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Monday, June 29, 2009

Not much Guinness, lots of Sea Bass

The only Guinness beer we saw was canned Guinness, freshly bought from a local supermarket together with a couple of bottles of wine to irrigate our dinner. There was no time for bars, Irish pubs or parties. Only fishing, fishing and a little bit more of fishing.

Three crazy guys came with me to this exploratory trip to the deep Irish south west. Galway, a paradise for sea bass, protected by strict laws enforced by the government. Fish that grow for the exclusive pleasure of recreational fisherman, without the use and abuse of the trade. In a country like Ireland where the money is not plentiful and the crisis is hammering hard, this is a real impressive result. The recreational fishermen are only entitled to two pieces per day and no nets, gillnets, trawls and long lines are affecting the stock.

So the hopes were high. The reports from friends who had been there previously were amazing and it was already time to park the heavy duty tackle for some lighter outfit. Oriol, Thomas and Mario were the lucky ones who shared with me these 4 intense, fruitful and enjoyable days. John was our guide and Lynn, his wife, tireless cook, terribly frightened by the amount of food the Spanish-Italian team could gobble each day.

After about two and a half hours drive from Shannon Airport and a flat tire, we were able to reach the cottage. A quick bite to calm the restless stomachs and after rigging the tackle we could finally go fishing. The first day was a little poor, with a couple of bass and one or two more bites. A good dinner and a deserved rest were needed to prepare the tired bodies for the next day, with a scary wake up call at 04:30 in the morning.

On our first full day of fishing, even arriving at dawn at the spot and despite of the efforts of the guide, the fish were still not participating. However, Oriol managed to land the largest piece of the week, but the team is far from being happy yet.

It was just the second full day of fishing that things began to cheer up. There were moments of frantic activity followed by sudden stops, all this due to the tides and the food that would concentrate or spread the fish. But we were staring seeing numbers at least. The double digits that my friends anticipated me before my trip were not a lie or a fisherman’s exaggeration, and the Irish Bass proved us that they can be very aggressive and fierce predators.

Fishing was mainly either on the surface with walking the dogs, or an inch below the water with soft plastics, especially Fin-S and the Super Fluke, basically because they were the only ones we had. I found a dog that worked wonderfully in a foggy morning. Could cast it where others failed and obviously had an action that our finned ladies liked very much. Climbed to the highest step of the podium and every minute his stock value was moving faster that the rate of oil.

There are plenty of Pollocks too. Unfortunately the photos I have are so pathetic that I will not dare to show them. Thus I do remember the panic of climbing up and down those high and steep cliffs under which where they live. It was scary. Fearful. Hopefully next time they will not see me wearing long neoprene waders with felt soles, thus I will be scared again, no shame to admit it.

I fished with two 7-foot Lamiglas travel rods which have worked wonderfully. The old series of Lamiglas Travel was quite bad but these have shown great qualities, both in casting and working the lures, exceeding the 8-foot rods that my friends were using. One is spinning, the XTC 704 able to toss lures up to 3/4oz and the other is the casting model XTC7025 with a lure rating up to 1 1/2oz. On the first one I put a reel a tad too big for it, the Certate 3500 Custom and on the second a Team Daiwa Luna 253, bait casting, which is a little gem. Tuf Line 20lb with 20/30lb leaders. Lures of the like of Spit'n Image, GunFish, Sammy, High Roller, and the vinyl discussed above.

I’ll close this post with the negative side of the trip. During a photo session on the shoreline, three flashes mounted on a Lastolite Tri-Flash and a Manfrotto 001 Stand decided to take a swim and got as fried as the eggs we would eat in the morning. After a couple of hours I slipped on a rock and the Nikon D80 with the Sigma 10-20 drunk a good pint of water and stopped working. Finally, the joke had cost me more than most expensive trip to the tropics and I only managed to keep working thanks to the old D70s and 18-200, a lens that I don’t love too much and no speedlights available to lit up a bit the images.

Yet I came back from Ireland happy. I made peace with the soft plastics, I returned to see a country I love a lot, and I fished light tackle, which ultimately gives me great satisfaction. To be 100% satisfied I need the camera and lens to survive the dive, I’ll know it in few days.


hector200 said...

Excelente reseña mi estimado, felicidades por las lubinas, mala suerte por lo de la camara pero eso pasa en lo personal perdi una camara canon en una escollera tratando de capturar un jurel.


Fish Whisperer said...

Great report and images. too bad about the camera gear. That is why I now use a canon G4 with waterproof housing.
Tight lines