over reef and weedy gullies. What we hadn’t bargained for on arrival was the huge thunderstorm that hit us… definitely an occasion to keep the rod tips down and boy do those hail stones pack a punch when they’re coming down in that quantity and velocity! It blew over soon enough though and we were able to start fishing properly…

P5010009

It looked so ‘bassy’ but we spent the first couple of hours with no reward at all working surface, sub-surface and soft plastic lures in and around the gullies. It was only when I switched back to a surface lure – the Gunfish 115 – in a calmer piece of water that there was a definite swirl behind the lure…. encouraging I thought but then the next few casts…. nothing. Nobby meanwhile was fishing a similar gully a bit further back along the reef and it was just as I was walking back to where he had perched himself that I saw a bit of a bend in his rod and he was in! Not a huge fish but a blank saver nonetheless and taken on the reliable OSP Do-Live stick hooked perfectly in the scissors of its mouth.

P5010017

P5010019

Fished on into dusk but no further action to report. Nice venue though and one to keep in mind over the coming months as it just looks like on it’s day it could throw up a decent fish or two. Just need to work out best state and time of the tide to fish it etc. One thing we were thankful for was we seemed to dodge any further storms which were obviously skirting along the coast – spectacular from a distance though!

P5010022

Until next time…

More April Bass…

P4170595

Another short session yesterday evening at the same venue as the previous report where I’d picked up a fair few small bass. This time it threw up generally a better stamp of fish though fewer in quantity – which is how I like it! In total I picked up six bass all roughly in the range of 40-54 cm – nothing earth shattering but again, as I have said in previous posts, it does feel like it’s a much better start to the season than it has been in recent years.

With calm conditions it was a no brainer to load up with the baby Patchinko 100 to see what surface activity it might provoke and it really did not disappoint. While the light was up it was on with the 500g colour and this accounted for the first four fish of the session including the best at 54cm – approximately 4lb in weight…

P4170594

I did try the bigger Patchinko 2 in the same colour and a Gunfish 115 but they were just too big in calm conditions with my feeling being they were creating too much commotion on the surface being that bit larger in profile. So, with the fading light it was back on with the smaller Patchinko – this time I wanted to try out the Deep Purple version which had served me well on a previous session. Good decision, couple of casts later and a fish slammed into the lure breaching the surface in the process and giving  a good account of itself before I slipped it ashore…

P4170605

P4170606

Landed one more bass on this purple colour and lost one which shook the hook close in right as the light was going- it’s definitely one I’ll be keeping in the armoury going forward. Purple was never really a colour of choice for me with lures but the success with this Patchinko has given me food for thought on the potential for other lures with this colouration.

All-in-all a decent short session with plenty to be encouraged about as Spring progresses. To finish, here are a couple more fishy photos from the session…

P4170598

P4170608

Until next time…

April schoolies

P4140582 - Copy (2)

Managed to get out for a few hours on Friday and had more early season success albeit the fish I landed were all  very small. It was an early start to get to my chosen mark which meant a 2:30am alarm call and a 1.5 hour drive to be fishing by 4:30am. I like fishing this mark at low tide up and particularly fishing from the night into the morning light.

Starting in the dark I thought I’d give the deep purple Patchinko another go after the recent success I had with it… not a sniff at the first couple of spots I tried but then I moved to a corner position with a small reef in front of me and first cast here ‘WALLOP’ I had a nice take, for a few seconds the drag on the reel kicked in but then a head shake and the Patchinko pinged out… expletives followed – no idea on size of fish but was the best take of the day by far. Frustrating, but it happens – simple as that.

Plugged away with the purple Patchinko as I moved along the coast but as light came up, and looking at the water clarity, decided to switch to the same lure but in the trusty 500g colour. All remained quiet until I reached a little bay when, what seemed out of nowhere, I connected with a small schoolie which I quickly returned and cast out again…. first turn of the reel handle and another surface take, another small schoolie… and that’s pretty much how it continued for the next 30 – 45 minutes. I even switched lures to a Salt Skimmer to see if it put these small bass off but it didn’t! I stopped counting after about a dozen but then after a crazy few minutes the action stopped – the shoal must have moved on.

P4140584

P4140586

With the sun up things went extremely quiet… I figured breakfast was in order so called it a day and made my journey home.

Whilst no decent fish to report I’m tentatively encouraged by the start to the season – definitely seems to be more bass around for this time of year compared to the last couple of seasons at least. Shame the first hook up didn’t stick – would have been interesting to see what size of fish that was but the schoolies saved a blank nonetheless.

Until next time…

Shimano reels… why no spare spool?

Stradic1

So, I recently had a birthday and with a bit of gentle guidance the wife came up trumps again as I gleefully unwrapped a parcel that looked suspiciously like it might house a much required new reel inside….. and what do you know – therein lay a brand spanking new Shimano Stradic Ci4+ 4000XG. A fine bit of kit it looks too which will replace one of my aging but superb Shimano Rareniums….. what a workhorse of a reel they are, and have been. If the Stradic is anywhere near as good I will be chuffed to bits… could be perfect for bass lure fishing in the UK.

However, I have a gripe….it bugs the hell out of me that these days with most new Shimano reels there is a distinct absence of a spare spool. This seems to be an across the board policy by Shimano with this type of spinning reel that a lot of lure anglers will use… certainly those in the £100+ bracket I have looked at. I obviously can’t speak for everyone out there on this but I’d hazard a guess that a fairly large percentage of lure anglers would want to carry a spare spool with them for their fishing either in case of malfunction or simply because conditions might determine you need to fish lighter or heavier than you are with the existing spool. The crazy thing is pretty much the first thing I did once I  took this new reel out of the box was to note the part number for the spool,  to then go and trawl the internet to source an additional one…. it’s frustrating beyond belief as actually finding the spare in itself can be a consummate head banging exercise.

Personally, I’d like to see one or both of these two things happen:

  1. Please, please Shimano ship a spare spool as standard to save us the frustration highlighted above… I would gladly pay the extra cost for the reel to have the added value of that spare spool included.
  2. Alternatively, make the spare spools much more readily available to retailers as an optional extra at the point of sale so we can add this to our shopping baskets when we purchase the reel itself.

It surely can’t be any more difficult than that can it? I can’t think why this would not make sense from a customer service and subsequently a sales perspective? Am I missing something?

It’s such a shame as the quality of Shimano reels on the whole are outstanding and it feels like they are taking it for granted a bit that us consumers will always come back for more because of that quality. Are they resting on their laurels a bit here I wonder? I’m not sure whether the other big player in this market Daiwa have the same policy but if they do then it does feel like  they’ve both left the door ajar for one or more of the other manufacturers out there to come up with a corker of a reel, or range of reels, that actually does include a spare spool from the outset. After all, it might only take a decent volume of  favourable reviews for the masses to quickly switch allegiance and the big boys market share would be hit. Am I the only one who feels like this? Maybe I am!!

Anyhow, rant over…. hopefully will get fishing with the new Stradic  soon…. and I’m sure I’ll love it!

Until next time…