Tuesday 26 May 2009

Recent rumours

The commercial lobbyists are a strong united powerful and cohesive force that constantly tease at the commercial restrictions pertaining to Bass fishing. This is done not only in Ireland or the UK but at European level at EVERY opportunity that is presented to them. This type of message rings out at this time every year but only since the change in the necessity to ‘re-invoke’ the commercial ban every year has it taken on a new note or variation. It may keep us on our toes for a while but soon disappears over the horizon – most of us forget about it, while this group never takes its eye off the ball and invents and re-invents new strategies to appeal to politicians. They get closer and closer.

Having attempted to make a living from Bass guiding in this country for the past seven years, approaching the month of may was always a nervous time as the bye laws needed to be re-considered by the relevant minister, I mean how could you forward plan your business if your resource could be destroyed in a very short space of time? A double whammy a national resource that you hope are carefully exploiting by been sustainable coupled to something that you loved doing could be destroyed in a flash. And not only for you but for thousands of others too.

June was always met with a sigh of relief. So its no different this year – the rumours will start and hopefully go away as nothing but rumours, the illegal fishing will continue, and as I have worked very hard this year to sell an angling experience to people from Denmark, Italy, France, Ireland, America, Holland, England and Spain - whom will leave thousands of euros in the local Wexford economy, come the year end I will submit my numbers as I have always done in the hope that this information is in some way a preparation for some war chest to counter the lobbyists. Because I’m afraid some day it may well happen – how well prepared in hard facts and figures will anglers and other organisations like the IFSA, Bord Failte, the CFB be on that day, how strongly united, cohesively proactive and energised will they be, to stand up and protect what is a national resource and not just the imagined property of a reckless few who are quite prepared to destroy it?

Doing it on that day will be too late!

Saturday 23 May 2009

X-Layer Vs Clouser Minnow

Some thoughts on flies and soft lures in bass fishing.


XLAYER is hand poured jerk bait with reverse rib design, which makes XLAYER’s stop & go action more precise and deadly. With an offset hook set in a certain way XLAYER will dog-walk under water, and set it in a normal way it instantly becomes a falling bait for dead-sticking. You can also shake XLAYER with a 1/32 or 1/16 oz jig head for sight fishing. In another words, XLAYER is the all round soft jerk bait you have been waiting for.


The original Clouser Minnow, developed by Bob Clouser for smallmouth bass in the Susquehanna River AROUND 1984, was designed to keep moving through the water no matter what the angler was doing. Clouser’s rationale was that baitfish, when pursued by bigger fish, don’t stop to look at the scenery.
The Clouser Minnow sinks quickly when it hits the water. When you start a retrieve, the fly swims through the water. But if you stop moving the fly, it keeps moving as it sinks deeper (falling). The only time it stops is when it’s lying on the bottom (sticking) or being grabbed by a fish. Building an offset head can create an interesting walking motion!

This is not a post where one method is elevated in superiority above an other. I would like to demonstrate the similarity that exists between two different approaches to a particular aspect of bass fishing. Lefty Kreh has caught over 86 different species of fish on clouser minnows of many different types. Im sure if you were to take all the anglers in the world currently fishing soft baits you would probably find that that there have been as many species taken on plastics. This simply demonstrates that both presentations are extremely effective and are essentially very similar - they both imitate 'prey' fish darting around foraging or indeed escaping a predator - there may also be other circumstances exhibited like prey 'behaviour' that predators find attractive. Both clouser minnows and soft baits exhibit these characteristics very effectively.

The essential difference between the two techniques (apart from material) is of course delivery - one method of delivery is by a lure fishing rod and fixed spool reel, the other with a fly rod and fly line. I have put heavier clouser minnows on my lure fishing gear, cast, and caught bass and I have also 'fly-rodded' with soft baits to much success.

Thursday 21 May 2009

Pike - 30lbs plus on the Fly

Guide and pike fly fishing specialist David Wolsoncroft Dodds took this spectacular fish on Tuesday. Click Here to view!

Tuesday 19 May 2009

Fly casting for saltwater

Let there be no mistake about it - fly casting for bass in the saltwater environment can be a challenging task! But too often that task is created by ourselves and the search for distance. Somewhere at the beginning, and often far too regularly, our objective becomes 30 yards as quickly as possible. And yes we measure it with footsteps and tapes and strips and congratulate ourselves when we get there, but we forget to look how we got there.

Satisfying your ego with distance often can make you both blind and deaf. Blind to your wide ripped open loops, blind to the broken wrist, blind to poor turnover. All we see is our tag and leader crash landing some distance ahead of us and we are happy! The poor hearing is a result of the shouting done by the voice in our head - we must cast further. The rational and cool tones of self analysis are drowned out - we cant hear ourselves think never mind remember the words of our instuctor.

Casting 30 yards in the local park to the background sound of summer blackbirds is different than pushing big flies into a headwind whilst terns hover overhead and you lean into thee foot waves. But we want personal satisfaction immediately and too many times we are not prepared to listen to our instructor and do as he or she says. We dont practice enough (only short periods - regularly) or we practice too much and then wonder why we havent mastered the technique that we paid a lot of money to learn. We dont listen because we think we know better or somehow, magically we will assimilate the ability to fly cast before the next time we go fishing.

Some things I look out for

Rod - when double hauling over long periods of time a more mid action rod rather than a super fast version will help with your timings - you dont need to be as accurate or practice ALL of the time.

Line - dont extend the overhang beyond your ability to control it - be aware of where the rear taper ends and the running line begins

Hauling - hauling wont make a 70 foot caster into a 120 foot caster - it will however make your casting much more effecient, and when blind casting to bass over long periods hauling will 'sprad the load', leaving you less tired at the end of the day.

Line management - In saltwater fly fishing on the Irish coast line management is a skill in itself. It needs to be integrated into the entire aspect of your fishing. If your technique is good but you cant manage your line - your fly wont travel!

Friday 15 May 2009

Bass Fishing Guides Diary 2009

I have compiled the articles written for Irish Angler about life as a bass fishing guide working and living in Ireland onto a seperate section of my blog. You can view them here at this link. I hope you enjoy them - Jim

Thursday 14 May 2009

A lifetimes ambition realised at todays workshop!

Dave realised a lifetimes ambition today at the last workshop before the close of season. Some excellent bass landed -
first time bass mind you!
More details in Bass Lure Fishing Files later today!

Sunday 10 May 2009

Fishing Report - May 10 - Andrew and Jim

Andrew and I took some wonderful fish on this mornings tide. Andrew fished the lure whilst I fished the fly. One or two of the eleven fish landed and returned ran to over 6o cms one > 65cms.
Success came both on fly (5) and lure (6) more details of the landing gear, flies, lures and tactics now in Bass Fly Fishing Files

Thursday 7 May 2009

Destinations Ireland - Coming Soon..

Destinations Ireland - a new service from SEAi
I am pleased to announce a new service as provided by SEAi – I call it Destinations Ireland. Over the past few years I have travelled to some of the remotest and most scenic areas of Ireland searching for quality angling destinations. These are destinations that can provide outstanding fishing, new and challenging environments, dramatic scenery and quality casual accommodations. With Destinations Ireland I hope to share some of these elements with you and your travelling companions. More later.

Bass Fly Fishing Season Begins

The first swifts of summer have arrived and can be heard screeching around the twin church spires in town. This to me, is my annual indication that I can truly be confident of attempting bass on the fly in Wexford coastal waters. A living indicator.

You may ask what has a bird that spends its time in our towns and cities got to do with Bass fishing!

During approaching cooler and windy weather parent swifts can spend long periods sitting on nests close together, or on top of each other with bodies hunched and feathers ruffled for warmth. In abnormally cooler and damp weather swifts may throw out complete clutches of eggs before themselves congregating in clusters on walls. Swifts will take shelter in their nests in heavy rain, even staying in for much of the day. Last summer they seemed to be totally absent.

If you cant hear them screeching or see them whirling above you house in town then consider the weather before going bass fishing!.

Tuesday 5 May 2009

The approaching tide - Week 19/20.

Bass Fishing Outlook for the next fourteen days HERE

I have these new Rhode Island flatwings to try and a bunch of new lures from Japan - Its the first real opportunity for bass on fly and lure - cant wait!

Sunday 3 May 2009

Alans start of season

This is Alan from Waterford learning fly casting at a saltwater fly fishing workshop today. I met him on home ground last saturday morning after I had taken the greyish colored photograph below.
The net was strung about 150 - 180 metres along the coast. LAST FRIDAY evening I started to receive some calls from a few people about the net, I duly rang the ERFB whom had already received calls in relation to it and its location. I was told it was been looked after. I went to Waterford, then across to Kerry, back to Wexford and up to Cavan and arrived back home on saturday.
Allen called during the week, asked me if he could come up to do some practice casting and fishing as he was having a little hassle with the intermediate line.

I brought him to the location where I bring a lot of people to learn, which happens to be the place where the net was reported to be 10 DAYS AGO.

Saturday 2 May 2009

Fishing Report - DAvid and Peadar

Things got off to a pleasant start on Thursday morning. The sun was shining there was only a gentle breeze and the company was good. The last time I had fished in the Northeast was way back in December so this was a new experience for me. It was great not to have the skin whipped from your face as you fished!

David suggested a small ‘snifter’ before we started so we shared a toast to the new season of summer a hoped for good fishing. Peadar had warned us that three days of torrential rain previously had put levels up by about three feet and the fishing would be difficult.

Saltwater Lure Fishing Fundamentals for beginners

Saltwater Lure Fishing Series - First Published Irish Angler 2004

  1. Improve your saltwater lure fishing introduction.
  2. Lure and tackle choices.
  3. On the big blue.

Part three

So here we are at part three already. Lets talk a little about techniques. Remember from part two that we said traditional metal spinners like the Abu Toby are simply cast and then retrieved at various speeds. This is an effective way of catching fish no doubt. With a lure you can achieve so much more. By using the correct techniques you can impart more ‘life’ into a lure that a metal jig simply doesn’t have. To be really effective at lure fishing you need to develop two things – understanding how to locate the fish and ensuring you are using the right bait and techniques.

There are times during the day that are better than others, in fact there are two times, which are generally considered to be – early morning before the sun rises, and evening time, just before and after sun down. There is also a number of tidal factors to consider that may or may not correspond to this timing but from a beginners point of view I would advise you to try and determine the dates when rising tides coincide with a rising sun (not exactly of course) or, when rising tides coincide with a setting sun. These two co-incidences are proven times for fish catching, the change of light creates a hunting instinct in most predators. But don’t become restricted to these times only – there are other hours in the day too!

Regarding your search tactics for locations its up to you to put in the hard work and slog it out I’m afraid. It can take some time and effort. Getting up early, travelling long distances, trying various states of the tides. Expenditure on equipment and lures can run high. Sometimes it can be frustrating but eventually you will be rewarded. After your hard work you will have determined the patterns and success is yours to enjoy.

Ok so lets get to the serious stuff. This could take some time I’m afraid but lets begin. The equipment jigsaw consists of three main pieces, lets start with the reel. You will more likely than not be using a fixed spool reel. The activity of lure fishing means your reel will be in constant use during your fishing sessions. This is not like bait fishing where you cast and retrieve maybe every fifteen to twenty minutes, sixteen to twenty times in a session. When you are lure fishing you could probably be casting and retrieving as much as forty to fifty times and hour or two hundred times a session. This means your reel needs to be of good quality. Its internal workings need to be tough and smooth with correct bearing placement. The outer coating needs to be saltwater resistant and able to withstand the odd knock on rocks.

There is also one factor worth bearing in mind especially if you choose to use braid as your mainline, which I would recommend. When you retrieve braid onto your spool the line needs to be placed in neat parallel coils, this is achieved by a ‘slow oscillating’ mechanism within the reel. If you are purchasing a fixed spool reel for lure fishing look to for this or similar methods of line lay. The Shimano range is particularly suitable for this.

Your choice of mainline is one of two – traditional monofilament which is not too expensive or the more expensive option which is braid. I’m afraid I favour the latter for a number of reasons. Despite the initial outlay, if looked after properly braid will last three or four seasons. It has a much thinner profile than monofilament and hence will cast a lot further, there is another added benefit to this thin profile, it will help in the lifelike action of your lure. Braid has no stretch so there is a unique experience in fish and lure contact. This allows you to control your lure in ways that monofilament never can. When fishing with braid I would recommend that you use a short length of clear mono of fluorocarbon of about one metre at the end of your line. This allows for a little shock absorption when striking fish and prevents wear and tear on the braid from a lure or when fishing in rocky areas. Powerpro, spiderwire, Dynacable are all good brands that work really well. When using new braid take it easy with casting at first until you ‘break it in’ over one or two sessions. It is prone to wind knots at first but these will soon disappear.

The last piece of the jigsaw is your rod. A much talked about, and hotly debated topic. Lets look at the fish we are aiming to catch, sea trout, bass, mackerel, pollack. Not exactly huge fish are they. Ok so each has its particular strengths but these are not the hard fighting toothy species of the tropics. So matching your rod to the species you intend to catch will enhance your sporting experience. I have spent a considerable amount of time looking for suitable lure rods that fit the species to be caught in Ireland and generally I use two very light specialised saltwater rods. They are both of the same make. The first rod is an eight footer that casts lures between 10g and 30g, the second rod is just over nine feet and casts lures between 30g and 75g. It is important to mention that these are not classed in the traditional sense of the spinning rod. These are specifically designed saltwater lure fishing rods. Rings are Fuji sic and the carbon is of a very high modulus. Each rod has a specific line strength recommendation

The reaction that most people have to these rods is a how remarkably light and somewhat stiff they are, they then follow it up with the question how can you land a big fish on one of those? And herein lies a lot of information. These lure rods are constructed to do a number of things,

  1. They allow you to control and work you lure as effectively as possible
  2. They translate the movements of the lure into your hands and arms
  3. They allow you to cast a long way when required
  4. They allow you to apply power to a big fish when you need to avoid an obstruction and when you need to land the fish quickly
  5. Is sensitive and balanced enough to allow you feel the power of the fish

You don’t need a heavy spinning rod for fishing saltwater in Ireland. Travel light and enjoy the sense of freedom rather than becoming bogged down under the weight of your equipment. Enjoy the feeling of being in touch with your quarry and the sense that your effective equipment will put you closer to the fish and your fishing. This will allow you to enjoy your surroundings and learn from what you are witnessing in a more intimate and productive way.

I think we couldn’t finish this series without returning to the lures and some techniques. I’m afraid that in a short series like this it is simply not possible to cover every tactic or technique. The choice of lures facing the angler is huge so how does he select the correct one. Understanding the feeding habits of the target species will help, for instance sea trout are known to feed on sand eels at sea and in our estuaries. They are very wary of ‘artificials’ so a small light lure that resembles a sand eel closely and one that is fished n the correct manner will give you a lot of success. There is no point in targeting sea trout with large red lures that are designed for toothy critters.

Sea bass on the other hand are often aggressive and voracious hunters. They will respond to a number of stimuli and the ‘trigger’ points in many lures take advantage of this. Lures that splash and pop on the surface will attract bass, lures that flash and dive under cover will attract bass, and lures that bounce and crash into rocks will attract bass. Bass generally have no problems attacking large lures with big eyes that make lots of noise. If you have experienced a surface smash take by a big bass then you have experienced what makes this sport so addictive.

Learn to make you lure move realistically by watching bait fish in their natural environment. They don’t swim constantly in a straight line now do they? What colours of natural bait do you see watched up after the mackerel have attacked them? What kind of fish live under or close to the rocks where you are fishing, what colour are these guys, how do they behave, what does an injured fish look like in the water? What are the terns feeding on? It’s a case of constant observation and a applying what you see to your fishing.

Ensure you have a deep diving lure, a mid-water lure and a surface lure at all times. Animate your lure to enhance its swimming motion. Be confident in your lure choice and concentrate on what nature is telling you. Fish with a frame of mind that tells you - you will catch a fish on the next cast or the next or the next. Don’t mind the guy up the beach screaming at the bass he missed – its now swimming in your direction!

I must warn you that, and I’m sure you probably don’t need to be reminded of this that lures are an obsession. I have a few lures here at my house might I say, when I say a few I mean a large number. The fact is I only ever fish with about six or seven. The few that I fish with are firm favourites. They have all caught me a lot of fish, and they all have hundreds of fishing hours on them. On the odd occasion that I might loose one of them it’s a tragedy. There follows a little ceremony and a period of mourning whilst I decide how and with what I will replace my lost friend! Sad I know, but it will happen to you too! SEAi does provide counselling services for loss of loved lures!!

Friday 1 May 2009

Pike fishing with Peadar O Brien and David Wolsoncroft Dodds

A pleasant days fishing in Carrigmacross with Peadar and David - the first signs of summer - see more HERE later today

New Website

The beginning AND the end…

Forwarded to - The Irish Bass Policy Group (David McInerny, John Quinlan, Shane O Reilly, Mike Hennessy, Dr William Roche, Dr Nial O'Ma...