Ireland 2017 – Part 3

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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.

Rossbeigh 1

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.

Cave 1

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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!

Nobby Bass 5

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

Salmon on 1

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!

Salmon 1

Nobby Salmon 1

Salmon release 1

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

DCIM100GOPROG0010169.JPG

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

IMG_0603

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…

Thatched Cottage with John & Henry

PA140087

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

image

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

Non fishing

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

(R)D429461

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

(R)D429353

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!

(R)D59676

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!

(R)D59690

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…

PA190494

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!

Non fishing

Until next time…

Ireland 2016 – Kerry

 

(R)D429316

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.

PA190493

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.

(R)D59663(R)D59670(R)D59673

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…

PA190491(R)D429328PA190494

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…

PA190499

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…

(R)D429426

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…

(R)D59676(R)D59677

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…

PA210502

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…

(R)D429462(R)D429472

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 ….

(R)D59690(R)D59707

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…

PA220518

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…

PA190492PA190501PA210504PA220507PA220511

Until next time…

Ireland Trip To Remember… Part Three

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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…

PA160110

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…

PA160113

PA160117

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…

PA170123

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

PA170120

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

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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!

PA130071

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…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

  PA130078

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…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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.

PA140087

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…

PA140095

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!!

PA140098

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.

PA150107

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.

PA160108

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…

All in the dark!

IMG_1616

Last minute decision yesterday evening to go for a quick session in Dorset this morning….. it had to be an early start so I could get back for my son’s football – probably a 3 hour fishing window at best! So with the alarm set for some un-Godly hour and kit by the door I was set and thankfully I managed to drag myself out of my pit as planned.

Arrived and was fishing by 5:30am – a good hour and a half before the sun was up and it proved to be a good move as all the fish I had today were taken in the dark. I find it best to use a familiar lure  in the dark so I have confidence in it’s action…. this meant it was on with the Feed Shallow. As if to prove a point first cast I connected with a small pollack.

Two casts later and another hit – this time from a small bass that cleverly unhooked itself when landed and flipped itself back in the water! Damn – no photo!! Not to worry as ten minutes later an ever so slightly bigger fish was landed and snapped!

IMG_1617

Followed by another small pollack all within the first hour and under the cover of darkness…

IMG_1620

There was not a lot of movement in the water and as the light came up with the rising tide it became very apparent the lack of movement there actually was – next to none….. and with clear water it didn’t look promising for the rest of this short session.

I was joined by another lure angler – Bill and his dog – for a few minutes and I was thankful of Bill’s presence as I had one of those ‘Doh!’ moments when I managed to crack off my lure when casting…. my complete brain failure! I had just changed to a Seaspin Pro-Q 90 surface lure too but luckily, Bill, with great skill, managed to cast to it and pulled it back in for me – cheers Bill if you ever read this!! It was nearly doubly lucky for me as minutes later there was a swirl behind that very lure from a fish that narrowly missed!

That was the last action I had though on the near bite front and with all  the fish caught in the dark it has certainly given me food for thought for future sessions especially where conditions are fairly benign.

So, I headed back home for a bacon sandwich before taking my son to his football match… he lost 2-1! Doh!

Before I finish here are a few other pictures from my early morning Dorset jaunt…

IMG_1615

IMG_1619

IMG_1621

IMG_1624

Until next time…