An early start was on the cards. Admittedly, Anthony Byrne from the Irish Kayak Angling Club had beaten me to the harbour and launch site first. I had headed to the wrong harbour!
I made our agreed meeting point maybe fifteen minutes late and got about setting up as fast as I could. Not wishing to keep Anthony waiting for much longer, I told him to head on out and I would be soon following.
I dragged the kayak across the mud in the empty harbour and hopped aboard, paddling out to a reef not far offshore. I tied off to a buoy and rigged up my gear, then dropping a double shot of hooks baited with ragworm to the depths below. Nothing happened. Nothing at all.
Ten minutes elapsed without even a touch so if the fish were not going to come to me then I would have to go to them. I cut myself loose and started to drift. The decision proved to be a good one. I drifted slowly over the rough ground and within a hundred metres I could feel fish tapping at the baits.
I suddenly felt what was like an electrical jolt through the rod, unmistakably wrasse like, and I lifted into the first fish of the day. A fine ballan wrasse to get me going. Continuing on the drift, the rod arched over after another short distance and I was sure I was stuck into a monster wrasse this time.
After a short tussle a codling lay beaten at the surface and I boated it, took a photo and returned it. Good cod are more than a rarity in these waters and it is only fair to return any small fish to let them grow a little bigger. The bite and the fight from this fish gave the impression of something far larger.
Drift finished, I paddled back to my starting point and set up drifting on the same line. More fish met my hooks and the session played itself out with a steady stream of fish coming to the kayak which included more wrasse, more codling, a surprise juvenile plaice and a few poor cod.
Anthony started off as I had, tethered to a buoy and wasn’t having much luck until he released himself and started drifting. He also took a steady procession of fish that included wrasse, codling and a solitary pollack.
A fisherman was out collecting his pots as we fished, followed by what was possibly the largest seal I have seen. It looked more like it had the proportions of a walrus rather than a seal and he seemed fearless, following the trawler in anticipation of an easy meal. People feed the seals in this area which has led them to become a bit of a nuisance by stealing fish off lines and nipping at the occasional swimmer.
I certainly had reservations about dropping a bait so close to such an enormous mammal. The seal swimming about the kayak didn’t bother me, I just didn’t fancy hooking a wrasse or codling which would attract it in for a closer look. My line stayed out of the water any time this seal was within a hundred metres. Giant bull seal vs. kayak angler – only one winner there, better safe than sorry. I just wish I had charged the backup camera before heading out but he is territorial; I’ll see him again.
Seal aside, we had been treated to a busy morning. A short session had yielded five species between us. Not a bad return for a water just miles from a European capital city centre. Granted, no monsters were landed but sometimes the simpler pleasures in life are the more enjoyable; getting a couple of hours afloat in good weather and company and just making contact with a few fish. Beats wasting half of the day in bed due to excesses the previous night if you ask me…….