Brian McCall reports on Irish Kayak Anglers East coast meet at Cahore recently:

It has been a long and arduous summer so far with what seems like ever present winds, putting a strain on the kayak angler’s patience. Even some of our most dedicated anglers are having to make do with short bursts when there is a lull in the weather. Not the most ideal especially for anyone with a bit of distance to travel to a venue. It’s a real nuisance to spend over an hour journeying only to see the sea crested with white horses upon arrival.

Ready for action !
Getting ready for action !

But, in true Irish spirit, we bare it and plan ahead regardless and believe that it must come right sooner or later.
So recently, held its fourth annual East coast meet in Wexford. The previous years had great success and this one lived up to the bill again. There was over 20 kayaks on the water both days with plenty of fish caught. Anglers travelled from all over including Down, Cork, Clare and west Kerry. Even a few guys new to the trade came along and had a go. This meet, very kindly sponsored by Courtown angling, was part three of the on-going IKAC all Ireland championship, a league based competition modelled around a chosen challenge for each meet which is set weeks in advance.
For this meet, the challenge was to catch, photo and release a smoothound, a bass, a dogfish and any species of flatfish over the two days. With the first to do so potentially declared the winner. But there is a slight catch. Also at each meet, is a species termed the ‘joker’. A species known in the area that either requires completely different tactics or more finesse. For this meet it was a Tope. There are two reasons for this ‘joker’ species;
1) As our meets are over the course of two days, to keep it interesting, the person to get the species on the challenge can be overtaken by someone who also gets the named challenge and bags the joker first.
2) It doubles all your points for the weekend.

On the prowl...
On the prowl…

Saturdays’ weather forecast was not looking very promising. The best we could see was that it was lining up to be a force 5-7 SW. This meant an off shore wind and flat seas but not very comfortable for a kayaker on the water’s surface. As the morning went, it was clear skies and around F4 or 5 SW. The east coast is a summer hotspot for smoothound with anglers travelling to specifically target these hard fighting fish, renowned for their ‘runs’. These fish can be targeted from a lot of the beaches too. Check with Joe Byrne of courtown angling for best advice. With the conditions in everyone’s mind, all kayakers made haste and paddled straight out on the kayaks as far as it was safe, to fish for smoothounds, before we were to be forced back in close to shore with the weather due to worsen. A requirement of our meets, and in line with policy, a vhf is required by all anglers for communication and safety reasons. Fishing mostly single hook running ledger rigs, along with a few other rigs, loaded with peeler crab, it wasn’t long until the radios were sounding with anglers calls that they were into the hounds. The reels were peeling line with smoothies devouring the crab. A few members managed their first ever of these tough fighters. This good spell wasn’t to last too long though as the wind veered southerly and blew up a big squall that lasted the rest of the evening. Moving back in for some shelter, the good fishing continued with different species being caught. These included many dogfish which were hammering the bait with a lot of double hook ups, a number of bullhuss and a few codling all falling to various rigs from the ever reliable shamrock tackle rigs (the animal rig and bleeding glow worm proving best here)to simple running ledger rigs baited with various treats. Not a bad move inshore in reality.
Every so often a flock of circling terns would go mad diving for the shoals of sandeel that were about. With the odd splash in among the sandeel the thoughts of getting a bass were sparked. As it turned out the culprit of these splashes were garfish.
As most guys were bait fishing at anchor, some others decided to troll for bass. Water clarity was very low so trolling the shallower areas was the best bet. These efforts were to pay off as the first bass of the weekend was taken in the evening to a trolled lure along a rocky outcrop.
As the evening was shortening, most of the kayaks were fishing over rough ground using floats to keep the bait just above the heavy weed. More fish were caught at this time of the day including many corkwing wrasse, ballan wrasse, a garfish and Pollack. Even a rogue bass smashing floated rag worms which on light tackle is a real fun way to play a small bass.

Nice catch...
Nice catch…

With the rain now matching the wind it was time to call it a night. We all met back at the launch area to discuss how everyone faired out during the day and maybe even brag a little over out fishing others. As far as the challenge was going, most members had a dogfish and a hound. Some had a dogfish and dab, bass and dogfish with one member, the eventual winner Ian Burton, only requiring a flattie.
This year we introduced a Team approach to our always popular species hunt. Four teams and four captains. This added to the occasion as there were lots of species to catch in the area. A very enjoyable evening of chat between friends was had. Tactics discussed and questioned, it was time to call it a night and dream about the following day.
Upon awakening the next morning it was clear to see the weather had majorly changed for the better. Barely a ruffle in the trees with bright blue skies there was only one thing on everyone’s mind. SMOOTHOUNDS!!
With this new day and calm seas we could venture out to where we really wanted to seriously fish for them. I personally had never caught a smoothound and was determined to get one. Armed with a fresh crab on a size3/0 Aberdeen hook running ledger I dropped my line down into the tide. Slowly I let the tide take some line with it. A nice distance downtide I felt a bump, followed by a strong tug. I struck into a nice weight and then the fun began. This fish on my light 6-12lb class rod, really went to town. Straight away it went on a long run taking line easily. I put the brakes on him slowly and started to reclaim my line. About half way back he went on another surging run back down. This battle ebbed and flowed for a good few minutes until he came alongside. But as soon as I touched him he drove back down in the water as if he just realised he was hooked. Another couple of minutes and I finally landed my first smoothie. What a beautiful fish. After a quick unhook and a picture I put him back where he swam away as strong as if first hooked. They are an incredibly enjoyable fish to target. My next few baits were taken by the ravenous dogfish, which at €1 each gets quiet pricey baiting up. Excitement grew again when word on the radio came that the others on another location were heading into double figure quantities of smoothound. Over I went and landed a further 4. Each of these wonderful fish gave a great account of themselves. As the tide slackened the bites disappeared. Not even a dogfish to be got. Nearing the end of the competition we made for shallower water to see what was about. More corkwing were caught and a few smaller species including a goby and a scorpion fish. Another species to take my floated rag was an Eel. I haven’t caught an Eel since childhood many years ago and straight away the memory of handling these slippy guys came back. Luckily the hook was just in its lip and he was easily unhooked and returned but not before giving me the run a round in the kayak.


Finally the challenge drew to a close and we all met back at site where Ian Burton was declared winner by means of being the first to complete the challenge of 1 smoothound, 1 bass, 1 doggie and 1 dab. Due to the weather nobody was able to venture out to try for tope and snatch victory at a late stage but it certainly didn’t take from the occasion. A thoroughly enjoyable weekend with a great bunch of guys. All in all we had 15 species (dogfish, dab, bass, smoothound, cod, eel, corkwing wrasse, ballan wrasse, scorpion fish, Pollack, bullhuss, rockling, goby, garfish and whiting) including in particular the many hounds and bullhuss of which one member, Kieron, caught a very large one just after his camera packed it in, and over 20 kayaks on the water. I would strongly encourage anyone interested in this style of angling to come along to a meet even if just to see what way we’re geared up, safety advice and the basics in what you need to get started. Our next 3 meets are as follows
Derrynane 1/2/3 of August
Donegal 22/23 August
Galway 26/27 September
Alternatively, visit the site where anyone will be more than willing to answer any question you may have. Remember, there is no such thing as a stupid question, only stupid answers.
This competition along with any of our other competitions is free to enter and all are welcome.

Brian McCall
Irish Kayak Angling

Kayak angling in Ireland

Irish Kayak Angling is Irelands on-line Kayak Angling club. The Club is open to all to enjoy, it is free and they welcome both the experienced and new comers to the sport of Kayak fishing. The forum is the club room and meeting place and great place to get in touch with other to get guidance, share tales and talk tactics…