Friday 30 August 2013

Seamus Heaney and the sea

Lovers on Aran

The timeless waves, bright, sifting, broken glass,
Came dazzling around, into the rocks,
Came glinting, sifting from the Americas

To possess Aran. Or did Aran rush
to throw wide arms of rock around a tide
That yielded with an ebb, with a soft crash?

Did sea define the land or land the sea?
Each drew new meaning from the waves' collision.
Sea broke on land to full identity.

Seamus Heaney

Thursday 29 August 2013

Seasons on the Fly

Inland Fisheries Ireland Bass Project

National Bass Programme

IFI has established a National Bass Programme to collect data on bass in order to provide scientific advice to support management and conservation of Ireland’s bass resource. Bass is Ireland’s only marine fish species which is managed for angling. The programme is being developed to determine the status of bass stocks and also to improve understanding of their ecology and biology in Ireland for the long-term sustainability of the species.

Contributing to the National Bass Programme

Bass fishing Ireland

All assistance with the National Bass Programme would be greatly appreciated. If you would be interested in sending IFI bass scale samples, we can provide you with a scale envelope pack.

For further details please email or call 01-8842600.

All information will be kept strictly confidential.






How to take scale samples for the project

  • Please collect scale samples from bass you catch. Scales from all sizes of bass are required.
  • Wet hands and equipment when sampling live fish. Place a wet hand or damp cloth over the head of the fish to calm it.Scale sample site
  • Scales should be sampled from under the pectoral fin (see diagram).
  • Scale sample site see right
  • Please use a plastic knife or similar to take up to 5 scales and store scales in envelope provided.
  • Measure total length of fish using measuring tape (indicated on diagram).
  • LENGTH INFORMATION IS ESSENTIAL – state if centimetres or inches.
  • Fill in the date of capture and the location (county and nearest town).
  • Fill in weight if possible – state if kilograms or pounds
  • Fill in your name and contact number on the back of each envelope.


European Bass

Please return envelopes to 

National Bass Programme,
Inland Fisheries Ireland,
Swords Business Campus,
Balheary Road, Swords,
Co. Dublin.

Ph: 01-8842600

What to do if you come across a tagged bass?

If you catch a bass with a yellow tag, please don’t remove the tag. Note the code on the tag (e.g. B-00001). If possible take a length and weight of the fish, and five scales from behind the pectoral fin (see link below for more details). Please then release the fish alive! Send us the details, along with the date and location and your name and phone number to All information will be strictly confidential.

This information will feed into a national database on bass distribution and growth rates. Your co-operation is greatly appreciated and integral to the project.

Bass and Bass fishing in Ireland

Bass are a southern European species and Ireland lies near the northern limit of its range. They are plentiful along the southern coast of Ireland particularly at Splaugh Rock near Rosslare, Co. Wexford, Dungarvan Bay, Co. Waterford and Youghal Bay, Co. Cork.

Jim Hendrick bass fishingYoung bass live in estuaries, shallow creeks and pills until they are roughly four years old. As they grow bigger, they move into deeper waters. In summer adult bass favour locations that provide good feeding opportunities, in particular surf beaches and offshore sand banks, rocky outcrops and reefs with turbulent water. Along Ireland’s east and south-east coast adult bass migrate off-shore in winter when inshore sea surface temperatures can drop to 8-10°C. Around Ireland’s south-west coast there can be good bass surf fishing throughout the winter whenever conditions are favourable.

Though bass can travel good distances in and out of estuaries, populations appear to be relatively localised. The majority of bass tagged along the Irish coast in the past had not travelled further than 16km from their original spot after as much as year. These localised populations are sensitive to overfishing, so good management of this fantastic fish is vital.

There is no commercial fishing of bass in Irish waters. Anglers are now allowed to fish with a bag limit of two fish per day and fish less than 40cm must be released.

Bass are relatively slow growing fish. A 40cm wild bass may be between 6 and 10 years old. Detailed ageing data was collected for bass during 1978 and the IFI’s National Bass Programme aims to re-energise bass research and update these data sets to better manage bass in Irish waters.

Wednesday 28 August 2013

Moving towards Autumn bass fishing

Bass fishing Wexford

I’ve run out of litmus paper at this stage and I guess I have performed enough acid tests! From a shore based perspective, and I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you this, bass fishing remains difficult and extremely challenging. This presents a number of interesting perspectives from which we could all take something positive however!

Fish are not running the shores as yet in large numbers but there are some fish out there. Conditions are ideal a lot of the time and even at times perhaps ‘too’ perfect, crystal clear water, bright sunshine, gentle and soft breezes most days. The fact of the matter is it remains extremely challenging and you can take that or leave it of course.

Taking it, accepting it, and still trying to succeed could and probably will make you a better angler; you simply have to be a little better a bit more patient, a bit more careful and tactical to catch fish at this time! A result on a day at the moment is something to be very happy with, something you will earn mind, but especially if like most of us you have only a limited opportunity to fish and the decisions are your own then its a big deal. So numbers might not be great, but there are quality fish in the systems that you can find and catch IF you are prepared to work at it and to fish more effectively with a more focused effort and skill.

Debate as to where the fish are will continue and theories will break on the shore and disperse like the current glut of baitfish but to be honest I’m not aware of any bass that’s prepared to share ‘this is where we are’ information, bass don’t do social media and they’re probably better off too, far safer in fact!

A recent loyal and capable French customer remarked to me in a kind way, “Jim I come to Wexford to fish with you and to catch bass and adventure from the shore, this I cannot do so well in France. If I wanted to catch bass from a boat I hire a French guide to take me, it’s easy to catch bass from a boat”.

There’s a lot going on in that sentence, I realise this and there’s many ways we could interpret it, yes the Bass fishing Wexfordcommon denominator seems to be at the moment that bass fishing on offshore reefs is producing fish, but don’t take this as a reflection of anything other than bass have always lived on offshore reefs and dropping plastic on their noses to catch them is a relatively easy task!

Boat fishing is not reflective of the fisheries performance as a whole; it just means there are more fish out of range from the shore angler, which is normal! However what is different is the lower numbers of fish on our shores, and indeed this may not necessarily mean the fish have gone but that they are simply responding to different circumstances – as shore anglers we need to adjust to these circumstance and at the same time feel free to express our concerns, these concerns should be acknowledged and met with considered and rational debate. Its perfectly normal to be concerned it doesn’t however mean you are a prophet of doom, this is especially true when confronted with the face of gross exaggeration and disingenuous marketing.

Autumn is on the way and perhaps those offshore fish will run inshore, who knows, and now that we are hardened and better anglers after a long tough season spent honing our skills we can appreciate that hope and anticipate the possibilities, the spirit of the fish even more.

Thursday 22 August 2013

Tuesday 20 August 2013

Fishin’ like an Indian!

“Thanks a lot for  your great company this week, i enjoyed a lot my stay and have to come back for the really big one who showed his nose behind my lure ! I’ll fish more “like an Indian” next time !”J.LaJournade

Pinging off an 80 or 90 foot cast over the horizon may also, I’m afraid, be over the fish! I wrote a little about my thoughts on low tide fish positioning in this post here emphasising it is often unnecessary to cast frequently or far in order to catch nice bass on the fly.

And then I added some thoughts on loop and Bass fishing Wexfordturnover and timings and things in this post here. It was Juliens’ note to me about fishing ‘like and Indian’ that made me think a little more – a little more in fact about what we did during the week and what I find myself doing by default when I’m fly fishing for bigger fish a lot of the time.

Fishing like an Indian means many things but loosely refers to your positioning in relation to the fish you are trying to catch. Not the line, not the fly, not the distance, but where are you positioned what are you doing and thinking how are you approaching the stretch of water in front of you? Early and mid tide strategy?

Its time to think and to imagine that a fish potentially lies behind or in or in front of every likely spot you can see. You also have to believe that fish lie close to shore. If that is the case, of course its not every spot, then you begin to treat each lie in a different manner. You approach it as if the fish is already there and you are simply not prospecting with random casts and poor positioning.

Some help for the flyfisher cause its always a lot easier on lure!

  • Move along the shore away from the waters edge and examine each stretch to determine where there is a likely holding spot.
    • Look at wave patterns, height and direction, depth of water, strength and direction of wind. If you can place yourself slightly upwards of the location and make a cast that will bring your fly onto the location before the line or even possibly drift it into the location whilst staying low, wow! A small pair of binoculars is helpful.
  • Look and determine if you can see any current in the location, this will help bring your fly to the fish a lot of the time OR it could be two currents working against you in fact 
    • If you can cast the fly into a current that will bring the fly to the ‘location’ at the same speed as the current running where you are positioned then this will help greatly. Confusing counter currents or two different speeds affect and increase the difficulty of your presentation to the fish.
  • Can I make the cast from where I am whilst still staying low?
    • Each location could hold a fish. You do not want to dump the fly or the line on the fish but rather you would like to give him the fly. You see a spot you like, go back a bit and try a cast away from where you think the fish is BUT as if you are fishing the spot, try it once or twice until you know and feel what you need to do then move into position and make the cast!

Remember if you see fish and you spook or miss them but see them then you know that they live there. This type of fishing means you have few opportunities, one or two per location but, you can always comeback and try again! Stay low, be accurate, don’t rush, you are a hunter, walk like an Egyptian but fish like an Indian!

Sunday 18 August 2013

The coastal interface

Bass fishing Wexford

‘In many instances, the landscape is unrivalled. The delights of late summer and autumn remain to be experienced. There is nothing like fresh air; exercise and beautiful scenery to add sweetness to life’. The Irish Times – Sat August 17, 2013.

I have just completed six days of guiding on the southern coast. It has been one of those magic weeks when a small number of things combine to make it an unforgettable experience. The weather, the company and the coastal locations where we experienced the fishing, and the fish, merged to produce a series of memories I cant help drifting back into.

Summers like this don’t come round too often and when they do they light up our lives in ways we don’t often realise. We stood many times over the past few days in awe, witnessing the coast that has not really had opportunity to shine over recent summers, and we were simply glad to be there. Many times it was less and less about the catching of fish and more and more about where the fishing had led us - to witness and to experience the unique Irish coastal landscape revealed to us in its many forms.

The sense and awareness of the many different wild places of where the fish lives adds to the intrigue and sometimes a greater understanding of the nature of the fish and the fishing. When this is shared with other people under similar circumstances, expressed, spoken about, thought about and absorbed over a pleasant pint or two of Guinness it surely produces a sense of deep satisfaction of living perhaps.

Thursday 15 August 2013

Bass fishing Ireland the mystery, the challenge

Julien Lajournade is the editor-in-chief of the SPLENDID French fishing-travel magazine, we have worked together before here Voyages de PĂȘche. He was instrumental in helping me start my guiding bass business. As an angler who lives to fish for new species in countries to which he’s never been, he’s in the right job. Julien has always been realistic in his portrayal of the Irish bass fishery and remains a constant supporter of all aspects of fishing in Ireland.


Bob and Ronan are regular customers who enjoy the fishing time spent on the coast and the experiences of bass fishing around Ireland. Their company is what makes the job very easy at times!

Thursday 8 August 2013

At about that stage…

Bass fishing in Wexford

Patterns emerge, theories seem proved, real understanding, even total solution seem almost in sight. At about that stage, most of it all falls apart.

Roderick Haig-Brown – Fishermans Fall

Wednesday 7 August 2013

Surface bass mission evening success

David from IFI dropped in late this afternoon, I had finished early from the office and we chatted about many things concerning bass fishing. We have some film and European editorial lined up for September and October and we needed to finalise the plans.

Then we went fishing for two hours taking some fish on our favourite method. David has always played an active role in my bass fishing and I’m glad to say continues to do so, especially in these very difficult fishing times.

Sunday 4 August 2013

Niall’s first surface lure fishes today

The beardy bass fishing team managed some fish from the surface today. Persisting with the technique Niall and William were rewarded with fish, not too many and not too big but great fun on light gear.

Again the Illex bonnie and the Z-claw sucked ‘em up to the top in an excellent mornings fun.

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...