John O’ Brien is one of the top shore anglers in Ireland. A dedicated match man, John has fished home and international matches for many years. In 2010 John was part of the Irish team that won gold in the World championships in South Africa and has won the West African championships no less than three times.
John also runs the excellent Waterford angling and outdoor centre, one of the finest fishing shops in Ireland. www.waaoc.com
We caught up with John for his interview, just before he heads off to France where he will be the manager of the Irish team yet again this year. So over to John….
What are your earliest memories of fishing?
JO’B: I was about eight years old when I started. My older brother who was ten had just got a rod for his birthday and it all started from there really, though it was a while before we caught our first fish!
What kind of sessions did you do in the early days?
JO’B: Most of our fishing back then was spinning for bass and bait fishing for bass. This was in the seventies and there were lots of bass around.Some people think lure fishing for bass came about in the last couple of years but people have been actively doing it here since the sixties, with home made lures and we would catch plenty of fish.
Can you tell us about the fishing in Waterford?
JO’B: Well the bass fishing is good throughout the county from a variety of marks. There is some good rock fishing marks though these are relativaley under fished for good wrasse and pollock. We also have the Waterford estuary that can be exceptional for a variety of species all year round. We are now even catching smoothounds in the estuary where we never did before. The estuary gets good cod fishing in the Winter and the bass are there most of the year too.
You have fished all over the world, where have been your favourite destinations?
JO’B: The nicest place I ever fished was the Bijagos archipelago in Guinea Bissau. If you only get to do one trip in your life it should be there just for the sheer beauty of the place. South Africa in 2010 when we won the world championships was also very special, many pints were had that night. The Gambia in west Africa was a special place when the fishing was good. We originally went out there to fish the West African championships, and I was lucky enough to win it three times. It’s a beautiful country. I have fished in North America and South America but there are still so many places I would like to try.
How did the Waterford angling and outdoor centre start?
JO’B: I didn’t like the job I was in, so I went to see the bank manager and I took the jump into making my hobby my business. I fish, shoot and dived at the time so I wanted to cater for all of these. We are now open fourteen years now.
You have been a very successful match angler, what is it about match fishing that you love so much?
JO’B: I love the competitiveness of it, you have to have your homework done and then use your head. It doesn’t always work so I like the figuring out aspect of it. The social side of things is very enjoyable too and I have met many lifelong friends through it.
Over the years, what catch do you most fondly remember?
It was a double shot of captainfish in the Gambia. One was 6.2kg and the other 5.9kg, they were both brought in on 15lb line it was during a match that helped me to win, so I really enjoyed that catch.
What Irish species have you yet to catch?
JO’B: There are many, but I would like to catch a decent stingray and undulate ray from the shore, I just haven’t found the time to get down to Kerry for them. Black sole is another, so I will be trying that in the future as that’s one I’d like to target.
Where else in the World would you like to go fishing that you have not?
JO’B: There are so many places but top of my list is Costa Rica, Mozambique and Gabon in West Africa.
What are your fishing hopes for the rest of this year?
JO’B: Get to France this week for the World championships and then when I get back we have the Irish masters in a few weeks time, where I want to qualify again for my place on the Irish team for next year so that’s another day…
Well thanks a million John for giving us your time and best of luck for the Irish team in France at the world championships
JO’B: No problem anytime