Thursday, 28 October 2010

Irish Bass Fishing - Catching the Lure Bug!

Anyone who has ever read Henry Gilbeys blog will know how passionate he is about lure fishing in Ireland. A few years back, in fact almost a decade ago, I travelled to Ireland a few times myself to fish in the company of well known guide John Quinlan. Henry came along on one of those trips in the hope that we would hook a few Bass for his camera. It was a tough week and although we got fish I remember feeling back then that perhaps the fly was not always the best method to target this exciting sport fish.

Granted, there is no doubt that on its day the fly can be truly deadly. But what if the wind is gusting to over 30 miles an hour and the surf is rising to in excess of 3 ft? Add low visibility and there is no doubt that fly anglers will be at a distinct disadvantage when these conditions prevail. Heading back to Ireland with Henry last week there was no doubt that I was hoping for the right kind of weather to allow me to experiment with a bunch of new flies and methods. In reality it was never going to happen .... well, at least not this week!

During his many trips to Ireland I know that Henry has found it invaluable to fish with anglers who know the coastline like the back of their hand enabling fishing over the right place at the right state of tide. One such person is Cian of Absolute Fishing who was certainly getting excited by the prospect of Southerly winds which can turn the fishing on along the Southern Irish coast line, creating the all important "fizz" as he calls it. This highly oxygenated water, crashing in over some of the sexiest Bass features you have ever seen (gullies, weed beds, drop offs and more) can turn the fishing on. A brilliant predator, Bass love the "fizz" and whenever we happened upon yet another brilliant mark I felt that the fish were never far away. However, fishing often boils down to conditions and as the wind whipped up into a series of snorting gales fly fishing became impossible.

I did find some fly action, hooking up a bunch of Pollack (always a great fallback for fly anglers looking for Irish Saltwater action) and also realising a long time ambition to hook up a half decent Wrasse on fly. See more here. But then it struck me. Short, sensitive rods. Mouth watering, silky smooth reels clad with braid. And lures! Lots of lovely, fantastic, shiny, amazing .... Lures! I could feel the kind of buzz I distinctly remember when I first got in to fly fishing.

With brilliant names such as Zonk, Xorus Patchinko or the Jackson Athlete Minnow it is hard not to be drawn into this game. But there is much more to lure fishing than being a tackle tart. What a brilliant method of fishing which has so many similarities that simply must appeal to all but the most ardent of fluff-chuckers. Its highly mobile, the lures have a variety of actions and in many cases it is highly important to "work" the lure with subtle wrist flicks. This is when the specialised rods really kick in, especially when coupled with non stretch braid which offers an unbelievable amount of sensitivity. But best of all this is light tackle fishing which can be enjoyed in conditions which rule fly tactics out.

I owe a huge debt of gratitude to Henry for taking me along on one of these trips, as this is his chance to get some fishing after a season spent behind a camera rather than a rod. All manner of lavish tackle was thrown my way, plus lures (sorry, I did lose a few!) and I even learned some new knots. I must also extend my thanks to Cian, plus his friends James and Paul who had never met me before and yet offered advice, their time and knowledge to ensure that we had an amazing trip. The fish were not easy to come by, but fishing is not all about catching. Its the experience. I will never forget this week, especially as I have now found lure fishing. In fact tomorrow I head to Chew Valley Lake with good mate Karl from Leeda to fish for Pike and will be my goal to hook one on a lure! Now that's a first.


  1. Glad you had a good time Nick - I followed Henrys recent Irish adventure on his blog - well done on the Wrasse.

    On a slightly tangential note - do you still did salt water guiding?

  2. I Stuart, the Wrasse was a blast and a fish I have been after for a long time on fly gear.

    I still guide regularly, although much of it is Trout/Salmon. However, the recent visit to Ireland has really got me fired up for the saltwater again. So yes, I can definitely help out.

  3. Brilliant Nick

    I'll have a chat with the Boss and see what she thinks about the idea. If you did the saltwater thing where abouts would it be - somewhere near exmoor i guess?

  4. Hi Stuart, I have a few marks along the North Devon coast but also head to a few on the South. Weather dictates the best location. By next year I hope to have learned a lot more about the coastline through my winter lure fishing exploits!