Ireland trip report: no-one said it would be easy

August 30th, 2012| No Comments

Ireland bass fishing report: no-one said it would be easy

No-one ever said it would be easy. In fact, before we headed over to Ireland for the big bass-off, most people delighted in telling us how hard it would be. And when people like the guys at Absolute Fishing (Tramore’s foremost proponents of bass tackle) describe this season as “the worst conditions for lure fishing ever witnessed”… well, you know you’re up against it. 

But you know how it is – you don’t look forward to a trip like this for months on end without a small part of you thinking you’re going to turn up and get lucky; that somehow a miraculous change in conditions and fortune might just coincide with your arrival. Wishful thinking.

There were six of us in the group for this trip to southeast Ireland. Some were there for a full week while others, like me, did the Wednesday-Sunday stint. Between us, we managed a small handful of bass – we fished as hard as the conditions would allow, were out on the water whenever we could, trying every lure in the bag and every fly in the box, but the bass were few and far between. The relative absence of fish this year has been well documented, and there are others far better qualified than me to comment on why that might be, but the rotten-as-hell summer seems to be the chief culprit in most people’s eyes.

Ireland bass fishing report: no-one said it would be easyWe were lucky enough to get some half-decent weather, but it’ll take more than a couple of sunny afternoons to undo the mess created by months’ worth of unending rain and storms. Quite simply, we didn’t stand a chance.

Has this put us off? Absolutely not. By the end of the trip, there wasn’t a man among us who wasn’t signed up for next year. The scale and potential of this fishery, and the thought of what it must be like when the action really hots up, was enough. And anyway, there were plenty of highlights along the way. So with that in mind, here goes with a collection of personal highlights and memorable moments.

Ballytrent House

Ireland bass fishing report: Ballytrent HouseThis guesthouse set within an 18th-century heritage house in Rosslare Harbour could not have been more ideal. The folks at Ballytrent are the very definition of Irish hospitality, and their place is about as fine a base as you could wish for on a trip like this. Owner Jamie Ryan is an excellent fisherman in his own right and a veritable mine of information regarding fishing round these parts. Not only did he point us in the direction of some excellent bass marks, but he stepped in with a great Plan B when the weather called a halt to the bassing. More on that later…

The Day of 10,000 Casts

On Thursday (which turned out to be the only full, uninterrupted day of bassing we did as a complete group) we fished pretty much non-stop for 10 hours and ended the day with one fish to show for our efforts. We did a little maths later on and worked out that if we’d all been casting at a rate of once every 20 seconds or so (possibly a little ambitious, but stick with me here), then six of us over the course of the day would have completed somewhere in the region of 10,000 casts.

But – and it’s a big but – what a fish that 10,000-1 shot turned out to be. Big congrats to Ben on what was a dream bass – somewhere in the region of 8lbs of Copper Coast perfection. It was a pleasure just to see such a fish, so I can only imagine how Ben felt after he’d caught it. The look says it all really:

Ireland bass fishing report: Ben's big ol' bass

Favourite lure

Ireland bass fishing report: the peerless PatchinkoEasy one, this: the Xorus Patchinko left all the others for dead. As you’ve probably gathered, we didn’t set any records for our haul over the week, but all the fish we did catch, bar one, fell to Patchinkos. And that’s not because they were the only lures we used. We threw everything out there, from Yo-Zuri poppers to Slug-Gos and Xlayers. (We even tried bait once, but don’t tell anyone about that.) The only thing that anyone was casting with any confidence by the end of the trip was the Patchinko.

So what makes it so special? Well, the weight chamber in the shapely rear means you can really fire it out there, allowing you to cover more water, but there’s just something about the action that does it for the fish when nothing else will. You can fish it walk-the-dog style, pop it in a conventional fashion, and in between twitches, let it sit for a second or two – this allows the weighted rear to bob back in the water, and fish will sometimes even hit the lure when it’s stationary. I think we’d pretty much bought Wexford’s entire stock by Saturday.

Plan B

When the going gets tough, the tough go pike fishing. Sometimes you just have to face facts – and when the facts consist of 2-metre seas the colour of cappuccino, driving rain and howling winds, you have to consider your options. Luckily, Jamie at Ballytrent House was more than happy to put us in touch with Keith, a friend of his who guides on the River Barrow. As you can see, it wasn’t bad as an alternative…

Ireland bass fishing report: Plan B... pike fishing

Ireland bass fishing report: Plan B... pike fishing

Master craftsman

Ireland bass fishing report: the master at workOf course, we’d all planned for a week of fast and furious bass action so pike flies were a sparse commodity. Fortunately, that’s not a problem when one of your number happens to be Rupert Harvey, fly-tying maestro, master craftsman and the man behind Hats off to Rupert, who was more than happy to step in and bash out a few perch patterns when supplies were low. I say “bash out”, but if you’ve seen his work, you’ll know that each and every one of his flies is a work of art, tied with the highest-quality materials to the most exacting specifications. If you need some flies custom made for a forthcoming trip, do yourself a favour and check out his site here.

The final evening

To be honest, we’d all but packed up the bass gear on Saturday morning, but that evening a minor miracle happened. After one last almighty downpour (see below) the skies cleared, rainbows arched over the horizon, and with the sun setting behind us, we squeezed in one last session – resulting in one last fish.

It was an evening that started out like this:

Ireland bass fishing report: the final showdown

… and ended up like this:

Ireland bass fishing report: the final showdown

The seventh member

Last but not least, an honourable mention for the other member of the group, Captain Morgan. I’m pretty sure we’ll be running into you on a future trip (if not on those midnight crab-hunts).

Ireland bass fishing report: the seventh member

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