Fishing in Ireland, sea angling, shore fishing

Perka

I bought a couple of these old ABU lures last year but have not had the chance to try them out yet. I came across them while looking for other lures and was intrigued by their unusual design. It was really watching out for was one or two old ‘Lucas’ and ‘Sextet’ pirks when I found these lads. Intrigued, I had to buy some to try them out.

The Perka.

All the weight is provided by that bulging eye, a very clever design. It was the odd shape that attracted me initially but when I did a bit of research it turns out these were effective sea lures. The lads in Sweden only made these things for four years (1977 – 1980) so there won’t be too many of them still around.

I have to admit that I need to think out exactly how and where these lures fit into my typical sea angling forays. Although ABU made the Perka in 3 different weights (40gm, 60gm and 100gm) I have only located a couple of 60gm examples. That is on the heavy side for my spinning rod to cast and at the same time too light for my 4 ounce beachcaster. I’ll figure something out!

Here is what I was actually looking for, from the top: Sextet (40gm), Egon (28gm) and a Lukas (40gm)

While the big treble hooks look impressive I suspect they would get a very good grip of the sea bed given the chance. Replacing the trebles with a single hook on a short length of lighter line should improve their longevity.

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Fishing in Ireland, Pike, salmon fishing, sea angling, shore fishing, trolling

Multiplication

1970’s ABU ambassadeurs (from a tightlines catalogue)

Why on earth do I own 5 different ABU multipliers you may well ask? Surely just one of these venerable old multiplying reels is enough for any fisher? Two of them may seem overkill and any more is simply rampant hedonism. The answer is that I don’t need them all but I use them for slightly different roles. So today I thought you might like to see what I use these old wonders of Scandinavian mechanical engineering for. Let’s start with the big lads, the 7000’s

ABU Ambassadeur 7000 and 7000C

a pair of very grubby looking 7000’s.

They built them tough in Sweden! This pair are my heavy beachcasting reels. Both date from the early ‘80’s and continue to serve me well despite horrific abuse over the intervening decades. Purchased new (from Somer’s in Aberdeen when they were still in the tiny shop in Thistle Street if my memory serves me correctly), these monsters were at the time regarded as the very best reels for surf casting. The competition has improved over the years and at the same time I feel the modern AB Garcia’s are not as strong as the old reels.

my red 7000, showing a few battle scars

These pairs are certainly no match for modern multipliers but these days my fishing does not require gargantuan casts to the far horizon. Although they look beat up I’m hopeful they will see me out as, despite outward appearances, I have maintained and lubricated them regularly. The red 7000 in particular carries many battle scars, the result of long forgotten finger-tip scrambles down steep rocks to get to remote marks. I used to take just my 6 ounce beachcaster and the 7000 with me when attacking the more extreme marks, meaning scrapes and scratches for both rod and reel as I slithered down granite and basalt outcrops. This reel is built like a tank and soaked up the punishment, no matter how extreme the mark was.

Rock marks like this one in Donegal were tough on my gear

Black 7000C

So what is the difference between a 7000 and a 7000C? Ball bearings is the answer. The old original 7000 came with brass bushings on the spool while the 7000C sports stainless steel roller bearings. These super-duper bearings should give much better performance but in practice I found that there was not much to pick between the two reels. The numbers stamped on the reel foot tells me the red 7000 dates from 1980 and the black ‘C’ from just two years later, so they are both knocking on for 40 years old!

The level wind on a 7000. Removing this improves casting performance markedly

Size and line capacity of the 7000’s is identical and they are both beasts of reels, strong and reliable in even the most extreme conditions. I have two 7000’s because I often fish with a pair of beachcasters. This allows me to push one bait out a long way and drop the other bait closer to the shore. I can also try different baits and rigs by using both rods/reels. On a slow day this keeps me ticking along, just reeling to check the baits, making small changes or trying out different rigs. On a day when the fish are biting it can lead to high excitement as both rods go off at the same time!

ABU Ambassadeur 6500C3

Next in line I possess an elderly 6500C3. I have seen beautiful examples of this type of reel; the chrome rockets in particular are pure fishing porn! My one is a somewhat shabby model dating from 1999 which I picked up second-hand. It is more Nora Batty than Marilyn Munro I am afraid. 6500’s are among the most popular beach reels and the various versions can been seen in action across the globe wherever distance casting is required. If you are in the market for a 6500 you need to decide if you are going to plump for one with or without the level wind. The sports mags and ultracast’s were superb reels with no level wind to slow them down. My old C3 has a level wind but is still a fine casting machine. I’ve tweaked my one a little by replacing the spool bearings with semi-ceramics.

The all important ‘made in sweden’ logo

Smaller and neater than their big cousins, the 6500 range are lovely reels in use. They somehow just feel ‘right’. This is important to me. When I’m fishing I like my gear to be an extension of myself, both physically and emotionally. The sense of ‘oneness’ adds hugely to my enjoyment of a day on the water. Over the years I have owned some rods and reels which I never really felt were right, despite hefty price tags and well-known brand names.

In case you are wondering, the difference between a 6500 and a 6000 reel is the 6500 has higher gearing and therefore a faster retrive speed.

I use the 6500C3 for lighter beach and rock work in saltwater. Spool capacity is one hundred and fifty yards of 20 pound mono, not nearly as good as the 7000 but then again it is not so agricultural as the big old 7000’s. Paired with my 4 ounce beachcaster it can chuck a lead a fair old distance.

This one needs a good clean!

The topic of handles always inspires a lively debate among Ambassadeur owners. To some it is sacrilege to change any part of the hallowed reels. To others , and I fall into this category, upgrading your reel can be a good thing if it is done well. 6500’s came with a small double paddle handle which were fiddly on the beach in the cold and wet. Power handles for retro-fitting became widely available and these are a useful upgrade in my opinion. I am thinking of changing the double paddle handle on this reel for a power handle.

ABU Ambassadeur 5500C

Boys oh boys, this is a dream of a reel! I use it for casting and trolling for salmon (I know, what a waste using a 5500C for dragging metal behind a boat!!!). Everything about the 5500C oozes class; smooth and light yet strong and aesthetically gorgeous. Of all my ABU multipliers this is my favourite. ABU made a range of different 5500’s over a long production run and you can see why these little beauties were so popular. Essentially a narrower 6500, the 5500 series are favoured by salmon and pike anglers. I think those who pursue catfish in the States use them too.

The free spool control is sensitive on this reel

My example dates from 1973 but there is hardly a mark on it and it fishes perfectly. The only downside of this reel is that it does not have a clicker. I’d like that refinement for those all too rare occasions when a salmon grabs the bait and that wonderful sound of the clicker screaming fills the air!

not mine, but examples like this pristine 5000 cost thousands to buy

 

ABU Ambassadeur 4500CB

Finally, we come to a bit of an oddball – a 1980’s 4500CB. These reels would not be very common here in Ireland as they were designed for the USA market where small baitcasting reels were developed for use by bass fishermen. Flipping jerk baits for large mouths required a reel with specific characteristics and the small ABU’s were hugely popular across the pond. From what I can gather, they have been largely replaced by those fancy new baitcasting reels that look like something out of a Batman movie!

I picked my one up on ebay for a smallish sum. It is in good condition but cannot be described as pretty. It’s functional but not eye-catching. I have seen some lovely examples out there, gorgeous wee reels in lustrous dark green, silver or Florida orange hues. Again, the pretty ones command high prices in the marketplace.

The ‘CB’ denotes that this reel has an unusual sophistication – a self-centring level-wind no less! I must confess that exactly how this is an advantage in every day fishing escapes me, but it is a sweet little reel which I bought specifically for trolling. These reels were designed to hold 10 pound breaking strain nylon but I reckoned that was close enough in diameter to modern 30 pound b/s braid. Trolling for salmon here-abouts does not require massive line capacity of a reel, one hundred yards is more than sufficient as you can turn the boat and follow even the mightiest fish out to deeper water. As the reel for my ‘poker’ – the short middle rod when trolling – it only has about  15 yards of line out when fishing. The 4500CB accepts 120 yards of heavy braid, meeting all my requirements in a neat little package. This reel also has a level-wind which does seem to be overkill considering the narrow spool, but hey, why not flaunt it if you got it!

The decision to buy an old 4500C was deliberately taken to give me a reel purely for matching up with the poker rod and 30 pound braid. Then I mixed things up a bit! A fella in New Jersey was selling off some spools for my reel at a very, very low price so I simply had to buy all three of them. Now I am in the happy position of being able to switch the wee reel between different uses as required.

spare spools for the 4500 CB

If under extreme duress, you were to restrict me to only one of the above reels I would have to plump for the 6500C. It can easily do everything the others can do. I bought the 7000’s at a time when I was rock fishing (frequently in the dark) for winter cod on Scotland’s North East coast. Heavy leads, slung into the teeth of a gale amid mountainous seas needed tough reels and the big 7000’s could handle the stresses and strains with aplomb. They have easier lives now, gently lobbing baits into summer seas for doggies and rays. The 6500C is build for this type of shore fishing and would work just fine when casting or trolling for salmon too.

The 5500C is probably slightly under-gunned for rock fishing. It is perfect for salmon fishing though. It is a pure joy to fish with when casting heavy baits (20 – 40 grams). It is hard to put into words but this reel somehow just feels ‘right’.

The baby of the pack, the 4500CB is very much a specialist piece of equipment for Irish fishing, too small by far for most ‘normal’ angling situations here. But it does exactly what I require of it so it has earned its place in my tackle bag. Now that I have spare spools for it I can also use it for other situations where light lines are required.

So that is the reason I have acquired all these different reels over the years; I don’t really need them all but each one is a delight to use and they add to my enjoyment each time I use them. The small differences between then give them individual characters. The doughty, world worn heftiness of the old 7000’s is a million miles removed from the genteel, silken feel of the 5000C or the dinky wee 4500CB. I get huge enjoyment out of using these old reels, the workmanship and design are timeless and fit well with my values when it comes to fishing gear.

If you hanker after an old, Swedish manufactured Ambassadeur yourself they are easy to find secondhand. Expect to pay big money for rare models in mint (or even unused) condition. There are many collectors who track down the finest examples for their display cabinets. Reels with minor surface wear can be had for a lot less. Of course there are some extremely dodgy reels floating around the secondhand market and it is very much a case of ‘buyer beware’.  Look out for reel which exhibit heavy corrosion (especially on the cage), cracked side plates or grinding gears and avoid these like the plague. Spare parts are easily available but if you have a lot of work to do to a reel it soon becomes quite expensive. Oh, and a word of caution – owning old Ambassadeurs can quickly become an addiction (see above!). Don’t go buying gear you can’t afford.

Please don’t run away with the notion that I am an expert on these old Ambassadeurs – I assure that I am anything but that! Check out youtube for lots of videos on cleaning, strip down and upgrades for these reels. There is a wealth of information out there. Then there are the specialist collectors who have websites you can visit to drool over their immaculate reels. If you really want to get into collecting these reels in a serious way then the bibles written by Simon Shimomura, author of not one, but three books on collectable Ambassadeur reels. I will leave you with multiple photos!

Clockwise from the left: 4500CB, 6500C and 5500C

 

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dryfly, Fishing in Ireland, salmon fishing, sea angling, shore fishing, trout fishing

Wish list

It’s all over for 2017 and I am stuck in another hotel room a long way from home, thinking about next season already. It is a nice hotel, comfortable and warm with an excellent menu in the restaurant downstairs. However, it is not home and so it pales when measured against my abode in the west. I’m lucky in that I don’t suffer from loneliness or sink into morbid thoughts when separated from loved ones, instead I use my time to reflect and think about the future. I don’t usually overthink my fishing trips but, maybe on the back of a poor season, I have been contemplating my options for 2018 in an unusual level of detail. Everything will depend on how the gods of work treat me, too little and I will have lots of time but no money while too much work will keep me away from home and with no time to go fishing. I need to jot down where i want to go. I need to write a list!

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I guess my train of thought is neatly divided along geographical lines. Irish angling will obviously be uppermost in any plans but I’m going to wet a line in Scotland too. So let’s take a look at the possibilities which I currently have under review.

Angling for salmon starts early over here with a handful of rivers opening on 1st January. The Drowes is close by, only a bit over an hour’s drive from home. The opening week sees large numbers of fishers descending on this river in an attempt to catch the first salmon of the season. Crowded banks are not my idea of fun but I may just venture up there for a change of scene. Much of the fishing is worming or spinning but there are some nice stretches for the fly and I like the idea of clearing away the cobwebs and casting an early line there.

the Drowes has some good fly water

The River Robe failed to produce the goods last Spring but horrendously low water levels ruined any chances of success. Undeterred, I will return to the banks around Claremorris in March and April when the stoneflies and olives should be hatching. Daffodils and bird song, the greening grass in the fields, the nip still in the air that turns your breath to silver in the early morning all combine to form the unmistakable feeling that winter is over and spring has arrived. The excitement of those initial casts, those first tugs of a small trout as the team of spiders swing in the current, sloshing though the shallows to cross at a ford, munching a sandwich with the sun on your face – all the immensely enjoyable minutia of a day on an Irish river. Happiness!

The Robe at Hollymount, a favourite springtime stretch

The Robe at Hollymount, a favourite stretch in the springtime

If time allows I want to go back to Scotland in April. The fourth month of the year was always a lucky one for me for both trout and salmon. I cannot recall the last time I cast a line in Scotland during the month of April, 1996 seems to be most likely but I can’t honestly say it was with any sense of certainty. It was a heck of a long time ago anyway! If there has been some rain there should be a few salmon in the middle beats of the Aberdeenshire Don and even if it has been dry the trout will be feeding hard in anything but an east wind. The beats around Alford offer some wonderful fly water and if time allows I’d love to squeeze in a long weekend tramping the banks of the river where I learned to fish.

The middle Don and a fishy looking pool

 

I’ve not fished the mayfly properly for a couple of seasons now. I used to adore Lough Carra when the greendrakes were hatching but those days are firmly in the past now. Carra has not fished well for many seasons, despite some very good anglers giving a nostalgic try every year. The quantity of fly life has diminished alarmingly. Trout need to compete with the gulls for even hatching olives, let alone mayflies. Any trout still living in the lake keep their heads well down and those lovely, long rolling waves that you get on a windy day above on Carra still don’t attract the fish to the surface. I seriously doubt if I will bother with Carra next season unless the local ‘jungle drums’ tell me it has turned the corner.

Moorehall bay on Carra

Boats in Moorhall, Lough Carra

Most anglers would plump for the mighty Corrib for mayfly fishing but for me that hallowed water is principally a dapper’s paradise. I used to keep a boat in Salthouse bay at the northern end of the Corrib and learned to find my way around that part of the lake. I caught some nice trout on wets and dries but the real leviathans succumbed to other anglers using dapped naturals. I can’t explain why I don’t dap. I know how to do it, where and when to do it and yet I don’t bother. The dapping rod, reel and thick, unruly floss line, the wooden live bait box and even the little scoop for netting live flies from the surface for bait all nestle in a corner of the room, unloved and unused. Barring some sort of ‘road to Damascus’ moment I doubt if I’ll dap this coming season.

Cahir Bay

Cahir Bay, lough Mask

So for me it will be lough Mask for the mayfly. It will feel as if I am being unfaithful to my first love, Lough Conn, but Mask is a terrific fishery and I have missed drifting the shallows in a brisk wind. I lived in Ballinrobe when I returned to Ireland and spent many happy hours getting to know where (and where not) you can motor and drift. The boat picked up a few scars after encounters with unseen rocks but the rewards were many. These days much of the fishing on Mask is carried out over the deeps, pulling a team of wets on sinking lines. I’m not a fan of this type of fishing, effective though it undoubtedly is. I find it very hard to justify this disinterest as it looks to the untrained eye very similar to salmon fishing – combing the water with sinking lines and a team of flies. No signs of fish, just the rolling waves and the rhythm of casting. I love days like that on the salmon loughs but quickly succumb to boredom if the speckled lads are my quarry. So I must make time in late May or early June to fish the Mask, drifting the craggy shallows of the Rocky Shore or around the islands.

The mouth of the canal on Lough Mask

At some point during the summer I want to take the road south and motor down to the Kingdom of Kerry. Many, many years ago I fished down that way and it would be nice to try my luck in the salty waters around Dingle again. The only trouble is the holidaymakers are there in droves during the summer months and accommodation is hard to find and damn expensive when you do locate a B&B. Who knows, maybe I’ll camp instead, just like I did all those years ago when I rode a motorbike from Aberdeen to Fenit, pitched the tent near the pier and caught a bass on the second cast! There used to be some good Wrasse fishing from the shore too as I recall. That sport has completely changed nowadays with the advent of LRF.

When I practised wrasse fishing it was with a sliding float and lugworm for bait. I tried all kinds of other baits, especially crab which seemed to be the most logical choice, but lugworm out-fished everything else for me and the sight of the float disappearing into the depths as another big Ballan swallowed the hook was always a huge thrill.  Yes, Kerry would be nice for a change of scene.

my mate Chris with a shore caught Wrasse

I love the autumn. It is by far my favourite season. I am keen on returning to Scotland again to try for a late season salmon on one of the smaller back end rivers. Finding reasonable and affordable water on the Tweed or Tay is difficult but the Deveron used to see good autumn runs and rods were often available without having to win the lottery. So next October I am planning on a short trip to the Turriff area to try for a big back-ender. Many years ago I lost a huge salmon further upstream on the Huntly water. That brute turned and ran down through three pools before the hook pulled out. It was the last of three fish I had on in the space of a few hours and none of them made it to the bank. Sometimes it’s just not your day. I find the Deveron is a nice size, not too poky and yet not overly large and intimidating. Getting back to Scotland twice in one year is very definitely pushing my luck but this is a wish list so October on the Deveron has been pencilled in.

The Devervon near Rothiemay

2017 was an unmitigated angling disaster for me, mainly because work got in the way of time off. It was a poor season for many and maybe I didn’t miss much but I would rather have a poor day on the riverbank than a good day at work. So there is my wish list, I will review it in 12 month’s time see what I did and did not manage to achieve.

 

 

 

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dryfly, Fishing in Ireland, fly tying, Nymphs, Pike, salmon fishing, sea angling, shore fishing, trolling, trout fishing

A look back in…………….disappointment

Pike on the Rapala

Pike coming to hand. No big ones this season but the usual sprinkling of jacks grabbed various spoons and plugs. This lad took a shine to a Rapala

It’s over. The trout season that is and much of the salmon fishing too. The 2017 season coasted to its finale last weekend and, for me at least, it was a season to forget. Yesterday we fetched the boat in and over the next couple of weekends we will repeat the process with everyone else’s boats. Autumn will bring some sea fishing and maybe a couple of derisory outings to troll for Pike, but the game fishing is over for us in the West of Ireland until next spring. I thought I’d quickly run through the season, disappointing though it most certainly was for me.

The Carrownisky as it exits the lough

very low water on the Carrownisky river

Water levels were all over the place this season, not enough in the spring and too much later in the year. A dry spring does nobody any good and both salmon and trout fishing suffered greatly due to a lack of water. I have never seen the rivers so low in April and May! Is global warming taking effect here as well as in other, more exotic climates? I suspect it is and the changing weather patterns are having a negative impact on the fish and our fishing. Given the we in Ireland are nowhere near meeting our commitments on greenhouse gas reduction it is hard to climb on to any moral high horses. Sure, we are a small country and relatively speaking make little difference compared to the huge carbon footprint of other, larger and more densely populated nations. That does not exonerate us from our duty as world citizens to reduce our effects on the planet, indeed I would argue it should be easier for us that for the likes of India or China.

My olive emerger. Fur body and CDC looped over the back

My olive emerger. Fur body and CDC looped over the back. Normally this pattern catches me lots of springtime brownies but not this past season!

So, it was dry and cold to start with and the spring salmon were scarce. Work sucked me dry every week. Time spent in Mayo was infrequent and I totally failed to make it to the riverbank for the spring salmon fishing. By all accounts I didn’t miss much. Instead, I was able to squeeze some trouting in during March and early April, usually very productive times for me. This year however I could (and did) walk across some parts of the river Robe without the water reaching above my ankles. Northerly and Easterly winds combined with low water are quite possibly the worst conditions for the springtime fly fisher, but that was exactly what I met during those trying March outings. Fly life was non-existent. No Iron Blues or Large Dark Olives. No stoneflies or Diptera. I tempted a few small fish to wets and nymphs but it was hard work with little reward.

Tiny Brown Trout from the river Robe

Anglers fishing the fly on a shrunken river Corrib at the Galway Weir

Anglers fishing the fly on a shrunken river Corrib at the Galway Weir

Great plans to fish hard during May came to nothing and others made use of the boat in my absence. By now I was becoming concerned the whole season would pass me by with work hungrily consuming me. Returning home after time away requires ‘catching up’ with family and all the tasks which have been left unattended need to be addressed in the fleeting few hours with loved ones. Fitting a day or even a few hours fishing into this complex mosaic proved be beyond my organisational skills. Then the rain started to fall.

one from the Robe

small but very welcome!

From June through to September we endured frequent periods of sustained precipitation. The heavens unloaded water on Ireland in biblical quantities. Rivers rose then burst their banks. Each time I found a chink in my diary it coincided with filthy brown spates. My fishing buddies who did venture out with rod and line found the grilse late and well scattered. Salmon fishing is always a case of being in the right place at the right time but this year it seems that maxim was even keener than normal. Tiny windows of opportunity presented themselves when the water was right for an hour or less and experienced rods who knew where to be connected with resting runners. I fumed and shook my head with every text or FB post from friends as they celebrated successes. I never even made it out with the salmon rod after June. A film of dust covers my salmon gear in testimony to my inaction.

Barely used all last season, I will strip the reels down lubricate them all before tucking them away for the winter

So what positives were there this past season? I had a nice brownie in the gloaming from the Keel canal which grabbed a small Wickham then charged around the pool like a fish twice its size. Then there was introduction to the tiny river Griese down in Kildare. The sheer joy of trying to fool those wee trout in difficult conditions was wonderful balm to bruised angling ego and I am already planning on fishing this gem of a river next season. For me, size means nothing, angling is all about being immersed in nature and trying to solve the problems in front of me. A hard-earned 8 incher can be more rewarding than a dozen fish which fling themselves at the flies.

The Griese in Co. Kildare. Clear and stuffed with small trout. I’ll be back………….

My current contract ends early in November and there will probably be some free time from then until Christmas. I’ll do some sea fishing and tie lots of flies when I get to that point. I’ll also make my plans for the 2018 season and I’m going to do some work on this blog as well when I get some free time.

Not many gaps in the fly box but I will be busy at the vice over the winter regardless

The boat about to be hauled out of Lough Conn last weekend

part of an old roller conveyor which an angler uses to ease beaching his boat.

Last view of the lough for this year

There is always next season. At least I managed to get out a few times, walking and wading the rivers and taking the boat out for a look around the bays and shallows. It doesn’t matter how bad the fishing is, just being able to get out in the fresh air is a joy.

And finally…..

My beloved collie left this world in September after 15 years at my side. The sense of loss seems overwhelming sometimes and I am still struggling to come to terms with life without her. The pain will subside over the coming weeks and months but for now life is just ‘less’ in ways which are hard to form into words. So if you have a dog, go and give him/her a rub behind the ears and maybe a wee treat to chew on. You miss them something awful when they are gone.

Ness looking for waterhens

Nessie, 2002 – 2017

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Fishing in Ireland, salmon fishing, sea angling, shore fishing, trout fishing

No fishing again!

I was ill today so my plans to fish Lough Conn came to nothing. I’m hoping to feel better soon and to get out for a few hours fishing through the week (work permitting). Here is a very brief up date on the local angling gossip:

Low water here on the Clare river near Tuam

There are a few salmon and early grilse being caught at the Galway weir but not as many as you would think given the low water conditions. The Clare river is down to its bare bones.

Anglers fishing the fly on a shrunken river Corrib at the Galway Weir

 

All the rivers in the area are below summer level and fishing is out of the question on them all. Good pools on the Robe where I normally fish are now ankle deep. The tiny drop of rain we have had over this weekend has not made any difference at all. There is rain forecast for the south of the country overnight but it doesn’t look like we will see any up here.

Lough Conn remains quiet with no hatch of mayfly yet. I am hearing of only the very occasional trout being caught on the fly and no trace of salmon at all. The river Moy is producing a small number of salmon from the bottom of the river up as far as Foxford, but really it is very, very poor this year so far.

The Ridge pool on the Moy at Ballina. Low water suits this beat but the fish are in short supply so far

No mayfly hatch yet on Lough Carra but I heard that Kevin Beirne lost a huge brownie this weekend. Fishing with Pat McHale he hooked a leviathan, estimated to be 8 – 9 pounds in weight. Hard luck Kev!

Moorehall bay on Carra

Early mackerel are in Clew bay so the sea fishing will kick up a gear over the next few weeks.

Killery Harbour, July 09

Mackerel, like these caught on the fly from the shore, will begin to show up from now onwards

Not much to report there, but hopefully we will get some rain soon and the fish will appear.

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Waiting for these guys to hatch!

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Fishing in Ireland, sea angling, shore fishing

Who let the dogs out?

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Bank holiday weekend and the calm weather has continued here in the West, so I decided to try a new mark for me, Little Killary. With Google Earth consulted and the mountain of gear packed in the car the night before, all that remained was to sort out some food to take with me and I was off on the road South just after first light. I knew I was going to be too early but I wanted to get  look at the mark at low water. I need not have bothered as it is very straight forward, deep water to close in and a sandy bottom once you are past the kelp on the edge – period.

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The Irish countryside is looking its best right now after the long settled spell. Roadside ferns turned lustrous copper, birches still clothed in golden olive leaves and mountain ashes heavy with vermilion berries. I crossed the Errif near Carrowkennedy, it’s so low I could have walked across it dry shod in places. On then through Leenaun and along the side of Killary before branching off on to the road past Culfin. Such a shame to see this fishery with those damnable cages plonked right in the middle of the lough. The roads narrowed appreciably as I got nearer to the diving centre and destination, the carpark at Glassillaune. Once I pulled up it was only a few minutes work to sort out layers of clothes and swing the heavy tackle box onto my back. Then a scramble along the shore to the mark itself, an open and exposed rock ledge but easy to fish on a windless day like today. The views across Little Killary were stunning.

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As expected, it was approaching dead low as I tackled up so expectations were not high. A pendulum rig with Mackerel bait was tossed 70 yards out and left to its own devices while I got my bearings. Checking out the rocks to my left I found a couple of other platforms but none were as comfortable as the one I was already on so I made my self at home and had a coffee while tinkering with some rigs in the box. About an hour after I had started things began to get interesting. A good solid take and run failed to turn into a fish but the bait had gone when I reeled in. Re-baiting I cast into the same area, roughly 100 yards out and there was an immediate response from a fish. A rattle on the rod was followed by slack line and picking up I momentarily contacted something before everything went slack again. This was getting frustrating! More bait and a change to a larger hook seemed to be required.

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The change up to a 3/0 Aberdeen did the trick and I struck the next bite hard, putting a nice bend in the beachcaster. Not much of a fight though and it soon became clear the doggies were out to play.

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The next hour or so brought more Lesser Spots, all safely returned of course. The mark simply screamed Thornbacks to me but there was no sign of any rays, just dogs. As quickly as they appeared the dogs moved on and everything went quiet again. Time for another cuppa.

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I set up the spinning rod while having my coffee and commenced operations with it only to find the 20grm lure was taking too long to get down deep. I switched to a 30 gram Dexter Wedge and that helped me to get down much more easily. By now the wind had picked up and I changed the plain lead on the beachcaster for a gripper to help me to hold the bottom.

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Annoying rattles indicated that the crabs had woken up and were robbing my bait almost as soon as it hit the sand. I normally counter these pesky critters by enveloping my mackerel in squid which is much tougher but I had forgotten to bring any with me in my rush to get out of the house in the morning.

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Before the crab attacks

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After the crabs have had a go!

Eventually a mackerel grabbed one of my feathers and was kept for the freezer. A gap of maybe an hour then ensued before three mackerel in three consecutive casts brightened up the day. One of them was the skinniest mackerel I have ever seen!

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The east wind swung through 180 degrees in the space of a few minutes and a fresh westerly started to blow into the bay. The tide was making rapidly too and some bites produced another dog and a smallish pollock to the bait rod.

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High tide was late in the afternoon so I decided to call it a day rather than wait for the ebb and the onset of darkness. It would probably have been the best part of the day but I was getting tired and had no lights with me. The way back to the car was not very hard but I had to cross a number of old ‘lazy beds’. Chances are these had been abandoned during the famine in the 1840’s.20161030_1551101

From the car park I looked out on Glassillaun Bay, reportedly a good winter mark. It looks worth a throw on a night tide when the Whiting are in.

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Tired and hungry, I swung the wheel and backed out on to the narrow road. While I had not broken any records or landed anything huge or interesting it was still a great day to be out and about on the shore. It is definitely a mark which is worth another visit this autumn and I mulled  over the possibilities as the the westering sun sank behind the reek.

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Fishing in Ireland, sea angling, shore fishing

North Mayo shore report

The West of Ireland has been blessed with settled weather for the last week or so. With a forecast of continued good weather for this weekend we decided to head back up to the North Mayo coast again to try our luck in the briny. Blind Harbour was selected as the starting point for the day and we tackled up soon after  9am on Saturday. Chilly but dry, we rock-hopped out to a point and began spinning and feathering in the clear Atlantic water. Outside the bay the swell created some surf on the rocky headlands bu we were sheltered and treated to perfect conditions. Vivid russet ferns on the far shore lent an autumnal feel to the scene, complimenting the nippy air perfectly. One of those mornings it was just damn good to be out in the fresh air.

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Slow fishing meant our attention wandered a bit and Ben headed of across a field to scout along the coast a bit for a new mark. He had been gone for only five minutes when the rod in my hand was pulled visiously down and a powerful fish took off for the inner bay at a rate of knots. He only got about 20 yards away when that all too familiar dead feeling was transmitted up the line – snagged on a bottom. Ben came back intime to wintness the unequal battle between me and the unseen rock. All the ususl tricks were tried but nothing was going to dislodge the fish and in the end the trace snapped just above the Connemara Krill bait.

We fished on for a while until high water then suspended operations to discuss tactics. We had failed to  catch fish on the rising ide so it was unlikely the dropping tide wold be much better. We opted on cutting our losses and trying another mark. I suggested Portacloy, further along the coast and somewhere that Ben had never fished before. Time to saddle up………..

Now Portacloy is a funny place. Even by Mayo standards it is very difficult to find. Its near neighbour, Porturlin, is signposted but Portacloy secretively hides along at the end of an unmarked road. To fortify us while tracking down the mark we stopped off in Bangor for a bite of breakfast. It never ceases to amaze me how even a couple of hours in the fresh air sharpens your appetite! Mushrooms, eggs, chips etc were washed down with a rare cup of coffee and the world seemed to be a better place. Back in the van we swung a right just to the west of Bangor and negotiated the ever more pot-holed road roughly north by east until we eventually arrived at: Porturlin. Something had gone amiss in our direction finding! Since we were there we hopped out and took a look around the harbour. There may be some marks around there but after taking some photos we accosted a local for directions then re-traced our steps back to the ‘main road’.

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Arriving at Portacloy we parked up above the outer pier.20161022_124803

I need to expain a bit about these marks as they are a bit unusual. For some reason there are two small piers a couple of hundred yards apart. They are both roughly yhte same size and design and point in the same direction. the really odd thing is that they are both covered in water at high tide. Why anyone would build two half submereged piers is beyond me, but that is eactly what we have up there. the marks fish best at high water, meaning the only wat to stay dry and fish is to walk out on the high wall which is about  feet wide and slippery in wet weather. As the tide drops you can drop down on to the flat pier itself but in my limited experience by the time you do that the fish have moved out of the bay again.

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Above: the outer pier at half tide. That’s my tackle box plonked at the far end!

So what can you expect to catch of these strange marks? The answer is just about anything. Mackerel, Pollock and Flounder are the main targets but Gurnards, small rays, saithe, and dabs can all turn up too. I prefer to fish a 3 hook flapper rig here with small (size 1) hooks and tiny slivers of bait. Don’t expect any big fish here, just a mixture of smaller stuff.

Plans to lure a couple of mackerel for use as bait had of course flopped and we had to share the solitary frozen mackerel between us as bait. Plenty of shirring elastic was used to secure the small bits of flesh to the hooks and my fist gentle lob placed the three hooks in some rough ground 60 yards out. A large shoal of mullet sauntered slowly past me just below the surface. I rarely both fishing for mullet but maybe I should give them more attention, they are fine looking fish. looking up form the water My rod tip was bouncing like a mad thing. grabbing it I waited for the next pull – nothing. I held on the the rod for a few minutes and sure enough another bite registered. I struck but missed. Winding in I checked the baits (all good) and recast to the same spot. More bites and more missed fish so I changed the hooks up in size and re-baited. This time there was no immediate response so I left the beachcaster down picked up the spinning rod to try for Mackerel.Diligently covering the water in front of me proved to be remarkably unsuccessful until, just as one cast fished out I caught sight of a large Garfish right on the tail of my lure. It turned away at the last second, a lightning flash of silver the best part of three feet long. So close!

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A shout from the other pier and a heafty Pollock was lifted from the water on Bens rod. Nice fish. Soon it was my turn and a good Pollock put up the usual resistanve before coming to hand.

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By now the tide had dropped sufficiently to allow me to hp down to the main part and fish more safely. I started to search the water further out with each successive cast, putting a bit more effort into the 4 ounce beachcaster with every throw. Another Pollock, this time a little smaller than the first fell to the frozen mackerel but by now we were both pretty much out of bait. I fished for a while with jelies but without a touch. Time to call it a day.

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I have a sneaking suspicion that Portacloy could fish into the winter with whiting being the target species. There could be sea trout to be caught off the sand too. For now, we headed back to Castlebar via the West End Bar in Bangor and a fine pint of porter while chatting to Seamus there. All in all, a grand day was had.

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