I mentioned previously that the site was going to take somewhat of a new direction and this is the first step – monthly reports. Why?
Daily reports were time consuming and involved a lot of writing and editing. A monthly will be a lot faster to get through and less writing means more time for fishing. I will also be taking in not only kayak fishing sessions (although they will feature heavily) but more land based sessions too, a lot of them involving the kayak in one way or another.
Some of you will be surprised to find out that I spent six months last year working for Inland Fisheries Ireland in Kerry as a Fisheries Officer. What an eye opener that was! Lets just say that I have left Kerry and that job behind me and moved to a different part of the country to take up other work. While working with IFI I was directed to stop posting and submitting work to magazines, something which I felt uneasy with and ultimately ignored. I learnt a lot while was I there. It is amazing what one can find out when they keep their eyes and ears open and there will be more on that at a later date, following the conclusion of advice on the matter.
Anyway, back to the fishing. One thing that I really missed when in Kerry was my pike fishing during the winter. The start of April 2017 saw me put that to rights as I went looking for old Esox once again. My first trip saw me connect with a few jacks and it well and truly scratched my ‘pike itch’ after thinking that it would be the first winter/spring in many years where I wouldn’t have gone after them. With my appetite whetted, it was time to have another go at them.
The second foray saw me catch a couple of jacks on a river before moving onto a lake where I managed to catch a lovely pike. The fish was very lean after spawning and put up little or no fight at all. She was hauled in fast and raised for a quick photograph before release. I wanted to get this fish back in the water as fast as I could so no measurement or weight was recorded. The fish felt like it weighed in the upper teens/low twenties and had I caught her before spawning I’m sure she would have been a new personal best. Not to worry, I know where to find her again next spring. The third session produced a single fish, a good result on a very cool evening with a stiff easterly breeze. Once again, the Biwaa Swimpike accounted for most of the pike I caught in the three sessions that I went after them.
Back to the Salt
The salt started to call and I headed to Connemara for a few sessions on the kayak. The first exploratory trip went very well. Anchoring up over 20 metres of water saw me take a host of species in what was a busy session. Plenty of pollock and small coalfish came to the lures while my full squid baits accounted for small conger, huss and dogfish. I also managed a single mackerel on hokkais. I had been looking for ray which eluded me but was determined to give them another go.
I headed back up a few days later to try to tempt a ray with more appropriate baits but a building swell put the better fishing grounds out of reach. I decided to retreat to the shelter of the bay with the hopes of annoying a few wrasse and pollock. It turns out one of the pollock decided to annoy me. In what has to be a chance in a million the pollock I was holding up for a photo on my phone launched itself from my grip and headbutted my phone from my hand and into 40 feet of water! The point of the photo was to send home to see if a pollock was fancied for dinner and the resulting video was too funny not to share.
Fly Fishing for Trout
The next adventure saw a couple of us head to a feeder stream of the Corrib to try for a trout on the fly gear. Already weed had started to choke up many sections of the river and the crystal clear water made for very difficult fishing. Admittedly, I had not tried this style of fishing for some years and stealth and finesse are needed in streams only a couple of metres wide and it took me a while to get back into the swing of things. I was fishing with Rory, a very accomplished fly angler, but the pair of us were handed blanks for our troubles. Hopefully that adventure will be revisited and our fortunes will change.
Early East Coast Hounds
Later in the month a family wedding saw me head home to Wicklow where I decided to try for hounds. Previously, the earliest I had taken them was in early May but I figured that the mild winter may have had a few turn up already. The water was noticeably cooler to that in the west but before long I had my first smoothhound to some peeler crab baits. Only a pup, it was still nice to see them. In between a procession of dogfish I managed to land a few more; a couple of pups and a couple of proper hounds. I did drop one thumping fish mid way up (there’s always the one that got away!) but I was delighted to see some hounds this early in the year.
Interestingly, the echo sounder showed up plenty of baitfish and a couple of big returns that I think had to have been tope. I was light on gear with just a couple of rods for the smaller hounds so I didn’t even try for the tope but it certainly was good to see a few of them moving below me at this time. With it being so early in the season things can only get better and I am very much looking forward to heading back east to try again in May and June, with a bit of luck. I would very much like to try again this year for some big Wickow tope and I am still hunting for a double figure smoothhound.
Fly Fishing for Pollock
Having threatened to try this for a couple of years, I finally gave it a go at the end of the month. A few follows were all that I was treated to with the fish turning around at the last second on a couple of occasions. Temperatures had dropped and there was a bitter wind with a bit of north in it. I’ll try again in a few weeks when things warm up a bit more.
The Month Ahead
I tried to catch any ray without success in April, my efforts being hampered by poor bait selection and weather issues. I am going to make ray my target species for May along with tench from the fresh. Anything else that happens to find my hooks will be a welcome bonus. Tight lines!