Adrenalin rush!

Sea Angler (UK) - - Con­tents - Words and pho­tog­ra­phy by Chris Clark

Rock fish­ing with a dif­fer­ence ticks all boxes.

When head­ing to a new venue, I al­ways get a buzz, but when you add some rocky ledges into the equa­tion, my ex­pec­ta­tions are mul­ti­plied many times over.

My adrenalin was flow­ing freely as a team from Sea An­gler made its way to Barry’s Point, only a 15-minute drive down Ir­ish coun­try lanes from our week’s base at Court­mac­sh­erry, County Cork.

We had been given the nod about the po­ten­tial of this venue by sev­eral lo­cals, in­clud­ing char­ter boat skip­per Jim O’Don­nell, who knows this part of Ire­land like the back of his hand.

Like many of Ire­land’s nar­row, wind­ing lanes head­ing towards a head­land, it pe­tered out well be­fore the fish­ing area. There was just enough room to get two cars parked off the track, af­ter which it was a case of don­ning our hik­ing boots.

Un­like the ap­proaches to many other head­lands in the area, the ter­rain was fairly level, pro­vid­ing a fairly easy walk along the shal­lower eastern side of the head­land, where we had been told some nice thorn­back rays could be caught.

How­ever, on this oc­ca­sion we were go­ing to tar­get the western side, where the wa­ter is far deeper, but a series of un­der­wa­ter ledges can be a tackle grave­yard; it only needs the small­est of waves to send plumes of spray into the air, as we were to dis­cover (pic­tured left).

Un­like a head­land we a had vis­ited ear­lier in the week, the last cou­ple of hun­dred yards were fairly sim­ple to ne­go­ti­ate. There were also some ledges close to the wa­ter’s edge that of­fered good grip for our feet, not in the slight­est bit slip­pery, al­ways im­por­tant when fish­ing deep-wa­ter rock marks.

Join­ing me and our guide Jim O’Don­nell were Tronix­pro boss Ge­orge Cun­ning­ham, who seems to be able to turn his hand to most types of fish­ing, and Sea An­gler con­trib­u­tors Adam Kirby and Dan Sis­sons, who spe­cialise in LRF and HRF tech­niques. It had all the mak­ings of an in­ter­est­ing en­counter.

As Dan and Adam set­tled to my left, I was re­ally look­ing for­ward to watch­ing these two tal­ented guys in ac­tion. Ge­orge went a lit­tle way to my right. We started fish­ing al­most on high wa­ter and were go­ing to fish down to low, which was the op­po­site to what I would have liked, but dur­ing this type of trip it’s a case of beg­gars can’t be choosers.

As is usual for me, I sat pon­der­ing and re­gain­ing my com­po­sure and tak­ing in the scenery; it is a stun­ning stretch of coast­line. Be­fore I had even opened my ruck­sack, Dan and Adam were al­ready catch­ing pol­lack; the place seemed to be alive with the species; al­though not big fish, they cer­tainly gave a spir­ited ac­count of them­selves on their light tackle. It was great to watch.

Oc­ca­sion­ally while play­ing a slightly bet­ter fish, the lads ven­tured just a tad too close to the edge, only to get show­ered with spray as a wave smashed against the rocky ledges.

Af­ter watch­ing them for at least 30 min­utes, I de­cided it was an area of angling that I will try. First, though, I was go­ing to see if I could bag my­self a big fish. SIM­PLE STUFF While Dan and Adam had been land­ing lots of small pol­lack, along with a few mack­erel, they were mak­ing con­tact with some­thing far more ag­gres­sive that had no in­ten­tion of be­ing heaved from the kelp. For me, this could only mean one thing, some big bal­lan wrasse were lurk­ing in the depths be­low.

They were prov­ing ex­tremely dif­fi­cult to get over the rocky ledges and kelp, re­sult­ing in quite a heavy toll on the lads’ lures. This called for some heavy-duty stuff, so I set up a Fox Neme­sis rod and at­tached a Penn

Mag mul­ti­plier loaded with 30lb line straight through. At the busi­ness end I had two size 1/0 Ka­masan short-shank hooks at­tached to 20lb snoods and a 20lb weak link, con­nected to one of the flat leads I use for this type of fish­ing; it should pro­vide a rea­son­able chance of re­triev­ing fish from this type of rough and tum­ble un­der­wa­ter ter­rain. Bait was a peeler crab on the bot­tom hook, and a very large rag­worm on the top, all pretty sim­ple stuff.

The first few casts proved to be a non-event, with just a few small bal­lan and cork­wings, not re­ally what I was ex­pect­ing, but as I held the rod, the tip gave a slight rum­ble and then just buried. It was a case of hang­ing on for dear life.

Be­low me was an ex­tremely an­gry cus­tomer, which had no in­ten­tion of wav­ing the white flag. It took a lot of pump­ing on the rod be­fore I man­aged to ease it up through the kelp and over the rocky ledges. To my sur­prise, out came a dou­ble header of big bal­lans, the best I had caught for many months. It was a case of mis­sion ac­com­plished on the wrasse front.

BEST BRACE

With the bal­lan ticked off the list, I switched to my float rod for a while and was soon catch­ing pol­lack and mack­erel, while Dan and Adam were get­ting a slightly bet­ter stamp of pol­lack that cer­tainly knew how to fight.

While all this had been go­ing on, Ge­orge, who is nor­mally a larger than life char­ac­ter, had been qui­etly land­ing the oc­ca­sional small bal­lan. Sud­denly, he ap­peared clutch­ing one of the best brace of cork­wing wrasse I have ever seen; back in the UK, I reckon the big­ger of the two fish would have been a po­ten­tial record breaker.

With time tick­ing away, I de­cided to try for a conger eel, a species that had been con­spic­u­ous by its ab­sence dur­ing our week’s trip, which is quite un­usual when fish­ing the rocky ledges in Ire­land.

I switched to a sin­gle size 6/0 Pennell rig on a 50lb hook­length and baited up with a chunk of mack­erel and cast it out around 40yd. Twenty min­utes later the rod started to show signs of life. Some­thing was mouthing the bait, but it wasn’t re­ally pos­i­tive, so I left it for a few min­utes be­fore lift­ing into the fish. Ini­tially, I thought it was a dog­fish, but soon af­ter­wards out popped a small strap conger, not ex­actly what I was seek­ing, but at least it was an­other species added to the list.

As low wa­ter ap­proached, the bites slowed to a trickle, and it be­came in­creas­ingly dif­fi­cult for Dan and Adam to re­trieve their lures due to vast for­est of kelp beds start­ing to ap­pear around the bot­tom of the rock ledges.

All too soon it was time to head back to our ac­com­mo­da­tion at Wood­point House, Court­mac­sh­erry. It had been an in­ter­est­ing day, with some fish­ing to match, and a dou­ble shot of bal­lans that I shall re­mem­ber for many moons to come.

For me, the real high­light was watch­ing Dan and Adam in ac­tion; they are ex­tremely tal­ented an­glers mak­ing LRF/HRF fish­ing look easy. Their choice of lures, know­ing when and how to change to an­other, was quite stag­ger­ing, but one thing is for sure, it won’t be long be­fore I am dan­gling on the rocks with a brand new LRF out­fit.

Dan Sis­sons and Adam Kirby, tal­ented lads who spe­cialise in LRF and HRF tech­niques A great brace of cork­wing wrasse for Ge­orge Adam Kirby with one of the many pol­lack he caught

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