Ireland 2017 – Part 2

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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!

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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

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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

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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…

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!

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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.

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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…

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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!!!!

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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…

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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!

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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

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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

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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.

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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…

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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…

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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.

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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!

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Until next time…

More April Bass…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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Until next time…

April schoolies

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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.

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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…