Irish bass festival 2016

Me and my mate Tim have just got back from Ten days in Ireland for the bass festival. It was our first time over there and had no idea what to expect. Stories of poor fishing and the place being easily blown out where worrying. We made plans just in case of such situation but where pleased to see the forecast before the comp was blowing West along the coast. This brought a little swell and clear water though the forecast was meant to be going SW for the comp.

We got lucky on our first night when we went for a night session. The first mark produced a nice 65cm fish for me and a schoolie for Tim.

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We hadn’t blanked but made a quick decision to try another spot before first light.

On arrival to the mark there was a lot of action on the surface. Suddenly the water erupted all around us. There was some serious fish here feeding hard. It took a while to get a bite but eventually I struck into a hard fish that erupted in between us in a couple foot of water.

The fish made a short run before settling for headshaking on the surface. Only ten foot out I contained myself from turning my headtorch on as I didn’t want to spook the other fish. It didn’t stop thrashing hard, really hard before It finally got free. It had bent the lure clip… it was a piss poor clip and all down to being my fault I just didn’t have any others… I wont make that mistake again! Shaking I started setting up again before a call from Tim. I could hear his reel screaming off, I danced over the rocks still full of adrenaline as he calmly slid his fish into a gully for me to grab. What a fish!

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75cm but in ours eyes not enough for a double. Still a PB for Tim (Irish PB) I was buzzing for him and soon forgot about the one I lost. The moon came out soon after and the fishing almost instantly went quiet… Then the sun came up and all that was left was some mullet skimming the surface. What a night and one we will never forget.

release

We had to return the next night to try again but it wasn’t the same. Tim landed a couple 3lb fish but did drop another that went off like stink. I only managed a 4lb fish and dropped another similar at my feet. Once again it all went very quiet when the moon came out.

We had spent the first few days checking marks in the daylight and fishing the nights. We finally headed to the copper coast and got to Absolute fishing to see Cian and meet up with Steve for a few days. We were received with banter and laughs from the off. We got kitted up with a few bits including some good clips and set off for our first proper session on the copper coast.

We managed a couple fish each ott in the daylight with me christening my new skimmer with fish to 57cm which I actually got the camera out for.

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We had a good session that night. We all managed fish with Cian taking the best fish around 5lb. As the tide dropped us three headed to the next mark with Cian getting an early night. Instantly I was into fish, missed a couple and dropped a couple but as the light came up I missed a donkey as It created a huge boil on the surface as it nipped my frankie. I stilled ended the night with 11 fish to 60cm and Steve with the biggest at 6lb.

We had a couple quieter days as the conditions weren’t ideal and made fishing hard though conditions where stunning in the day the tide times weren’t. Our last night with Steve was a funny one. Howling winds and rain made life no fun. We still went for it but the lads soon bailed leaving me to battle it out. I eventually managed a fish before calling it a night. The rain and wind was brutal to say the least.

Steve was due to meet up with Henry and Mark then next day and we went our separate ways before the comp. Me and Tim had another day on the copper coast. Firstly heading west in the day to check out more marks. We bumped into a couple of really nice fisheries officers that we chatted to for ages about lure fishing before I found out that the tip on my rod had snapped. No idea how but this rod is virtually irreplaceable and I love it… Gutted! We had a another tough night on the copper coast before finally moving marks again before the light came up. I missed a fish and got snapped before Tim lost a really nice fish at his feet and landed a schoolie. This is where Tims reel after all the praise he gave it finally met its end. Just too much salt water and abuse over the last few days… the light came up and the fish went off the boil. I did my best to get one to take OTT but it wasn’t to be.

We then headed to our chosen area for the comp that certainly needed more homework. Tim picked up a new reel on the way… We fished that night and Tim had a two fish 60+ and I managed a mid 50’s. That was good enough for us and we hit the sack with a reasonable plan going into the comp.

 

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We signed on first thing and got to the first mark. Tim enticed 3 big fish and dropped one of them after it screamed off with his DC9 while I failed to see anything. The DC9 was the only thing he go a positive hit on while they swirled at his weightless sluggo. The session ended bad with Tim’s rod breaking as he tried to pull out of a snag. He put this down to previous knocks though this set us back on sleeping time having to drive to buy another as he didn’t bring a back up like me. The afternoon session saw us fishing a lovely spot of reef in a big swell that was pretty messy from the strong side wind. The area was full of weed too and really hard to fish anything. I had a decent fish follow me in too my feet as I stood on a high rock away from the swell that gave me confidence but I couldn’t fish through the weed. I opted to use the Austrie 130 for max distance on my not so ideal Spro travel rod. I was nearly hitting the back of the reef where the birds where diving. Working the Austrie back I couldn’t help but notice how  well it worked just under the surface. It clicked that this might work to my advantage. On the next retrieve I mixed it up cranking it under with a couple twitches before pausing and giving it a couple slides on the surface. As I pulled it under for the last time a good fish came up from below slashing at the lure. I paused and with one final twitch on the surface it came back to engulf it. Oh how I should have looked how I was going to land this fish. I panicked and attempted to bring the fish up a gully with the swell. Tim tried grabbing the fish but missed the fish went backwards snapping my rod but luckily for me the lure snagged in Tim’s waders. I held onto Tim as he took a soaking for me and then managed to get them both up safely. We retreated back to the shore where I let the fish recover in the water as Tim go the ruler and camera ready.

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She went 65cm and the perfect start for me though she might have gone more if she stopped flaring her gills. She swam away quickly but cost us another rod and a pair of waders in he process… That evening/night was poor and we failed to get anything.

Failing the night session with my last spare rod, now my 7ft shimano biomaster… I was prepared to complete the comp with it though it was seriously letting me down. It’s normally my estuary SP rod for weightless and light lures… With a lot of time spent trying to find a fish that night and no sleep on friday we ended up missing our early morning session on Sat. We ended up trying somewhere random when we got up and instantly had attention on the surface, though it was short lived due to a user error and Tim snapping his new rod… Walking away from fish it was back in the van and we just caught Cian for Tim to get a replacement. I ended up buying a 8’6 HTO 7-35gm to use instead of my Shimano though I’m not sure it really gave me much advantage but it felt more robust and gave me more confidence to punch out heavier lures. That evening we fished our big fish mark again in hope of that one donkey. Tim once again had a follow to his feet. This fish sat hard to the bottom as it followed his super slow sluggo until he could go no further before it casually turned and cruised off barely leaving a ripple on the surface. At least the wind was dropping off tonight and was going to make our night session that bit easier. We stuck with the same night mark as before that had already produced a couple 60’s for Tim. There was still a little swell but no wind, it was prefect. Tim managed 3 to 53cm and I got a 63cm and a 57cm to give me 3 fish for the comp.

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  We where pleased walking away from this mark and got what we came for. One good fish now and it was game on… We tried a slightly different mark this morning on the rise to high but unfortunately it didn’t produce. Sure the last time the onshore wind would have helped push the bait and bass in here but we had none this morning and no fish. We moved around and got into the flow as the tide ebbed. Tim nailed a 54cm fish first cast bumping his black minnow down the tide. I’m useless at this and never seem to do well with this technique. Probably confidence more than what I’m actually doing though… The weed was bad but we carried on knowing we could get a donkey any moment. Tim lost a very nice fish at his feet easily a 60+ and proceeded to hook into two more very powerful fish that also shook the hook… Meanwhile I carried on blanking. We could and were going to move to my reef mark but I thought we both stood a better chance of that one 70+ fish here even if I was never going to catch it. Unfortunately that was how it ended for us. A poor show from me and bad or unlucky angling from Tim though we were both happy and very tired.  We did make one last trip to the reef mark but over low tide it was almost impossible to find somewhere fishable with the water being so far out. We called it quits and retired back to the shop.

We enjoyed a fun night at the presentation followed by quite a few beers and laughs with the boys. Congrats to all the winners, it was great to see Mick larkin get his first double and take the trophy. 204cm made up the best 3 fish and that was a big total. Great fishing by all over the weekend and we can’t wait to get back over there either around September or for the next comp.
Ireland really is a special place with great people and some serious fishing. Highly recommend the visit to anyone!
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4 thoughts on “Irish bass festival 2016

  1. Great read and some stunning photography,a true Irish adventure, some lovely fish and hard some bad luck on the lost fish

    • Haha yes Mike, 4 rods in total… Tim did 2 reels even though they just need a grease up. One pair of costas, my coat and headtorch, a Sammy, my phone, tims waders… yeah turned out to be a rather destructive trip with regards to equipment haha

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