Brian McCall reports that this past weekend held its fifth meet of the Irish kayak angling competition in Donegal. The challenge for the meet was to nab a wrasse, a gurnard, a pollack, a tope and a bonus fish of a skate.

Irish Kayak Angling Club
Irish Kayak Angling Club

Another great turnout saw anglers from all 4 provinces compete to win the prizes sponsored by Rod and Line in Derry. The forecast, like it has all summer, was changing by the hour. As it turned out Saturday was a fantastic day. The two big fish of the day to target were tope and skate. Best bait for both is fresh baits of mackerel and scad. Mackerel were extremely scarce on the day with only a handful being caught which limited the chances of a full take. Luckily the scad were out in force with many of the anglers finding it hard to get a bait to stay down long enough to tempt the flatties, ling and gurnard that would be welcomed.

John Griffin, the man who brought the fish of topic to the fore, was using a double fish bait ledgered to the bottom. More out of hope than anything, while he fished for other species with his other rods.  As time passed he got the ominous sound of the bait runner “click click clicking”. In his own words here is how it went:

Up she comes…

“I had set the tension on the reel to let the fish take the line with no pressure. Within 10 mins of dropping the lines I heard the spool on the Saragosa click a couple of times. I held the line and felt a couple of solid knocks. I knew it was very likely a skate was on the bait. I reeled up my other two rods and then picked up the skate rod. I felt the line again and it was still there. I set the drag and started to wind down gently, as the line tightened I felt a good knock and I struck hard, it was like striking into a solid rock and nothing happened for a second and then all hell broke loose. I had slightly over done the drag and was very close to having the rod pulled out of my hands and flipping the kayak, all I could do was put the rod over the bow and hold on with both hands. As the run came to a stop I eased off on the drag a bit. This reel has 44lb of drag, I don’t know how anybody could hold onto that, most multipliers have less than 20lb. I called in the hook up on the radio and the radio banter began. There was no give in the fish I couldn’t gain an inch and it was swimming away from me. I marked my position on my GPS and disconnected from my anchor via the quick release system. I got some line back and held directly over the fish again. Sean O C informed the rest of the crew that I was stuck in a rock, to which I replied well look how far the rock has moved from my anchor buoy, there was no more doubt about it being a fish. At times I wondered if it was wrapped around a rock as it was just solid. My arms and back were on fire from the pressure. I started to use my knees to rest the rod and keep the pressure on. Part of you begins to wonder why you are doing this and losing the fish wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.”

150lb skate from a kayak – tiring!

As it went he finally did manage to haul it up, and just in time Graham Smith, who has had the pleasure of catching these monsters of the deep on previous occasions, arrived to help with the handling and offer advice on how to do it. A few  pictures and a quick measurement to estimate weight and she was off to terrorise the other creatures down there again. Going by the measurement it was 150lbs+. A colossal sized fish and certainly John’s largest fish to date.

An excellent fish that was definitely the talk of the meet, it was great to see one up close in all its glory.

An unusual species to see - sea bream
An unusual species to see – sea bream

A fantastic weekend also saw numerous other species landed by the other kayaks. There were some small coalies caught along with the ever present dogfish. Other notable fish caught were ling and a couple of good sized ones too nearing the 3 ft mark. Another very nice catch was a black bream to Sean. His first ever falling to a baited shamrock tackle bleeding glow worm rig. Also caught on the weekend were gurnard, Pollack, mackerel, scad, squid, octopus, wrasse, bullhuss, whiting .

As usual the day was finished off with the customary barbeque and stories into the early hours. Once again, a great meet and brilliant fun.

Our next club meet is as part of the IKAC challenge is in Galway the 26/27 of September. Anyone in the area with or without a kayak is welcome to come along to see what it’s all about. Check on the forum for updates as we get closer to the date and to see what the challenge will be.

Brian McCall
Irish Kayak Angling Club

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