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.
Pictured above: Junior Fish of the Month: Ciaran Sheil, 8lb 2oz cod
I may as well start this month with the topic that is on everybody’s lips, the weather. Huge swells, coloured water and weed, but for those that dared to endure what was supposed to be July — the rewards were surprisingly good!
On the subject of weather, all respect to West Cork’s Lifeboat crews, who have had a busier than normal start to the summer. It’s easy to forget that fishing — both boat and shore — is a dangerous pastime and, as anglers, the RNLI are our main emergency service! Perhaps if you’re reading this and you’re organising a fishing competition or charitable fishing event of some kind this year, please consider the RNLI as a fishing-worthy benefactor!
In fishing this month, it’s been a case of ‘Fish Behaving Badly’. Starting with Bass fishing. In the past month I have heard of no reports of big fish, or exceptional catches, west of Kinsale. Lure fishing for bass is proving exceptionally hard due to coloured water and cabbage weed, and the best fishing would appear to be using fresh peeler crab. Switching to natural bait tactics has certainly paid off for my own customers over the past month; the biggest Bass at 62cm, fell to a free-lined live Mackerel fished by Shay Sweeney. On the subject of live bait, I’m in the process of setting up a live bait tank at the Courtmacsherry Angling Centre and hopefully by next month we should be able to supply live Sand eels. Watch this space!
Local fly fishing guides, Mark and Alan Houlihan of Fly Fish Ireland have had a busy month. As well as fly fishing, Alan and Mark also fish lures when conditions are against them and they’ve had several successful trips recently with Bass to 59cm on soft plastics, and Pollack to 9lb using vertical jigging tactics on ultra light tackle. Hopefully August will see less rainfall, calmer conditions (and less weed!), making estuary bassing more suitable for lure and flyfishing.
In the far west, guests of Paul Harris’s ‘Dromagowlane’ guest house, which specialises in shore fishing around the Beara Peninsula, have spent much of the past month targeting species in Bantry Bay due to rough seas on the west and north facing coasts of the Beara. Paul reports good Thornback Ray, Bull Huss fishing, with Thornback’s up to 19lb, Bull Huss producing up to 20 fish in a session, with most weighing in double figures — and Bass to 8lb falling for to baits intended for the two other species!
Moving along the coast, it’s great to welcome Nick Dent, skipper of the charter boat ‘Rooster’ from Baltimore, to the team. Nick has been skippering out of Baltimore since 1979 and is a wealth of knowledge about local angling. In Nick’s report this month, Rooster is finding top shelf shark fishing, with the best trip so far tallying a total of 16. Nick also reports good Pollack fishing, with a fair scattering of Cod, on the reefs around Baltimore, and good Conger fishing on inshore wrecks, when conditions are good enough to anchor. If you’re looking for a specimen Conger, August and September can often be great months to target them as when sea temperatures are at their highest, the feed more frequently.
Next up, Union Hall, and joining our regular contributor, Tom Collin’s skipper of ‘Loch An Iasc’, I’m happy to welcome on board Adrian and Jim Nowotynski, who operate the charter boats ‘Rod ‘n’ Reel’ and ‘Boy Scott’.
All three boats from Union Hall are reporting exceptional Blue Shark fishing, with over ten sharks boated (and just as many lost) on most days, with frequent big females over the magic two-meter mark. Ground fishing aboard the Rod ‘N’ Reel and Boy Scott is currently producing good Cod and Ling fishing, and some great inshore Coalfish fishing, with Coalfish averaging 5-6lb — great fun on light tackle! Specimen fish expert Tom Collins, aboard his boat Loch An Iasc, consistently produces big fish, for his clients! Tom’s biggest fish this month was a 150lb Male Common Skate for Limerick’s Kevin Foley! West Cork has an exceptional Giant Skate fishery — keep them coming Tom!
Moving East along the coast to Clonakilty, Graham O’Donnell of ‘Clon Tackle & Leisure’ is joined this month by Ring charter skipper, David Edwards. While Graham will continue with an area shore report, David will take over in his specialist area, reporting about local boat fishing from Ring! Just a reminder, Clon Tackle & Leisure is open five days a week, for fresh and frozen bait.
Around Clonakilty this month, Graham reports that Bass fishing in the Bay has been consistent over the past month for those anglers fishing with peeler crab and Lug Worm baits, while lure fishing for Bass often proves hit and miss. Graham also reports that the first few Gilthead Bream have started to show, and that the Rosscarbery area is fishing well for Golden Grey Mullet. On the boat side of things, David and Tigger are finding good inshore reef fishing for Cod, Pollack and big Ling, whilst offshore, like every charter boat in the county, David is having his best year shark fishing to date with good catches and some big Blues, again nearing the two-meter mark! A big thanks David!
From Courtmacsherry this month, both the Lady Louise, skippered by Mark Gannon, and the Lady Patricia, skippered by myself, have totalled nearly fifty days at sea between us.
At the start of the month reef fishing of Seven Heads was on top form, with tons of big Pollack pushing double figures, and Cod up to 12lbs. The winds of the past few weeks have made drift speeds difficult but despite this, the reef fishing has still remained good for this time of year. Thornback and Flatfish fishing has been steady. Afternoon sessions on the sandbanks have produced Thornback up to 15lbs and sometimes over 20 flatfish, including Plaice and big Dabs. Offshore the wreck and shark fishing can only be described as stupendous. Both the Lady L and Lady P are averaging 35-45 Ling per wrecking trip, with the odd fish nearing specimen sizes, along with the occasional big Cod and Coalfish thrown in for good measure.
On my first shark trip of the season, no sooner had I dropped our first bait over the side, than we hooked our fist Blue, and shark fishing from Courtmacsherry has been excellent since. Most days are producing in excess of ten sharks fought, with Mark Gannon’s Lady Louise currently leading the annual record with 19 Blues, 14 of which were tagged, with five over 100lbs! Top work Mark! It’s shaping up to be an excellent year for West Cork Shark fishing! Every skipper in the west…is singing the Blues!
Lastly I’m excited to announce that TronixPro UK have kindly offered to sponsor the West Cork FOTM (Fish Of The Month) prizes with a H2O 9’6” LureGame rod for West Cork’s best ‘Bass’ of the month (open to all ages) (Fish will be judged on overall length from the snout to the tip of the tail) and a H2O Rockfish rod, for West Cork’s Top Junior Angler of the Month (under 16 years). A big thanks to Tronix’s George Cunningham for his generosity!
This month’s rod winners are: Shay Sweeney for his Bass of 62cm, and West Cork Junior Angler of the Month goes to young rod Ciaran Sheil, with this 8lb 2oz Cod, caught charter boat fishing south of Dunworley. Please contact me to collect your prizes!
To end this month, there have been some issues sending catch photographs to my westcorkangling@yahoo email. My apologies but it doesn’t accept large file sizes. Catch photos and reports can now be posted directly to the West Cork Fishing News Facebook page or alternatively you can text them direct to me at 087 338 8626
Don’t forget to send your catch reports and photographs in to be in with a chance of winning August’s West cork FOTM prises!
Sadly I had no report for the Kinsale area again this month. If anybody out there is interested in providing a brief monthly fishing report for Kinsale, please get in touch!
Tight Lines until September!