So, as we approached the end of July, the blisteringly hot weather we had all been baking under gave way to more unsettled weather, and, as often happens after a period of warm humidity, the country was hit by a barrage of thunderstorms over the past week. It was unusual weather, as a 10-minute drive could take you from pelting rain and low visibility to bright clear skies with not a drop of rain in sight.

Something in all that turbulence must have switched things on for our saltwater species as we have been hit with a barrage of sea angling reports this week, with no fewer than fourteen reports indicating that sea angling has been exceptional in many places. And, exceptional is the only word to describe the fishing John Fleming of Blue Shark Angling had during the week as his clients enjoyed some top quality shark fishing. On one day alone, anglers fishing with John boated 12 porbeagles and two blue shark, smashing his previous best of 6 porbeagles in a day. Meanwhile, elsewhere in Galway Bay, Kevin MacGabhann on the Maighdean Mara had some fine mixed fishing with pollock, cod and spurs all featuring.

A Porbeagle is brought alongside the Brazen Hussy II

It seems Galway wasn’t the only place where shark were active in the past week, with many charter boats reporting good fishing for them. In Courtmacsherry, Dave Edwards of West Cork Charters was also knocking records as his anglers broke the season’s best with 50 blue shark (4 to specimen size) in an epic 24-hour session on the wrecks that also included 4 ling to specimen size. Meanwhile, further west along the coast in Union Hall, Tom Collins of Sea Angling Charters took a novel approach to his sharking as he embarked on a nighttime session that yielded 11 blues and a porbeagle. In Clare, Luke Aston of the Clare Dragoon was left cursing the weatherman who predicted a breeze but left his boat in a flat calm and a pool of rubby-dubby, but he still managed to rustle up a shark or two for his anglers. On the east coast, Kit Dunne of Wicklow Boat Charters noticed a marked pick up in angling as the strong spring tides abated, and his anglers enjoyed fine ground and wreck fishing, including pollock to 10lbs. Up in Killala Bay, anglers fishing with skipper Donal Kennedy enjoyed some good fishing for pollock to 8lb and painted ray to almost specimen size, while nearby in the Moy estuary, anglers enjoyed some nice sea trout fishing with fish to almost 3lb. On the small boat front, Jim Clohessy hit into some nice pollock and cod in Cork Harbour, but struggled to catch his primary target…mackerel for the family lunch! And, speaking of mackerel for lunch, Malahide Charters skipper Eamon McGrattan has posted an interesting video on how to prepare a bit of BBQ mackerel and, for the more adventurous, some mackerel sashimi.

Delighted with this one!

Shore anglers were pretty active too this week, and the spring tides that hampered fishing on the east coast proved to be just what the bass were looking for on the south coast. Cormac Walsh of Bassfishingireland found that the big tides brought bass in close following sandeels and he had some great sport, with bass to over 6lb. Further north, Killybegs Mariners member Cormac Burke had a fine sea trout that leapt about a bit before it was landed and then quickly released, setting a new club record in the process. Things were a lot slower when West Cork & District Anglers had an outing to ‘De Wall’ in Monkstown. The anglers struggled to catch many fish from a venue that had fished quite well in the week running up to the event. But, as they reflected, that’s fishing…

A fine shore caught sea trout for Cormac.

And last but definitely not least on the sea angling front, the Irish tuna season kicked off last week with Adrian Molloy of Deep Blue landing the first bluefin of the season, a lovely fish estimated at 700lb. Other skippers in the area were quick to follow suit, with Michael O’Callaghan getting three fish the following day and Killibegs Fishing Trips getting a 630lbs fish for American angling journalist Anietra Hamper. All tuna caught were tagged and released as part of IFI’s Tuna CHART programme.

First bluefin of the year

The impressive catches registered by the sea anglers were certainly matched in quality, if not quite quantity, by a couple of our coarse fishing anglers last week. First to get a mention is junior angler Kyerin Hunters, who managed to land a whopping 8lb 1.5 oz tench which is just 13.5 ounces shy of the Irish record while fishing with his dad in Cavan. I’ve been tench fishing for years and have never managed a fish even close to that! And while Kyerin is just starting out on his angling journey, someone a bit further into his own angling journey was making ripples in the Irish angling world by catching a monster bream. Brenton Sweeney, the Irish Feeder Team manager, topped off a fine feeder session by catching an enormous bream of 11 lbs 11oz, just 8 ounces shy of the Irish record of 12 lbs 3oz. On the match scene, we have a report in from the Classic, fished in Shannon Harbour over the long weekend, where anglers from Edenderry made a clean sweep of the top three places.

Two cracking coarse fish for Kyerin & Brenton

Salmon anglers had more of a mixed bag last week, with some fisheries producing but others struggling to do so. The Moy had a good sprinkling of fish throughout the system, with East Mayo Anglers water being the most productive. The rain during the week got things going on the River Easkey as the fish responded to the influx of fresh water, and 8 fish were landed with a group of French anglers getting some good sport. Lough Currane fared more poorly with no fish reported for the week as the lake remained quite warm after the recent hot spell and could do with a lot more rain to freshen things up.

Water temperatures did drop sufficiently on the River Nore last week, and Dan O’Neill was back on the river after a couple of week’s break to find the fishing in good order. Fishing dry-dropper or Klink’n’dink, Dan was delighted to see his Klink disappear under the surface and to find himself connected to a nice plump trout which was released after a quick photo.

nore trout
A Nore trout swims off after release.

So, to this week’s Catch of the Week. It’s often said that you could be waiting an hour for a Dublin Bus, and then three come along all at once… well, it’s a bit like that for this week’s COTW. There are numerous weeks during the year where we find it difficult to find a catch worthy of winning COTW, but we could have given it out to at least five of our catches this week. 12 porbeagles to the boat in a day in Galway, 50 blues in 24hrs in Cork, the first bluefin of the season in Donegal could all win COTW in any regular week. But, it’s the coarse anglers who have come to the fore this week with a couple of fish not far off Irish Record status. Now, normally when we have two remarkable fish like that, we get out our calculators to work out which one is nearest to record status. However, we decided to forgo the complex calculations this week and just celebrate the fact that Kyerin’s tench and Brenton’s bream show that coarse angling in Ireland is alive and kicking, so both are equally worthy of this week’s Catch of the Week.

In other news, the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications has launched a public consultation on the draft Designated Salmonid Waters Bye-Law. Anglers and other interested parties are invited to make submissions by 5.30 pm on Friday, August 20th.

And now the weather

Heavy, thundery showers will continue today with a risk of spot flooding in places, and this weather pattern will persist for the rest of the weekend. Monday will see an easing off of the rain as showers become more scattered, but it will remain unsettled during the week, with temperatures ranging from 16°C to 20°C.

Safe fishing to all and tight lines, especially here in Ireland.

Shane O’Reilly
Catch, Photo, Release

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