There was no way I could come over to Ireland without paying a visit to Kerry, it’s where I came in august on my fishing trip and it was love at first sight. Its one of those magical places that you can’t help but love. My time was spent in and around Ballinskelligs bay, wherever you look it’s like a postcard image of either cloud topped mountains or huge cliffs plunging into big seas. Putting all that aside the fishing can be just epic and plenty to choose from. Hunting big rock Pollock with soft plastics or getting abused by them in my case. Then to hard hitting, smash you about wrasse of the rocks. And the king of all, the bass. Whether it’s from the big sandy surf beaches, the big flats littered with boulders or of the rocks fishing the gullies. Ok so In no way have I really smashed some fish while down here but I have caught all 3 of these species and overall some nice fish. It’s been very tough work finding the fish, but when I have it has paid of.
Fishing for some big Pollock was something that was definitely up high on the to do list when I got to Kerry, although the first few days were a bit of a write off. With strong winds and huge swell there was no way of getting close to the sea to get a decent cast, and when I did get one out I think I would have needed a 6oz lead to get it to hit the bottom. Anyway I remember a mark from august which we had a few good Pollock from and a nice bass as I remember. This mark had its pros and cons; it was a spit of rocks sheltered inside the bay so it wasn’t getting battered by huge swells. Although on the other hand it only had about a one hour window of fishing it before it was cut off. I fished it a few times over my time here and has done me well. The first time I fished it was a good sign, I was fishing 120 Black minnows with the off shore heads. The heavier head was needed to cope with the strong run of tide it had there on the flood. I was fishing a mixture of sink and draw and just sinking it and straight retrieving it along the bottom, essentially fishing for Pollock. About ten minutes in and I had my first knock and it resulted in a 3lb bass, very nice surprise and chuffed to start the account with a bass. Next cast another hit and this time a 3lb Pollock again chuffed to see a nice Pollock.
After that session I was desperate to fish it again so the next day I returned in the hope that with the tides building there might be more fish around. Fished it exactly the same as I did the day before but with nothing, a couple bites but not resulting in anything. By now the tide had really started pushing in and this was prime time for a hit with the good run of current but nothing. It had got to the time where I needed to start making my way back before getting cut of so the famous words “Last Cast”. A nice long cast, hit the bottom and straight retrieve it back. Nothing but hang on is that weed on the lure? It doesn’t count as a last cast if it comes back weeded. Take 2 “ Last Cast” another nice long cast, hit the bottom straight retrieve back, half way back and I get a knock from a fish with no hook up. No way does it count as a last cast it I get bumped on the retrieve. Take 3 “Last Cast” A huge cast out, hit the bottom and straight retrieve back. Half way and nothing, then wallop, I get hit and it’s a fish on. It’s fighting hard and with the current on his side its making it hard to keep him up. First thoughts are Pollock as it was diving hard but as I get a bit of line in I see that shimmer of silver to confirm we have a bass on. After a little more fighting I now have him of the surface and guide him towards the rocks into my safe hands. After a few photos and a quick measure it’s returned strong for another day. A 60cm thick Bass on my 3rd “Last Cast” I was chuffed.
So what else could I do but return to the same mark again. With the tides building it meant I could get onto the mark for longer, so I managed to fish about an hour before low. To start with I was getting a good few bites and interest with the tide still pushing out but as it approached slack water they all dried up and it was a case of waiting for that tide to start pushing in. Now due to unfortunate circumstances of losing all my off sure heads I found myself in a bit of a predicament. The fact was I had nothing with enough weight to get a lure to the bottom where the fish will be holding. A few things were tried with no success, until I had a brainwave. I had a couple jig heads which were not heavy enough with a standard soft plastic mounted on but I had the mother of all soft plastics. The Megabass Dot Crawler 7”, weighting in at about 18g and in combination with the jig head I now had a total weight of about 28-30g. Easily heavy enough, so I adopt the sink and draw method in hope to give the lure a bit more life as it was essentially a stick bait. Straight away I was getting interest on it and I started hitting into some nice Pollock of 3lb or so. I was amazed as I would never have even dreamt of using this lure in this way. But on I went and more Pollock were landed, the best going about 5lbs. No monster but hitting into a 5lb Pollock in strong current on a rod rated at 5-25g with them doing everything they can to hit the bottom. Well thats good enough sport for me. I will admit though there were 2 Pollock that really did abuse me, the first one hit me like a steam train. And with my tight drag I had to take all that force in the rod I thought I had just about turned it when it took another dive and the line went, gutting but that’s what is to be expected when fishing for big Pollock. The second was near enough the same story but he just took me hard in kelp, there was no way I could turn him without my rod snapping in two.
Finally it was time to go wrasse bashing, and with bright sunshine flat calm seas there was no better way to be spending it. I wanted to return to a pretty successful spot we fished back in august, only drama with this was the crazy horse that resided in the field in which I had to pass through. It was bad enough with 3 of us last time, so going solo was not my idea of fun. I scouted the field and spotted her chilling in the bottom right of the field so I stealth fully sneaked down through the field, on the last stretch she perked up and spotted me and decided to start trotting towards me, at which point I proceeded to run like a little girl to the nearest fence and jumped over it!! So to the fishing, it was a fairly slow start with not much interest, I moved about in hope of finding some hungry wrasse. I would get one then nothing for a while then another. I tallied up 6 fish, now for the time I spent there I thought I might have had more. But at the end of the day I’m quite happy to catch 6 fish, I started to make my way back along the rocks when there’s this one big deep gulley that’s just shouting at me to hit it. I thought ill have a few casts, see if I can’t pull one more up. My god I think I definitely found there gathering hole, first cast and I hit into a nice fish really put a bend in the rod, a good fish around the 4lb mark. Then the next 5 casts all resulted in fish, yes 6 casts on the trot and 6 fish. In well under 10 minutes I had just doubled my fish count, this is certainly one epic end to a session. Wrasse may not give you a long fight but in those first few dives they are certainly a powerful fish for their size, as with Pollock there is only one way to fight them and that’s with a tight drag and brute force. I can only imagine King Leonidas was referring to wrasse fishing when he addressed his troops with “Give them nothing, but take from them EVERYTHING”