IFD: Danny Meagher grew up in Wexford where he developed a deep love of fishing. Catching bass since he was a kid, Danny knows the Wexford coastline and it’s marks like the back of his hand. Danny is one of the top bass men in the country so now here is his interview…
How did you start fishing?
As a young lad I loved crab fishing, as many young lads in Wexford Town at the time did. I would get the bone scrapes and a piece of long string (very important!) out of the butchers and an old card board box out of the old Pettits supermarket on south main street and head to the Wooden Works and fish away for hours on end. Plus I always had a fascination with water, as both side of the Family were heavily involved in the sea and shipping in one form or another. I suppose was about seven or eight (could have been earlier! The memory is fading with the old age..) and a friend of the family used to take me out with him and show the basics of the hooks, weights, knots, casting and the vicious claws of a Rag Worm! It kind of snow balled from there really. We would get a couple of packets of Rag Worm from the local tackle shop and go fishing in and around Wexford harbor for mainly flounder, with the odd Bass showing up too . It was here I caught my first fish at Ferry Carraige, a small fluke about the size of my hand. We would also head to the south coast in the summer and fish the Coombe with feathers for mackerel. Back when Mackerel were in large numbers along the Wexford Coast. It was beautiful down there on a calm summer’s day; I distinctly remember seeing a lot of fish jumping each time we were down there all those years ago. It was on one of these fishing trips in search of some mackerel using a string of feathers that I caught my first bass which at the time I didn’t even know what it was! I thought it was a spiky Mackerel!
How did fishing become more important in your life?
Once I tried it I was hooked, excuse the pun! I always enjoyed getting out for a full day fishing around Wexford Harbor in the sun and blanking mostly might I add. I would spend most my pocket/birthday/confirmation money on buying new fishing tackle, slowly building up my fishing box of tricks. I began to request fishing shop vouchers as presents etc. I would do any type of salt fishing I could for flatfish, dogfish whatever I could catch. I would spend some nights on Wexford Bridge or surrounding shores fishing into early morning in search for an elusive Bass. At this point I knew I had an addiction, a lot of people could not understand why I would stay out in the “cold and just sit there”. I supposed some people get and some don’t. I eventually got into a local Wexford club and fished as a junior, and from there started doing some competitions where I learned from anglers who had been doing it for years. When I first joined I was completely unprepared, I had no rod stand and could only cast maybe 20 yards. But with the help of the other members I soon learned what was required and picked up many tips and information about different species/tackle and venues, which greatly improved my fishing.
Can you tell us about your bait fishing for bass?
Well I just loved getting out of the house for any fishing! The more I went, the more I wanted to go. There was a certain location within Wexford Harbor I used to fish with a late friend of mine. We noticed over time, that the later in the evening we would encounter these “Huge” bites when targeting flounders. Due to the very small hooks we were using we never landed the culprits. So we decided to fish late into the night armed with bigger hooks/bait that was dug from behind the swimming pool in Ferry Bank (these bait are long gone now with the development of Ferry Bank) and red tip lights. We witnessed the rods arch over and we finally managed to catch the culprits, they turned out to be Bass. The Bass bug had taken a firm hold of me here. It was here I nearly lost a rod and tri pod to a Bass just shy of Specimen weight when it took my whole calamari squid at around 1:00am one morning. That was an epic battle as the line was badly frayed, I was lucky to get it in.
From here on in, I started to learn that in different marks the bass would prefer different baits. In Wexford harbor it was mostly crab but on the coast lug, squid or razor if a good wind was blowing. It all depended on the time of year as well but it took a while to work it all out.
Over the years we fished many venues, we used to suss out tides and times and baits, what worked and what didn’t. In in some parts of Wexford we had it down to a T. There was one particular mark where the first hour of the fall, with HW around midnight and you could set your watch by it. The Bass would go by and it could be twenty bass a man. With pennell rigs cast just 30 yards the baits would only hit the bottom and be taken. It was great sport and the fish were mostly unhooked in the water unless it was a good fish and you wanted a photo. It took years to understand marks and you could fish that same spot for twenty hours and blank but in that golden hour everything came together and just clicked.
How did your boat fishing begin?
When I was younger I was often brought out in the summer over the ‘Bar’ in Wexford harbour to drop feathers for Makeral. From here I became interested in boat fishing and bought some second hand tackle from a second hand shop in town. It was real over kill stuff, 50lb class Serpent rod matched with an old Penn No 49 reel. Armed with the new gear I found a contact down in Kilmore Quay, a Gentleman by the name of Mr Walsh ran an ex lifeboat for fishing trips. I would get dropped off in the morning by one of my parents and he would bring me out mackerel fishing when they were in plague proportions. They were good times. From her then I progressed in to down tiding/up tiding and eventually light lure fishing from the boat to target a wide variety of species that were available around the Irish coast.
How did the lure fishing for bass take over?
When I bait fished I nearly always brought a spinning rod and a few tobies with me in the early years. When the baits were cast out I would grab the spinning rod and flick out a spinner and hope for the best. Tobies or Flying C’s aka Condoms were the order of the day. If you came into a few pound you might invest in a rapala J11 or J13. Altough success was very limited I really enjoyed using them over the ‘Bass Holes’ that some people talked about. In Wexford harbour orange was the colour to have, as the water was like chocolate. Also I was kindly brought out in the cots around Wexford by a friend’s relation. Here we would troll the lures from the rear of the cot as we travelled at a couple of knots around the harbour, again success was limited but it was very enjoyable in good company.
I suppose the biggest transition came in 2008 when we were sick of carrying a mountain of gear, rods, tripods and seat boxes kilometres out of the public eye, so we thought why not use what we know from bait fishing and fish the same areas. Investments were made in the tackle and soon we were on a slippery slope and the bait fishing was side lined as we began to connect with more fish.
You have also fished in Norway how did that go?
I couldn’t recommend it enough, there is fantastic fishing to be had up there, it is a bonkers country!. We went up to Skjervoy in Winter 2009 and Summer 2010, just to contrast the two. It’s expensive to gear yourself up but it’s well worth it. The first time we went, we had heavy snow and temperatures at times dropped to a – 22 degrees Celsius with wind chill. We would have to shovel snow of the deck each morning before we departed and experienced heavy blizzards and sea spray that froze before it hit the windscreen of the boat! We were lucky not to get FrostBit haha.
For new arrivals to Norway, the fishing is not the way it’s portrayed in the media, as each drop is not a 30lb cod, you have to search for the fish, and if you find them it will be a fish drop for everyone on board for the duration of the drift. We had cod, halibut, coalies, redfish, torsk the list just keeps going. There is also some very good plaice fishing up there. You can’t go out blindly into the fjiords and expect to catch; you have to do your homework. Talk to other anglers and get the best advice you can. Good stamina is required to fish up here; you could be talking up to 20 hours of solid fishing a day! Bring the Red Bull…
What was your best Norway catch?
I don’t know if it was my best, but it is an experience I will never forget and hopefully never have to repeat!! It happened one evening while I using my bass lure gear that I use in Wexford to catch Bass in the weight region of 2lb-8lb ,it consisted of a 3000 size reel and 20lb braid. We were fishing for coalfish at the mouth of the fjiord. The coalies were around 5/10lb and it was great sport catching as they gave a fantastic fight on the light gear. But as Murphy’s Law would have it; I put the lure down to the sea bed and thought I had hooked the bottom … but then rod arched overand line was stripped from the reel! It turned out it was a halibut hooked through the fin and it took one hour and fifty mins to get him to the boat. I had never experienced anything like it. The guy that runs the fish camp recommends that a fish that is 2 metres or longer is not allowed in the boat as it would cause too much damage. This particular fish was too big to bring into the boat!
What was your favourite Irish catch?
There have been lots of memorable fish and experiences, all with their individual stories behind each situation, so it is hard to choose one. I will touch on my best shore lure caught bass, which was landed in 2011, it was fish of just over 12lb. We were out since before sunrise, Barry, Pat and I. It was a new spot I had found on Google Earth the previous year. I’d been trying it for a while on my own without any success but it had the topography I thought would hold some good fish. I was trying different tides and wind directions and getting nothing off it. One day particular day I got a couple of fish off of it and I recorded the time tide and conditions, this gave me all I needed to burst on anf hit it hard. I organised a meet with the lads and we arrived on location before dawn fishing the rising tide. I was fishing with a feed shallow as the exposed rocks made it very snaggy. The lads stuck to top water lures. I was fishing between a couple of exposed rocks placing the lure right in the middle of some exposed weed when the lure just stopped dead in the water. I was using a light set up; a 7ft Teklon Concept spin 7-21g rod and a Shimano Twin Power 3000 reel. The fish hit the lure and as I took up the slack and it just took off on several powerful runs and after what seemed like ages I jumped into the water and cradled the fish and slid it up on to my lap….it was a Donkey!
What are your hopes for 2015?
Well it seems the older I get the less time I have to dedicate to fishing! Plus the falling fish numbers on the Wexford coast the past number of years does little to motivate me to get out there at ridicules hours of the night/morning as I once did. Hopefully these trends can be changed and I can get my kids interested in it.
Well thanks for the interview Danny and hope you have a great year
Anytime lads my pleasure…