Albert Allan is known to all on the Sea angling Ireland forum as Alby, is a long standing member of the East Coast Raiders SAC. Fishing since childhood Alby is a familiar face on East coast beaches and very active for his club. I became aware of Alby through his annual Kerry trip reports on the forum and his hilarious way of recounting the sessions. If you want to get into sea fishing get down to the lads at the club for some expert advice and you will be able to fish matches to hone your new found skills
Me: what were your earliest fishing memories?
AA: Probably typical of many people Paddy, I used to do a bit of fishing with my dad from the age of about 6 or 7. We used to go a fair bit while on holidays down in Wexford, the point of park (Roadstone) & Kaat’s Strand were the usual venues we would fish. I remember as a kid, you thought your old man knew everything about fishing, but looking back – he didn’t have a clue what he was doing, I’m amazed we ever caught anything!! The rig was normally a big hook crudely attached to the mainline and a lead of some description tied to the bottom. Rag was the bait, usually bought from Scallan’s shed in wexford town!! We used to catch plenty of big flats back in the day. I remember one day in particular, we were fishing Kaat’s strand on a blazing hot summer day, so hot we had to shelter in the car (doors & windows open) if you can believe that. The two rods were propped against the back of a deck chair. Next of all one of them gives a tiny nod, then the same again a few seconds later – the old man full of the old clichés “let him take it down”, then next of all, the two rods, deck chair the lot went head over arse. He picked the rod up, but had missed the fish, I’ve rarely heard language like it! Looking back on it I’d say a small flat or eel had just taken the bait and a big bass had smashed it, I’ve caught a few tope in my time, and never seen a bite as violent as that one!!
Me: Where did you fish in the early days of fishing?
AA: It was mostly Wexford Town & Morriscatle while on holidays in wexford, but I was lucky to grow up in Sandymount, right near the strand, so most spare time was spent over there digging bait, catching crab & flounder. When I was a bit older, me & my mates used to get the Dart to Dun Laoghaire or Greystones and there was plenty of variety & fish to be caught, we used to get some big coleys off the old harbour in Greystones, I was very sad to see it replaced with that current monstrosity. In my opinion, the new marina has ruined the fishing on the North Beach in Greystones, that used to be a banker spot for Autumn/Winter codling, alas no longer.
Me: What’s your favourite species to catch?
AA: For years, I was really snooty about what I’d fish for, If it wasn’t a bass, hound or ray I generally wasn’t bothered! Now, with work & family commitments I’m happy to catch almost anything, I really enjoy fishing marks close to home that throw up big numbers of fish, picking off a decent bag of whiting & dogs in decent weather from comfortable shingle in Wicklow – how bad! I do have a favourite though, and it’s the Ballan Wrasse. They’re not hard to catch, very widespread, and pound for pound are brilliant scrappers! I’ve caught them on pretty much all methods, but you can’t beat watching a float disappearing at speed connected to a small fixed spool and light spinning outfit, so simple but effective!
Me: Besides the East coast where are your fav places to fish?
AA: Kerry…..next!……. But in all seriousness, the quality of the fishing, the scenery, the people, the lack of a well defined closing time, the place has it all! I’ve got some good mates down there from going down over the years, Martin & Eugene from Ullcatch, John in Kerry Sea Baits, Chris in Atlantic Tackle, all top guys who would, and regularly have gone out of their way to help you get a few fish, it just adds to the place!
Me: You love lure fishing for pollock, what has been your best fish on a lure and how do you fish for them?
AA: I landed a 10 pounder two years ago from Slea Head, cracking fish & great fight, but I’d be positive I’ve lost a few bigger down through the years. There’s no great science to it, if you can find deep water with kelp, you’re in business. Metal spinners, paddle tail eels/shads, and frozen sandeels I would rate as the most effective lures. There’s a huge amount of weedless & texas rigged options now which I haven’t tried, but I’m sure are very effective. If you’re not losing a few lures, you’re doing something wrong. Any sandeel I’ve ever seen pretty much swims in a straight line so I favour a steady retrieve that gets the lure just above the kelp & keep it there. One little tip that seems to get more hits is to rig a frozen sandeel backwards – reeling him in tail first. I don’t know why, but it works.
Me: What Irish fish would you most like to catch that you have yet to?
AA: Gilthead – I’ll be putting that right during the summer please God, I’ve caught some small ones in Lanzarote and they can go alright!
Me: If not a sea angler what fishing would you like to do?
AA: I’ve done a bit of piking & Trout fishing in my time, I’d probably prefer the trout as the scenery in some of the places you can end up while fishing is brilliant.
Me: Can you tell us about the club?
AA: I will, but before that I’d recommend to anyone not a member of a SAC to become one! In many ways, the only drawback of being a member of a club is actually fishing competitions! The network that it opens up in your local area is brilliant – a text to find out how somewhere is fishing usually starts off a chain & most of the time will put you on fish, along with a few club mates for company. The information will definitely flow more freely between club mates than on any internet forum, Facebook etc. In addition, what I’d found amazing when joining a fishing club, was the approachability & helpfulness of top class match anglers. Within SAI there was some really top guys like JP Molloy, Sean Ivory & Donal Domeney, and the help & guidance these guys freely gave, albeit usually after 7 pints was incredible! They never once gave you a bum steer, and would hand you the rigs they were using even during competitions! You would also get to bend their ear when fishing with them, and the water craft & knowledge that these guys had & passed on was phenomenal. If you listened to what the guys were saying to you, you couldn’t help but be a better angler after, and I think that is the true value of being a club member. This is not just true of a certain few, in Opens & National competitions around the country I’ve found top guys more than happy to help you out. e East Coast Raiders SAC was set up about 7 years ago by a group of us who were fishing with SAI SAC. Basically the rise in petrol/diesel & bait, as well as various commitments had made going all over the country to fish competitions prohibitive for a number of us. We had a good handle on our local area – (South Dublin/North Wicklow) so we said we’d start up a club looking at venues closer to home. It’s been great craic to be honest, it’s impossible to please everybody all of the time, but there’s a great bunch of lads involved in the club. It’s funny as we’d all be very competitive in our own right and have great tactical master plans etc when travelling to the beach, but the majority of the time we start chatting at check-in and then someone says – “lads, 30 minutes to lines in” – sh*t, better get to me peg! The post match slagging is always some craic aswell!
Me: What was your personal fav catch over the years?
AA: First time I ever fished Slea Head in Dingle, I had been spinning for Pollock for 40 minutes without so much as a touch, I was on hols with “herself” so had brought no bait, I’d scrambled around in Milltown for about a 2 dozen green crabs. I said I might as well ledger for a wrasse, so I lobbed the wee green lad into the gulley below, I may have even uttered “this kip is so over-rated” after my Pollock disappointment, when the spinning rod I was using was almost ripped out of my hands, such a violent bite I’d never experienced, I struck it out of instinct and somehow managed to keep the fish out of the dirty stuff. A big green Wrasse, a specimen @ 5lb 3oz. I put the fish back put a new crab on and within seconds, bang – another @ 5lb 2. I was then buried a few times by “Monsters”, before I stuck the float on, I fished on till I ran out of crabs, pretty much a fish a chuck – not one landed was under 4lb, and I couldn’t count to 10 before the float would be gone – incredible.
Me: Whats your plans for 2014?
AA: I’m going to split my fishing break up this year into 3 mini trips! Normally I’d go to Dingle for a week, but this year I have a few other places I want to visit. I’ll be taking a long weekend on The Beara to fish for the Wrasse & Pollock that seem to be there in big numbers – some very big Pollock there too so That’ll be my first trip! Then I’m going to try the giltheads down in west cork, the original weekend I was planning co-incided with JP’s wedding, but he said he could easily move the ceremony to avoid low water (I genuinely think he was serious). It would be a miss if I didn’t get to Dingle for a few days, ideally I love LW around first light in the morning to fish an estuary – an afternoon on the rocks over the high water period and then onto a storm beach for low water again that night, then maybe a late pint on the way home….Paradise!
Me: Well thanks for the chat Alby, see you on a beach somewhere soon
AA: Any time lads or down at the club!