Jim O’Donnell is a renowned charter skipper and fishing guide, based in Courtmacsherry. Jim also works as a freelance fishing journalist and Photographer. He has authored several books for the Royal Yachting Association and has been a regular contributor to monthly sea fishing magazines for many years. www.jimodonnell.ie. Don’t forget to send your catch reports and photographs in, to be in with a chance of winning a brand new Tronix Lure Fishing rod in our West Cork ‘Fish of the Month’ competition, sponsored by TronixPro UK. To enter you can simply post your fishing pictures and catch reports on the West Cork Fishing News FaceBook page, or you can text them to Jim directly on 087 338 8626.
Above: Junior Alex Houlihan first Bass
It was a terrible start to the 2015 season and the worst July I can remember but the weather seems to have redeemed itself slightly this past month or so. While it hasn’t been the warmest September on record, it’s been mild and calm enough with some consistent fishing, especially for Bass! The Bass fishing over September has still not been as good as it could have been, but reports show there are plenty of Bass to be caught; and for those that put in the time or just the plain lucky, there are some big fish around too! Things are looking good for the Autumn Bass season and, fingers crossed, the action should continue into early New Year! Good luck to the IFI (Inland Fisheries Ireland) who are recommencing their Bass ‘Satellite’ Tagging programme, as I type, which is good news for the future of Irish Bass fishing. I’m looking forward to seeing the results in due course! On to fishing…
From the shore, the Beara Peninsula has been producing some of the best Pollack fishing from the coast this summer, with several double-figure fish being reported. If you want to find big Pollack you need to find deep water, hence why the Beara lends itself particularly well to large specimens of this species. The same deep water rock marks will often also produce big Bull Huss, Thornback Rays and Conger Eels – three other species that the Beara is noted for producing specimen fish of. Huss fishing is still on fine form right along the West Cork coastline.
Moving eastwards – the deep-water headland of Galley Head has also been fishing well for big Pollack, but this time of year is when Clonakilty Bay comes into its own! Gilthead Bream have not been as prolific this year from Clon Bay but for those lure and live bait anglers amongst us, September and October are great months to target Bass from Inchydoney and it’s adjacent coasts. Reports of Bass in the 3-7lb class are numerous, especially for those willing to dig live sand eel! Reports of good Bass fishing are similar for Garretstown, which is a highly underrated storm beach, for those who like to wade and pitch a bait in the surf!
From the Boat this month, Blue Shark fishing has been has been off the scale from Kinsale to Baltimore with days of twenty fish not uncommon, and many Blues reported topping the magic 100lb mark. Skipper Tom Collins of Loch an Iasc from Union Hall recently broke his previous boat record of 32 sharks, boating a staggering 64 sharks in one day!
Whilst on the subject of Pelagic species, Bluefin Tuna have been sighted along the West Cork Coast over the past month. Donegal is having one of its best Bluefin seasons to date and just a few weeks back, a UK charter boat, shark fishing in the Irish Sea, boated a monster, estimated around 500lbs. Days later there were sightings of massive Bluefins off Youghal, Cork and then Baltimore. As skippers we can but dream!
Back in the real world, reef fishing along the coast this month has been nothing short of excellent, especially for big fish. Numbers of both Pollack and Cod are still good for September but big Autumn fish are showing on the deeper water reefs. Personally, I managed to put a rod over the side several times this month and on one occasion I managed three double-figure Pollack, in three drops. Shads, jigged or worked close to the bottom, have accounted for the majority of our bigger fish on the Lady Patricia this month, including Pollack to 10lb 14oz and Cod to 17lb 14oz. Mark Gannon’s Lady Louise added Ling to 26lb, Conger to 42lb and Common Skate to 184lb, to our big fish list, from Courtmac in the past month.
Not many charter boats in the west offer Bass fishing but here at Courtmac, when tides are right, with smaller parties we offer specific charters targeting Bass with lures and live-bait. My best session of the past month saw Sea Angler magazines Paul Fenech hook 12 and land six Bass in a short two hour session, breaking his personal best six times! Keep your eyes out for that article in Sea Angler magazine over the coming months!
I was privileged with the ‘job’ this year of entertaining the Sea Angler team on their annual visit to Ireland and things couldn’t have gone better to plan. The team managed 36 species in five days fishing from Courtmacsherry, including one very special specimen fish. Once again you’ll have to keep your eyes out for that article in Sea Angler magazine over the coming months.
And lastly onto West Cork FOTM (Fish Of The Month) sponsored by TronixPro UK, and this month has been dominated by Bass again!
This month’s rod winners are…Cork’s James Crowley, with a nice Bass of 69cm from the Clonakilty area! And West Cork Junior Angler of the Month this month goes to not one but two anglers, for identical sized fish – young rods George Russell and Alex Houlihan, for both catching their first Bass. Coincidently both Bass came from the Timoleague area. Well done guys. Your prizes are on their way!
Tight Lines until next month!