What was your first introduction to fishing?
Summer evenings attempting to cast a bubble and fly at some very smart river suir brown trout. I did this for years before eventually (after constant nagging) my cousins brought me salmon fishing where I struck lucky on my first outing and that was me well and truly hooked.
Do you still fish for salmon and trout nowadays?
Yes. I really enjoy fly fishing for trout and salmon especially when I get a chance to take out the Double handed fly rod for salmon. This year I was lucky enough to have some time back home in May and June. My local river the Suir gets a nice run of salmon between May and June with some big fish close to the magical 20lb mark making an appearance most years. Over the couple of weeks I met a few fish and landed a lovely 12lb bar of silver, my biggest salmon to date. I also got the chance to fish the river dawros in Conemara at the end of this season with a good friend where I managed a small fish to finish up my salmon fishing for the year.
Can you tell us about some of the shore fishing county Waterford has on offer?
Where do I start!? What a lot of people don’t know is that the stretch of Waterford coast from Tramore to Dungarvan is a UNESCO Global Geopark, and now has the same status as a World Heritage Site,which first and foremost provides an amazing backdrop for your shore fishing.
The Copper Coast is very shallow rocky and kelpy, providing the most perfect bass fishing ground interspersed with some sandy coves ideal for bait fishing and lure fishing into a surf. West of tramore has some excellent pollack and wrasee fishing in slightly deeper water. And moving into the Waterford estuary in summer there is now some excellent smoothhound fishing to be had and in the winter the cod turn up. So to be honest we ae spoilt for choice.
How did you get involved in sea fishing?
My migration downstream into saltwater began after reading a chapter in a book, it described surf fishing for bass which to me at the time seemed like a crazy idea. However I was determined after reading the surf fishing chapter in question that I had to give this a go. … and the fact that I was only living 10 minutes from the coast made it a bit easier.
After getting advice from some seasoned Waterford sea anglers I quickly found out all I needed was a rod that could throw a 4oz lead into a surf and some fresh lugworms. These early sessions which I spent trying to catch my fist bass are really etched into memory as I blanked a lot and wondered what I was doing wrong before eventually after many hours trying I caught a schoolie bass in the surf on Tramore beach. It was a rewarding fish as I had put in the time and it paid off. After that fish I did quite a lot of sea fishing – dogfish, smoothounds, conger eel, ray, codling, flatties you name it, I couldn’t get enough.
How did your love affair with bass start off?
The love affair with bass probably started after that first fish in the surf! I began targeting bass on a more regular basis shortly after reading an article on spinning/lure fishing for bass. The areas described in the article sounded very similar to what I knew so well on the Waterford coast. Armed with my 11ft salmon rod I started fishing kilty lures which proved effective for schoolies and sea trout however I rarely saw a fish over 2-3lb. What really got me properly hooked on bass was a lure called the chug bug (old school surface popper). At the time the thoughts of a fish taking this plug as I was ripping it across the top of the water kept me going out time and time again and on one evening while fishing a well know bass mark in Waterford it happened!!! I was chugging it back when suddenly there was an explosion of water around the lure as a bass hit the popper, it turned out to be a 6lb fish which ultimately lead me down the slippery slope of lure fishing for bass. And to be fair lure fishing for bass took over my entire fishing for quite a time!
What makes Waterford such an attractive area to bass?
The Waterford coast is renowned for its shallow rough ground fishing along the Copper Coast. It is a very shallow rocky shoreline with lots of reefs and kelp beds, providing plenty of cover for baitfish and lots of ambush points for predators along with a quick rip of tide. There are miles of superb bass ground if you are willing to get out and explore. It is fair to say that if you stand on any rock along the copper coast chances are that there will be bass close by.
The Waterford coastline also has some unique estuaries and tidal lagoon systems which are bass magnets. These locations are full of bait and fishing into tidal currents can produce some great sport at certain times of the year.
If you could relive any fishing session what would it be?
I’ve been very lucky to have had a couple of special sessions over the past few years and to be honest it’s very hard to choose just one. I will go with a recent one as it is still fresh in the memory. Over two days this summer we had some pretty special sessions fishing lures into the surf. No massive fish were caught but we had some impressive numbers, for me catching plenty of fish with your friends was about as good as it gets. Everyone had smiles on their faces and it really was just frantic action with lots of laughing and banter. I was lucky enough to capture quite a lot of it on camera and made a video which is about 7 minutes long which will be uploaded in the New Year. However here is a very much tongue in cheek trailor I put together (please ignore the cheesy music)
What has been your favourite catch over the years?
Again this is a tough one as there have been some very memorable catches since starting to fish. However number 1 would probably be when I was fishing with some good friends who were across from the UK and it had been a tough morning, blasted with a big Westerly wind, conditions were blowing out quickly. We decided to make one final move to a mark which had some slightly deeper water. It proved to be a good call and after a short time on the mark I struck lucky and had a double figure bass in some pretty hairy conditions which really was a great buzz, they were big seas and this fish did about everything to try to shake the hook. And to make it even better having someone there who could take some decent pictures of one of my best bass really made it a special fish. The smile in the picture says it all I think!
Another favourite catch would be the redfish I got while in Florida a couple of years ago we were completely blown out by weather (tropical storm) killing any hopes of tarpon fishing we had planned. However this small redfish I got out the back of the house made what could have been a very bleak few days a little better… always nice to get a new species!
Where else in the world would you like to fish?
I can give you three destinations/fish I will hopefully get to fish in my life.
Florida Keys for the variety of fish especially tarpon on the fly.
New Zealand for trout and sea fishing
Argentina for sea trout.
What are your fishing hopes for the future?
Working as a fishery biologist and because this ties in with my fishing I suppose my hopes for the future would be that we see continued protection of our important fish species. If these fisheries (freshwater and saltwater) are managed correctly, they can contribute to economic well-being in a sustainable way for stakeholders that depend on the rivers and sea for their living and way of life. The pace of research is increasing and we are seeing the research findings being applied to conservation which is fantastic.
At present there is some great work been undertaken from a conservation and management viewpoint to see this continuing will hopefully lead to better fishing for you and me in the future.
My immediate fishing hopes are simple… catch more and bigger fish in 2016!!