All at sea

Posted on: 7th July, 2014

Category: Features

Contributor: Mary O'Brien

IMAGE ABOVE: The view from the Lady Reb heading out of Baltimore

Having experienced many enjoyable trips on the water from Baltimore over the years, there was no persuasion needed when Baltimore Skipper Kieran Collins recently asked the West Cork People team out for an afternoon on the Lady Reb. 

Although the thought of a fresh fish supper at the end of the trip was tempting, with only one ‘honest’ claim to fishing prowess (the second assertion turned out be rather dubious; her fishing experience consisted of a piece of string and a block of wood over 25 years ago!) and encouraged by the climbing temperatures (at least 24 degrees) we decided to slap on the sun tan lotion and take the lazy day option of a sightseeing rather than an angling trip. As we debated, it struck me that this would make a great family day out. Since watching an episode of ‘Little Bear’ that showed off his skill with a reel, my two five-year-old girls had expressed a keen interest in ‘giving fishing a go’. Combine that with the excitement of simply being on a boat at sea and possibly seeing some whales and dolphins up close, and you’d be hard pressed to create a more entertaining family day out. Definitely a future date for the diary.

We were pretty excited ourselves, as Kieran professed that with the frequency of sightings in West Cork waters recently, it was highly likely that we would see some whale and dolphin activity.

An experienced fisherman and a crew member of the local lifeboat, Kieran has been taking people out on angling trips for many years and knows the coastline like the back of his hand. Coming from a long line of fishermen, he took his first steps on a boat!

As we cruised past the The Beacon, enjoying the heat on our faces and breeze in our hair, it was difficult to imagine life anywhere else. When the sun shines, West Cork can easily claim to be best place on the planet. The seals obviously think so too; their languid forms on the rocks echoed our languorous mood.

Not long after leaving shore, Kieran noticed some feeding activity. Gannets were divebombing in to the ocean giving quite a spectacular display of aerobics. Kieran was sure this indicated the presence of a pod of dolphins or Minke whales. As we stared into the blue depths, a spray behind us alerted us to a visitor. Kieran was on the mark; we had company — a Minke whale diving not far from the boat.

The Minke whale breathes three to five times at short intervals before ‘deep-diving’ for two to 20 minutes. Our Minke went for a deep dive, so we were unfortunate not to spot him again. It was a heady experience though, seeing this magnificent creature up close, if only for a short time.

Baltimore Skipper Kieran Collins showing off a recent catch

Baltimore Skipper Kieran Collins showing off a recent catch

Kieran explains that wreck fishing, shark fishing and common skate fishing are three kinds of sea angling that Baltimore is famous for. “Shark and Common Skate are tagged for research purposes and released,” explains Kieran. Even with more everyday catches, Kieran has a ‘catch and release’ policy for conservation — that means his passengers don’t take home any more fish than can be eaten.

At this point we could see the Fastnet Rock, golden in the sunlight. When the weather is right, the Lady Reb can get up close, which Kieran says is “an awesome sight”.

Unfortunately our evening commitments meant we had to be back to shore by five so Kieran couldn’t give us his customary tour of Cape Clear or Sherkin. Normally his outings include a spell on one of the islands for a walk or some refreshments.

So, three hours later, sunkissed, hungry and happy, we were back at Baltimore pier. We just about had the energy left for a bag of chips…life is hard!

The Lady Reb can cater for up to 12 anglers and gear is supplied if necessary. Family/group sightseeing/fishing trips or a combination of both can be tailored to meet requirements. Family rates are available on request. The Deep Sea Angling festival in Baltimore takes place from August 21 to 24.


To arrange a trip with Baltimore Angling, contact Kieran on 028 20584 or 086 3014971


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