Last month in Hookpoint there was a very good article by Jansen Teakle. In it he looked at the progression of fishing through the years. From the heyday of the 80s and early 90s to the newest generation of social anglers. He touched on the good and bad of the Internet and the rise of the ‘instant expert’. I strongly implore you to read the article and if you recognise yourself as an instant expert then seek some help from your fishing mates or better yet, your nearest psychologist, at once!
Off the back of Jansens article I got an idea for a bit of an experiment. A showdown of sorts if you will. This showdown would pit old fashioned scheming against the worlds latest technologies. Traditional vs the new age methods of finding and fishing a mark. Essentially I propose this challenge, which I shall follow through on in future issues ( and which you too can try yourself over the summer).
Which do we think will come out on top? Does technology now offer too much data? Are we struggling to see the wood for the trees and over complicating our pursuit?
The instant approach is not without its benefits. A lot of leg work and expense can be taken out of finding a new mark to fish and mass amounts of information can be found online in order to condense your plans and give yourself the best opportunity to catch the target species.
My ‘instant angler’ adventure started the planning process a couple of months ago when James Leahy suggested a weekend away camping and targeting Smoothound. James is a bit of a jack of all trades when it comes to the fishing and grew up hunting specimen carp in the Lough in Cork City. I actually got to know James through Facebook and over time did a bit of fishing together. He has some crazy videos on YouTube under the name Yakfish Ireland that are well worth the time spent viewing.
Traditionally the east coast of Ireland is where the hounds are most plentiful and some real bumper catches are had each summer but, lately the fish seem to be moving around the south of the country which is good news for the rest of us. We picked out the last weekend in June as one that would work for us both with work and even though we had a few drop outs decided to go ahead with the plan.
Both James and I were in contact with a few friends that had ears on the ground and would keep an eye on the fishing for us. At home we used Facebook to keep up to date on where was producing and used google earth with Navionics to choose likely spots and areas of deeper water. Our first choice of Arklow, Ennereilly and Kilmuckridge was off the table as reports of only pup hounds in the area. I sent Joe Carley in Wexford a few messages and he said the same for his area; lots of small fish and only a few bigger fish showing.
This was worrying stuff until James spotted reports of some good hounds coming in off Tramore beach in Waterford. Tramore is 3 hrs from home so not too bad but was allegedly full of weed. A quick phone call to John O’Brien in Waterford angling and outdoor center went like this. Hi John I’m looking for 3 dozen crab for tomorrow…. Howls of laughter from John. Not a chance. Ice broken question number 2 where would you fish on Tramore tonight? With the local information in the bag we started the long walk to the sand dunes in the hopes of a mega session. Coincidentally this was also an area we thought looked promising on Google earth.
Everything looked great upon arrival and seeing some of the top local youth anglers fishing on the beach gave us great hope. We had about 2 hours to low water so decided to pitch the tents only to realise that a serious breakdown in communication had occurred. My excitement at getting away to fish resulted in me bringing no tent! This was a bit of a disaster but luckily I could sleep in the car so all wasn’t lost.
As James pitched his luxury but small two man tent I hauled in strings of weed and made the decision to write a list before the next trip. Having once forgotten my passport for the Yuki masters in Barcelona I figured there was a worrying trend. More important than sleeping arrangements though was the Smoothound hunt. The first 2 hours revolved around hauling strings of green matted weed that was surely created by some sort of demon.
There was a sense of panic starting to build but low water brought a reprieve. The weed died off and our whole crab baits started to peak some interest outside the waves. I was first off the mark with a slack line dropping my line into the weed at the waters edge. As I pulled off the last few bits I realised that my line had started to head back towards the town but still stayed out from the shore… surely a fish.
Sure enough after a short fight a lovely Smoothound of about 6/7lb came to the shore. I was over the moon as although the fish was no record breaker we had accomplished what we set out to do. After this the fishing became frantic with a mix of dogs and hounds appearing constantly over the next 2 hours, even managing a double Dogfish on a Pulley pennell rig!
Tiredness was in the end the deciding factor as we were both wrecked and the effort being put forward in the fishing was diminishing severely. With my mind firmly on sleep I missed the best bite of the night. Line screamed off my reel and then stopped and dropped to the beach. Disappointed I re-baited and cast out again only to hear from James that the same had happened him only a couple of casts earlier but that he had landed a hound in amongst the dogs of around 4lb.
We decided on giving it another hour to see if there was a bigger fish around and I’m glad we did. Another slack line had me thinking the dogs had ripped up another peeler bait on me but as soon as I picked up the rod I knew it was a far better fish. The fish seemed to come towards me a lot then run parallel to the beach using the tide and current to it’s advantage and bringing me along the beach with it. It wasn’t the world’s best fight but I was tired and nervous. Extra caution was put in the playing of the fish and finally a cracker of a hound just shy of 9lb was landed.
In all we managed 8 hounds and probably close to 20 dogs between us all coming in the 4 hours of the coming tide we managed to fish weed free. I retired to the car wrecked and tired but with a wry smile knowing I had captured a specimen hound and a new personal best into the bargain. Rigs on the night were short Pulley pennell with size 2/0 and size 1 Inova Kamisori and only a 30cm snood of 20lb amnesia mono with a 60lb Asso Ultra body.
I awoke around 445am to the sound of thunder and lightning raging outside which lasted until almost 630am and as I rolled over I wondered how the tent was faring out. Bright eyed and bushy tailed around 0930 we headed for Waterford City for some supplies and to pick up a tent. A quick stop in Halfords had me set up with a low cost tent, then onto Johns shop for some rag and a look at the goodies. While there we mentioned our plan to fish Doncannon pier in Wexford just across the estuary but John said that Dunmore East was a much better option and also closer to base camp.
Upon arrival we were straight into Dogfish and it seemed like we would have a pleasant days fishing until the sun and the crowds came down to visit. All day long we were inundated with questions. How’s the fishing? Any mackerel? The fishing is awful bad for mackerel isn’t it? These were the most popular in a long list. Thankfully a rather tired looking James was taking most of the heat and was gathering quite an audience.
Right on cue his ratchet went and after some skilled rock hopping by James and some rather less skilled by myself I had my hands on a fine female Smoothound for James that would of made specimen weight here in Ireland, going 8.25lb and all in front of the crowd of onlookers. This made my day as now we had caught Smoothound in two locations on our trip and we had both managed specimen fish.
There was 3 other Smoothound landed by other anglers to our left in quick succession so hopes were high but unfortunately around mid tide the action quietened and small nibbles had us wondering what was eating our bait. Smaller hooks were launched seaward and the culprits unmasked Dabs and lots of them. We spent the next 4 hours hauling double and treble shots of Dabs, Grey Gurnard, Tub Gurnard, Dogfish, and Plaice in what was an excellent session with six different species. Tired and hungry we went back to Tramore and got a fine feed at Dooleys fish and chip shop then headed to the camp to prepare for the night. Unfortunately this turned out to be a disaster on the fishing front with the wind swinging southerly and hammering the beach with weed.
We couldn’t complain though , with well over 70 fish in the two sessions was a huge success considering we had never fished either venue. So with a full belly and a celebratory beer I went to my new tent and thought to myself isn’t life good.
Special thanks go to international angler Joe Carley in Wexford and John O’Brien in Waterford angling and outdoor center in Waterford City. Without them and a few other anglers that would prefer not to be named we would have been doing a whole lot more wandering around. Also thanks to James for his photography skills on the Friday night in the mist and fog. Come back next month to see how the ‘experience’ side of the challenge goes.