Jim O’Donnell is a 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. To send Jim your fishing news and photographs you can contact him on 087 338 8626.
I don’t need to mention but this past month has been a complete washout with very poor fishing conditions throughout the county and all boat fishing off limits for the time being. For the mad few that have squeezed in sessions fishing from the shore between storms, I’ve heard of reports of a few codling, up to 5lb, falling to lug worm and peeler crab baits and the odd flounder and school bass also falling to baits aimed at Cod. As I type, the Atlantic is looking quieter on the storm front over the next two weeks and the air temperatures have fallen since New Year, so fingers crossed we are in for a short cold spell followed by an early spring!
I no longer make New Years resolutions – I’ve come to the conclusion that because I’m an angler, who thrives on the outdoors, I am never going to find the enthusiasm or energy at this time of year to do anything but sit in self-pity, watching the weather charts praying for a break to get out and test my Christmas pressies. So instead of making a New Years Resolution, I like to sit down at this time of year to make some plans, organise trips and set my self some goals for the year ahead, like species I want to catch and new marks I’d like to try out etc.
This year I have outlined a list of remoter shore marks to explore and I’d like to get back into some river fishing after a few years out. As a skipper I have a whole host of things I’d like to try out, to catch more and bigger fish for our clients here in Courtmac. Over 2016 I also fancy a few busman’s holidays, fishing with other skippers around Ireland, for a different species that we don’t find so frequently here in West Cork. Watch this space!
January, February and March are pretty quiet months for the counties charter fleet and like me, most skippers choose this time to catch up with paperwork and maintenance ready for the coming season, which starts to get busy around Easter. Anglers love to gas and January through March are also good months to catch your local charter skipper for a natter, talk fishing and to book a trip on good tides…before all the good tides get booked up!
Different species, different areas and different depths all require specific tides to fish them and each skipper will have his own preference of tides for his area, to catch the species you would like and/or fish the places that you would like to fish. Smaller tides (called Neap tides) often suit wreck fishing and bottom fishing for residential species like conger. The opposite, big tides (known as Springs), normally suit drift fishing for predatory species like Bass and Sharks! Each month sees roughly two weeks of Spring tides and two weeks of Neap tides, so needless to say, it’s not always productive, or possible, to fish for any species on any given day and tides that are good for popular species book up quick!
If you’re thinking of booking a Charter Fishing trip this coming season, here’s a list of West Cork’s Top skippers.
Kinsale: Sea Breeze – Gerald Murphy 085 1322857, Harpy – Carroll O’Donoghue 085 8631000, Sundance Kid – Butch Roberts 086 1036905, Silver Dawn – Mike Dennehy 087 2425685.
Courtmacsherry: Lady Louise – Mark Gannon 086 8250905, Lady Patricia – Jim O’Donnell 087 3388626.
Ring: Tigger – David Edwards 083 4491403.
Union Hall: Loch an Iasc – Tom Collins 087 2792983, Rod ‘n’ Reel – Jim Nowotynski 087 7613171, Boy Scott – Adrian Nowotynski 086 3314224, Holly Joe – Colin Barnes 086 3273226.
Baltimore: Lady Reb – Kieran Collins 086 3014971, Rooster – Nick Dent 086 8240642, Wave Chieftain – Jerry Smith 086 3843995.
Schull: Blue Thunder – Ian O’Driscoll 086 3862876.
Goleen: Wet & Wild – Eoghan O’Reilly 086 2591206.
All of the above skippers will offer various trips including: Reef and Ground fishing for Pollack, Cod and Conger; Wreck Fishing for Big Cod, Ling and Coalfish; Blue Shark and Giant Skate fishing. Some skippers may offer Bass fishing and other specialist trips.
Ending this month on the subject of Bass Fishing; for all those keen Bass anglers there are some new regulations for 2016.The new Regs, aimed at protecting an increasing Bass stocks, are still a work in process and might possibly change, but currently all anglers are now required to return unharmed, all Bass caught between the months of January and June. From July to December anglers may retain one Bass over 42cm, per person in any 24 hour period.
Happy New Year and Best Fishes for 2016! I hope this is a happy, safe and fish-filled year for you and your loved ones.
Tight Lines until next month
Pictured above: The Lady Patricia being craned out for annual maintenance.