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Catch & Release


Reports: July 2006 (Peter Bovenizer)

I headed down to Dingle for 2 weeks - the first of which I was joined by Eoin Daly, who was being replaced with Macartan McQuaid for the second...


Day 1: Strong Westerly winds and heavy showers. Eoin and myself went to fish Dun An Oir from full out to full in. caught about a dozen pollock to 8lbs. Lost 3 more that just headed for the kelp and couldn't be stopped... After dinner in Paidy O'Sheas the weather took a turn for the worse, so after a half-hearted (and unproductive) session on Ventry Pier, headed home for an early night.

Day 2: Winds and rain the same as the previous day so we fished the small beach and rocks to the south of Brandon harbour in the hopes of a bass or sea trout, which resulted in 2 sea trout of about 1.5lbs each. Later on, it took only a few casts at Brandon Harbour just before nightfall to catch a few mackerel to use for bait the next day...

Day 3: More of the same weather today. We started off in the morning trying for another sea trout, but were unsuccessful. The wind was really picking up at this stage, so we headed to The Trench with the mackerel we picked up the previous night, but after 4 hours fishing without as much as a bite we packed up and headed back to the other side of the peninsula. It was getting on for 9:00 and with the weather limiting our options for places to go, we decided to try to spin for a bass in Ventry. Conditions were extremely difficult, but we managed 4 bass between 2 of us up to 4lb, with another 3 lost.

Day 4: We woke up shattered after the previous days fishing so didn't fish for the day and only went bass plugging in Ventry for the last couple of hours of daylight which resulted in a single fish of about 2lb

Day 5: Again, not a lot of fishing (the rain and wind was particularly heavy!). We caught half a dozen mackerel in 20 mins on Brandon Pier and brought them down to Dingle Marina for some conger fishing. No fish were landed, but we lost a small fish of about 6lb on the surface and missed countless runs.

Day 6: Eoin was heading back to Kildare after today, and the weather was better then it had been all week, so we were determined to make the most of the day. We had an unsuccessful morning lure fishing for sea trout in Brandon so went to the mouth of Dingle Harbour to fish the rising tide for ray. The mackerel were hard to come by but after about an hour we finally managed to get one. This was cut into 4 baits which resulted in 2 thornbacks and then it was back to trying for more mackerel. It was almost an hour of feathering before we caught another mackerel and by that time the tide had eased considerably, but we still managed one more thornback before it all went quiet. Some non-fishing friends were coming down for the weekend, so we headed off to meet them.

Day 7: The majority of the day was spent seeing Fungi and visiting Dingle Aquarium, but I headed out to Ventry on my own later in the day with a spinning rod and a box of lures. By the end of the night I'd caught 2 pollock, a mackerel, a sea trout and 3 bass. The bass were in a strange mood all evening, following the lures and plucking at them, but never solidly taking the hook. The 3 that were caught were all barely hooked in the lips and countless others were missed.

Day 8: The friends were still down so after an afternoon of Pitch & Putt and bowling I escaped up to Ventry again with the spinning rod. I immediatley caught a 1.5lb bass and then had about 2 hours of lost fish after lost fish, either seconds after taking the lure or as I was about to land them... Getting bored of this, I started experimenting with larger lures that have been sitting in my tackle box for ages - these things are spoons and plugs the size of a small mackerel, so i figured they might pick out the larger specimens. On the 3rd cast a fish took the lure and dived straight for the bottom and there was nothing I could do about it. Within seconds I was caught on the bottom and it took about 5 mins of pulling from different angles before i managed to retrieve it (minus the fish). To be honest though, from the fight he gave when he was hooked, I think is was a big pollock. With a bit more confidence in the bigger lures (this thing was a monstrocity!) I persevered with it and about 10 mins later hooked into another fish. This time all hell broke loose and the fish just headed for open water. There was nothing I could do but give it line and before long all the braid had been taken and I was on to the backing, which was mono that hadn't seen the light of day for 2 seasons! I took things very gingerly for the next while and after a bit of gentle coaxing, got back to the braid and thought I had the fish beaten. Soon I had him to within 20 yards of the rock and the mono leader was showing out of the water when he found enough energy for another run. This time he ran to the right of me and wrapped the line around a barnacle covered rock jutting out of the sea about 20ft in front of me. I was wincing as I felt the braid being shredded off the rocks but everything was still holding strong and soon I could see the mono leader again sticking up from the far side of the rock. The only thing between me and the potential fish of a lifetime was 20 feet of water that was about 2 feet deep so I started stripping as fast as I could whilst holding the rod as high in the air as possible. 2 shoes and one sock later everything went slack as the mono leader got sliced by the barnacles. I've never been so close to crying over loosing a fish in my life!

Day 9: Mac was due down today, but a weekend of overindulgance at the Oxegen festival meant that he was going to arrive late in the day. I decided to try for another few ray and am glad that I did! I got down to the rocks at Dingle Lighthouse at around mid-day and started feathering for mackerel. It took me an hour to catch my first one and I was too tired to try for more so used it to try for the ray. 30 mins and one ray later I was out of bait again so had to get the feathers back out and try for more. This time it took 2 hours to get one, but when I did get it, it came with 5 of its friends so I was sorted for bait for the day and it was time to concentrate on the ray again. I've never experienced fishing like it! I was fishing with 2 beachcasters so I cast the first out and began setting the second one up. By the time I was ready to cast out the second rod, the first one was bouncing around in the tripod. This kept up all day and the tally of ray ended at 13, with the biggest just an ounce under 10lb! That was by far my best ray fishing ever!

Day 10: Fuelled with stories of bass and ray, Mac was chomping at the bit to get started so we decided to start early and get as much in as possible. We began with a morning wrasse session in Beenbane and although it wasn't great, we did get a few fish up to about 2.5lb. We then headed to Dingle lighthouse to try for ray. We had a mackerel straight away so Mac cut this into 4 baits which he converted into a dogfish and 3 ray! Meanwhile, I was trying my best to add to the bait supply, but the mackerel were hard to come by and it was an hour before we saw our next fish. This was used to catch 1 more ray before everything went very quiet, so we headed up to Ventry to try for a bass. The tide at this stage was fully out and not the best for the mark in question, but we thought that it should still provide us with a fish or 2. Unfortunately, despite the odd follow and missed fish, we didn't see a bass, but I caught 3 pollock and Mac caught 2 pollock and a sea trout.

Day 11: We thought we would give the rocks at Dun An Oir a go for the pollock. Wind conditions early in the day dictated that only one or two rocks were fishable, but as the wind eased and the tide dropped we found ourselves with a greater option of marks. The fishing came and went in waves all day, but we were very rarely going too long without quality fish and by the end of the session we probably had about 30 pollock, 15 of which would have been over 5lb with my largest being 10lb and Macs being 9lb! We also caught 2 sea trout (biggest of about 1.5lb). We stopped fishing at 10:00 when a huge shoal of mackerel made it impossible to lure fish without catching one immediately. We also saw a trigger fish cruise around one of the marks here, so it may be a good spot to target them?

Day 12: Mac had never caught a basss before so we decided to go all out for them today to try to get him his first. We started at midday in Ventry with a bag of various lures and 2 spinning rods. We hadn't caught fom this mark so early in the day before, but the tide was full in so we thought that there would be a few fish searching around the submerged coves and gullies. For the first 8 hours we only saw a few follows but got no takes. Then at around 8ish I caught the first fish (about 1.5lb), followed by another (maybe 2.5 - 3lb) 5 mins later and that was it for the night! Hardly the day we were hoping for - especially for Mac!

Day 13: With it being Macs last chance to catch a bass, this was always going to take top priority, but we thought we'd start the day with a ray session. Things started brightly enough with half a dozen makerel caught within the first 5 casts and then 2 ray coming in quick succession, but then the wind picked up from nowhere and it was in the same direction as the tide, so try as we might, we just couldn't hold bottom with our 7oz grip sinkers so we packed up and headed to Ventry. When we arrived conditions looked great - the tide was an hour better than the previous day, the sky was dark and overcast and the sea was choppy. We both headed down to the mark confident that the last session of the trip was going to be a good one. Unfortunately, from the first cast we knew differently - there was a think carpet of sea-grass floating just under the surface and the lures were covered in the stuff from the first couple of feet of retrieval. Even surface poppers couldn't avoid it. We persevered for a while, but knew we were fighting a losing battle so called it a day. A dissappointig end to a really enjoyable 2 weeks fishing.

Peter