I first met Mark through the sea angling Ireland forum. He was on the forum from the start and his early reports of fishing around Dublin were always full of quality fish. Mark got into match fishing with the SaI SAC where he won his first match. He went on to fish for Ireland internationally and was part of the Irish team who won the world championships in 2010. Here is Mark’s interview…
Me: How did you begin fishing?
MB: I began fishing years ago with my dad and brothers. We fished the Tolka river as it was only down the road. I had a nice brown trout on my first cast and I thought it was the best thing ever. I began collecting The Art of Fishing in the local shop. This covered so many different methods and fish I never could have dreamed of. Staying up late on Thursdays to watch John Wilson was another addiction. As time went on we fished the Boyne river and the lakes in Cavan- we left the pike to my dad though as we were a bit small. It was all freshwater fishing in the early days.
Me: Why were you more drawn towards sea angling?
MB: The sea was a new challenge and a chance to get more species. I was and still am fascinated by the variety the sea has to offer. Myself and my buddies had trout in the rivers, bream from the lakes and tench, rudd, roach and pike in the canals and we wanted something different. We started fishing a lot on school summer holidays when we were old enough to go on our own. We threw the rods on the bikes and cycled out around Howth stopping at Dollymount for a few ragworm. A few rods where lost a long the way! I remember a van going over my dads carp rod after it came off the crossbar. The sea changes so much and you don’t always know what you are going to get.
Me: You were on the SaI forum from the very start, how did that play a role in your fishing?
MB: It played a huge part. The site was great for meeting like minded people who were also obsessed! Working in the city centre I was slow to get my own wheels and the lads always obliged and took me along. I am very grateful for that and got to fish a few hot spots outside of Dublin. We all lived for the next fishing adventure and another chance to role the dice.
The site has been an asset to anglers in general and although I am not on it as much these days I know its value. The information some people passed on about venues and tactics had a big influence in the early days and still useful now. The lads I met on SAI helped me fish in places I wouldn’t have found for myself and had a good laugh along the way.
Me: How did you get into the match fishing?
MB: My buddy Ian put my name down for the SAI SAC. I didn’t feel very prepared for it but gave it a shot anyway. Luckily most in the club were only starting out at fishing matches and it gave us all a chance. At the first comp we put a few faces to names and it was hard not to look forward to the next one. Pleasure fishing is usually a friendly competition anyway(unless fishing with JP Molloy) and a good way to gauge if you are fishing effectively. A match is just an extension of this but usually requires a lot more effort.
Me: You represented Ireland in Montenegro and South Africa, whats it like to fish at International level?
MB: I have to say for the most part it is great. You travel overseas in good company and you get to fish most of the time you are there. Winning Team Gold in Africa with Irish angling legends was an obvious highlight and a little bit of sea angling history. Thanks for that lads. My mother at least thinks some good came of her son! In saying that It is hard when it doesn’t go your way as you have others depending on your result. Its a big effort and there is a lot involved. It is sad that anglers fishing overseas get little help or recognition of their achievements. Angling is an asset to Ireland but it seems we are slow to pick up on this.
Me: What would we most likely find you doing for a relaxing fishing session?
MB: Mullet fishing in good weather is hard to beat for grab and go fishing. No bait digging or rooting around in the freezer. It’s a great way to get a good fish without putting in painstaking hours. Lobbing crabs into weed-beds for Bass using a quivertip with braid at close range is great too when the fish are around. For standard legering I love fishing on Whitebay strand near the mouth of Cork Harbour when the fair weather crowds are gone. The scenery is great and the sunsets can be magic. There are a few decent fish off it and always the chance of something different.
Me: What catch over the years made you the most happy?
MB: I don’t think it has been individual fish and don’t catch that many big ones anyway! I think catching fish on different methods or even just from particular venues gives me a kick. A fish caught by design. Flukey fish are always welcome though! I had a decent stingray a few years ago but I was afraid to get too close to it for a photo! I was happy because out of 4 of us that had fished the mark the previous day I was the only one to blank. Nice when your luck changes for the better.
Me: What Irish fish would you most like to catch?
MB: At the start of the summer I might have said a gilthead bream locally but I don’t like them anymore after half a dozen failed attempts! The bye catch has been good at times so there is some consolation. A good pike over the winter months would be great. My brother is looking for his second over thirty and is showing me up. It can be hard fishing on the larger waters with ice crystals inside the bivvy. Sitting it out can be testing but when bite detector sounds off all is forgotten…
Me: Where else in the world would you like to go fishing?
MB: I think my overseas ambitions are typical of many other anglers. As long as its from the shore I am happy anywhere. The Nordic countries have their charm but there is a lot to be said for fishing in the sun in a T- shirt. The Mediterranean can be very enjoyable on scaled down tackle and i would love a few days over there again. Its not all about big fish.
I think I daydream more about venues in Ireland that don’t see much angling pressure. At the moment my thoughts are on West Cork the pollack fishing can be incredible!
Me: What are your fishing plans for the rest of 2014?
MB: I joined Leeside SAC this year. Other commitments have taken me away from competition fishing the last few years so I am trying to get back in the swing of things. The plan is to fish all the comps and enjoy them. I used to take them too seriously. Now if I call it wrong on the day its not the end of the world. I had planned to join up SAI SAC again but travel and accommodation just isn’t an option at the moment. I also need to put a bit more effort into new ways of fishing to avoid getting stuck on the things that work most of the time. It keeps fishing interesting.
Me: Thanks a million Mark and hope to see you out soon
MB: No problem Paddy anytime…