Lure selection for bass – Granada or Consul by Peter Aspinwall

When we were kids we would occasionally sit on a wall by the road and try to identify the make and model of the car coming towards us before each other could.

“Ford Cortina MK 2.” Steven would call. “Vauxhall Viva!”  “Triumph Spitfire.” And so on. A good one was the Ford Granada and the Ford Consul. The Consul was essentially the poor man’s Granada. The bodywork on the two was identical but the engines and the interior of the Granada were superior to that of a Consul.

Our next door neighbour Mr Foren drove a Consul and I knew his routine. So when I saw a white car coming towards us at ten minutes to five I was pretty sure it was him but said nothing. Steven would shout out “Ford Granada. Ha!” “It’s not.” I would say. “It’s a Consul.” As it drove past the Consul badge was there for all of us to see. “How did you know that?” My mates would ask. “Ah, just a lucky guess.” I would say. I never told them it was my next door neighbour’s car and I used to clean it every Sunday for thirty pence! It’s good to have an edge sometimes.

 

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When fishing the gullies and reefs with the hard plastics I often imagine two bass laying up in a gully playing a similar game. “My word Tarquin, I do believe that’s a Megabass Zonk!” “You’re on the ball Randolph. Yes it is!” “Ah Randolph, I have you this time. That my friend is an Ali Magnet.” “Poor old Uncle Hector fell for one of those years ago and we never saw him again. Must have been one of those “Catch and decease” rotter’s!” And the game goes on.

When I first started fishing the lures and flies back in 2002 it was unbelievably good. You didn’t really get many follows then, the bass would “slam” into it as soon as they saw it and that was that. The subsequent years brought less slams and more follows and now I find follows something of a rarity.

Has anyone else noticed this? Also, the last three bass I have seen caught on subsurface “Hard Plastics” from our local channel in Clonakilty have all been foul hooked in the side of the head. I believe the fish aborted the attack at the last second but the trebles got a hook hold as they brushed past the lure. In all of the cases no trebles were anywhere near the mouth.

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So the big question is “Has the subsurface HP had its day?” They still work well under the cover of darkness but I think they are not as effective in the daytime as they used to be. My preference during the day is to surface lures and soft plastics and has been for a while. But why so? The surface lures are deadly when bass are feeding close to the surface and I think they see the commotion made by the lure more than the lure itself.

They don’t see the entire lure like they would a subsurface HP and I’m sure it’s like a curry to a pisshead on a Saturday night after the pubs have shut. Irresistible!! I know a lot of anglers have little faith in surface lures and probably try them when nothing else has worked. If nothing else has worked it’s unlikely that the surface lure will work too and it’s probably one of those days when nothing is happening. Go out on a good day with only surface lures to avoid the temptation of putting a subsurface one on and stick at it. You will get them.

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On to the soft plastics. Why do they work so well? For me there are two key reasons. One is they don’t have half the cutlery drawer hanging off it! They have one discreet hook that is often concealed within the bait as opposed to three trebles (nine hooks in total) dangling off a subsurface HP. It’s got to help. The second and most important one is how you fish them. Subsurface HP are normally fished quite quickly.

This worked well in the early days when the fish would bang anything but think what creatures do in the wild if they are being preyed upon. They have two choices, run like F##K or remain motionless. Predators also spot movement before they spot the prey itself so it makes sense to fish a lure bearing these things in mind. A baitfish detached from its shoal is vulnerable. Very vulnerable. Safety in numbers no longer applies and if it tries to outswim a voracious bass there is only going to be one winner. It makes sense to me that it will opt for “The stay as still as I possibly can” tactic and hope to f##k nothing spots me approach.

A lot of anglers make the mistake of moving soft plastics too quickly. I have had good success using the 200mm Koneels from the boat the last couple of seasons and I barely move them. I cast out of the front of the boat and pick up the slack line as the boat drifts towards the lure. That’s it. If the lure moves more than one or two metres on a fifty metre cast I would be surprised. The takes are ferocious because the lure and the manner it is fished in are very realistic.

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More food for thought lads! These are only my opinions on how bass fishing is evolving and I’m not saying I’m right. You will get those days when the bass are really having it and the subsurface HP will outfish everything. However, most days realistically you are looking for one or two fish and Tarquin, alongside his buddy Randolph have seen most of them. “My god Tarquin, that’s a bloody Abu Hi-Lo! Is this boy for real! That’s a bloody Pike fishing lure. What self respecting bass would even consider taking that? Tarquin…… Come back here…. Don’t be a bloody fool. Oh I do hope he’s one of those “catch and release boys.”

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Fishing for plaice with Jon Patten

IFD: When it comes to fishing Jon Patten has been there and done that. With no fewer than four world records including the all tackle record for dogtooth tuna, and only a few weeks ago he nearly broke the world haddock record!

So now we talk to Jon about a target much closer to home, one of the coolest flatties that swim….. plaice.

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Jon Patten

Times of year:

I started my plaice fishing when I was a lad on my uncle’s boat off the Kent coast. We would primarily fish around mussell beds for them and the prime months were usually June, July and August. Then after August they would leave the banks we were fishing for them, and they must have moved inshore or offshore but they would just disappear. If I was looking for a big plaice nowadays I would concenrate on these months.

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A 6lb plaice for Jon

Habitats and depths:

When I first moved to Devon and started my plaice fishing campaign, we would have been fishing in depths of twenty to forty feet over the Skerries bank. On the whole the plaice were generally quite small. When I was a kid with my uncle we used to get them up to four and five pounds though there would be occasional bigger fish.

Then I started fishing the Shambles off Weymouth. The fishing there was completely different. You would be fishing big strong tides and they would generally put out a drogue to slow the drift. On the whole you would only pick up one or two fish but they would be exceptionally big. On the Shambles you would generally be fishing twenty to thirty feet depths over sand and pea shingle.

Then we started fishing in depths of 100 feet for plaice, it was totally alien to me. We were fishing really heavy duty mussell beds with mussell encrusted rocks. You would be drifting along, bumping along the rocks and waiting to find the soft gullies in between. You would have to pay really close attention to the bottom without getting snagged. You would be feeling the donk donk donk of the lead then suddenly it would drop into a sandy gully about eight feet deep. You only got a brief chance and needed quick reactions but that was where you find the big plaice. It’s tackle hungry ground but that’s what afforded them the protection.

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Drift or anchor:

One of the reasons that area was found was because they used to fish at anchor for bream there, and as the boat would swing on the anchor over slacks, they started finding they were getting the plaice. So with that in mind they thought well lets do a couple of drifts to explore and lo and behold the plaice were immense. So we found that drift fishing you could cover more ground and in a more controlled manner.

End Tackle:

If we were fishing somewhere like the Skerries, we would fish with 7 to 10ft traces with 2 or 3oz leads. On the deeper mark I was telling you about I would try and get away with 6oz but I may had to use up to 10oz on 12lb setups. At that mark a running ledger no longer than 2ft and sometimes not even that. I always used to fish a flyer which would be attached to sit just behind the lead. I had numerous double shots and they never seemed to be particularly put off by the lead. If they wanted it they were having it!

On the Skerries I would fish with 1/0 hooks, but on the rough ground marks I would use anything from a 2/0 to a 4/0. Those plaice have big mouths and can fit a whole peeler crab no problem so it more depended on what kind of bait I was using to determine the hook.

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A Norwegian plaice for Jon

Bait: 

Generally for the big ones I would use five or six rag that I would hook them half way down to let the tails wriggle around freely and I might tip it off with some razor or squid. When you’re using baits like these you don’t usually need any of the usual bling but maybe one or two beads if you want. They are very inquisitive, they have smelt the bait and heard the commotion of the leads bumping so they are just gonna nail it.

In shallower water and relatively clean ground, bling works much better with beads and attractor blades. Also for this reason, the best conditions are when it is sunny you will catch more than when it is overcast.

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Jon and his pb plaice, a whopping 7lb 8oz

Shore fishing:

For my shore fishing I will normally fish using bomber rigs with 30lb snoods, SRT springs for tension and I’ll add to that a couple of beads on the snoods. By fishing this was you have two good baits on the bottom side by side. I try not to use gripper leads to let the rig roll around until it finds a gully that they will be sitting in.

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Jon’s son Reef with his pb shore caught plaice

 

 

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Understanding bass with Peter Aspinwall 

IFD: Peter Aspinwall is one of Ireland’s top bass angling guides. He specialises in fly and lure fishing and over the years has built up an intimate picture of their movements and behaviours. This is the first installment in a series where Peter will be giving us his advice and tips for catching this beautiful predator. So over to Peter…

Someone once asked me “Do you like fishing?” My reply was “Does the pope wear a funny hat?” I love it! My father took me fishing for the first time to the River Ouse in Cambridgeshire at the age of four and I caught three small gudgeon. I have fished every year since that and intend to until I die or am incapable of it.

My fishing was widespread in the UK. Competition match angling for a while, trout fishing on the large reservoirs in the Midlands, Carp fishing and Pike during the winter months. I moved to Clonakilty in the September of 1996 and the Atlantic blew me away. A whole new playground was on my doorstep with the Bass as the number one quarry.

Peter himself gets in on the action

Twenty years on I still fish for them and guide fellow anglers too. I adore being on the water whether I’m fishing or not and relish the six week period from mid August until the end of September. Prime bass time!

Most of my bass fishing is done from the boat but the tactics and conditions I look for would apply to the shore too. I am asked a lot of questions during a days guiding and they mostly concern tides, weather and time of year. I’ll start with the easy one. Time of year. I have caught bass in every month of the year as I know many bass anglers have too.

Lure fishing can be largely unproductive in the early months of the year and bait fishing will be more successful until things begin to warm up. Lugworm and Razorfish would be my “Go to” baits for the first four months of the year. At the end of April and start of May the bass are coming back from their spawning grounds and are voracious. Lures and fly tactics come into play now, especially if it coincides with a high pressure.

Bait anglers should be utilising the Peeler Crab that are becoming more abundant. June and July brings the lures into play even more and the anglers willing to fish into darkness will get their rewards. Then we come to August, September and October. More fish are caught in these three months than the rest of the year put together so make the most of it.

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Jason Nash gets among the fish

Why is it so good? The longer evenings signal the onset of winter and the bass are fully aware of it. They need to build body weight and fat reserves to sustain them through the cold months and the mass of sandeels and baitfish is their source of protein.

Shoals of bass combine to form mega shoals giving them the ability to prey on large concentrations of baitfish and get those much needed calories. For the last few years I have witnessed these massive shoals of bass, normally in September and they can be as far as a mile off the shoreline. Shoals the size of multiple football pitches and brutes of fish in them. I had a nine pound fish two years ago on a surface lure close to a mile off the shore and on its return, myself and my boat partner Bat O’Donavan both agreed it was only average compared to the fish that were under the boat.

Bat O’Donavan

The bass that day were feeding on small baitfish no longer than two inches and totally preoccupied with them. Where’s the bloody fly rod when you need it? Since that day I always carry a pack of very small baitfish imitations (soft plastic) which I would tie off on the back treble of a popper much the same way as a fly angler would fish the Klink and Dink for trout.

What is also good about this time of year is that you’re more likely to find these fish as the feeding is on the surface. The big shoals have the ability to drive the baitfish to the top and the birds zone in on this free feast.
A flock of birds a thousand in number can be spotted a long way off and is always worth checking out as they are there for a reason. Even a handful of gulls sitting on the water is worth a cast. Quite often they will spot a shoal of resting bass and follow them about until they resume feeding. This has worked for me countless times and let’s face it, you might as well cast to something as nothing.

Surface lures are a must to have in your armoury this time of year. I am so confident with them in September I use little else. The IMA Skimmer is my “go to” lure when I know I’m over fish and I put on a Patchinko or the big Feed popper when I’m searching for them. Make plenty of disturbance and noise with them and stick at it. You can sort out quality fish doing this.

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Peter Dighton

Ideally you are looking for high pressure with light to no winds to fish these methods effectively. Cloud cover is nice but not essential. Broken cloud and blue skies are perfect.

Keep your eyes and more importantly your ears open. In my experience any large fish breaking the water this time of year is a feeding bass. You will hear the splash a few hundred yards away and you can nudge the boat into that area. Don’t cast straight away. If it breaks the water again (or another fish, remember bass are shoaling fish) cast at it and leave the lure a few seconds. The impact of the lure hitting the water should alert the bass and let it find it. A couple of pops and leave it again. There is every chance the fish will hit it static.

Don’t be disheartened with my talk of “a mile offshore” as the fish are in close as well. Evening or early morning would be the time to hit the shoreline for this style of fishing but I do think the bass are likely to move away from angling activity during the day.
Try to fish the less pressurised marks, these are likely to be the ones with a long walk!

Ray Martin

Tides spring or neap, flood or ebb? This time of year it really doesn’t bother me. High pressure and light winds are what I look for and a skyline like that at the start of “The Simpsons”…….. Perfect!

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Porbeagle progression by Mark Heffernan

About 2002 after taking a 2 year sabbatical from the sea whilst recovering from 12 years of flat out commercial fishing, I started targeting Tope in my local Dundalk bay. Over the next few years like many others I traded up boats and started exploring further afield.

About this time angling forums were starting to emerge on the internet. I signed up for a few and in 2006 I attended my first Boat Angling Ireland meet up at the beautiful Lough Swilly. The target was Tope  and they were encountered in modest numbers and size, but it was the sharing of fishing stories during the after fishing sessions that had the biggest impact on me. Really good Anglers try to help others I’ve found.

Porbeagle Sharks,how and where to catch them were the regular topics of discussion and our chats continued though the forums after we returned to our home ports.

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A fine porbeagle comes to the side of Mark’s boat

Through contacts made at these “meets” news started to filter through about Porbeagles being lost and some even being boated on charter boats based in north Donegal. Soon the private boats were on the hunt for Porbeagles and a couple of “hotspots” were identified. From now on our “meets” in this area would centre around Porbeagles rather than Tope and my fishing calender would be rearranged permanently.

At this stage I was close to the bottom of the Porbeagle learning curve . New gear had to be purchased. Good Blue shark gear would suffice though. TLD 20/25’s and 20 to 30lb rods. 400lb wire to strongly forged hooks.  Everything on the subject of Porbeagle fishing was read, absorbed and re-read. I think it’s important to have a baseline knowledge to measure one’s own growing experiences against.

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 I even started catching some Porbeagles. Early on it was apparent that it was important to”match the hatch” while porbeagle fishing. While fresh Mackerel was nearly always acceptable, Pollack, Coalfish, etc were only acceptable when the sharks weren’t pre-occupied with the Mackerel Shoals.

Other early lessons were that in common with most predators prolonged high barometric pressure seemed to put them “off”.They would be visable on the surface but were often very hard to tempt. Rough seas and heavy rainfall (hard to avoid in the northwest) also scattered the bait shoals and the Sharks.

Dubby whilst being handy in attracting baitfish and also some curious Porbeagles was less of an attractant than the disturbance caused by struggling baitfish on hooks and the mild electrical currents, for example those coming from the sonar transducer.

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Porbeagles are an almost playful Shark, some of their behaviour is almost dolphin like, in that they often circle and investigate boats as well as taking up station underneath them like a Stone Bass would.

As years went by I learned a little bit more from other anglers and the fish themselves. I find a lot of the Tope’s habits are replicated in Porbeagles.

Lets look at the important issue of Prbeagle location. I’ll focus on inshore locations. Porbeagles love structure. Edges of reefs, with plenty of Tide are a great starting point. Tidal swirls and rips whilst being a bit frightening in a small boat often offer prime Porbeagle fishing opportunities. Also where rock meets sand and where two or more currents collide. Keep an eye out for gull activity too. Wrecks can often hold a Porbeagle or three at certain times. In fact a few years ago after a few hours haulding up fish from a deepwater wreck, my boat partner and I were a bit knackered, we had no fish snatched all day but my boat partner still dropped a coalie over the side with a 12/0 hook in it as we slumped in our seats. After literally seconds it was snatched by a 104lb Male Porbeagle which gave a great account of itself. This fish must have been lurking just under the boat attracted by the commotion.

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A satelite tagged porbeagle about to be released

I previously mentioned Tope sharing habits with Porbeagles and it is certainly true that both species tolerate each other and share habitat. Many times myself and my boat buddies have been busily catching Tope and then out of the blue a Porbeagle is hooked up and visa versa. For example last year my buddy and I were catching a Tope a drop, using Porbeagle gear of course when he began to take ages to bring a fish to the boat. I slagged him off about being a big girls blouse while I reached to grab the leader and then I noticed he was attached to an 80lb Porbeagle. He won’t let me live that one down for a while to come probably never.

I use a heavy duty tube boom with a lead clipped on with my 14foot shark trace flowing from it. I usually drop this to the bottom and wind it back up a number of turns off it. I will vary this with my other rod. I don’t mind hooking up on Tope I think it’s a good sign if they’re about. I’m quite happy using a normal shark trace once I have an experienced person on the boat with me, otherwise I will use a wind on leader to lessen the drama at the rail.

This year I have upgraded my Porbeagle tackle to a 50 to 80lb rod and a 30 wide reel loaded with 80lb mono. The reasons for this are that the average size of Shark is increasing where I fish and also I’m trying to shorten the fight time to lessen the stress on the fish and to not having a bored crewman frustratingly waiting for his turn to fish again.

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This hasn’t altogether worked as during my last trip I hooked a Porbeagle which a few minutes into the fight swam up to the boat to check us out(this is typical). My crew mate asked me if I wanted him to grab the leader, yes the shark was that close! I said no. Well that was the last I saw of that fish, because 1 hour and 10 mins later I reeled in a straightened 10/0 circle hook with no Shark attached, Goddam it!

I doubt that fish was even 200lb. They have great stamina, I have put a tail rope on a 120 pounder and nearly been pulled in after a 1 hour fight when it went buck mad. Then there is the story of the Porbeagle that wouldn’t fight, but that ones for another day.

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So as I make my way slowly along this learning curve I realise what that they say is true” it’s all about the wonderful journey”

Tight Lines Friends

 Fish Magnet AKA Mark Heffernan

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Bass fishing with Seamus Enright

IFD: And now we talk to local expert Seamus Enright from County Kerry, an Irish bass fishing mecca where, Seamus gives us his advice for lure fishing for bass and what you will need to get started.

What sized reel and rods would you recommend?

A lure rod of 7 to 10 foot paired with a 2500 sized spinning reel is ideal for our bass fishing. The rod should be rated to cast lures that weigh between 5 and 35g. Spinning for long periods can be hard on the body so a light setup is helpful. Major craft currently make the best value rods for our type of fishing and I prefer Daiwa reels to Shimanos because of their mag sealed technology. I have my 2500 daiwa certate for over a year now and its never given trouble despite being dunked a few times.

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What mainline do you recommend and what leader?

Braided mainline will cast a lot farther than mono. This can make quiet a difference on the windy days. I currently use Sunlines 20lbs cast away braid and I have this line on for about a year now. This stuff is expensive but its well worth it. It is really strong and has excellent abrasion resistence. This braid has a round profile which reduces line twist and adds strength.

For the leader I tie a 2 foot section of flurocarbon onto the braid with an improved albright knot (no swivels needed). At the end of the leader I tie a lure clip for the easy changing of lures. To prevent wind knots manually close the bail arm and pull the line tight before reeling in.

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What kinds of habitats and coastal features should we be looking for?

In Kerry bass seem to occupy different habitat types at different times of the year. Early in the season they seem to gather around exposed rocky shores to spawn. After spawning (June/July) they seem to move between surf beaches, estuaries and boulder shores then they seem to disappear from the rock marks. Later in the year they return to fatten up before the winter.

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A new fishing mark should be investigated at low water to map all the relevant features. In rocky shores the locations of channels and gullies should be marked with something on the shoreline. When returning at mid to high water find the best vantage points and stay there covering ground with your lures.

Bass travel these gullies and channels as the tide fills looking for food so you dont have to cover large areas. I usually use hard lures in these marks as they cast further and cover more ground from the vantage points.

Harbours, estuaries and surf beaches require the angler to cover the ground. These habitats can sometimes be featureless however there are things to look out for again at low water. Channels and gullies might be a sign of a hotspot. These areas are usually easy walking and more angler friendly. In these areas I tend to bounce soft plastics along the sandy, muddy bottom as bass tend to wait in the currents for food to come to them.

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Looking for features at low water can pay dividends.

What are the best times of year and any advice about tides?

In Kerry the best months are from April to June. During this time bass gather to spawn and are often found in large groups. After this period they spread out and numbers drop. September and October can also be very good with larger fish showing. These usually larger fish may have followed shoals of Mackerel from deeper water as their color is often darker although at the moment this is just a theory made from several observations.

For me fishing always improves on the larger tides. There just seems to be more fish around. The new moon tides fish especially well for me the two days before the new moon. The full moon fishes best for me for the two days after the full moon. Try to fish on these tides in May, June, September and October for the best sessions of the year.

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To get started what kind of lures should someone have in their arsenal, and how do different lures play a purpose over different types of ground?

There are several different types of lures out there and they all do a different job. Every lure angler should have at least one type of top water lure like the IMA salt skimmer and a few shallow diving lures like the Komomo 2 which fishes just beneath the surface. My favorite lure is the Tacklehouse feedshallow and goes to about 2 feet. I use Megabass zonks and IMA hound glides to get down deeper. These lures also dig into a big surf much better than the ones I have mentioned so they are good lures for heavy seas also.

These lures have a typical snake like action and attention should be paid to the snags in front of you. If there is a lot of sea weed just below the surface then the Komomo 2 should be used. If the tide is very high and theres no snags beneath the surface I would use a zonk or hound glide. I also carry suspended lures. These can work when the others fail. These lures suspend in the water giving a completely different action and work best in areas with strong currents. When visibility is poor ill use a bright lure like a cotton candy or a chartreuse. When visibility is clear ill use a more natural colour.

If the water is full of snags ill use a weedless soft plastic lure like the fiiish black minnow. These things are lethal and can be used almost anywhere as they are completely weedless. Keeping the rod tip high a slowish retrieve is all thats needed. These lures can be used virtually anywhere and have accounted for a lot of my bigger fish.

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Another bass falls for a Fiiish Black Minnow

Soft plastic lures are gaining in popularity and can often entice a take from a bass when hard lures fail. These can appeal to bass in a different way as they often mimick a dead or dying fish.

Senkos are sand eel imitations. Twitching the rod tip during a slow retrieve forms an excellent imitation of a dying sandeel. Other soft plastics worth a try are fish arrows and death adder shads.

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The real trick to a successful bass session is knowing where and when to go and this information only comes from experience. Then once you have fish in front of you its just a case of picking the right lure. Hope this helps.

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Robbie Steele Shark Festival

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ROBBIE STEELE

SHARK FESTIVAL

2016

BRING YOUR OWN BOAT AND FISH A 1 DAY OPEN BOAT FESTIVAL FISHED FROM CORK HARBOUR

SATURDAY 13th AUGUST 2016

(FALL BACK DATE SUNDAY 14TH AUGUST)

FISHING 09.30AM – 6.30PM

 

ORGANISED BY

GUILEEN & ROSIES

SEA ANGLING CLUBS

 

LAUNCHING FROM

GUILEEN & LOWER AGHADA

MIDLETON

CORK

€20.00 MATCH ENTRY FEE ADULT PER ANGLER

€10.00 MATCH ENTRY FEE JUNIOR (UNDER 16 YEARS) PER ANGLER

50% Donated to RNLI 50% PAID OUT IN PRIZES

 

FURTHER DETAILS & INFORMATION CONTACT:

TONY TAIT           MOBILE:      087 272 3856         :tony.tait@live.co.uk

IAN ROSE             MOBILE:      087 645 1781  :enorose2004@hotmail.com

CLOSING DATE FOR ENTRIES 10th AUGUST 2016

2016 Robbie Steele Rules

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Galway Porgie by John Paul Kelly

IFD: Many thanks to John Paul Kelly who gives the account of the momentous day he crewed for Skipper John Fleming of http://www.bluesharkangling.ie and they managed to get a Galway porbeagle. The first of hopefully many for John and John Paul and a big congrats to the Condron lads and friends, a great days fishing.

There was a Blue shark trip booked with John Fleming’s Blue Shark Angling from Rossaveal on Saturday 16th July . There was a group of six lads down from Crumlin for it. I said I’d go as crew to help out in the hope we might get something special . We all met at the boat in rossaveal before 8.30am , the Dublin lads were on the road early leaving about 4am.

We steamed out to the Gregory sound and tried a stop for mackerel . Things were looking bleak with only one pollack between us. We decided to get a longer drift on the opposite side of the sound . After a few drops we were into the mackerel , they were moving up and down the water column so the lads kept after them and after about 40 mins we had enough fresh bait so we steam on out.

There was big swells in it but the Brazen Hussy ploughed through them and was able to keep the speed up. We set up for a long drift as we were getting nice north westerly maybe 14mph plus. Nice grey overcast conditions with a big 12ft swell and more at times but they were well spread out.

The dubby was fired out and rods were set up with balloons. We used a mix of pollack and mackerel baits. Things were quiet for about an hour till be spotted a huge shadow passing just outside the boat . At first we though it was a whale but on the second pass everyone was on deck and it clearly was a huge porbeagle cruising around. It passed the money rod which was only at 15ft but no interest turned away and that got the blood racing.

No more action for about another 20 mins then the furthest rod out took off and Wayne Lenard was drawn to take it. The blue had swam over to another bait and the second rod took off Martin jumped on the rod and we soon realised it was the same fish. We untangled that rig and Wayne fought it well after that as it took a few deep dives. We landed it and after a few photos and measurements it was on its way.

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Wayne with a fine blue shark

Next up was Brendan Condron he was into a Blue that had been playing about with the bait before it decided to take off. After a short battle that was landed and she was on her way.

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We had a bit of a quiet spell then . The skipper and myself kept working the dubby bags and chunking away with frozen mack and scraps. I changed the money rod to a flappered pollack to give it some action. Not too long before home time the money rod too off like a rocket I was beside it so I tightened into it as it was a circle hook and we were hooked up well. I handed the rod to Owen and he was surprised by the power of the run.

 The skipper and myself knew it was something different because it was showing no sign of stopping with a good drag on, it was the smallest reel out of course. Owen and Martin took turns on the rod as it wasn’t giving up lightly . We had the trace to the boat after about 25mins and then that was the last we seen of it for a while. A big shout came up from the back of the boat ” Fish On”.
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Wayne Condron was on it and we thought it was another porgie because it gave Wayne a real work out. The fish didn’t show for ages and his brother Dylan kindly jumped in to finish off the fight. We boated that blue on the opposite side of the boat where the porgie was still on. It fought like a lot bigger fish. We got the photos and measurements and released in back in.
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Dylan Condron

 The catch of the day was still on the loose and it being our first porbeagle on the Blue Shark Charter it was one that we couldn’t afford to loose.
 Martin was up and down the deck during fight . We eventually got the fish to the port side and with a big effort we got it in safe. A huge cheer went up and the long search for our first porbeagle was over . Everyone was excited . A quick turn around on the fish and it was off on its way . Going by the formula it was near the 80lb but seemed a bigger fish. We werent complaining. A good days sharking with 3 nice blues under 80lb and it had turned into our most important day so far.
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We tidied up the decks and steamed for home. All the lads got some action and were delighted with their day. What a day, seen 2 porbeagles in the one day and we’ve be waiting years to catch one. The Porbeagle hunt is now in a new era. Great to see them about Galway. That’s the first of many we hope. Any ones that’s interested in a good shark trip contact John Fleming the skipper on 087 7571320. Thank to John and Sandy for keeping us entertained . We will all be back for more…
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Irish Bass Festival 2016 by James Barry

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Preparations for the Irish Bass Festival begin for us in the middle of winter. Choosing dates around the appropriate tides need to be talked out before finally nailing down the weekend, usually aiming for the new moon tides in July. The Irish bass festival 2016 was pencilled in for the 1st, 2nd and 3rd of July. 110 anglers signed up before the cut-off date allowing us time to get the sponsors, prizes, measures, ID cards, info leaflets, prize giving venue all sorted for the big weekend. In the final few days before the festival thoughts turn to the weather and if we will get good fishing conditions. We have had a real mixed bag since the first festival in 2012 however we lucked out this year getting a nice westerly wind coming on the back of a high pressure system meaning the water clarity was spot on, and there were plenty of reports of fish coming off the majority of the local marks in the run up.

Near perfect conditions and building tides meant most of the competitors were confident they had a real good chance of seeing some nice fish over the weekend, and maybe even the biggest, if their luck was in….

Visiting anglers begin to arrive in the area in the lead up to the festival and there is a great buzz around the shop in anticipation for the weekend itself. Anglers discuss tactics, where they think the big fish will come from, on hard lure or soft lure, during day or night, who is the favourite, who is a dark horse, who can manage the best three combined, all this chat in the days leading up to the festival really adds to the build-up….

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Bass on measure with ID card

The festival starts on the Friday morning. The shop opens at 4:30am and registration begins at 5:00am. Competitors register up and are allowed to leave as soon as the clock hits 6:00am. The first hour of the festival are the busiest of the entire weekend with majority of anglers registering first thing, collecting their measures and ID cards before rushing away to their favourite venues to catch the morning tide. The rest of the competitors trickle through over the rest of the morning/afternoon, some guys not wanting to “burn themselves out”, and some guys who just had a Guinness or two the night before still claiming their late start is “tactical”.

Almost straight away reports of the first fish or two begin to filter through to us in the shop. The shop is open all over the weekend ensuring anglers have a good supply of coffee and somebody to discuss the fishing with. Again tactics are discussed and guys begin to think about pulling all-nighters fuelled by red bull (potential sponsor next year!!!). With any hope of decent sleep gone out the window, anglers are in full eat / fish mode.

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Expert long range lure caster Ross Nolan

Early Saturday we begin to hear of some good catches of fish coming from the previous day and through the night. But as usual some anglers will keep their cards (but not their phone in one case) close to their chest, not revealing what they have caught.  Come Saturday evening well over 100 anglers are out doing their best to catch that big fish or a combination of three.

Sunday morning in the shop is always interesting with some anglers hanging on by a thread having fished hard since Friday morning. All anglers registering fish have to be on the premises with their photos by 14:00 on Sunday. All pictures are verified and digitally measured using specifically designed software, and so the tally begins.

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Bass bullet man Tom Cosford

The prize format is simple, the angler who catches the biggest fish is crowned winner of the Irish Bass Festival and gets to take home the coveted bass trophy, there is also prizes for second and third biggest fish. A hotly contested section among the serious bass guys is the best three combined. And there is also a visiting angler section and a juvenile section. The winning anglers for the 2016 festival were as follows…

Juvenile winner – Niall Hogan (57cm)

3rd Place – Gazzy Croke(70cm)

2nd Place – Chris Power (70.2cm)

Best 3 combined – Gazzy Croke (70cm, 69cm, 65cm = 204cm)

1st Place & Visiting angler winner – Michael Larkin (74cm)

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Gazzy Croke with one of his fish that helped him win the best three combined section

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And now for the science bit…

Catches this year were excellent and reports coming into us where of some good catches from the rocks and estuaries. The majority of the fish caught were in the 50-65cm bracket (9-15 years old). This ties in well with the reported good recruitment years from 2002-2008. Recruitment is the number of juvenile fish which survive after spawning and successfully make it to their nursery grounds in estuaries. Recruitment can be highly variable and is influenced (negatively and positively) by environmental conditions like wind, currents and water temperature. A decline in recruitment over a number of years can have a negative effect on rod catches 5 or 6 years down the line. Thankfully reports in the last couple of years are of good recruitment of these juvenile fish to nursery areas after some disappointing years, boding well for the future. The majority of fish caught over the festival were in the region 9-15 years old, it is very important to practice catch and release for these long lived species and this is why we run a fully catch and release format for the festival. All the catch data reported to us on the Sunday of the festival was passed on to IFI (National Bass Program). See below length distribution of fish caught over the festival.

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Smoothounds with Kit Dunne

This year I have got out only a few times for fishing with real life getting in the way, so it was a welcome reprieve to have a trip to look forward to with Kit Dunne and http://www.wicklowboatcharters.ie

The wind was blowing the night before so we decided to start out later than expected to hopefully let it drop off as forecast.

Aidan Cox, Dan O’Kelly and myself met Kit at the harbour and were soon heading out to the mark. When we arrived it was still a bit snotty so we decided to head a bit closer in to shelter from Westerly breeze.

Almost from the start we were straight into smoothies and getting them on most drops. As the wind eased a bit we upped anchor and headed back to the original spot with plenty of time left for the tide. Kit expertly anchoring us on X marks the spot.

Fish were starting to come aboard and as the tide increased so did the hounds both in numbers and size. We were starting to demolish the crab supplies we had with us.

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A 10lber for myself

It was Kit who got the first specimen, followed by myself. Then Dan had his first specimen hound, which he followed up with another three specimens on the next three drops making four up to 12lb!

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A 12lb for Dan

It was hectic action and hard going to get someone to put down their rod to take a picture for you! If you didn’t have a bite not long after it hit the bottom, a quick raise and drop of the bait usually saw it get hammered.

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15.4 lb for Kit

Eventually the fish started to slow down and it was time to head for home content with a great days fishing and plenty of specimens between us. Many thanks as always to Kit see you again soon buddy…

 

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Porbeagle from the yak – Graham Smith

IFD: Well he has only done it again, our kayak expert Graham Smith has just bagged another porbeagle following on from last years success, Only this one is considerably bigger! Congratulations Graham on another fantastic achievement…

 

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