Kayak Fishing in Panama with Sam Wadman

IFD: Panama must rank as one of the worlds top fishing destinations. Here we talk to Sam Wadman of Panama Kayak adventures who is a well travelled global angler about the kayak fishing they provide.

Can you tell us about what makes Panama so special as a fishing destination?

In the native American Indian language of the Guarani people, ‘Panama’ literally means….. ‘Place of many fish’.

It’s a small country of only three million people with stunning, varied coastline on both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. There is huge biodiversity, especially on the Pacific side where we are. As an anger you are completely spoilt for choice with many exciting species to target.

The fish grow big, they look incredible, they fight hard and there’s plenty of them- it’s world class saltwater game fishing!

Our eco lodge is situated right on the beach in a beautiful, sheltered bay and is backed by the lush rain forest and mountains of the Cerro Hoya National park. It’s a privilege to fish in such an unspoiled, pristine place with zero fishing pressure. We call it the ‘Wild Coast’.

The Wild coast

What are the highlights from a species perspective?

For many of the anglers that come to visit our lodge, ‘The big Three’ have to be the Cubera snapper, Roosterfish and Amberjack. All of these species are incredible sporting fish that provide an exciting challenge.

We specialise in popping and jigging for these amazing beasts from kayaks and are blessed with many trophy sized fish every year. We have even caught some very fine specimens from the beach and the rocks right in front of the lodge! We have our own Wild coast Grand slam if your lucky enough to catch all three species in a day.

Yellowfin tuna are another species that are in abundance and we are located in one of the few spots in the world where you can catch them almost within a stones throw of the shore at times. Ranging from several pounds right up to several hundred pound, they really pull some string and provide epic battles that will leave your arms stretched and a big smile.

Yellowfin tuna

We have five other different species of Snapper, several Grouper species (includng the Goliath and Broomtail), Dorado, Wahoo, Pacific Snook, Blue Trevally, Golden Trevally, Pompano, Jack Crevalles, Black Marlin, Sailfish, Sharks and many more. Some groups have had in excess on thirty species in a week, such is the variety available.

Can you talk us through the seasonal fishing calender?

Our fishing season begins in December, which is a stunning time to visit. The dry season is beginning and everything is lush and green from the previous months of rain, The ‘Wild Coast’ is looking at it’s best. The larger Yellowfin Tuna are around (they come closer to shore in the rainy season) and there are also good numbers of Dorado and some Wahoo to be found.

Sam with a fine Wahoo

The changing of the seasons really fires up the Cubera Snapper and Roosterfish inshore. The tail end of the rainy season is also the best time for those big Pacific Snook.

January through to April is our dry season and we find that the bait schools up along our coastline then. Cubera Snapper are at their most numerous and can provide excellent sport.

Top water fishing with poppers and stick baits is generally very good during these months and the roosters can show up at any time, with some big specimens thrown in the mix.

During this period, we get upwellings of cold water which can concentrate the fish on the reefs and structure just offshore. The jigging sport can be very good at this time. This is when we find good numbers of Almaco Jacks and Amberjack, broomtail grouper, Yellowtail Snappers, Pompano and many other reef species.

A hard fighting Amberjack

We have been finding some impressive Roosterfish on our jigging marks too, they seem to be very keen on a well presented slow jig.

There are often large schools of Yellowfin Tuna around close to the shore during the dry season, in fact they are present most of the year. These large schools tend to be the smaller fish, up to 40lb, and throwning poppers at them provides exiting sport.

From April, some very impressive Black Marlin are to be found on the Aguja reef and migrating along our coastline, well within our reach from the lodge. Slow trolling Bonito livebait is the key to success here. Sailfish numbers are starting to increase also and are at their peak by June.

Black Marlin

As the rains start to ease their way back in at this time of year we find it brings the bigger tuna back inshore and within reach of our kayak anglers. With fish that can be well in excess of 100lb, they present a serious challenge. The Dorado are also not far behind.

Dorado

This is merely a guide to our main species and seasons. With fishing being fishing , we often get surprises throughout the year and you can never be too sure exactly what’s going to turn up on the ‘Wild Coast’, which makes for exciting fishing. One thing you can be sure of finding year round are planty of different Snapper species (including the Cubera), Roosterfish, all the different Jack species and plenty of tuna.

One of the best looking fish in the world the roosterfish

How long is the flight and how best to get there?

There are no direct flights to Panama City (Tocumen International airport) from Ireland or the UK. It’s necessary to make a transfer in mainland Europe, Canada or the USA, through either Amsterdam, Madrid, Frankfurt, Miami, Atlanta or Toronto.

Prices vary depending on which carrier and route you choose to use but it’s a reasonable fare and there are some good deals to be found online. The flight time from Europe is between ten and eleven hours. We feel that this is the best route to take as it avoids the lengthy security procedures in the USA.

What packages can you guys provide for visiting anglers?

We offer packages that include your transfers with six nights stay and five full days fishing at our lodge. This includes your accommodation in our beautiful double occupancy cabins, thee excellent meals a day and all of your fishing.

We pick you up in Panama City in a private air-conditioned minibus and bring you down to the end of the road on the ‘Wild Coast’. From here it’s an hour and twenty minutes by boat into the wilds to our lodge. We do not include flights in our package.

Another beast Cubera Snapper

Kayak fishing: We can cater for groups of up to six kayak anglers at a time and provide fully kitted out ‘Hobie Outback’ peddle kayaks for our guests. These are very stable and manaeuverable craft, you have your hands free for fishing at all times. We have two custom built super pango boats that we load the kayaks and anglers into, we then fish different spots up and down our vast stretch of deserted coastline every day. this way there’s no launching of the kayaks from the beach which can be difficult at times, we also get to put you on the best fishing spots every day.

Setting off on another adventure

How does the climate vary throughout the year?

The ‘Wild Coast’ has two main seasons. Wet and Dry. The temperature is fairly constant throughout the year averaging between 28 and 34 celsius. The dry season is typically from January through to April when temperatures are at their highest and humidity is low from April through to June/July then we have some occasional showers and rain here and there.

From August through until November is considered the wet season with rain and thunderstorms on a fairly regular basis. The temperature is a little lower due to the cloud cover and the humidity is high. By December the rain is easing off and the dry season just around the corner.

A lot of work had to be put into building the lodge can you tell us more about this?

Building a fishing lodge on the ‘Wild Coast’ was a great challenge for Pascal as there is no road access and he decided to use only drift wood and fallen trees from the rain forest. He and his team had to carry the materials by boat and transport the wood down from the mountains using horses. All of the timbers and planks that were used to build the lodge had to be formed from the fallen trees that were dragged out of the forest. This was done using only a chainsaw.

It took a whole year to build all of the structures that make up the ‘Tembladera Fishing lodge’ today. We have four double occupancy cabins and a main rancho which contains the staff quarters, kitchen and the main dining/lounge area. The lodge is a 100% sustainable eco-lodge, powered by solar panels. We pipe down fresh water from the mountains which is a high pressure, gravity system. This supplies the private bathrooms to the rear of each cabin which include a shower, basin and a compost toilet.

Two bed cabin

The lodge is beautifully designed and entirely in keeping with the environment in which it is situated and from where it comes. It’s a very special place, a pleasure and a luxury to be totally self-reliant in such remote area.

The lodge

Anything extra anglers need to bring?

Most anglers bring their own fishing tackle. However we can provide hire gear if necessary at a very reasonable rate. It is all excellent stuff from Shimano, Daiwa, and St. Croix. The beauty of our hire gear is that all you need to bring is your terminal tackle, lures jigs, leaders etc…… all the rods and reels are here waiting for you. It certainly makes for easy travelling. We also provide a comprehensive list of lures and terminal tackle that you should bring to put you in with the best chance of success.

Other than that, we advise you bring the appropriate sun protection clothing and sunscreen, if you’re comfortable and well protected you’re going to have a great time.

And don’t forget your camera!

What has been your own favourite memory so far?

My first trip to the lodge a few years back was just incredible. It blew me away. The location was beyond my wildest dream. I knew it was going to be good from the photos I had been sent by Pascal, but the reality of it was something else. As a well travelled, global fisherman I thought I had seen it all. However ‘The Wild Coast’ was in another league.

The fishing was exceptional. In five days I managed to catch trophy sized Cubera Snapper, Amberjack, Wahoo, Blue Trevally and huge numbers of other species. All on lures and jigs and achieving the ‘Wild Coast Grand Slam’. The highlight was undoubtedly the capture of my two 70lb class Roosterfish in consecutive days. I will never forget the sight of those huge Roosters appearing behind my popper. With their dorsal combs scything through the water, slashing at the lure, before inhaling it and giving me incredible fights…….. That’s got to be the top angling experience of my life!

How can people go about making a booking?

If you’d like to find out about our prices, availability or make a booking then you can find us on Facebook or check out our website. Just search for ‘Panama Kayak Adventure’. Send us a message or email us on Panamakayakadventure@gmail.com

Our prices are incredibly reasonable, it’s cheaper than you’d think. We want to share our special little corner of paradise with you and make it accessible for everyone. We’re taking bookings now for next season. Come and join us.

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Beer and Barbel with Spanish Gold Fishing

Well after many dry fishing months my stag do had finally arrived. For this trip we were heading to Spain to fish an area in the mountains South of Madrid.

The main reason we were making the trip was to try and encounter some of the large barbel that inhabit these waters. When we booked, Tono had advised us that the best time was the Winter for bigger fish but we were tied to an April trip so we would give it our best shot and see what happens.

I picked up the lads and by 4am we were In Dublin airport with a pint in hand. Due to cabin bag restrictions we had brought only the minimum amount of year (sleeping bag, socks and jocks) and decided to wear our wellies through to save space!

A short flight of about two and a half hours saw us arrive in Madrid where we were picked up by Tono and on our way to the lake. On the drive he told us that this was the worst Spring In recent memory and temps were way down on what that should be.

Our first glimpse of the lake was pretty impressive and when we arrived Raul had already set up base camp and it didn’t take long to get settled into the new surroundings.

When Tono said the temps were down he wasn’t lying, with a few passing squalls pissing down rain this was like piking weather back home!

After many beers it was time to relax and get some sleep and hopefully see what the night would bring. We could hear carp crashing every now and again but although we were all on edge during the night hoping an alarm would start singing, nothing happened.

Then at 5.30 just as I was falling into a deep sleep my right hand rod was off! I scrambled out of the bivvy and struck into it and was happy to feel the reassuring weight of a fish at the other end and I could soon see my first ever barbel In the headlight.

A few quick pictures and was quickly on its way again. I was absolutely chuffed and glad to get a fish on the first night. Now it was time for some sleep before breakfast.

When we woke up the weather was actually lovely and even the sun managed to poke through for a couple of hours. A beer to start off breakfast seemed like the right way to start the day and enjoy the short lived sun.

We baited up again and everyone pulled out a chair to sit outside and the craic was 90. I went for a walk and as I did a big shadow passed over me. I looked up and there was an enormous Griffin vulture circling overhead. I took a few pics and made my way back to the lads.

We spent the rest of the morning talking all things fishing with Tono and Raul and picking their brains on any tips and advice they might pass on and talking about the other trips they run and as with all fishermen talk of pb’s was duly obligatory.

The two lads set off down the lake for a bit of lure fishing for black bass and Aidan, Joe, Derek and myself were just shooting the breeze when we looked up and saw a bonellis eagle getting mobbed by two ravens literally just over our heads.

All this comfort was to be short lived however as we could see the next front approaching. Tono and Raul came back from their hour of spinning having caught a few fish with one beauty being about 3kg! We retreated to cover as the hail stones started.

Back in the Avid base camp tent this was where we spent most of the rest of the trip only getting out for a piss, or to secure the guy ropes from time to time.

That night after dinner we baited up the swim before bed and settled in for a cold and wet night which unfortunately didn’t bring anymore fish.

It was now Monday morning and we hoped that today the weather would pick up a bit and if not fuck it we were having a laugh with good company. After breakfast Raul looked at the forecast and said it was going to deteriorate more with torrential rain and gales coming again….. looks like we had brought the Irish weather with us!

One of the things about this trip was the top quality food the lads had prepared. We were living like kings and steadily getting through the drink aswell life was good.

The thought of packing up the next morning wasn’t something any of us were looking forward to not least cause you were probably gonna get blown clean across the lake Mary Poppins style when we went to take down the tents, but we warmed ourselves up with hopes of the fish coming on as the pressure dropped before the front arrived.

It was all or nothing now and this trip had seen it’s ups and downs with a few Yoko Ono moments thrown in for good measure. Just before the hail started again Aidans right hand rod made a few beeps before absolutely tearing off.

We all bailed out of the Bivvy and slid down the bank which was now like sliding around Woodstock with all the mud.

Aidan struck into the fish and by the way it was fighting this didn’t seem like a barbel but a good carp. After about five mins playing the fish the hook pulled and we we’re all as gutted as Aidan. BUT….. it was a sign of life and got the heart pumping for a while.

We went back to the comfort of the bivvy and the jokes and stories flowed. We planned to make an early start as we knew packing up was going to take extra time in the conditions so we headed off to bed.

Not long after Joe’s alarm screamed to life and yet again we tripped, stumbled and slid down the bank where he was into a fish. A lovely barbel came into the net and Joe had his first barbel.

Back to the bivvies and tried to settle down again with the wind and rain lashing. About an hour past when Aidan’s rod was off again. Getting down to the rods was comical and Aidan was into a fish. Another lovely barbel.

Another couple of hours passed before it was my turn again and a new pb was looking at me from the net, I was elated.

After packing up the next morning in torrential rain and gales we made our way like drowned rats back to the restaurant in the village then on to the airport where we said goodbye to Tono.

We can’t recommend the guys highly enough. They can provide everything from bait to food, airport transfers anything you can think of. Their knowledge of fishing in Spain is unrivalled and to top it off they are two of the kindest funniest guys you could meet. Have a look at their website http://www.spanishgoldfishing.com We will definitely be going again.

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Talking testcurves by Dan O’Kelly

As the snow falls outside and the prospect of going fishing in this weather could prove to be dangerous. I’ve decided it might be safer to sit in and write an article. As we are coming to the what is normally the end of my pike season. My thoughts start to drift to carp and what the coming year might hold in store for me. I think anglers of most disciplines get this sense of enthusiasm around the start of spring. Although looking out the window at the minute could kill any enthusiasm you might have.
So rather than talk about bait or tactics etc, I’m going to talk about a big subject that can cause division within Carp Anglers particularly Irish Carp Anglers and that’s , what test curve rods to use in Ireland.
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This subject has been largely debated in the past and I’ve listened to and read all the different views. In the past when I started Carp fishing I was told that my rods were to light and that I should “beef them up” so I did. At the time I had a set of Shimano’ss which were 2.5tc and 2.75tc. I loved the feel of these rods but bowed to the pressure and got myself a set of 4 x 3.5tc NG’s and not long after I got a set of big pit Long Casts and I was happy with this for a long time and still am. A friend of mine had at the time a set of 2.75’s in the same make so one day we decided to swap a rod. He wanted something a bit stronger for long distance fishing and I wanted something a bit lighter for margin work. I liked the 2.75tc so much that i went and bought another one so i could mix and match rods when fishing different distance’s.
But it was one time after moving back from France and fishing a small local Carp water that only held fish to upper doubles, but the main run of fish is around 12lbs or so. I remember landing a low double one day on my 3.5tc with Long Cast reels and thinking to myself , I might as well be using a Sledge Hammer. And maybe it was time to look at getting some much lighter rods to have more fun with the size of fish that I was fishing for.
So I decided to treat myself to a 2lbs test curve Freespirit CS which I had been eyeing up for a while in Main Irish Angling. I got one to start with just to see if I like them and paired it with a Ultegra 5000 CI4. Tarty I know but you got to treat yourself sometimes.
On the next few sessions I fished the rod in the margin, just to give it a run but could not get a thing on it. We’ve all been there haven’t we, just can not christen a rod or reel.
So it was on a session on Maynooth that it got it’s first blood. I again put it tight in my margin hoping to pick up a little fella to finally break the rod in. It did produce a fish but not the size I had intended. It`s first fish was no less that 27lbs. Thankfully the rod was able to deal with the fish and gave me confidence for the future. It was clearly able to deal with any original Irish Carp I might encounter.
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Finally managed to land a fish on the new rod. 27lbs

A phone call was made to Derek in M.I.A. and another two rods and reels to completely the set were ordered. That was in early 016 and I’ve been using them on and off depending on the circumstances since. So I’ve tested them for reasonable amount of time now to pass verdict on them and I am now convinced I’ve been doing it wrong all these years.
The main thing I found is that I’ve have not dropped one fish on these rods. Now we have all heard anglers say I’ve never lost a fish on a certain rig or bait or whatever and we normally dismiss it as lies. But in this case I’ve not dropped one fish out of about 40 fish. I put this down to the fact that the rods are so much lighter and have a lot of tip action. This helps compensate when a fish makes a run or lunge. I also find that i can use smaller hooks for the same reason.
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Just shy of the twenty mark at 19.12lbs. Lovely fight from open water on the lough.

The same can’t be said of the 3.5lbs tc’s. But it’s a case of horses for coarses and on slightly bigger waters with more snags or were you might be fishing close to lilies etc the 2.75lbs and 3.5lbs come into their own. But ask yourself the question does a golfer go out with one club and the answer is no, so why do Carp Anglers in Ireland think that you must buy only one set of rods for carp. It’s ridiculous, partially since a lot of us make an annual pilgrimage to France with dreams of monster carp. Yet we bring the same rods we use for 10 pounder’s back here in Ireland, it makes no sense.
While in France I’ve occasionally encountered cats and most times Iland them and I’ve had a few that have been in the 70lbs to 90lbs plus bracket and my 3.5lbs and long casts have handled them with a bit of differently I will add, but they do deal with them again I make the point we fish for 10 pounder’s with rods and reels that can land cats of that size. Time to maybe review this situation.
fat cat

You may encounter cats like this and the bigger TC’s are required

I know its not feasible for everyone to buy numerous sets of rods as some of us don’t get enough time on the bank to justify all theses rods. I have seen anglers buying rods that will do them for the one week a year they do in France and then proceed to used them all year in Ireland. But if i was to pick a test curve for use in all situations it would have to be the 2.75tc.
With this rod you can achieve a good cast and have enough power to pull your quarry away from snags etc. You will have less hook pulls than the 3.5lbs and can get away with smaller hooks. To be honest if you plan to fish commercial water`s in France 2.75lbs will also be fine. The fishery will be managed and more than likely most of the permanent snags will have been removed and more often than not if you are capable of casting 120 plus meters you will be in someone else`s swim and politely asked to pull back.
If you fancy straying out on to the Foreign public waters then 3.5lbs are a must. The publics are a completely different animal. big winds, storms, massive under currents, 8 to 10oz`s gripper leads, 4oz’s back leads, 100lbs braid leaders and the rivers are an even bigger task. So your 2.75lbs are not at the races. I hope I have not confused people too much if i have I’ll set out a summary below and hopefully that will clear it up a bit.
water shot

Big waters require bigger tackle. This water is 10000 acres and there’s sand bars and weed to deal with.

So in summary I now use my Freespirit CS’s 2lbs tc’s for small water fishing in Ireland and sometimes for margin fishing on bigger waters in Ireland that I know there are no snags close by and for floater fishing.
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15lbs caught off the top on the CS’s.

My 2.75lbs NG’S get used for slighlty bigger waters here that I have to fish longer distances or maybe need to thump one out, like on the lough sometimes or dropping baits long distances up beside lillies.
The 3.5lbs NG’S get used for long distances fishing in france (up to 400 meters) and using leads up to 10ozs and also my pike fishing. I need these to tackle big carp, cats and sometimes sturgen. Anything less in these situations and you are just not at the races.
In the future I will look at maybe replacing the 3.5lbs NG’s (when they have given up the ghost) with 13ft Freespirit HI’s in the 3.5lbs for my pike fishing and foreign fishing.
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I would not normally use light rods on such a venue as the dam but a last minute invite to a swim prebaited by Tom and Ryan. Resulted in this fish not long after casting out. Cheers lads.

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The Spurdog saga by Kit Dunne

IFD: With the season fast approaching, now is the time to be thinking about getting your dates in with one of Ireland’s top charter skippers Kit Dunne of http://www.wicklowboatcharters.ie 

This installment Kit gives his views on the spurdog prospects for the coming season…

As we leave February and move into March 2018 my main focus as a charter boat skipper and a Specimen Hunter is the Spurdog, trying to nail down the correct combination of tide and weather to target these sporting fish. The weather hasn’t played ball recently with 5 days cancelled and the knowledge that the spurs have been here this time for the last few years. So ! if we cant fish, we write about it 😊

I first wrote an article on spurdog in 2011, and then in 2015, and boy have things changed between those articles and now. In 2011 I talked a lot of the good old days when we caught spurdog 3 at a time, when packs followed a hooked fish up to the boat and of course how things then declined due to commercial over-fishing. I wondered if they would ever come back in those numbers and if we could successfully target them as a viable specimen fish.

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A 2017 specimen Spurdog from Wicklow

In 2015 I had spent a few years trying hard to suss out these fish, trying to find them, then find them in numbers and of course trying to find the big ones was my goal. I did report of a noticeable increase in numbers along the East Coast and I am happy to say that is still the case. After 2 successful years recording Specimen Spurdog out of Wicklow I am happy to say that the recovery is ongoing, the numbers are still increasing slowly and the big females are annually producing young.

For the moment at least, we are heading in the right direction, although, my greatest concern now is the over fishing of small fish at the bottom of the food chain. These fish are being commercially fished inshore, netted and boxed up by the ton for small money to go to produce meal. This is an awful waste, were scraping the bottom of the barrel for a few bucks and damaging the young fish which grow to be feed for larger fish in a natural ecosystem.

Spurdog were inadequately protected for years and were in danger of collapse from over-fishing, thank God we’ve addressed this, but now it’s time to look at the small feed fish before this has an even greater impact on many Irish species.

WHEN & WHERE

In summer Months spurdog can be found readily on the West and North-West waters off Scotland, the Welsh coastline, and North and East coast of Ireland. They have been caught sporadically all around the Irish Coast, although the more prolific areas were in the North up to a few years ago, and in the East in more recent years. You will see from the Irish Specimen Fish 2017 book that Spurdog can be found pretty much all year round however the bigger fish numbers will be more localised.

Spurdogfish are a bottom fish, usually found on or near the sea bed, they are known to feed up off the bottom at times, chasing shoals of herring etc. They are common on sand or muddy sea-beds, in mainly deeper waters or channels of depths from 10Metres upwards.

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Spurdog from the Celtic Deeps, 100M deep waters.

FEEDING HABITS & BAITS

In their normal environment Spurdog will feed mainly on bottom-dwelling creatures such as crabs, flatfish, codling and dragonets; however, they will sometimes feed in packs chasing schools of smaller fish like herring, sprats and pilchards.

The most common baits used would be mackerel, squid and herring, you can also use crab, whiting or lamprey. In many areas you may find whiting, and a fresh whiting can be an excellent bait. Cocktails can work well however, no finesse needed, plenty of blood and guts, no frills, will take the spur, especially when in a feeding frenzy.

TOOLS

In recent years I have given in to the fact that spur fishing in deep water needs a heavy setup. You will be in very deep water with fast tide, obviously we try neap tides but the slack won’t last all day so be prepared for some heavy work. I suggest a minimum 30lb class rod, coupled with a multiplier reel such as a PENN 535 or similar loaded with 30-40lb braid. A 2-speed reel, eg Shimano TLD20A, and a butt-pad can both be very helpful for those really deep marks especially if you fish through the fast run of tide.

If you do fish too light this results in a long tough battle to boat a fish, resulting in a tired and sick fish with less chance of a safe return.

TRACES

Having seen some serious specimen spur up to 20lb in recent years I have gone heavier with traces. Spurdog are a ferocious pack fish and they will viciously tear at a bait. I suggest trace line should be around 150lb breaking strain mono or wire. Don’t look for the finest 150lb line, you want the big diameter to withstand the chaffing sharp teeth. Hook sizes of between 5/0 and 6/0 will easily cover small to big fish. There is always a chance of a Tope on the same grounds as spurdog so use a heavy hook to cater for the odd Tope, and also the occasional Thornback and Blonde Ray.

A simple running ledger rig of 1 or 2 hooks will allow you to try 2 bait types and to increase the scent in the area. I regularly use a 1-up 1-down rig or a 2-up rig when the fish are more plentiful. In relation to colours, beads and Muppets there’s only one thing that always stands out for me and that’s luminous for the deeper waters. Others will have their own favourites.

HANDLING / UN-HOOKING

As the Spurdog are not as tough as they may seem it’s important to take care of them and to return them as quickly as possible. With this in mind you should plan for your catch, make a safe area available in the boat and agree who will do what job on boating a fish. They are very lively and strong and will struggle in the boat, once a spurdog is in the boat you should restrict his movement in a safe manner, for your safety and that of the fish. In order for a quick and safe release you could consider using barbless hooks and a release at the side of the boat.

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Wicklow Spurdog have featured heavily at the Irish Specimen Awards in recent years.

SPURDOG – SOME FACTS

  • COMMON NAME ; Spurdog, Spiny dogfish, Blue dog.
  • SCIENTIFIC NAME ; Squalus acanthias
  • IDENTIFICATION ; Spurdog are a member of the shark family with sleek muscular body, pointed nose, and oval eyes. Upper body is dark grey to a light grey/brown on the sides, underbelly is white. They can have rows of light spots on the upper body and sides but these can be random and can fade as a fish matures. The most distinguishing features are the sharp spurs found at the front of the 2 dorsal fins.
 
  • SIZE ; Approximately 120cms long, exceptionally slow growing.
  • IRISH RECORD WEIGHT ; 11.06kg, 24.38lb.
  • IRISH SPECIMEN ; 5.443kg, 12lb. or 105cm Length based Specimen.
  • PUPS ; Gestation period up to 22 Months, born live, between 3 and 11 at a time and at a length of in or around 20 to 25cms.

 

SPURDOG – TOP TIPS FOR FISHING.

  • Try a 1-up 1-down rig and cover the spurdog feeding tight to the bottom and feeding up off the bottom.
  • Use 2 hooks and big bloody baits, blood works and the more bait down there the more of a feeding frenzy you create.
  • If at all possible release your spurdog at the side of the boat for your safety and the welfare of the fish.
  • When handling spurdog, hold in a horizontal position and be aware of the danger of the 2 spines, one in front of each dorsal fin.

Kit Dunne, “Wicklow Boat Charters”, 087-6832179

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2017 with Danny O’ Callaghan

2017 proved to be a very fruitful year of angling both for me and my fishing pals. I enjoyed every minute of it, sharing some great laughs and memories along the way and making lots of new friends on the bank, that’s what its all about! I’ve been kindly asked again by Paddy Keogh to share some of these in a story, so here are my top 3 starting back in April.

NO.1 A new lure PB

Myself and my good friend Ambrose, set off down the river for an overnighter on the first weekend of April. We planned to fish a stretch which we had been good to us on previous sessions. It was a hike and a half to get to this spot and we didn’t fancy lugging bivvies and bedchairs, barrowing the gear wasn’t an option as there is a number of fences to cross and a stream you need to pass through to get there. So we decided to fish a stretch nearby for the night and head off at first light to the ‘hot spot’.

 

We got the rods out, bivvied up and kicked back with a few tins and tunes with the hope of a run or or two, through the night. We were woken at 6:30am to my phone alarm, not the alarm we wanted, but after everything remaining motionless all night, we quickly packed the gear down to set off on the trek ahead with just the bare essentials.

Finally we were there and it was looking promising with Roach and Rudd topping on the surface and we didn’t waste any time with getting the rods set up and our lines in the water. It didn’t take long for the first bite and we had consistent action for a few hours. We could literally tell when we were going to get a run, as the river would have been calm and then suddenly erupt with scattering coarse fish, as the Pike came through on the hunt. You don’t often get to see this, but the stretch was alive! All the runs were falling to Roach deadbaits and not a single touch on any other baits. We had a number of Pike to mid doubles and we both felt there was a bigger fish to be had.

 

I had a Savage Gear 25cm Roach in my armoury, which was a lot bigger than any of the baits we were using. I had a few knocks on the lure after a few casts and It didn’t take long until the LT Roach got inhaled and I was battling a very angry and powerful fish. It was hands down the best scrap I have had from a Pike taking me up and down this narrow stretch of river for a good two minutes, but for what felt like 20! There wasn’t much I could do but keep steady pressure on her waiting until she came to the surface. Ambrose was following me up and down with the net and tried netting her 3 times but she just burst off on another run each time. We looked at each other and all we could do was laugh even though my legs were trembling , we said 4th time lucky , and luckily enough in she came.

 

I knew it was a new lure PB as my previous was an 18lber. After weighing and some pictures I left her to recover in the retention sling for a moment, before releasing her as it was a warm day. I thought she would have gone heavier than 22lb 2oz but she was spawned out and gave me an unbelievable fight so I was more than happy with that. We got a great video of her powering off downstream which I have to look back on and remember this awesome fish. I would love to see her again one day in January at her highest weight. Until then missus 😉

 

 

 

NO.2 Another great trip to the mighty river Ebro

Myself and my good pal Darragh were back and forth weighing up our options to plan a trip back to the Ebro. We had both been out with a guide the previous year and I have fished it with my dad twice in years gone by. Ideally we wanted the 3 of us to go and make a proper lads fishing holiday, out of it. We didn’t think it would be possible for me and my dad to be missing from our tackle shop at once, during the summer which is obviously our peak time. but last minute we decided to head over on the 12th of May and booked our flights a week or so before departing on an epic fishing trip.

It was pretty hectic organising everything last minute but with the main bulk of the tackle and bait sorted we were soon on our way. Though to be fair me going on a propper piss up for 2 days before we were departing which resulted in us just about making the flight didn’t help matters but after that it was a sign everything would fall into place! We arrived in Sunny Spain with a few jobs to do with plans to hit the river early the next morning.

 

We went to a tackle shop for our day tickets and were soon on a stretch we had fished the previous year with a guide, but sadly it was rammed with locals and fishermen from all across Europe. However, after a quick scout around, we were delighted to find the swim we wanted to fish was free, so we began setting up. Not long passed, when the guide mentioned (Nick Shattock) arrived down to tell us this stretch had not been fishing well and the weather was to turn for the worst, with some torrential rain due.

After some discussion we decided to stay and do the night there to see how it fished, as we had 5 days and nights fishing ahead of us and a few back up spots in mind. We settled in and got the rods on the spots with a few kilo of boilies and felt hopefull as darkness fell and within an hour we seen and heard carp crashing over the baited spots. But nick wasn’t wrong and soon the rain came down , literally monsoon rain! We were bivvy bound and soon asleep when were woken to 4 out of our 6 Delks screaming. A Catfish had taken out 4 rods but one of my dads rods was still beeping a few minutes later. He was into the first Carp of the trip weighing in at 31lb which was a great start for him and made us a bit more hopeful in the bad conditions. We wanted to get all the rods back on the spots but with the rain pouring and a big flow on the river, it would have been madness to go back out in the boat, so got back in the bivvies, but soon my remaining rod in the water, literally tore off. Unfortunately I lost the fish in a snag, so with no rods in the water and the rain still pouring biblically, it was time for a few whiskeys in the bivvy and then re-acces the situation.

 

 

When morning came, the river was discoloured, but still fishable, so we decided to stay put , re-bait , re-do the rods and hopefully get on some fish. It wasn’t long until I had another run which found a snag within seconds. I quickly took to the boat and made my way towards the snagged fish but once again lost it to the same snag. I went out in the boat to lead about to find another spot near by, when I noticed Carp on the far bank spawning!

We were contemplating packing up and moving down river when they started crashing and spawning right in front of us on our side of the bank. So that was it, the stretch was dead and we were planning the next port of call for our Ebro adventure. I got some great videos of the carp spawning (screenshots below) and it was great to watch this spectacle right infront of us but it was time to get out of there. With all the gear packed down and ready to load we faced another problem when the rental car was stuck in the sandy bank, due to the torrential rain. But some quick thinking from Darragh, soon got it free and we loaded the car and we were soon on our way to another stretch 45 minutes away.

 

We stopped into a tackle shop on the way for a few sacks of Halibut pellets for both Cats and Carp in 22mm and 14mm. The carp on this stretch have become custom to Halibut pellets due to the large quantities Catfishing Guides bail in every day and it was a great way of getting quick bites if there are Carp in the area. There were a number of guides and other anglers on the stretch, but we finally found a swim we were happy with, that 3 of us could fish in, comfortably. While we were unpacking the car and setting up the gear we seen a few fish crashing right in the middle of the river at around 150yards, so we decided to bait that spot in a line with pellet and boilie and fish our 6 rods over it. It was quiet that night, as it got dark, we opted for an early night, as it was a long day moving swims and getting set up. 3 hours into our sleep and we were woke up to my da’s alarm screaming, which resulted in another 30 for him weighing in at 32.06 , this fish gave him a great scrap and there was no sleep after that as the fish were all over our baited area, so we sat up watching and waiting on the next run.

A half an hour later, I was into my 3rd fish and thankfully landed this one! I was over the moon to get this one in the net after losing 2 to a snag on the other stretch. It was a very nice looking common at 27lb , it could have been 17lb and I would have been just as happy, it was just great to be off the mark and get the ball rolling. I had another fish at 29lb and soon after it all went quiet so we got the heads back down for 2 hours before the sun came back up and scorched us for the day.

Day 3 now and we set up the cat rods for a days catfishing. We dropped out 4kg of pellet and 2 cat rigs consisting of eight 22mm pellets on each hair rig. 3 hours passed and after a few beers and some lunch it was time to re-do the rods and drop another 4kg of pellet and fresh rigs. Another 3 hours passed and again nothing, so we took the cat rods in and re-done our carp rods and got some boilie and pellet ready to bait up the same spot we fished the night before.

We had a mixture of different fishmeal and birdfood boilies all in 20mm and halibut pellets in 14mm which we mixed together in Source liquid. The previous night we put around 2kg of this mix over each of our 2 rods so we decided to give them a good bit more bait on this night, in the hope to get a few more fish on the bank and hold them in our area for longer.

It worked , and we had a fish a piece with Darragh now off the mark too and we could all relax knowing nobody was blanking! Darragh had a right old warrior at 29lb and my Da had a 27lb and I also had another 29lb. We could all relax and chill a bit, now that nobody was blanking!

The extra few kg of bait we put in also did help hold them for longer than the previous night as we had our first day time bites. We were chilling having a few beers in the shade around 2pm when my lefthand rod went into meltdown. I scrambled down the steep rocky hill to find the alarm had stopped beeping so I grabbed the rod and wound down the slack and I was into what felt a very heavy fish. It had kitted way off to the right and I was playing it on a tight long line so it was hit and hold for a few seconds until I felt her turn and I was playing the fish towards me. It felt a very heavy fish and I was playing it a bit too hard to be fair, but it was a long way out. After a minute or so the hook hold was undone and the fish was gone! I was a bit gutted because I knew it was a big fish and I should not have rushed things, but onwards and upwards, lessons learned.

The 4th day was an absolute scorcher well into 30degrees and there wasn’t much fishing done , plus there wasn’t much shade around the swim on the rocky terrain.

All we could do was drink and drink some more waiting for evening to fall. Any excuse for a session in the sun!

We decided to move our markers further out around 50ft from the huge cliffs on the other side of the river, as we had seen some big carp crashing on that spot throughout the day.

The same procedure again , a mix of pellet and boilie in large quantities over the 6 rods on a wide baited area. The night proved to be extremely quiet and the river was very calm. There were no fish showing or been caught up and down the stretch. We didn’t have our hopes too high but we were happy to have a good chance to cool down and get a bit of rest… after a few more drinks.

Morning came to some sore heads and it was uneventful as expected. We were into our last and final day and night as the following day our flight was at 2pm. We used up the rest of our 22mm Halibut pellets in search of some Cats but they werent playing ball and even the guides up the way werent catching. We packed down all the gear we didn’t need and got the rigs and bait ready for the final night. I decided to change my rig a bit by making it longer for a start , with a bigger size 2 Mugga and a longer hair to accommodate larger hookbaits. We were fishing to the same spot as the night before with around 3kg of bait over each of our 2 rods. It was go hard or go home and we were going home in the morning anyway, so we had nothing to lose.

It eneded up being our best nights fishing. Both of Darraghs rods went off first 20 minutes apart resulting in 2 fish to his net, a 25lb and a beast of a 32lber that gave him a right scrap!

Half an hour later my dads right hand rod was away and he landed his third 30lb fish of the trip at 31lb14oz.

An hour had then passed and no runs for me yet and I was beginning to think whether or not I should have changed the length and size of my rigs with bigger baits on.

I wasn’t in doubt for too much longer when I landed a brace of 35lbers! The runs were around 30mins apart and the first fish was a long solid torpedo shaped carp and the second was like a breezeblock. We all thought the second one was a lot heavier, but the scales don’t lie. I was over the moon and so were my da and Darragh , we all had 30s on the last night and ended our trip in style!

 

Soon the camp was empty and the car was full and it was time to say goodbye to an amazing spot on the river, with a suitcase full of memories that will last a lifetime, but it wont be long until I am back for more and I finally get my Ebro 40.

NO.3  In search of a new Irish carp PB

It was now May and target for the summer was to beat my Irish carp PB. I was planning to concentrate my fishing on just 2 lakes with the odd session somewhere else with a few mates. The first lake I was fishing is a fairly big one and I wasn’t quite sure where to start. Very little anglers on it and hard to access all sides of it so I picked 2 spots that looked carpy and done some feature finding. I fished these spots 2 weekends in a row with no joy so it was time for a change of plan. I knew they had been seen at the opposite end to where I was fishing so I spent a few hours up there and sure enough I spotted three close to the bank.

 

I prebaited twice over the following week and fished it that weekend for 2 nights and not a tap. I prebaited again twice the following week and another 2 nights were spent blanking and wondering were there many carp in here at all. Over the week and half that I had been fishing it I was constantly watching the water and checking other spots but it defeated me on this occasion as I seen Fu&k all!! It was clear I wasn’t going to get a fish over 17lb from here never mind a run so it was on to plan B and C.

After the continuous blanking I needed to put a bend in the rod and see a fish on the bank so me and my good friends Eamon and Barry took a trip down to Cobh for 2 nights fishing on a bagging session. We were all catching from the off with a few singles and low doubles being caught both off the surface on floaters and on the bottom. Over the 2 days we got onto some bigger fish and had a great weekend with plenty of fish caught.

I now had me eyes set on just 1 lake that I was going to spend the next few months fishing , but the more summer went on the less I was getting out with work being so busy so it was looking like late summer again I could spend 2 nights a week. I had the odd quick overnighter catching some low doubles.

It was mid September and I was away for 2 nights to the lake I was planning on prebaiting each week and fishing 2 nights a week. My good mate Danny had recently had a bad run of luck with his health and was out of work for a few weeks. He had never caught a carp before and I had been saying we would organise a session for ages so now seemed like a perfect time! We arrived to the lake around 2 hours before dark and got everything set up. I gave Danny 2 rigs the same as mine with pop ups on and a 2 handfuls of boilies and sent him into ‘Carpy Corner’ as it was a short cast and looked like it was always sure to do a bite. I then got my rods out and we were set. The following morning we both broke our PBs. Any size of carp would have been Dannys PB but he went straight in the deep end bagging a beautiful mirror of 19lb4oz! Mine was a cracking looking common at 17lb14oz.

I was delighted and so was Danny , I had only beaten my PB by a few ounces but it had been 4 years trying to better it. Danny deserved a moment like that after his bad run and I was happy to have shared it with him. We had a bit of a session that night and the following morning he was in for yet another surprise! He ended up catching a 19lb10oz common and beating his PB already. Hows your luck!? It was an amazing session one we wont forget in a hurry. I felt as if I could stop fishing it then… But that would be madness , so I continued fishing it for another month and had some lovely mid doubles out into October.

So all in all I had some top moments in 2017 shared with great friends, and all of us catching some serious fish and making a lot of memories along the way.

But my personal best moment was collecting my Da’s new boat with him and getting it out on the water for the first time. He hadnt been doing much fishing over the past 4 years, but after our trip to the Ebro and the odd pike session, the bug was back and he wanted to be back out on the water as much as he could and where he belongs. First up he had to sell his Dory and Bass craft boats, which didn’t take long and then it was full steam ahead with the boat of his dreams, that he always planned on getting. It was great to see him back in the swing of things and I look forward to many great days afloat with my old man and hopefully a few lumps along the way too.

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Bass fishing with Sid Jones

IFD: Sid Jones is one of Ireland’s top bass guides and last year was to prove to be another cracker. Here Sid fills us in on how it went and a month by month rundown on all of the action. If you would like to book a session with Sid you can find him on Facebook or his details are below http://www.facebook.com/sid.jones.39566
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2017 was a great year for myself and my clients alike, with new techniques learned, PB’s smashed & 6 double figured bass for myself. Hard work at times but always enjoyable…
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My season chasing bass on lures usually starts in April/May. Their slow metabolism keeps the bass lethargic and unwilling to chase down lures during the colder months. They will take bait freely but it’s not my preferred method of capture.
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MARCH
During an evening session in March while being soaked by driving wind and rain, my bass account opened with 18 small but beautiful schoolies. I was fishing a local beach using lugworm as bait on 2 hook clipped down paternoster rigs. In fact they were the only bait caught bass from the 219 that were landed during the year.
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April
The weather plays a massive role with regards to lure fishing. Throughout 2017 we were hampered with some horrible weather. April wasn’t a good month as I struggled to find water clarity finding many of my marks were unfishable. Battling on and finally getting a couple of weather windows I thankfully got amongst some bass. I ended up with 15 bass, 5 of them over 60cm and a lovely fish in great condition weighing 7lb taken on a subsurface lure.
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May
During May the water temperature began to rise to an appropriate level for lure fishing, coupled with decent water clarity, higher metabolism, bait fish are more abundant and the bass are hopefully feeding hard before breeding. This all makes for better fishing thus increasing the tally of catches during the month. 18 bass, 6 being over 60cm with some lovely 6lb and 7.5lb fish landed.

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June
With the season in full swing and the water temperature at a near perfect level, the bass were finally beginning to cooperative and taking surface lures with some persuasion which is always exciting to see. Still hampered at times by the weather some road trips to Waterford and Cork were needed to find some clearer water for my clients. 20 bass landed, 11 being over 60cm some over 8lb & 9lb and the first double figure bass of the year for myself.
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Graham Rooney smashing his PB 3 times in a row with some cracking bass and a double figure bass for myself, a memorable session.

July
July was a good month fishing wise, I was busy guiding and managed to break some more PB’s for my clients I’d some cracking fish in the low 70cm range. 25 bass landed, 16 being over 60cm and 3 double figured bass.
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Aaron Moorhouse with a cracking bass and new PB

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August
The season just kept getting better for me, I recorded 56 bass in a couple of sessions with 25 of them over 60cm and weighing up to 9lb and another double figured bass landed. I had been up and down the country with clients and fishing with some good pals. I decided to go out and enjoy some time on the shore by myself and I was busier than ever but I’m wasn’t complaining.
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Keith Donnelly with a cracking bass weighing 9lb+. This was my favourite catch of the year because of the story behind it, we had a great session but the laugh we had while he landed the fish was great, the fish swam towards him then turned and stripped off 80 yards of line…

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September
Mother nature and a bit of bad luck hampered me during the month. The wind was blowing awkwardly so I opted for some fishing in secluded bays and estuarine areas 45 bass were landed with 18 being over 60cm 8 in the high 60 range over 7lb & 8lb and I landed my best fish of the year a 77cm beast. She was a thick set fish and gave me a great fight through a minefield of boulders. A memorable fish.
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October/November
I couldn’t get out much in October and mid November usually sees the end of my bass fishing as the water temperature is quite low and bass are migrating out to deeper waters. I managed a couple of sessions in each month and landed 8 bass with 2 being in the high 60cm range. I’d one session in December having some fun with pollock.
20180108_000652but that was it for my 2017 season.
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Reg O’keefe with one of his bass during a session in tough conditions, persistence and hard work paid off.

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In whole it was my best year to date. For me bass fishing is not just about catching fish, it’s the watercraft involved, the constant changes you be to make to get results, it’s meeting new people, sharing experiences along the way, I get a great enjoyment putting my clients on fish and seeing them smile and knowing you’ve created memories… That’s what dose it for me !!
I’d like to thank each and every one of my clients for booking with me and all I had the pleasure to fish with. Hopefully 2018 will be as memorable.
My 2018 diary is already filling with bookings, the best and most productive dates go first so booking in advance is advised and accomodation packges are also available.
You can contact me on: 00353877734870 fishingadventuresie@gmail.com
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Wicklow Boat Charters 2017 by Kit Dunne

IFD: Kit Dunne, owner and skipper of Wicklow Boat Charters gives us a run down on 2017, yet another year Kit has raised the bar with his fishing achievements as WBC goes from strength to strength…

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Kit Dunne, owner of Wicklow Boat Charters

 

If I were to Sum up 2017 in a few Key points;

Tope fishing improved with record number of Specimens, 11 recorded.

Smooth-Hounds still very prolific with 600+ caught, and 60+ Specimens.

Spurdog Specimen numbers increased again this year to 36 so far.

First Irish Specimen Black Bream and Garfish recorded for us.

Shark Fishing – Great results, landed sharks 9 out of 10 trips, a 90% success rate.

Blue Shark & Porbeagle Shark landed, averaging 4 sharks per trip.

1 Specimen weight Blue Shark caught, 100lb, 1.88Metre long.

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March started with a red letter day on Spurdogs, with 15 of 20 fish caught being of Irish Specimen size. Gordon Darker and I recorded our 3 specimen Spurdog while Pat Swan managed the biggest that day at 17.2lb. This is the earliest we’ve managed to get out deep for Spur and we plan an even earlier start in 2018. A total of 24 Specimen Spur were recorded this Month, while Bullhuss were there in numbers and Thornback Ray began to show. Weather was a killer though.

 

Gordon 3, 13.5lb 109.5cm.

Gordon Darker with one of his three specimen spurdog from 6th March

April started with more poor weather and cancelled days, however, when we did manage to get out deep in neap tides we got plenty of Spur and Huss. Another 12 Specimen Spur were recorded this Month and a total of 79 Huss, 25 on one day alone, plus a few Tope and Thornback Ray. Inshore Whiting, Grey Gurnard, dogs and Dabs were taken. On the 5th of April Peter Bolger recorded the biggest Spur of the season at 17.7lb.

 May saw the start of the Smooth-Hound fishing with a few anglers testing the crab out, 20 were landed including few of specimen size, while Tope numbers increased considerably. Bullhuss, Gurnard and Rays all increased in numbers while the weather seemed to get worse, 50% of our days were cancelled. I do believe if we fished hard for Hounds, as we do in June we would have got plenty.

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June saw more settled weather and as such more trips. Tope, Huss, Hound and Ray numbers all increased, while the Black Bream and Specimen Smooth-Hounds came in. 37 Specimen Hounds were recorded while most groups fished crab, and our first Irish Specimen Black Bream of 2.3lb was landed by Brendan Adams. Inshore we had numbers of Black Bream, Pollock, Ballan, Tub, Pouting, Poor-cod, and Codling on those big tides. I do believe we missed out on a number of Big Tope this Month while we all targeted Hounds, I guess we cant do everything at once.

 

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Brendan Adam’s specimen black bream, 2.3lb

July saw a breakthrough in Specimen Tope with 10 recorded in the Month, 5 recorded in the first week, plus numerous near misses, including many 39lb fish. The total landed was 73 Tope with no steady supply of fresh mackerel. Stephen Buckley had a great day with 2 Specimen Tope, one of 48lb, while Evan McGovern took full advantage of his day landing a Specimen Tope & Smooth-Hound.

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Stephen Buckley with one of his two specimen tope at 48lb

Specimen Hounds continued with 23 recorded while Black Bream, Huss, Ray, Grey and Tub Gurnards were consistently caught again. Weather was kind to us this Month, as were the fish.

 

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Evan McGovern with his specimen smooth hound, taken with his specimen tope the same day.

August seen the Tope, Huss and Hound catches continue with one record day of 20 Tope caught & released. The big double figure females Hounds had parted and the Ray were quiet while inshore fishing grew with plenty of Dab, Whiting, Plaice and even a Red Mullet for Gary Blake. Grey Gurnard were common out deep and Tub Gurnard numbers increased inshore. We started our Shark season in mid August with just 2 trips we boated 12 Blues and our first ever Porbeagle was taken by Shane Devine.

 September saw the start of late Spurdogs with a few small fish landed, Tope, Huss, Hounds and even Ray still showed while the weather deteriorated and cost us many days. Species were still inshore and our total ran to 37 as the season moved on. Our Shark fishing continued to build with a total of 21 this Month for 5 trips.

David Quirke with one of many Porbeagle Sharks this year.

David Quirke with one of his three porbeagle caught on a single day out on Castle Maiden

We had our record number of Porgies at 4 one day, 3 taken by David Quirke, while our biggest Blue Shark of just under 1.9M, estimated 100lb was taken by Daniel O’ Kelly. Most Shark trips this Month were less than 20Nm offshore, I do think we need to focus more on the Celtic deeps next year at 30Nm off.

 

Ger Matthews & Dan O Kelly with a fine pair of Blue Shark with Wicklow Boat Charters

Ger Matthews and Dan O’ Kelly with a double shot of blue shark

October brought some poor weather; with only a few trips made we still managed a few Spurdog, whiting and Huss, 1 Tope and a flurry of Grey Gurnards out deep. The Shark fishing slowed a lot, with only 1 day and 2 halves we managed 2 Blues and 1 Porbeagle in very poor conditions. Was it getting late or did the 2 storms bring an end to it ? Who knows, we’re still getting to grips with the Sharks. The main target for 2018 is to record the illusive length based Specimen Shark, it’s not over yet.

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November brought more success with Spurdogs, Huss and the Specimen Spur. Mike Sherwood’s crew had a cracking day with 25-30 Spurdog boated including a few Specimen fish. Weather put a stop to many planned days but the Huss were always there while the Spur dipped in and out, as they do ! We didn’t bother much with inshore fishing, perhaps next year we might target the Winter Codling & Whiting.

Things are still improving every year, and with more homework done on Spurdog, Black Bream, Blues and Porgies, I’m looking forward to a great 2018 season. The Diary is now open and bookings are coming in fast. Our Shark fishing will be from mid August till end October. Customer Competitions begin Jan 1st so don’t forget to have your fish recorded by the skipper.

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BIG thanks to all our customers for their support, contributions and catches in 2017. I hope to see you at the Swords Angling Show, Feb 19th & 20th We’ll be at stand H2, and at the Irish Specimen Fish Awards ceremony Sat 19th Feb, till late.

Kit Dunne

www.wicklowboatcharters.ie

info@wicklowboatcharters.ie

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Looking back over the season with John Fleming

This year started out a bit late for us here @ Blue Shark Angling in Galway. With the boat in the yard longer than expected we missed basically all of our spring white fish season.

This part of the season usually kicks off around Valentine’s Day and ends around the end of March. This sometimes produces large shoals of  cod, coalie, pollock, ling and whiting in the bay and provides a great start to our season, but not this year unfortunately.

Fine Balkan eraser for Owen Trill

We finally got started in early May and had a nice run of spurdogs as well as dogs and plenty of huss in the mix.  We are lucky to get 2 runs of spurs usually from April to June and September to November.  Always a good chance of a specimen.  We also had some nice tope to add to it.  

Specimen spur for Owen Trill

June was a mixed bag with anglers taking their chances with the weather, plenty of gurnards, flats and wrasse taken on days like these and, to be honest, the mixed fishing has been very good this year.

Two nice cuckoo wrasse for Dan O’Kelly

At the end of June we turned our attention to our shark season.  Our first trip saw us get 2 porgies and 2 blues.  The porgies were a surprise to say the least as we only had 2 for the full season last year.  

Over the July bank holiday weekend we ended up with 4 decent porgies to about 100lb and 6 good blues to over 120lb.  This is a weekend I will never forget as it was to set the tone for a porbeagle bonanza.  I think in July we had a porgie on every trip.

Two days stand out in particular. I had a group of four anglers from Northern Ireland out in mid July and we set off as normal but what was to emerge that day was amazing.  

We had set up our drift and got the rubby dubby and rods out.   BANG, only five minutes into drifting we had our first fish on, a porgie, he dropped the hook minutes later.  Then BANG again, another porgie and another reel went screaming off, a double hook up.  Crew man Paddy (aka porbeagle guru) and I could not believe it.

Squid for crew man Sandy

The line crossed many times and we managed to land, tag and release one after 45 minutes of nail biting tension.  He was 100lb+.  We then had a second double hook ups of beagles and a third fish which was a nice blue.  Both these porgies seemed very heavy and after about a half an hour we saw the first one, A  MONSTER.  But unfortunately, he did a quick roll and severed the mainline with his tail.  The second fish was still holding deep and eventually we got him on board.  He was a fine porgie around 150lb and we had one very happy but sore angler.  We wound up getting another porgie, just a pup, which is a great sight for the future.  We had an amazing day with 3 porgies and a pup around 30lbs and a blue around 80lbs.

WHAT   A  DAY.

This season has been one to truly remember for my crew.  I have another porgie tale to tell though its not perhaps as exciting but still one worth telling.  I had a group from Dundalk for the 3 days of the August Bank Holiday.  Aboard they came gear in tow and we set out for the shark grounds.  We steamed for about an hour including a stop for bait.  

I chose a mark a little bit further inshore from our usual blue haunt because of weather conditions.  It was to be a very slow day, cold one too.  

All things seemed bleak until I had a reel make a gentle click and I looked at John Keogh, the angler in question, he stood up and next thing the reel started peeling off line and not to be stopped we managed to get all the gear  and dubby  in and set off chasing the fish.  

Paddy and I thought it may have been  tuna but we weren’t sure.  It was about 45 minutes before we caught a glimpse of what was to be a fish of a lifetime for John.  A huge lump of a porbeagle, he decided he didn’t like the look of us and stayed deep with constant pressure for another hour.  We finally managed to get the fish onboard, tagged and released.  A savage fish of 150/200lbs.  Truly a day to remember after such a slow start and a great feeling personally to have been involved to put John on his monster porgie.

All in all we have had a very good season for general mixed species and sharks alike but the amount of porbeagles around astonished us all.  We had well in excess of 20 on the boat with close to that many lost.  

This gives me great hope that  Galway might be coming back to being the porgie capital that it would have been when the shark competitions were held here in the 70’s and 80’s.  It would be great to see that buzz of overseas and local anglers coming to do battle with these fantastic predators.

The blues were a bit slower this year than other years but the average size was much better.  We have seen more fish over the 100lbs this year than any other.  We are  lucky to have good blue fishing into November weather permitting of course.  I could say there will be a better  chance of getting sharks into November than this summer with August and September being disastrous with so many cancellations due to bad weather.

120lb blue shark for David O’Malley

With regard to general angling its been a good year for us also with our species count going up and this is down to us doing so much searching for new ground and targeting new species although a Galway Bay skate is still eluding us.  Next year!!!

Mark Elders with a 13.5lb bull huss

Mark Heffernan with a thornback

If you wish to make a trip down to us at any stage do not hesistate to get in contact and we will do our best to accomadate you, we have great angling to offer in galway both shore and boat and if you need advise in any way give me a call, we can also provide accomadation in a lovely b&b in Spiddal village where there there is great pubs, restaraunts, and live music.
Tight lines

John

Blue Shark Angling Galway.

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Ernecast – guided fishing with Seamus Smith

IFD: Ernecast is a dedicated coarse and pike guiding service on the Erne system offering some of the best angling in Ireland. It was set up by Seamus Smith, a man born and reared in the area with an intimate knowledge of all the marks.

Earlier this year we were lucky enough to fish with Seamus and what a session it turned out to be with personal bests for all three of us combined with top quality bait and advice, so it’s a service we can’t recommend highly enough.

Joe White with his new pb bream

So whether you are brand new to fishing for bream and tench and looking to know where to start, or an experienced angler looking to catch good fish and plenty of them look no further. Ernecast has something to offer everyone and is a great service professionally run.

How did you decide to start up Ernecast?

Well I grew up in the Killeshandra area and have been fishing and hunting since I was a lad, it’s a way of life up here and you are surrounded by some of the richest waters in the country so it comes just comes naturally you can’t avoid it!

Damien McCann showing off part of a huge haul of bream

When I was younger there used to be lots of visiting anglers every year from the UK and further afield. Sadly we dont get the numbers of anglers we used to and some have said the fishing isn’t a patch on what it used to be, whereas I think it’s all still there you just need to know where to look and when.

So Ernecast was started to show what the area has to offer and hopefully get the Bed and breakfasts and pubs some business as well.

Damien Kenny with a fine bream

What kind of waters do you mostly fish?

Cavan has more water than land so there is an abundance of places to fish. Everything from the river Erne to the many back waters and lakes so we have plenty to choose from.

Sunset Cavan style

What services can you provide for anglers?

Whether your an experienced angler just looking for prebaiting or a visiting angler looking for a week’s fishing with gear provided we can do the whole lot. 

Lloyd Lynch with a 9lb 10oz bream

I’m based very close to http://www.irishbaitandtackle.com which is the top bait provider in the country so I can have the best quality bait fresh and ready to go and that in itself has been a massive help in getting quality catches.

Tackle and accommodation can all be organised for visiting anglers and even airport pickups can be arranged if necessary. Just let us know your requirements and we can take it from there.

How much work goes in behind the scenes?

It’s pretty full on with getting up in the middle of the night carrying kilos and kilos of bait to sometimes far off swims and that’s even before the raking and balling in begins! 

I’m very luck that my daughter Saoirse has been an immense help. She will help me by passing the balls of groundbait to me to save me bending down as I fire in hundreds of groundbait balls. She keeps me company and I’m blessed to have her.

Daddy’s girl

You have some of the best pike fishing in the country on your doorstep, can you tell us about piking in the area and the guiding service you provide?

Well the Erne is a prolific pike fishing system. We can fish anywhere from Belturbet to Enniskillen and It has countless doubles with many many twenties and even thirties are not out of the question, my own PB is over 34lb. 

Lenny with an Erne Pike

Again we can provide everything from start to finish or anglers are welcome to bring their own gear. 

The boat is a 17ft Dory with high sides and a 60hp four stroke electric fuel injected engine so it can get us to where we need to be quite quickly. 

the ‘Wet Dream’ ready for the off

Lunch is provided and the style of fishing I prefer is float fishing as we can seek out larger areas of water. All dead baits provided and of top quality.

Dylan Condron with another fine fish

What has been the highlights so far since you started Ernecast?

I suppose it has to be seeing people really looking forward to there session and then seeing the smile on their face when they get their target fish. It also has rekindled my love for some out of the way waters I hadn’t fished in a long time, and to get the best out of these locations. When I was a lad the fish I have seen come out of these waters was phenomenal and we never even used to stop to weigh a fish!

Dylan with another cracking tench

So there you have it, if your looking for some top quality coarse and pike fishing with one of the top fishing guides in the country give Seamus at Ernecast a shout….. 

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Marlin trip to La Gomera by Alastair Wilson

Last year i was lucky enough to win two days marlin fishing on Andrej Dolinsek’s boat The Right Hook on the island of La Gomera. Andrej runs a very smart Bertram 31 fully rigged for big game fishing and along with his wife Suzanne they also run a cafe / bar called Ambigu just a few minutes walk from the boat. 

After a chat with Andrej I called up my two fishing buddies Maurice and Trevor and we hatched a plan. We booked the boat for 3 days in mid August. We flew out of Dublin airport to Tenerife south then got a taxi ride of about 20 minutes to Los Cristianos ferry terminal and then the ferry to San Sebastian, La Gomera. 

Andrej had already arranged for us to stay at Hotel Torre del Conde a nice hotel with air conditioned rooms and quite possibly the cheapest mini bar I‘ve ever came across, and only 5 minutes walk from the marina.

When we arrived, unfortunately Andrej’s boat had engine trouble, but Andrej being a man of his word, a rare trait these days, arranged for us to fish on another boat, Oberon a 1250 Rodman run by John Keggie. John originally from Scotland, a seasoned skipper of the shetland islands who’s opted for sunnier climes and the chance to play with some of the biggest and fastest fish the atlantic has to offer. 

We were delighted to have a 1250 at our disposal for the three days, a home a way from home. We knew how good a fishing platform the 1250 was, after all, the three of us many years ago got a harsh introduction into the world of shark and tuna fishng back home in Ireland by a good friend. 

Looking around the boat we knew these guys were serious, the fighting chair, the carbon out riggers, star and international rods filling the holders matched with big shimano 80’s and 130’s Everywhere I looked there where black bart ‘ big breakfast ‘ and ‘puerto rico prowlers’ all rigged proper with needle sharp hooks. It was fantastic.

Two days flew by without seeing a Marlin, Andrej at he helm on the flybridge constantly scanning the water and John on the deck watching the lures, trading fishy tales and talking tackle with us. Now and again we’d come across the odd piece of floating debris, Andrej would circle the boat around and we’d deploy smaller lures for dorado but to no avail. Being seasoned small boat anglers we were well prepared for blank days it happens a lot when you search for that one special fish. 

outriggers waiting to pop

Anyway, on the third and final day around 13.00 one of the 80’s let rip. Maurice got in the chair and all the other rods where cleared. After some fine acrobatics by a 700lb blue marlin a 40 minute fight ensued.

Fish On!

The colours on that big fish fired up were amazing, the neon blue and navy and that big beautiful bill, they really are the pinnacle of sport fishing, to see that beast tail walking yards from the boat is a sight to behold. 

All lit up and not playing games!

Andrej played an absoulate blinder behind the wheel, he was on point. John didnt mess about either on the wire, it takes balls and skill to deal with a fish that size. A first class effort by everyone. The fish was released in less that 40 minutes,  (now I understand why they back down on them.)

I had my chance a couple of hours later, a 130 lit up and by the time I got my ass in the chair the fish had emptied 200 yards. I got tight on the fish but after a short period it threw the hook. To be honest I was that busy laughing at how fast the fish was running I wasnt really bothered about loosing it, we had got to see that big impressive marlin earlier. The guys estimated my fish around 300lb.

Mission accomplished

An excellent three days with my best mates and guided by two VERY knowledgeable skippers, in fact two of the best I‘ve ever fished with. We all agreed that they worked so hard to get us the fish and their hospitality was first class. 

I particularly enjoyed the lazy mornings and evenings at Andrej’s bar having a cold beer and chatting to other captains on the island about their days fishing. It was a cool place to hang out and talk fishing. 

There’s some amazing fishing to be had in La Gomera , they get a run of big bluefin tuna in spring, marlin through the summer and wahoo in winter not to mention big eye, albacore and yellow fin tuna and of course dorado. 

There’s shark too, hammer head and mako, although sharks are frowned upon as a nuisance on one trip a guy had a small tuna cut in two by a 500lb mako at the boat, an interesting prospect for the shark anglers out there. Its probably some of the best big game fishing available and only a 4 hour plane ride from Ireland. 

Flights and accommodation are reasonabley priced as is the food and drink. the fishing grounds are close by also, just out of the marina, being a volcanic island La Gomera shelters you from the trade winds, most of the fishing is done on the south side of the island in the lee of the land, in calm water. 

the lads say farewell before it’s time to go home

All this in glorious sunshine combine that with Andrej or John as your skipper it has the making of a great fishing holiday.

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