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…

It’s been a while…

 

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For one reason or another yesterday was the first chance this year I’ve had to blow the fishing cobwebs away and chuck a lure in the water so I headed down to Dorset for a late afternoon/early evening session.   Conditions were forecast to be pretty benign for any decent chance of a bass, and so it turned out, but it’s been a fair few months since I’ve been…. I was just looking forward to shaking off  my fishing ‘rustiness’, being out there again and checking my kit out after a few months stored up.

Walking round to a favoured area and bumped into a familiar face on this bit of coast – Bill with his dog Poppy – had a chin wag for a few minutes… Bill’s had a decent early season on the bass which was encouraging though he’d had no success today. Anyhow, we went our separate ways and I headed on round to where I wanted to start. Noticeable that the coast has changed a bit following the winter storms with some hefty landslides with rocks and boulders where they previously weren’t. Also, there was still patchy sediment in the water where it was running off the land so in places it was too coloured up but that said there were still some nice patches to fish. The picture below shows some of the land slippage…

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As for the fishing I couldn’t tempt a bass out despite my hard and soft lure offerings – all it turn out to be was a wrasse-fest with them hitting both hard and soft lures with equal gusto. If nothing else they’re colourful and put a bend in the rod to get me used to feeling a fish on the line after the winter break. Here’s the close up of the little critter caught in the green flavour…

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Finished fishing around 8pm and started to head back along the coast when I had bizarre encounter of the day…..met a family coming towards me – obviously not been here before who asked me politely “is there a way back up to the coastal path if we head the direction you’ve come from?”.

“100% not, I know this area well, that’s why I’m heading this way!” I respond.

“Are you sure?” the father comes back with.

“Totally”, I confirm.

“Thanks, we’ll try anyway”, he replies.

…. I left them to it – there’s only so much you can help people with…. is it me????

Arrived back at the car to discover the sole coming off of one of my wading boots so it looks like not all my kit did so well over the winter months…. the age old problem of which wading boots to buy is before me again! Must say, I’m tempted to try the 5:10 Canyoneer SAR water boots that Henry Gilbey has been testing out (see his very informative article here), not a traditional fishing wading boot  but must admit when I had the kayak I was tempted to get these so maybe they could be a good option? Food for thought for sure.

Anyhow,  I’ll finish up with a couple more scenic pictures from the day for you to enjoy…

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Until next time…

Slow start continues…

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Second trip of the Spring down to Dorset yesterday – more, as it turned out, for a recce and refresh of what this particular area was looking like after the Winter break. It was a solo trip with my pal Nobby deciding against it after looking at the benign weather and in fairness, in that respect, he was 100% right! Still, I had the opportunity so wasn’t going to waste the chance of having a go and at the very  least having a stroll along the coast checking things out.

The first thing to get back used to was the alarm going off early and dragging myself out of my pit at 2:45 am! Once I’m up I’m OK it’s just that initial step of pulling the covers back that’s the hard part – madly I do love being up this time of day and it’s great for getting anywhere quickly with no one else on the road.

Arrived, kitted up and set off just as the light was beginning to change. Unfortunately, the short cut to the place where I would normally have made my way down to the coast had the gate closed off due to land slippage…. luckily I was aware of this before I set off so had already resigned myself to taking the tougher shoreline route round. Only a minor inconvenience  and it wasn’t long before I was fishing though the conditions were not encouraging – as forecast it was fairly flat and water was almost aquarium-like in clarity.

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Nothing was happening early doors with little sign of life in the water if I’m perfectly honest but nevertheless I continued to walk and fish. What was noticeable was the amount of land slippage and cliff fall there has been over the Winter in this area of Dorset – parts of the cliff do look a lot more precarious in places than I’ve seen before so something I’ll be aware of when fishing here over the rest of the year.

There were some decent, fairly fresh clumps of kelp washed up underneath the cliffs but there were no flies present  so no maggots either….

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Moved on further round the coast with not a sniff on either the hard or soft plastics I tried ranging from Feed Shallows, Gunfish, Komonos to Sluggos, Wave worms, Flash J Shads or the Black Minnows. One good thing about the clear water on these early season sessions is it gives you an opportunity to see the action of the lures underwater which was great for me with some of the new soft plastics I’ve acquired recently. In particular I like the colour and action of the Flash J Shads – hopefully they’ll be fish catchers – they look like they should be…

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I’d almost given up on the fact there were any fish in the sea when I had a knock on the Black Minnow which had the tell tale signs of a wrasse. Next cast out confirmed it with this small fish…

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It saved a blank I guess but whilst I always respect them they just don’t give me the buzz that catching a bass does! Returned safely I moved on and cast out again and immediately got hit again by a wrasse…this one could have been the twin brother of the one I’d just caught…

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At this point I decided to turn and fish my way back. The tide was turning and the wind had swung around a bit creating a nice chop on the surface but it was still very clear water. This did look slightly better though and encouragingly I started to notice the odd mullet or two cruising around so no doubt there would be a few bass in amongst them I suspect. Alas,  there was no further fish action to report though and by lunchtime I was back at the car ready to head home.

We could do with a run of south westerly winds now in this part of the world just to create a bit of swell and fizz the water up a bit… might get those bass moving inshore? Hopefully, after the next set of spring tides they will be there!

Finally, this was a second outing for the Maxpedition Sitka sling bag which you’ll notice I’ve ‘pimped’ with a pouch and Hampshire badge!! I’m liking this bit of kit a lot – plenty of storage, comfortable, doesn’t feel bulky with easy, quick access to everything I need when fishing. Thumbs up so far!

Until next time…

No bass….. but wrasse of many colours

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Today was quite possibly my final fishing foray of the year what with work and then the festive season approaching but it didn’t yield a late bass as I had hoped. Location was the Purbecks again but truth be told conditions were not ideal with light northerlies and a flat sea though water clarity was decent enough. It was a beautiful morning though and I just love being fishing early doors and seeing the sun come up…

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As I say, I was hoping for a late bass and I thought my best chance would be as the light changed but it was pretty dead to be honest – not a sniff on hard lures or even soft plastics so not much to get excited about at all.

Stopped fishing for a coffee and then moved round the shore to a different section and finally I had my first bite and a fish on – not a bass but a chunky wrasse on a Fiiish Black Minnow 120…

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I’m not a great wrasse fan but they are colourful nonetheless and I picked up a further three of them during the course of the morning all on the Fiiish Black Minnow 120.

Here’s one in green…

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Another red one…

And a more orange one…

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A change to the Black Minnow in 160 once again seemed to reduce the wrasse attacks but didn’t entice a bass!! I was probably fishing for about 4 hours in total and although the wrasse were not what I had hoped to catch, it was a lovely day to be out with some great light and colour to take photos in if nothing else!

That was pretty much it though here are a few more pictures I took today…

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Better start thinking about Christmas I guess – wonder what Santa might bring me fishing-wise?? Just in case I don’t post again until 2013 I’ll take this opportunity to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a  Happy New Year!

Until next time…

Fiiished!

Had the opportunity to get out today to try for an autumn bass  but to be honest the winds weren’t looking very favourable with light northerlies usually meaning flat seas and little or no movement in the water. But with only maybe a handful of opportunities in the coming weeks to get out I couldn’t pass up this chance so I was up early doors and heading down to Dorset in the dark. I was really unsure where to go and it was only on the way down I finally decided on  a rockier mark than I’ve tried of late and it turned out not  too bad a decision.

After arriving at the car park I headed off but on seeing the sea it confirmed my worst fears that conditions might not be conducive to bass fishing at all – it really was flat with little movement in the water…

It did not exactly scream fish and so it proved all the way through until daylight. In the dark I tried a Komomo II in Akakin worked slowly which I’ve done OK on in low light in the past but that was fruitless, then as light hit I went for a Gunfish on the surface but it just wasn’t happening.

I moved on round the coast and found a  slightly deeper channel between some rocky outcrops but before I fished I had five minutes out to grab a quick drink and a bit of sustenance for breakfast. I pondered during this time and decided it was time to bring out the Fiiish Black Minnow. Now, I’ve spoken about these in a previous post but today I was well armed with them and had made sure that they were properly rigged. When I say well armed I had the 90, 120 and even 160 versions all with shore jig heads. The only problem with the 160 version is that fully rigged the lure is 53grams –  my rod has a casting weight of 10 – 50g…. I decided on  a few tentative casts not putting any undue pressure on the rod. I would not be doing this on a lower rated rod believe me!

The lure cast fine with a good  action in the water and on the third cast, on a very slow retrieve, no more than 20 feet out, the Black Minnow was hit…. fish on! It felt a better fish than I’ve had recently with a couple of decent head shakes and dives for cover but with minimal drag set on my reel it didn’t get too far and soon enough a nice fat 60cm+ bass was on the rock roughly around the 5lb mark though it was a very fat fish so it may have been a bit more…

It was hooked pretty well through the  scissors of the mouth, it had certainly nailed the Black Minnow. I had a few more casts at this spot but no more takes came so I fished on round the shoreline… again with no further action. A slight change was needed so I decided to scale down to the 120 Black Minnow version and almost immediately I was getting hit by wrasse – that was not what was needed …

Changed back to the 160 and the annoying wrasse hits stopped – this 160 version is just big enough that it seemed to put off the wrasse – the small one’s at least! Fiiish do a 140 version of the Black Minnow as well which might be the answer to my casting weight issue and keeping the wrasse away….  if, that is, they can sort out a shore jig head which at the moment I don’t think they do? I stand to be corrected on this!

By now the morning was getting on and it was very pleasant in the sunshine, I met one other angler but he had not managed anything so far during the morning. I had no further joy either so after fishing all the way back, changing back to hard plugs for a while, I called it a day and decided to head home.

Here are a few more pictures of the day…

Komomo II Bora Mullet – not successful today!

Dorset coast…

Recent rockfall…

So, a decent bass and a few pesky wrasse to show for my efforts plus a few more things learned about the Black Minnow in particular.  In all honesty it was far better session than I expected today given the benign conditions and proof that the bass can still be had as we approach the Winter months. Not sure when I’ll be out next but I remain hopeful I’ll get another opportunity before Christmas is upon us.

Until next time…

Lessons learnt…

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Well, I had an unexpected bonus this morning with the opportunity to get some fishing in for a few hours so even though it would be a solo trip this time I was more than happy to oblige. The wind was forecast as a north easterly veering to easterly so not ideal but I was keen so set the alarm for an early doors start down in The Purbecks. With coffee consumed on the drive down I was raring to go.

It was pitch black when I arrived but I could hear a steady surf rolling in which was encouraging. I quickly got prepped and set off to my first mark. The first spot I chose was not too rocky so I was hoping I wouldn’t have too many problems getting snagged in the dark, especially with a favoured Komomo II lure working just below the surface. Drag set on reel and I cast into the darkness. After several more casts working this part of the shore nothing materialised so as the light changed I decided to move on to rougher ground but continued with the same lure…. after two or three casts the lure was hit no more than a rod length away from my rod tip and ‘fish on’…. the silver flash as it hit followed by a surface roll  gave away it was a bass which was pleasing  but it very quickly went pear shaped. School boy error number one – always remember to tighten the drag more when moving from open to rough ground….the fish  made a dash for cover and in a split second I was stuck fast – no amount of coaxing could get it out and the inevitable happened with fish and lure lost. I hate losing lures but even worse when you know it could be still attached to the fish – hopefully the fish will lose it. In the course of all this I’d also managed to take a soaking as a wave slapped into the rock I was fishing from and covered me… I cursed slightly! At least the sunrise from this mark was worthy of a picture…

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It was time for a change of tact and I moved to a new mark and decided on trying a new soft lure I’d purchased after hearing of it’s apparent appeal to bass. It was the Fiiish Black Minnow which originates from France but has been getting results in UK and Irish waters by all accounts. I had it rigged with a 12g shore jig head and the 120 Khaki body. This lure comes in three parts – the jig head, the ‘Krog’ hook and then the soft body. Apart from looking appealing the real benefit is how the hook conceals itself in a similar way to a Texas rig hence making it less likely to snag in weedy and rocky marks:

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So, with the drag set and the Black Minnow rigged and ready to go (or so I thought) I cast out and literally within a couple of turns of the handle,  on my first cast with this the lure, it took a  great hit and line was starting to be taken as the fish headed out to sea…. this felt like a better fish and after I managed to get it back towards the shore the swirls on the surface and a sighting of the silver flank confirmed it….. then for the second time in no more than an hour things went pear shaped. The bass was only a few yards out now but made another surge for freedom, shook it’s head and the line went slack…. I was gutted but not as gutted as when I wound in to find the jig head and body in place but the just the hook gone. This was likely to have been my second schoolboy error – new lure, did I check it was 100% properly rigged – no I didn’t and I can only presume the fish took advantage of my shoddy rigging. Here’s how I think I must have rigged the hook and jig head:

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… and here’s how I should have checked it was rigged:

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You have to imagine the body part attached but I think the mistake is plain to see. I may have been extremely unlucky with the fish managing to shake the hook out of the correct position but I believe on balance of probability I contributed to my own downfall in this instance. So, once again I cursed myself – it’s a sickening feeling losing a decent fish in these circumstances but you have to take it on the chin and learn from it.

The positive note was that the lure was obviously attractive to the fish so I rigged up with another one – making sure the hook was set correctly this time – and had another go. There were no big takes again but I was getting tell tale nibbles from wrasse and one greedy one went for it…

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That was as good as it got and at around 11 a.m I called it  a day and headed back along the shore contemplating what might have been… there were some valuable lessons learned today for sure! It had been a lovely morning though so I mustn’t grumble… a bad days fishing is better than a good day at work after all!

Until next time…

Early Dorset foray…

It’s been a while but I finally managed to get my first lure session of the year in today. Plan was to head down to Dorset and blow a few fishing cobwebs away along with trying some new bits of kit I’ve accumulated over the winter… if there was an early bass around, or anything else biting come to that, well, that would be a bonus.

Arrived just as dawn was thinking about making an appearance…

It was fairly chilly with a noticeable breeze coming off the cliffs but only a small swell coming into the bay. The walk round to my favoured starting point soon had me warmed up though. There was already two or three anglers dotted along the shore but it seemed eerily quiet with hardly any movement in the water. As it got light you could see the water was crystal clear  which did little for my hopes of getting an early season bass especially as it was neap tides so little tidal range either to stir things up. I did kick into  a few lumps of washed up seaweed and there were a few pockets of maggots which it’s well reported the fish will come in for if the weed get’s washed back into the water.

I started with shallow running plugs such as the Komomo II, Feed Shallow and Sasuke over the ledges but all was quiet so I gradually moved round the shoreline to find deeper water where I stopped for breakfast and a coffee – not a bad spot…

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Over my coffee I decided to give some soft plastics on jig heads a go using a sink and retrieve method and within a couple of casts I had a fish on… not a bass though but a plump wrasse which was no real surprise I guess on the soft plastics…

It put up a scrap for all of about fifteen seconds but at least it meant I hadn’t blanked! The soft plastic was an orange Grass  Minnow on a 5g jig head

I kept moving on along the coast and alternated between some deeper diving plugs and trying out a range of jig heads with different types and colours of soft plastics but it was very slow in the clear water. It was a beautiful day though and I used the time to explore further along this stretch of coast than I’ve hiked before…

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The further you walked along the shore line the deeper the water became and with the visibility good you could see way down into the rocky depths – ideal for diving I would have thought!

I fished a couple of accessible marks but nothing was yielding until on the way back I managed a second wrasse again on the same variety orange Grass Minnow. This seemed to be the colour to use for the wrasse in this rocky location – I’d tried a couple of other colours without a sniff. This wrasse was equally as plump as the first, put up a better scrap and was a bit more colourful…

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That was the end of my fish catching exploits for the day despite more plugs and plastics being cast out. I did spook a couple of bass in the shallower ground as I headed back to the car so they are there but just didn’t appear to be interested today. It is early season for them in this neck of the woods and probably need to wait until they’ve finished their spawning and water temperature creeps up a bit before they show in any numbers.

Before I finish, a couple of footnotes on new kit I tried out for the first time on this jaunt. Firstly, the new Greys Platinum breathable waders gave good first impressions though I probably need a few more outings in them to really test their durability. What I am disappointed in though are the Greys Platinum wading boots I bought last season – already they are showing signs of wear and tear and I’m not particularly hard on kit plus wash it down religiously after use – looks like I will be looking again at boot options in the not too distant future. Interested in what other’s opinions are on what a decent pair of wading boots might be?!

However, what I was really impressed with was the Overboard rucksack I got over Christmas and I mentioned in a previous article. I know it’s only a first outing but it feels strong, it’s cavernous inside, importantly it’s very comfortable for a long day hiking, and does exactly what it says on the tin in respect of it’s waterproof qualities – keeping all my kit bone dry despite me taking a two or three rogue waves. It would be an excellent bag to take out on the kayak as well – something I will try out and report back.

So, nice to get back in the swing of things fishing-wise, a good trek along beautiful coastline, pleased with new kit and already looking forward to the next opportunity to get out!

Until next time…