Above: A 25lb monkfish for Mike Dennehy's Silver Spray from Kinsale.
Spring is certainly late this year, well above the water anyway. As months go, April was reasonably dry but persistent winds from the North and East have driven air temperatures down and it felt more like a warm February than the middle of spring! Weather, air temperature and sea temperature although very dependant and effected by each other, do not necessarily follow each other and although air temperatures may be stalling spring above the water, our inshore waters including the fauna and the food chain of fish species attracted by the former, are more effected by quality and hours of sunlight, of which this last month saw plenty!
In Freshwater this time of year, it’s prime spawning time for Pike and during this period, often they will refuse to feed, so needless to say there’s nothing to write home about in the world of Pike this month. In Game fishing, the past four weeks have seen a quite a few Salmon falling to worm and lure baits, when conditions have been good. The best from my local, the river Bandon, pushed the scales to exactly 11lb! The coming month of May can be a great month for both species, and of course Sea Trout, if conditions are conducive.
In Sea Fishing this month, the signs are looking good for the season ahead. As I mentioned earlier, West Cork’s inshore waters require sunlight to get their reproductive systems working again after a long winter and all around the coast, the various seaweeds that make home in the intertidal zone, are rapidly growing. With the news that Basking Sharks have been sighted several times along the West Cork coast, this could spell an early May bloom or ‘May Rot’, as it is otherwise known…hopefully!
The May Bloom is an underwater spring bloom, similar to our spring floral bloom above the water, but full of planktonic marine life, like pollen. This Plankton bloom is the very core of our marine food chain and attracts many of early season baitfish and fish that feed on them, to our shores. After 20 years skippering and guiding, my personal observations are that years with an early May Plankton Bloom are usually better years for sea fishing. The opposite, a late May bloom, which can happen as late as June, often see’s disrupted patterns to the usual species that migrate to our shores each year. Despite being a late spring above the water, things look on track for a ‘May’ Bloom at least!
On the bigger tides there has been plenty of Bass to be caught in East Cork with a few now starting to show in Cork Harbour. Although I haven’t tried, and I haven’t heard of any catches, water clarity and conditions are very good in West Cork for an early Bass at the moment, but don’t forget that the new EU regulations now in force state that all Bass must be returned until the end of June.
Mullet are a fish that can normally be found travelling with Bass, especially in our inshore Estuaries and on the sunnier days this past month there have been no shortage of Tick Lipped (and some Golden Grey Mullet) venturing into our inshore waterways. Another species that enjoys these areas, fresh back from spawning, are Flatfish, especially Flounder. And if Flounder fishing was a sign of the season ahead, it certainly looks like it could be a good one. Over the smaller tides this past month there has been no shortage of Flounder for the light-tackle shore fishing enthusiast and, at times, the mud flats have appeared carpeted by them with local anglers catching two or more at a time, using multi-hooked rigs and peeler crab baits. Flounder fishing is also a great way to get kids into fishing!
From the boat this month, finally things are starting to happen. It’s still very early for huge shoals of mackerel inshore, but each trip is seeing numbers increase. Inshore on the reefs, fish are now starting to turn up for the summer stays. Currently all the counties reefs from Kinsale to Castletown are loaded with huge shoals Coalfish with some nice ones amongst them, and on my last trip out some big Pollack were starting to show now too.
Personally I haven’t fished any wrecks yet this season but Mike Dennehy’s Kinsale charterboat ‘Silver Dawn’ has been getting amongst the action offshore, with big Pollack, Cod and Coalfish well into double figures, and this super specimen Monkfish of 25lb, which took Inland Fisheries Ireland’s, catch of the week! Next month will see the race to catch the first Blue Shark of the year… my money is on Tom Collins and his charter boat Loch An Iasc, from Union Hall!
While the race is on for first big Blue of the year, this next month, I myself shall be chasing smaller species – in the name of Sandeels! Last year I setup a huge sandeel tank here in Courtmacsherry to store and supply live eels to local anglers. After a few technical errors, I ran out of time and the project got shelved, but by the time you read next month’s fishing news, fingers crossed I will be able to report that my tank is bubbling and stocked with lively sandeels, ready for local Bass anglers this coming season. Watch this space!
Tight Lines until next month!