The quandry of the Health of Irish Bass stocks by Peter Aspinwall

A tricky subject I know. This is only my opinion and I know some people will disagree but here goes.

First and foremost I am like a “pig in s##t” with the reformed bass laws brought in earlier this year. About time too! Ireland had the good sense to protect the species a quarter of a century ago and the genius’s in Brussels have finally done something about it. 

They are now saying bass stocks have hit critical levels and the UK are considering a total ban (including angling) for the coming year. Don’t you just love them! What I would love to know is…. how do they know?


A fish caught over a kelp beds

How would you go about surveying bass stocks? I’ve owned a boat for the last seventeen years and I know the habitat they occupy. You can’t see them most of the time! 

They love the cover of the kelp beds and when you catch them from there the colouration of them is starkly different to a bass caught from the sandy areas near the shore. They are nearly black. So I’d love to know how they survey that. Also, bass spawn on the edge of the continental shelf and the offspring end up wherever the tides and wind takes them. My point being? A survey on one particular area has no bearing on overall bass stocks. So how do they get their figures?

My guess is feedback from commercial “line caught” fisherman and anglers. “Line caught” bass in the UK are big bucks and restaurants will pay high end money for them. 

Every year I am guessing their catches diminish and they put it down to lack of fish. Anglers too are finding it harder and harder to catch bass as the seasons pass by. But why?

Here’s my theory. I firmly believe European Bass have been around even longer than Cliff Richard. An awful long time. They are supreme predators and most predators are smart. They have to be. On land a rabbit hasn’t got to wrack its brains as to where its next meal from but the wily fox does. The rabbit happily eats away at the grass in front of it (acres of the stuff) whilst the fox works out how he’s going to eat the rabbit. I hope you see where I’m coming from.


So, back to our beloved bass. Anglers have been fishing the surf beaches for many decades now with reasonable success. And then came the Lure Revolution. I know of a couple of people at the forefront of this era, John Hall was one (if you’re out of pocket don’t come crying to me. He owes me too!) and Patrick Gallagher. I wasn’t at the coal front then but pretty close and the fishing was unbelievably good. 

Patrick was telling me last year of his pioneering days of lure fishing and his results were nothing short of spectacular.  It was like giving an eighty year old man Viagra for the first time! Think about it. Anglers were fishing virgin ground containing one of the most predatory fish Cliff has ever seen! I am talking about the “Rough ground” that covers the majority of our coastline. 

Now Cliff has reliably informed me that these fish felt very safe and secure in their environment. It is likely that some marks were fished on occasions by bait anglers losing six rigs in as many casts and walking away saying “F##k this for a game of marbles” but that in all likelihood, was all the pressure they got. All the bass in these areas were supremely confident and would attack anything that moved if they thought it would fit in their gobs.



I could give you loads of analogies to back this up but I’ll pick two. A very good friend, Bat O’Donavan (His father Laurence passed away last Thursday at the age of ninety nine. Laurence may you rest in peace.) went fishing to one of our local rough ground marks, probably in 1999. 

Armed with a shitty eleven foot rod, fifteen pound BS monofilament and about ten percent of the finesse he has today (On the lures, Bat is a legend angler) he embarked on his maiden lure fishing expedition. He  nailed eight bass to eight pound in just over a couple of hours. On a J13 Rapala. I have never heard of anyone doing better than that from that particular mark and doubt if I ever will.



My other one goes back to my childhood, not bass this time but Pike fishing. We used to fish a small tributary to the River Ouse called Cook’s Backwater. We would buy a pound of Spratt from the fishmongers on the Friday and share it between three of us. We pushed the boundaries one day and fell on a bonanza of Pike (probably fishing places that hadn’t been fished for years) and used all the bait up in two hours. 

One of the fish we caught was blind in one eye and we aptly named it “One eyed Jack”.  C’mon, a jack pike with one eye. What else are you going to call it? So being young, stupid and craving more Pike action (I’m sure we had a dozen fish in two hours) we bought a pound of Spratt each the following week end. Guess how we got on? We caught one. “One eyed Jack”. That was it. 

We went a few  more times that winter to that particular spot and old Jack would take our Spratt once more to say “hello”. We never had that bonanza again and I’m sure Jack didn’t want to be surrounded by three spotty twats smoking Picadilly No7 (cheapest fags going then) stinking of Bovril crisps and Irn Bru but the poor bugger only had one eye and was hungry. The rest of the fish with two eyes didn’t have to suffer that humiliation.




So why is it that with our super sophisticated rods, reels, braids and lures we can’t come even close to the action of those early days of lure fishing for bass? 

I believe that the bass learned quickly that everything that swims in front of them is not necessarily food and comes with its inherent dangers. They got smart. Of course we can still catch them and have “Red letter days” thrown in there too. I think we use those early days as a benchmark of how bass fishing should be and we are wrong to do so. I was told once “The secret to happiness is to want less.” It’s great advice in all aspects of life, including fishing. 

I personally believe our Irish Bass stocks are very healthy and hopefully they will remain that way. During the last few years whilst fishing from the boat the band of water 200 to 400 metres off the shoreline has been the most productive of all. It just happens to be out of casting range from the shore. Coincidence maybe? I don’t think so.

I would like to dedicate this article to “One eyed Jack.” Without his help I’m sure we would have blanked three or four times through the long, cold winter of 1975.



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Blackmouthed dogfish by Dave Craig

There was always talk of skate around the Antrim Coast, but to me that’s all it was, talk. No one that I know had caught any. Then with the development of super thin braided lines and fishing at anchor a new dimension to fishing around the deep water marks had opened up, skate were actually being caught.

It was here that I first encountered blackmouthed dogfish (Galeus melastomus) around 10 years ago and incidentally, most were caught by accident when common skate fishing. It is hard to imagine why a fish of around a 60cms and weighing less than a kilo would try and eat a full mackerel on a 10/0 pennel set-up but they did regularly.


When trying to locate a potential habitat for blackmouthed dogfish, water depth is probably the most important factor with a depth of at least 100 metres over a gravelly or sandy bottom. 

There are several marks along the Antrim Coast where water of this depth can be found relatively close to the shoreline unfortunately the weather more often than not limits the number of times “small boats” can access these deeper marks. Strong tides are common in this part of the North Channel, again limiting days at sea.

The depth of water and the strength of the tide where blackmouthed dogfish are caught dictates that the tackle has to be on the heavy side, as 2-4lb of lead is often the norm, also there is always the chance of catching “unwanted” common skate, tope, spurdogs, bull huss and congers. 

The rod should be at least 30lb class and preferably 50lb when fishing the stronger tides. Reels should be loaded with at least 50lb braid and capable of working with large leads for all or part of the day.


On the business end a set of hokkais works but to be on the safe side I tend to use snoods of about 40cms with 3/0 heavy duty hooks dressed with anything luminous and tied to 150lb nylon, again because of the chance of hooking into other species present. 

Bait can be mackerel, either frozen or fresh, herring, rainbow trout or squid. Some days a straight 3 up out-fishes everything and on others a short flowing trace produces the goods.


It is possible to catch blackmouthed dogs while drifting but anchoring increases catches, and on this precautionary note only attempt this when it is safe. Placing a bag of rubby-dubby on the anchor chain can also help draw fish to the hook baits.

Blackmouthed dogfish can be caught throughout the year with the largest females more abundant in the late summer and early autumn months.


For such a small fish bites can be aggressive, usually a lot more severe than that of the similar sized lesser spotted doggies, which at times will be a nuisance but unavoidable. Unfortunately there is no way of choosing which dogfish will lift the bait so perseverance is usually the best policy. 

When reeling in the blackmouthed will open its mouth creating as much drag as it can in the tide thus giving the false impression of a much bigger fish but with very little fight.


Identification of blackmouthed dogfish is relatively straight forward. The soft feeling skin appears as a series of pale brownish mottled patches across the dorsal and lateral sides over a white base. The eye is relatively large and iridescent green in colour. And as the name suggests there’s the “black mouth”



The black mouth which the species takes it name from

I can imagine that it can be difficult to see how anyone can get excited about catching any dogfish but on too many occasions, especially to me, they have been the difference between catching and blanking, then again there’s always the chance of a real “biggie.”

dave craig 6.png

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Carping 2016 by Andy Doyle

IFD: We caught up recently with Andy Doyle to see how his carping has been going so far this year…..

Dimple back from Maynooth

After a slow enough years fishing so far only doing a hand full of nights on maynooth I managed one of the top shelf fish (dimple back) @ 29 odd and a double.

Lake Chira Gran Canaria

I also revisited lake chira in Gran canaria for a quick 48 hour session in Easter which didn’t provide any kind of action like I had 2 years ago but it’s still a cracking water.

A lake Chira common for Andy

So when David Grimes, (Grimsey) convinced me that we needed a trip to France which in fairness took about 2 seconds. I sent a few messages to waters I fished in the past and only a little over 5 weeks before the time we had in mind I knew availability were going to be slim pickings. Fishable was on our minds but I just think you have to drive south in France for the fish (it’s a mental thing) so when Tracey in etang de Brigueuil (High Mill lake) sends me a message swims 7 and 8 is free first week in September. It was time to book the ferry because we are off to Brigueuil.

I’ve fished it 5 times so I knew what is needed and how to approach the fish keeping it simple and they will come. So I decided to go with cell and hybrid I had the base mixes so I knocked up around 10kg of 20 and 22mm baits. Boiled up hemp maze and Tigers to cover all areas. The weeks before we arrived there was a few blanks been dealt out due to such high temperatures which wasn’t what we wanted to hear.

We got the ferry to Roscoff which lands mid morning on the Friday so we had all day to make our way down through France a nice drive down and we arrived lake side 6:30 Friday evening to the usual big welcome from Andy and Tracey and a nice cold beer which was needed. We took a walk around met a few English lads which were fishing and we were happy to hear it has started to fish again nearly everyone one caught that week.

Saturday morning came we got our kit together and loaded onto the quad and off to our swims Grimsy won the toss and picked swim 7 so 8 it was for me.

It was in the 30’s all day and levels were low on the lake. So we had camp set up dinner delivered to our swims all we needed was a few beeps and that didn’t take long I netted my first fish just before dark and another before midnight, Grimsey set the pace around 2am with a 41 mirror.

I think we had 6 runs between us on the first night which is always good to settle you into your France trip. Sunday sun arrived again and the fish switched off so we all enjoyed the sun on our backs. 

Then every evening once the sun would drop behind the tree line the temperature would drop by a lot and within an hours we would be back getting them beeps again. Had a lovely 38’8 common which was my only common of the trip. 

38lb 8oz common

Monday evening just after dinner and a beer to wash it down my right hand rod bent over and after a battle in the lillies I scooped out my first 40 of the trip nice way to start off a busy night which give us both a few more 30’s.

The days went on with no action and the nights gave plenty. It was a 30’s factory really which is unbelievable fishing in my eyes. Mid way through the week I once again got stuck into fish which felt that bit more heavier and that it was swinging the scales round to 42’6 happy out I released it back in and off went another rod. As the week went on the size of the fish got a bit smaller but no one was complaining

I finished with 22 runs   2 x40. Biggest been 42’6  10 x 30 all good fish including a 35’10 grassie which we had history it swam away with my net 3 years ago lol. 

Rest were 20’s all in all it was a cracking trip sun plenty of runs for us both food  package was spot on as per usual and we were looked after 100%. Will I return to high mill lake? One day I’m sure I will….

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Kilmore Quay by James Brennan

Located in south east Ireland the fishing village of Kilmore Quay is a beautiful scenic area renowned for its excellent fishing and amazing scenery.The modern 60 berth marina hosts a wide array of vessels including 6 fully kitted charter boats.There is a wide variety of species to be caught all around the fishing grounds from the small but beautiful Corkwing Wrasse to the sleek and powerful Tope.The majority of boat angling in Kilmore Quay is done over rough ground but Bass, Ray, Tope , Flatfish and Wreck fishing is also available on request. During the summer the Mackerel shoals begin to show and this is the staple food source for the larger predators.


Kilmore Quay

Tackle – The majority of the boat angling out of Kilmore is the jigging of various feathers and rigs.While other tactics are used such as Gilling (the flying collar rig) and drifting with Tope rigs or even fishing for the Ray species at anchor the majority seems to be jigging for Cod, Pollack, Ling, Mackerel, Gurnards and Coalfish. I have found from my personal experience that you need to carry an array of colours shapes and sizes. My personal favourite would have to be the Shamrock Kilmore Killers baiting the bottom hook with a finger size strip of Mackerel or the Fladen Tube rig. It all depends on the day what the fish would like to take but don’t rule out simple black feathers I have seen these out fish the most technical and realistic tackle time and time again. Any generic form of  boat rod will do for this type of fishing loaded with a palm sized multiplier loaded with 30 pound mono or 50 pound braid. I do have to mention you will need to bring plenty of lead weights as the ground around Kilmore Quay can be extremely rough depending on where you are fishing. Don’t worry if you havent got a boat rod or reel the skippers in Kilmore Quay the Charter skippers have rods and reels for hire and are always willing to help.Small Sandeel shapes lures such as the 4.5 inch Red gill or Side winder fished on a spinning rod can be a killer method for Cod, Pollack and Bass.

Species – Each April we see the influx of the summer species Cod, Mackerel, Tope etc arrive on the grounds. Over the course of the summer charter trips will head for these grounds anyday they have a booking and the weather is good. There is two options to choose from the full day from 9:00-4:00 or a short evening trip from 5:00-8:00 the latter trip is a great outing for kids. Numerous species have been recorded from kilmore from the Black Bream to the Monkfish and Blonde Ray. Almost all this fishing is done while drifting with the exception of Rays which is fished at anchor out on the sand banks.


Tope – Every year there is a small number of large female Tope landed from 50-80 pounds. To fish for tope you need a strong wire trace crimped to a 6/0 hook and a swivel to the top of the wire. You then attach 65 inches of 120 pound mono with a zip slider threaded on and finished with another large barrel swivel. Connect a lead to the zip slider and bait up with a Mackerel flapper hooked under the jaw and up through the head slowly let it down to the bottom and wind up 7-12 turns set your ratchet and drag and wait for that adrenaline pumping noise of the ratchet screaming.


Rays – Out in the sandbanks out of Kilmore Quay there are Thornback , Blonde , Painted and Spotted rays to be caught. A simple running leger with a 60 pound snood ending in a 3/0 aberdeen hook baited with half a fillet of Mackerel is all that is too it. You will need 10-14 ounce leads for this type of fishing as there is quite a strong current on the banks.

Conclusion – I hope you enjoyed this short article on the boat fishing out of Kilmore Quay.The angling can be fantastic for Cod, Mackerel, and Pollack and on a hot summers day it makes everything so much better. I look forward to seeing a few of you for the coming season and if anyone has any questions don’t hesitate to send me a message. Tight lines James Brennan.

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One week at Euro Aqua by Steve Briggs

When it comes to big fish there isn’t anywhere in the world that can compete with one small lake over in Hungary. Producing no less than three different carp over 100lb in recent years, Euro Aqua has simply moved the big fish stakes on to another level. But besides those headline makers there are many other back up fish that would make other fisheries famous in their own right. These days demand for places is high and it’s not cheap but the lure is hard to resist and I found myself looking forward to another chance to fish the Hungarian super lake.

The majority of people tend to fly over and some gear can be hired onsite, but I’ve always preferred to have all my own gear with me whenever possible. The drive by van is 1000 miles each way, not for the faint-hearted but for whatever reason I’ve always been able to handle those drives, even if it is on my own. Having a week to get over it and having everything I need with me makes all the effort worthwhile.

As far back as a year ago I knew what swim I’d be fishing and even which side. That for me makes a big difference as I’ve never been keen on drawing for swims at the start of a trip as all your dreams and hopes can be shattered before you even start, but knowing where you will be in advance gives the chance to plan for everything. For this trip I’d be in the good company of Rob Hales again, I really enjoy Rob’s company and we seem to fish well together and work as a team to get the best out of it. Our swim for this trip would the Point swim or Island swim as it is sometimes called. Any swim can be the best on its day depending of course where the fish want to be at the time but the Point swim does give access to a really nice area of water in the center of the lake.

We knew a few decent spots out there, in particular there is one firm area that sort of divides the swim and it’s big enough for two people to get a rod each on it and it had the habit of producing the best fish on the previous trips. But really there are lots of options and it’s always a case of picking out the right ones. This was actually the first time I’d been there that wasn’t an exclusive lake booking for the English. There were two other English pairs on, along with Dutch, Belgian and Czech pairings. To our right in the bay was Dutch friend Ardy Veltkamp who was in the company of South-African based Martin Davidson, who hadn’t been carp fishing for over nine years! The lure of those monsters was too much for him to resist too.

It was a hot sticky afternoon when we finally had all of the gear in the swim. Storms were due in the next few days and of course we hoped and expected that the change in weather conditions and temperatures would cause some sort of feeding frenzy. But even as we attempted to set the bivvies up and sort the gear out we were being distracted by fish crashing close to where we stood.

There is one boat on the lake which all anglers have to share for baiting, so it would have to be a nail-biting wait to get some bait out there. Rob couldn’t hold back and decided to cast a couple of single baits at the showing fish, which proved to be a good move as before we knew it he had two rods screaming off! We had no choice other than to take one rod each. “This one feels quite good, how’s that one feel?” said Rob. I replied that it only felt like a small one with the head shaking and lack of weight. So I felt a little guilty when I saw a big head coming up to the net. In fact the one I netted went 59lb 12oz while Rob followed up with a 44lb mirror! I did get a bit of stick for that but I guess you just never know what’s on the other end?

Once we had the boat and could get a decent amount of bait out there it felt like the session could really start. We had a fair amount of in-house bait including boilies and around 25kg of hemp and tigers, but I also added a fair bit of the new Key Cray from Nash, which I thought could well make the difference. Looking in from the outside it often appears that the Euro Aqua fish are just easy big fish that are constantly hungry, but of course that is not the case at all and in fact they are very choosy when it comes to bait and they certainly know quality food from the rubbish – as they do on most waters I’ve ever fished! I really hoped that the quality would bring the better results over the week, but time would tell.

Of course after putting it a fairly large amount of bait there is always going to be a lull in proceedings. With seven pairs of anglers all giving it their best efforts, it must have been some sort of shock to the fish after two months of peace and quiet during the summer shut down. However, we didn’t doubt that it was only a matter of ‘when’ and not ‘if’ it was going to happen.

The sun finally disappeared behind the hills and the intense daytime heat gave way to the coolness of the evening. A few distant flashes were the first signs of the changing weather conditions starting to move in. There is always an air of excitement when storms move in – at least as a carp angler. I was still focusing on the horizon when I heard a bleep and looked around just in time to see my left rod scream off. Picking up the rod made little impact as the fish just kept moving and I was forced to give line. It couldn’t be a small fish, it just had too much strength and I just held on as it charged off more or less wherever it wanted! It was a fantastic battle with the stillness of the night and lightning constantly lighting up the background and a big, powerful fish doing its best to pull my arms out of their sockets!


A huge lightning bolt signals the changing weather conditions.

Slowly but surely it became a tug-of-war with me slowly leading the fish towards me. In the torchlight I saw a big wide head break the surface and now I knew it was a big one. I held my breath and walked backwards until Rob lifted the net and I felt my whole body relax. It was a big mirror, wide and deep and we both guessed that it was over 70lb. In fact it weighed 72lb 8oz, a fantastic way to get off the mark. This was just my first bite on the first evening – what a place!


First bite and a 72lb 8oz mirror – a great way to get off the mark!

The rain eventually arrived in the early hours and it cooled things down by around 10 degrees. The fish seemed to like it and by lunch the next day we’d had around another twelve fish up to 58lb 12oz. Lunch was at 2pm every day and all the anglers are expected to reel in and meet up at the lodge. To be honest it makes a nice little break every day and the chance to have a chat with the other guys and see how they are getting on. The food is always good – very good in fact. Twice I’ve had T-bone steaks that covered the entire plate! It gives the fish a brief rest too and it’s amazing how they seem to know exactly what’s going on. The lead up to dinner can often be slow affair but the period after dinner through to evening can be one of the most productive times. So it can be good to get more bait out before dinner or at least as soon as you get back. If you don’t do that then there is always the risk that the fish will move off to other areas where the food is more plentiful. All areas will generally have peaks and troughs through a session and indeed it did slow down a little for the next day or so, except for Rob’s left rod fishing alongside an island. That rod just kept going off continuously and although they were mainly from the smaller range fish, that rod had produced the 59lb 12oz on the first day so there was no telling if a big lump would be next or not.


A single hook bait produced this near 60 for Rob Hales.

The westerly winds at the start had been replaced by easterlies, which are always my least favourite, but for the guys on the far bank where it was blowing in to it was just about perfect and almost every time we looked up at least one of them was playing a fish. You have to make the most of your chances when they come and that’s just what they were doing. Although we were still picking them off, our hope was that the wind would drop or the fish would start to move on the back of it. As it happened the next afternoon the wind suddenly just stopped and although it was hot and still the fish moved back to the centre of the lake and our swim took on a whole different look again. Once again we got plenty of bait out there and the pole markers started rocking from side to side! I was expecting action straight away but just like the first evening we had to wait until the hours of darkness.


Cooler evenings were always welcome after the long hot days.

The first sound wasn’t from our alarms but from Rob’s phone. It was Scott Phillips down to our right in Electric Point with some big news! He’d just banked a monstrous mirror of 92lb and Rob went straight around to help out and take some pictures while I guarded the rods. Most people already had something decent to show for their efforts but Scott’s fish is really what we all dream and hope for when we go to Euro Aqua – not everyone will catch them but they are always a possibility that’s for sure, in fact that’s the third different 90lb+ fish that’s been caught just while I’ve been at the lake!

Rob returned with eyes wide open buzzing from what he’d just witnessed. It was just coming up to midnight and I got out from the warmth of my sleeping bag to hear the story. Just then my alarm sounded as yet another powerful fish took off in to the darkness. I must admit that after what I’d just heard my knees were trembling as I knew that this was no small fish! After what must have been around 20 minutes a big common loomed up out of the depths. Perhaps we got a bit carried away with the estimations and we even got poor old Scott around with the weighing tripod but at 64lb it was certainly no tiddler!


A night of big fish action started with this 64lb common.

What it did signal was the start of another burst of big fish action, which ensured that there wasn’t much sleep to be had that night. Daylight arrived and I was just making a cup of tea when Rob latched in to something big and within seconds one of mine was away too and we were both playing unstoppable fish.


Rob hooked into something huge but unfortunately never got to see it.

I knew mine was good but Rob was convinced his one was massive and the concentration levels went up a notch. Every now and then I glanced over to Rob and could see that he was totally engrossed in the battle doing all he could to gain control. But out of nowhere the tip sprang back and the fish was gone before we’d even got a glimpse. I’ve rarely seen him so disappointed but what can you say? Luckily mine stayed on and turned out to be a 55lb mirror.


My fish stayed on and weighed 55lb

It seemed that when the fish were in the swim then a take was possible at any time. At midday under the blazing hot sun I found myself doing battle once again. The power of those fish was hard to believe, I guess the drop in temperature and a few windy days had given them all the energy they needed and once again I found myself being dragged all around the swim by something that felt like a submarine. When I saw it for the first time I caught my breath as it was long and wide but it was still another ten minutes before it was safely in the net. It was an awesome looking mirror of 65lb that looked in the peak of condition – as the fight proved! Before lunch at 2pm I’d banked another good mirror of 51lb and I was actually glad to sit down and have a rest. The hectic night of action and several big fish had taken their toll and although I perhaps should have been keen to get back asap my body told me otherwise and for a couple of hours I just chilled out and had a drink or two.


A 65lb mirror that gave me an epic scrap during the hottest part of the day.

By the time we got the boat that evening we sort of new that the spell would have passed and for me it proved to be the case but Rob did land a lovely 63lb mirror. It was quite clear that they would move in on the bait but it was difficult to hold them. There were fish coming out all over the lake but it seemed that the really big ones were moving about in one group and all we could do was wait our turn and do our best to entice them back. The actual spots we fished didn’t really make that much difference. We had a couple of nice firm areas marked out, which to us were the right spots to target. But to be honest when the fish were in the area they were coming from firm spots and soft spots alike. As anglers, we get it in to our heads that we need to fish on hard spots but a lot of the time I think it’s just what suits us rather than what suits the carp and they don’t always think the way we do.


I’ve no doubt that quality bait will always bring the better results.

With time running out I was starting to wish that I’d booked two weeks instead of just the one. A week used to seem such a long time to be on the bank but now it always seems to go by so quickly. Also the times when there is a real chance of catching something life-changing are few and far between and this was certainly one of those chances, Scott had proved that by catching another monster mirror of 84lb – what a trip he was having!

With the last evening upon us we decided that we would just take it easy – watch a film on the i-pad and a few cups of tea before a good nights sleep with one eye on the long drive home the next day. Of course the fish had other ideas and decided to give us a proper send off. Before the film had finished we’d caught more good fish with three commons of 54lb, 55lb and 58lb 8oz coming in the space of an hour along with mirrors to 42lb! It was crazy fishing really, I always make an effort to photograph most fish I catch, especially the big ones but I have to admit to putting mirrors of 54lb and 47lb back that night without pictures. Sleep didn’t really happen and I reckon I only got around two hours in amongst all of that. But if you think I’m complaining then nothing could be further from the truth because this was just awesome fishing – some of the best that I’ve had for a long time and once again fishing with Rob had produced a trip that will live in our memories forever.


This 58lb 8 oz common was part of a hectic final night of action with little sleep.

There are some great waters in the world today but when it comes to big fish action Euro Aqua sits right at the top. But what the future holds no one can know for sure. Owner Alex Horvath has expressed that he wants to sell the venue and move on to other projects in the near future and so no one knows what will happen at this stage. The lake itself has a lifetimes worth of stock already in place and I’m not just talking about the big fish but the size ranges that go all the way back to the small singles and doubles that will undoubtedly grow on in the coming years. Maybe for some lucky person this might just be the venture that they are looking for and it would certainly be great to see the lake carry on in its present state – or who knows, even improved on? One thing is for sure and that is we all know what the lake can, and does produce – the biggest carp in the world and that is the lure that I find impossible to resist!

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What happened to Tarquin? by Peter Aspinwall

In the last gripping episode, Tarquin had foolishly attacked the Abu Hi-Lo that had swam within striking distance from his and Randolph’s gulley and had indeed been hooked by a “Catch and decease” rotter! (At this moment I feel like Eric Van Lustbader deciding the fate of Jason Bourne!) Randolph and himself had often discussed escape and evade tactics when there were no lures coming across them to “Play the game” and Tarquin put them into action. He swam towards the knobhead as fast as he could and dived into a depression behind a jagged reef. The cheap mono bought from one of the German run supermarkets chaffed against the reef and parted company. Another stroke of luck for Tarquin was that the hooks on the lure was rustier than my Transit van and hadn’t penetrated his top lip. A couple of shakes of his head and the lure was dislodged. Lucky bugger!

So what information can you glean from the opening paragraph apart from the fact I’m as mad as a box of frogs! There is a subtle point in there, do not skimp on the business end of your gear. It’s all well and good having a megabuck Tenryu rod and a matching mag sealed reel costing a king’s ransom but close attention should be paid to your braid, fluorocarbon, links and hooks.

We will start with the braid. If you don’t fish with braid and use mono instead I cannot emphasise enough…… “Try it!” you’ll never look back. The diameter to breaking strain ratio is about half of that to mono which will extend your cast by half again. However, this is not the main reason for using it. Braids Uber quality is that there is zero stretch in it. A fish can hit the lure at sixty metres and the result would be the same as the fish hitting at six metres away. Direct contact. The hook up ratio of braid compared to mono is phenomenal. What braid do you buy? As with everything nowadays the choice is bewildering. Personally, I use Berkley braid. Whiplash, to be precise. Is it the best? Probably not but it has never let me down yet and I’m a great believer in the term “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.” A three hundred metre spool of twenty pound BS will set you back about forty bucks which is a bargain compared to the braids in the upper price range. Most reels come with a spare spool so load the lot on (if your reel is 2000 to 3000 class a 300 metre spool of braid will fill it) and then top it up with mono until it’s perfectly loaded. Put the spare spool on the reel and transfer the first spool onto the second. The following season, add extra mono to the top of the spool to compensate for braid lost and find a big field. Pull the lot out and tie the new mono to the existing backing and reverse the braid giving you unused braid. Two seasons. Forty euros. Cheap as chips!


Berkley Whiplash. Good quality, no nonsense braid.

Once the braid is loaded onto the reel you will need to attach a length of mono or fluorocarbon. This is done for two reasons. Fluorocarbon is less visible in water than braid and it will also give you a bit of stretch when playing the fish. I know some anglers use a swivel for the junction but I prefer to use a standard Albright knot with the braid doubled up. The top ring of your rod will love you for it! This is tied at home and tested. If I am happy with the knot I apply a dob of superglue to it and tie on the quick link. The quick link is tied on with a grinner knot and nine times out of ten this is the point of breakage when snagged up. Simply tie on a new link and away you go. With 20lb BS braid I opt for 15lb fluorocarbon. Berkley again. It works and haven’t broke on a bass yet. I do carry a spool of the Seagaur fluorocarbon (11.6lb BS) for the super calm days when the water clarity is unreal. It is the best leader material I have come across and use it for my salmon fishing. It wants to be at twenty euros for a fifty metre spool!


Saucy money but worth it!

Quick change links have come on leaps and bounds over the last decade and it’s well worth spending the extra dosh on these, especially when you have a megabuck, megabass lure on the end that cost thirty euro. Grauvell do a stainless “twist on, twist off” one which are superb. There are plenty of others too but avoid the old style “American snap swivels” as they’re crap! Unless you’re using spinners, swivels are unnecessary so go for the links that do not incorporate one. Another potential “weak link” removed.


The Grauvell “Twist on, twist off” is ideal for your hard plastics.

The trebles on my lures get replaced each season with new ones. I crush the barbs down for my own sake as much as the fish. It’s a lot easier to remove a barbless hook from your hand or finger compared to a barbed one. The Owner range of trebles are ridiculously sharp and reasonably priced. Another good one is a Dremel tool with a wire brush attachment in it. In a couple of minutes it will remove any nasty rust stains off your lures and clean up the split rings. The split rings rarely need replacing as they are normally made of a higher quality metal than the hooks and the hooks act like a sacrificial anode on a boat engine, rusting the hooks before the split rings. A couple of hours at the end of the season spent cleaning your lures with warm, soapy water will massively increase the longevity of them. Let them air dry and a light spray with WD40 is all they need before you put them away for the winter.


A Dremel makes winterising your lures painless.

Let’s face it lads, we are all tackle tarts! The bling and accessories that is available to anglers would be enough to make an Essex girl jealous. Keeping your braid and leader material in order, along with sharp hooks and good quality quick links will catch you more bass. Boga grips and super duper pliers made out of aircraft grade aluminium with titanium jaws will not catch you fish. Buy the bling by all means if you feel you need it but make sure the “Business end” is in perfect order before you splash the cash!

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Fish finders for the kayak part 2 by Graham Smith

Hi all,
This is part 2 to getting that fish finder up and running on your kayak.
Since that last post we will assume you have bought your fish finder.
I chose the Raymarine Dragonfly 4, which is a combined unit with a plotter and fishfinder in it.
As said in the previous post it has a bonded screen so it will never fog fog up even in direct sun light.
I have heard some concerns about these units having high power consumption rate , but mine runs for 2 long days fishing on a 12v 7ah battery. Which is what most of us use. It is basically a battery from a house alarm. Can be got from most electrical retailers. Should cost less than E20.00

The actual fitting of the fish finder. 
So fitting a fish finder couldn’t be easier. No drill bits need or cutting holes in your pride and joy.
At the moment I am paddling a trident 13, which has a sonar shield in front of the tackle pod.
A very handy piece of kit. Here is mine on the Ocean kayak 13.


So for this kayak all you need is 3 stainless steel screws and screw it to the front of the sonar shield.
You do this so you and mold the head unit down as much as possible for a surf landing.
Once I had done that I plugged the unit in and brought the wires and transducer out and under the hatch lid. No holes needed as the Ocean kayak hatch lid has an over lap meaning you bring wires under without much fear of water getting.
To secure the wire I unscrewed one of the hatch strap fixings and secured the wire under it.



So how easy is that, ANSWER, VERY.
Please use a a screw driver and not a cordless drill or you could over tighten the screw and ruin the fixing.
So that’s done, what about the transducer.
Well on the Raymarine dragonfly it has a very long transducer.


In fact it is so long that I find it hard to get it to stay on the hull. I have fixed it on with good puraflex with the hull flexing when tying to the roof rack etc. It knocks it if again. But with this unit I found out by mistake that if you just sit it upright in the hull it works fine. Excluding the chirp the transducer really needs to be outside the hull to work at it’s best.

Siting your transducer .
Ideally your transducer should be fitted to the hull with a generous blob of good adhesive/silicone.
I use puraflex as it is reasonably priced at about E8.00 and has great holding power.
So adhesive at the ready you want to place the transducer as close to the seating position as possible. Reason being it will be under the water all the time and less likely for air bubbles to interfere with the image on the screen.
Saying this it is easy done on a trident as the center hatch makes access to the hull very easy.
In a standard kayak I would just place the transducer as far back as you can reach from the forward hatch.
There is no magic in fixing the transducer. Just cut the nozzle well back on the tube of adhesive and put nozzle to spot you want your transducer to be and squeeze at least half the tube out in one big blob. Making sure there is no air bubbles int it.
Once you have you big blob done just press the transducer into the adhesive and rock it back and forward until it is pushed well into it. It normally  doesn’t make any odds if the sides are covered. So don’t worry to much about that.

Power supply.
This is the one that causes the most problems in the long term. If you can get a hold of stainless spade connectors they would be great, other wise you have to replace you connectors at least once a year.
I have spent mad money on connectors and they were not worth the money. So I have gone back the way and will be using this version in the future. This is a socket from an old PC. plus the plug from the power lead makes a great power plug and socket. The one below is for a different application. But the one on my battery box below is off an old kettle. The plug and socket seem resistant to corrosion for now. So all good so far. Best of all the’re free.



The one below is from an old kettle. As you can see the standard screws are rusting and the socket is like new.



The one below is from an old kettle. As you can see the standard screws are rusting and the socket is like new.


The trident 13 has battery bag up in the front of your kayak so you can just slide the box inside it.


Not the tidiest looking but it does the job.

Things to be careful with.
There are a few things you really have to watch out for with a fishfinder on a kayak.

  1. Never ever leave your battery connected when the fish finder is not in use. Meaning when the kayak is lying in the garden or on the car roof. Moisture and the power from the battery will totally destroy the plug connection in a short period of time. As little as one will destroy some units plugs.
  2. Always have an inline fuse. Connected up wrong once could be enough to ruin a unit.
  3. When putting the unit head away be sure the plug is not lying in water when not in use.
  4. Always keep your head unit indoors when not in use. Damp garages and sheds are very hard on any electrics.

So I hope that makes your install cheap and easy. A total install cost should be no more than E15.00 including adhesive and battery box.
Good luck with your install and I hope this helped you with your install.


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Fishing the Colosseum with Adrian Molloy

IFD: With autumn upon us, it was time to head back to Donegal to fish with famous Irish tuna skipper Adrian Molloy of one of the hardest working skippers in the business.

Once again it was another unforgettable experience for our group consisting of Martin Bowler, Mike Jackson and myself.

I won’t say too much here as Martin will write his own account for Angling Times but we all got fish and the sights we seen were something to behold….. and Jacko got his birthday present!

Martin smoking can only mean one thing….. tuna fishing!

The Slieve League cliffs rising into the clouds…. the tuna fishing Colosseum


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Return to France by Lloyd Lynch

Well the time had finally arrived again and it was time to head back to France again in search of some monsters. Our previous trip which was in April and also our first ever trip abroad fishing for carp proved very successful. We landed a total of 31 carp between us with my biggest being a 42lb mirror. It was a brilliant trip with some lovely carp caught.

It was August 13th and as we set sail for Cherbourg, me and my good friend Matthew were full of excitement and could not wait to get fishing. It was a relief to be finally on the boat after all the stress of the previous week with all that had happened. At one stage we thought the trip wasn’t going ahead due to motor problems with Matthew’s car but that’s another story. We were en route to Lac Du Val and that was the main thing!

Lloyd Lynch and Matthew Doyle

After nearly a full day travelling and both of us absolutely exhausted we were finally standing looking at the wonderful views the lake had to offer. The sense of tiredness completely left my body with a burst of excitement taking over me. It was good to be back. After a quick chat with the owners Sammy and Dave, they updated us on how the lake was fishing and all sounded good. We were told they were active and seemed to be on the munch. Just what we wanted to hear.
On our last trip Matthew fished peg 2 which was the shallower end and I fished peg 4 that being the deeper end of the lake so this time I would fish peg 2 and Matthew would fish peg 4 we were both happy with this decision. The lake looked completely different to the last time we were here. The trees now had there leaves, flowers had blossomed and the lake just looked and felt more a alive this time round.

My home (bivvy) was now set up for the week and it was time to think tactics and what way I was going to approach this swim. My right hand rod was placed with the bait boat over to the opposite margin to a dead tree overhanging into the lake at 21 wraps, my middle rod was then placed also using the bait boat into a small bay where I had seen fish cruising in the upper layers at 17 wraps and then my left hand rod was flicked out to a small, stumpy tree down the margin to my left which was known for some previous good catches in the past. Satisfied with my spots it was now time to get some bait onto them.

My right and middle rod were fishing over to the opposite side of the lake so to bait up I had to walk around to the other side with my buckets consisting of pellet, tigers, hemp, corn, crushed boiling and tiger nut additive just to boost the attraction of the mix. My plan was to bait little and often.

The rods were out and after we finished a delicious meal cooked by one of the owners, Sammy, the light was fading and it was time to see what the first night would have in store for us. Matthew was first off the mark with a lovely 20lb common. It was good to see a fish on the bank. It wasn’t long after and my rod on the dead tree was away, resulting in my first fish of the trip, a pristine 19lb 2oz common. 

Just as I was releasing the fish my middle rod registered a bite, this time being a plump 22lb mirror.
After getting the rods immediately back out onto the spots and a quick top up of bait I was heading to bed a happy man. The rest of the night was strangely quiet, but in the early hours of the morning my left hand rod down the margin was away. Just as I lifted the rod I could feel the line grinding off the branches of the stumpy tree resulting in the fish getting snagged! I kept constant pressure on the fish but unfortunately the hook pulled.

After that incident I realised it was going to be difficult to land a fish on this rod, the lead had dropped and I was fishing with the clutch extremely tight but the fish still managed to find a way under the thick branches. 

That morning I looked about in search of a new spot and that I did. There was a small island to my left and at 8 wraps there was a small clear patch in amongst the weed, directly in front of a lilly bed. I quickly introduced ten spods of particle onto this spot in the hope of a quick bite. The second day passed uneventful, that evening I redone the three rods and put out fresh rigs that I had tied during the day. The rigs I was using were your standard bottom bait rigs as I like to keep things as simple as possible. Once I have a sharp reliable hook on the end I’m happy. Hybrid tackle who are my sponsor to date, supplied me with plenty of terminal tackle before heading to France, so tying fresh rigs constantly wasn’t a problem. On the hair I was using the boilies provided on the complex tipped with yellow or pink artificial corn. An easy rig to tie up but also very effective at the same time.

The second night was upon us and after landing two middle doubles commons and a low twenty mirror off the dead tree. 

The rod I had moved from my left margin screamed off just as the sun was rising that morning. 

33lb common

After a slow and steady fight, I was looking down at what I knew was my new pb common in the net. And a new pb it was, my previous biggest being 31lb 8oz. This fish weighed 33lb on the button and looked every ounce of it, you could have literally put a saddle on its back. The session was only starting and already I was made up.

At 33lb a new pb common

It was the third day of our trip and I decided to make a slight change and it definitely paid off. I moved my middle rod due to a lack of action on it, to a bamboo tree 21 wraps over to the opposite margin which was about 20 feet away from my rod at the dead tree. 

Full linear

By the end of the third day I had landed another three twenty pound plus carp the biggest being 24lb. 
The madness continued for the following few days with constant action including my new pb tench weighing 6lb 8oz, a monster rudd of 4lb also a new pb and beautiful full linear mirror. 

6lb 8oz tench

It was turning into a session I had never expected. Literally exhausted with barely any sleep, even though I wasn’t complaining, I continued working hard in the hope of a monster carp would come along.

4lb rudd

The perseverance paid off and on the fifth morning, after landing a stunning 30lb 12oz mirror which I was over the moon with, my bobbin on the middle rod pulled tight and I was into what felt like a very heavy fish. After a long fight and a couple of heavy head shakes I was looking down at what I could only describe as a pig sitting in my net. My knees were trembling and the feeling of success rushed through my body I had got what I had came for. 
I quickly ran down to Matthew to inform him of what I had caught. With the scales zeroed Matthew lifted the sling with the fish inside. We waited a few seconds for the needle to settle, she weighed 40lb 6oz I was blown away.

Lloyd’s new pb mirror 40lb 6oz

After plenty of pictures and some lovely water shots it was time to release her. It was an amazing sight looking at such a big fish swim away for the next lucky person to catch. Completely soaked and covered in carp slime it was time for a shower and a lovely fry to look forward to. 

About to release his prize

As we finished breakfast Matthew and myself chatted about how well the trip was going so far and how we were really enjoying it. At the time I mentioned to Matthew that he was due a big fish. He had caught a lot of fish ranging from the low teens to the mid twenties so I had a feeling that it was only a matter of time before he landed a very big one and of that I was right! 
As I was just falling asleep that night after landing a beautiful 25lb mirror, Matthew alerted me he had just landed a big fish. I got my cross on and walked up to see a massive common lying on his unhooking mat. It went 39lb on the scales and I was absolutely buzzing for him as it was well deserved. 

Minutes later while standing with Matthew my reciever registered a violent take. The fight felt different and I had a feeling it wasn’t a carp due to the line it was taking and continued to stay deep throughout the fight. It turned out to be my first ever catfish, it wasn’t very big but my first one and I was more than happy.

Not long after I was awoken again by Matthew, this time it was a recapture from our first trip in April. It was his first ever forty then but this time it was two ounces bigger. He was delighted as I was myself for him. An unbelievable session it was turning out to be and with two nights left there was still time for one more big one.
It was my rod at the bamboo tree that produced the 40 so I took a gamble and decided to bait up this spot heavily for the second last night. I introduced two kilo of boilies and a kilo of particle onto the spot. The gamble was to pay off.
That night after landing a low twenty common on my left hand rod, I was just finishing spodding in the darkness when the rod on the bamboo tree melted off. After the longest thirty minutes of my life and my arm aching she was finally mine and I slipped the net under what looked like a brute of a mirror. I honestly thought looking at the fish it was 40lb +  but at 35lb 6oz I was delighted and was happy that the heavy baiting was proving successful. 

35lb 6oz

After some photos and getting the rod back out onto the spot I was I was heading back to bed a happy carp angler.

We had breakfast that morning and with only one more night left, I was eager to get the rods back out. With the rigs back on the spots I settled down to watch a film. It didn’t take long to be interrupted and connected to another angry carp. It turned out to be a 22lb 14oz mirror.The rest of the day passed without anymore action. 
That evening I baited up heavily again with another two kilo of boilies and plenty of particle and pellets as well. It was all or nothing at this stage, it was either going to pay off or not but it was a risk I was willing to take. The last night was upon us and with a long journey home ahead of us tomorrow, we decided to have an early night.

Apart from one small mirror during the night it was slow but I wasn’t complaining. I had the best fishing experience and session of my life so far. I had finished up with just under 40 fish with a total weight of 658lb. I had worked hard and was rewarded. 

All those late nights walking around to the opposite side of the lake, half asleep topping up my spots, all of the early mornings observing the lake, and not forgetting the lack of sleep but it was all worth it and I loved every minute of it! Car fishing and fishing in general is a big part of my life so to spend a week away in France with one of my best mates catching carp on a beautiful lake surrounded by nature, there is no better place on would have rather been. 

Time to say goodbye

After adding up the total weights of the fish we had between us, it came close to 1100lb and in total landing 59 carp. Unfortunately it was time to leave this magnificent place and head home to our families and friends. As we said our goodbyes to Sammy and Dave, it was time to begin our long journey back to Dublin. Certainly a holiday I will remember for a long long time!

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A week in high summer by Alan Walsh

I was lucky enough to get out on a few short sessions this week and after a few different species.My first trip was to Meadow Lodge in Maynooth, this is a commercial fishery and not normally my cup of tea, as one day a year with my daughter in Oaklands is usually enough to get carp out of my system. In fairness, Meadow Lodge is a much more challenging water and requires all your angling nous and prowess to achieve success. 

It is a beautiful little lake with buzzards, kingfishers, reed buntings, sedge warblers, and many wonderful dragonflies and damsels resident to the area. The lake itself holds good stocks of tench, hybrids, roach, rudd, perch, eel, and some golden tench. It also has a good head of carp (to maybe 20lb) of the French variety. 

There is a small bait and tackle shop on site and it is well-run by helpful and friendly staff. There is also a private specimen lake with some really big carp. 

The evening I fished it, it was quite warm and the sun was threatening to come out which would probably bring the carp to the surface. So the plan was to try and catch some tench on float under the rod tip, feeding just some 2mm krill pellets and fished 6mm pellets or worm on the hook. I would also flick out some floating pellets if carp showed up on the surface. 

Over the next hour and a half I caught many small tench (of which there are loads), rudd, perch, a nice hybrid, and a couple of proper tench. By now some carp had started to show an interest in my floating pellets so I set up a rod with a crystal chubber float, 5ft of 10lb fluoro and a size 6 hook hair-rigged to a floating pellet. 
The carp were very wary even with the free offerings, but I finally managed to hook up one and what a fight! It went like a steam train. But after about ten minutes it was in the net, 9.45lb mirror carp, mission accomplished! 

Meadow Lodge Carp

Couple of days later I was down in Wexford in search of mullet, a species along with perch and tench that I really enjoy fishing for. There wasn’t any sign of them in the harbour so I headed up river to a small lagoon which is only between 18” and 3ft deep. If the mullet travel up that far they usually stay for a week or more as they can only get up or down on a very high tide. Normally you will only catch one mullet here (if you’re lucky) as the commotion scares the rest of the shoal half way to west Cork. 

On arrival I threw out a few bits of floating bread and crust to see if any fish showed to it and also baited a small swim under the rod tip with some bread crumbs and flake. No fish showed on the surface so I concentrated on the small swim while I stayed hidden away in the undergrowth. 

I fished some bread flake on a size 12 wide gape hook under my trusty drennan driftbeater fishing at a depth of about 2ft on the drop. I got a few little knocks and dips on the float but nothing hittable. Not knowing if it was a small trout or rudd I decided to do something new when after mullet. I moved the shot down close to the hook sitting on the bottom and fished the lift method a la tench! To say it worked is an understatement as in the next 30 minutes or so I caught three lovely mullet and lost one, and in what is usually a one fish swim at best! The biggest was 4lb 8oz.

In a very short session the next day I had my first specimen mullet of the season in the same place weighing 5lb 10oz! One happy angler! 

My last trip of a busy fishing week was to a small Tipperary lake after some very difficult moody tench, especially this late in the season. On arrival late in the evening, there were a few anglers on the lake and although tench were showing they weren’t being caught. 

On settling into a swim I baited up with a small amount of maggots, hemp and corn. The tench started fizzing straight away but an hour later I hadn’t even got a bite so I introduced some small pellets into a corner of the swim and they were on it straight away, time to make some paste from the pellets. Removing the bottom shot, I used the weight of the paste to cock the float, so if the float lifted either the paste was gone or a tench had the paste. In the next 30 minutes I had four lovely tench to about 4lb and went home a happy man!  

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