Sunday, January 25, 2015

Wrassing in Connemara

Last year in August my parents came to Ireland to visit us, and since they are both mad about fishing as well, we decided to take a trip to one of the best parts of this country - Connemara. This way we would be able to do both, see some of the most beautiful places Ireland has to offer, and get to fish some of the most awesome looking shorelines.

Knowing that for some strange reason Connemara appears to hold no bass, the main focus was on Wrasse and Pollock. I already had a great weekend fishing in the area two months earlier, so I had an idea about techniques, lures and hotspots.

As soon as we arrived, we dropped our luggage, grabbed our tackle and  headed straight for the coastline. My dad and I started trekking alongside the rocky shore searching for a "fishy" looking gully.We found a stretch that was looking promising, and almost immediately we started having a few shy bites that only ruined our softplastics.

But as soon as the tide started pushing in, the wrasse came closer to the shore, and started furiously hitting the lures. And I do mean furiously.

I am pretty sure that these fish have never seen a soft plastic lure before, and the angler pressure on the area is practically 0, which explains the frantic and relentless bites that we got in the few hours we were fishing there. Usually if we missed a bite, we would get another one, and another one, until you either hooked a fish or the lure became useless.

Wrasse fishing Ireland Connemara
My dad with his first ever saltwater fish on a lure

Also these fish were fighting like crazy! A serious amount of effort and drag power went into stopping them and lifting them off the bottom. So much so, that no matter what hook we used (mostly Gamakatsu and VMC heavy wire) after 4 or 5 fish we needed to change them as they were getting bent beyond use.

I also avoided using my usual wrasse setup, as the 21g rated rod seemed a bit to light and fragile to wrestle these little beasts out of their underwater fortresses, so I went with a rod rated up to roughly 35g that I normally use for casting bigger lures for bass and pollock.

We ended the day with probably around 50 fish between the two of us and a big smile on our faces.

Wrasse fishing Ireland Connemara

Next morning we went out targeting pollock this time. I knew an area that was extremely productive last time, and as we soon found out it was still producing good numbers of decent size fish. 

It is a bit different from what you would normally call "pollock fishing" as we were using hardbaits designed for bass, in shallow, rocky areas that had a bit of flow, as the tide entered a small bay. So it was practically bass fishing for pollock.

Wrasse fishing Ireland Connemara
A serious bend in the Hearty Rise Sealite 7072 L

The rest of the day we all fished for wrasse in spite of the harsh wind and lashing rain. And how could we not be, when they were so keen on biting our lures as soon as they laid eyes upon them.  All four of us were catching fish on almost every cast.

The last day, I was the only one to go out fishing in the morning because of the approaching storm. When I got to the fishing spot, the waves were crashing furiously against the rocks, and flooding the lower areas that we fished the day before. But I found a small bay that had a huge rock sticking out of the water right at the entrance so the waves were breaking against it before entering the area I was going to fish.

The angry ocean gave me 6 fish in 10 casts, all on a Megabass Vision 110 SW. I also managed to improve my personal record for pollock with a fish that went above the 9lb mark.
Sadly, because of the bad weather, I didn't get the chance to take any decent photos, since I wasn't going to take my good camera out in the pouring rain. I also tried to release it as soon as I could because the fight took long enough even on the powerful setup (Major Craft Crostage 902M rod and Daiwa Certate 3000 reel with 22lb YGK X8 Upgrade PE line). After I watched the fish swim away strongly, I packed in a hurry and headed back with the storm rapidly catching up on me.

It was a really good weekend, with both - good and bad weather, with lots of fish, lots of new places discovered and an even bigger obsession with saltwater lure fishing!

It's only January but I am already planning the next trip up there.