Kayak fishing in Ireland – Report by forum member Lindisfarne
I’ve just returned from a week on the Iveragh peninsula, SW Ireland. Situated between the Beara and Dingle peninsula’s.
I went armed with very little information on the venue, all I knew was that it had fantastic surf beaches continually pounded by Atlantic swells. These were reportedly good for Bass fishing but what about launching a Kayak, and what else did it have to offer ?
I was based near Caherdaniel, not far from Derrynane beach and the Lambs Head peninsula. The scenery in the surrounding area is some of the best Ireland has to offer, The Kilarney National park, the famous Ring of Kerry, the MacGillycuddy’s Reeks, Irelands highest mountains. All within a stone’s throw from my base. If nothing else it was a great backdrop for an exploratory paddle.
On my day of arrival I was welcomed by a considerable sized Atlantic swell, the yak was to remain on the roof bars that day but a fine chance presented it’s self for me to knock on the door of the local tackle shop and see what information I could glean. I had several fruitless internet searches before I left home, information for the area was very sketchy, the best I could find were reports of Bass and Flounder on Derrynane beach in the early Autumn. It was only late June when I was going, there surely must be something else there to catch ?
The nearest tackle shop or I should really say the only tackle shop was in Waterville. I made the token gesture and spent sixty Euro on tackle and then popped a few questions. I found out little more than there might be a few mackerel around and that Derrynane beach was good for Bass. The owner , Kevin, is a local guide and takes paying anglers out daily in search of the elusive Kerry Bass population. I suppose it’s his living and your not going to tell every Tom Dick or Harry where the best spots are only to find them lined with rods the next time you take your paying customers there.
Fortunately, on my drive back from the tackle shop I took a slight detour and went for a drive along the narrow track that leads to a dead end on the North side of the Lambs Head peninsula. Right at the end of the track , nestled in the rocks lay a natural harbour. A couple of small pot boats were moored up in the middle and a nice little slip way in the corner would give me an easy launch, well out beyond the perils of the surf hammering in on the beach. The sign post leading down the road was a bit of a give away that it might be a good spot to try¦..
The following morning I made an early start and launched from the old harbour at 5.30am. The swell from the previous day had died off leaving just a manageable redundant roll. My first drop was 300yds from the harbour entrance with a 4 hook shrimp rig , two minutes later 2 Mackerel were making there way to the surface. A good start, at least I wouldn’t go home fishless¦
With breakfast secured I decided to change tactics and see if there were any Pollock on the reefs. Again this turned out to be a short lived trial period as the first fish hit my retrieved jelly worm after half a dozen turns of the handle. This sport continued for the next couple of hours with numerous Pollock falling to the same technique. Most of the fish were of a decent stamp , the average being around the 4lb mark but a few bigger fish between 5 and 8 lb also putting in appearance.
By now the swell had returned so I made my way back to the harbour, the entrance was now looking a bit more challenging than when I left, at times it was hidden from view behind the spumes of spray, so much for a sheltered harbour¦
Enough for one day I thought, safely ashore I packed in and made my way back to the cottage. I was on a family holiday and my morning fishing pass had expired .Thankfully the Mackerel were greatly received by the FPO and a pass for the following morning was duly issued. The sea conditions had put me off returning to the same spot the next day so I opted to launch from O’Carrolls cove, a small beach just 500yds from my cottage. It was sheltered from the swells and gave me easy access to the South side of the Lambs head. Like the previous day I was up with the Larks and made the most of the light winds in the early morning, I even made it onto the water just before the Sunrise.
The ground I would be fishing here was similar to yesterday’s venue, just a little more sheltered. There was a notable difference in the catch though, all the reefs were still stuffed with Pollock but the average fish was nearer 2lb with the odd exception nearing 4lb. I decided to feather a few mackerel up for bait, stick the anchor in and see what might be lying on the bottom looking for a feed. A fruitless hour had passed without a knock. I decided to wind in and make a move, just at that moment the rod gave a tiny nod and I wound down into a snag. My immediate thoughts were of Conger, fortunately the snag came away and a seconds later a fish broke the surface. No huge Conger this time but a wee Rockling, another species none the less.
Recalling the sign I had seen earlier in the week I remembered there was mention of Conger. That in mind I stuck a heavier trace on and slipped a side of Mackerel down to see what was lurking. A few minutes later rod gave a nod and a short run was stopped in it’s tracks as I would down onto a fish. A short battle ensued and soon after a small strap Conger broke the surface, the little slimey git tangled with my scratching rig and managed to wreck two traces and destroy 20yds of braid.
After 20 minutes of sorting my gear out I gave up on that option and decided to head closer to the shore and scratch about the margins to see what was on offer. I stumbled upon a nice bit of ground just off the beach where I launched. It was bristling with fish, plenty Pollock and a good head of these beautifully coloured Cuckoo wrasse.
Rain stopped play that morning so I chucked it in after a few hours and made back to the cottage with half a dozen Mackerel for breakfast. Even in the p1ssing rain the scenery is stunning there¦.
I had a few chucks from the shore throughout the week but my results were nothing spectacular, I had flounder and Launce from the beach at Derrynane and a few Doggies, Pollock and Wrasse from the rocks. The rocks were difficult to fish due to the unpredictable swells. It looked flat calm one minute and the next the swells were crashing up the rocks behind you. My final kayak trip of the week was the Icing on the cake, I hit lucky with the weather and managed to get well out of the bay and around some of the Islands that lie off the Lambs head.
It was a fantastic evening , not a breath of wind and you could see the launce flashing under the kayak as you paddles around the headlands. It was hard to stop for any length of time to wet a line as I just wanted to have a tour around. I wouldn’t recommend heading out there on your own without a GPS ,every rocky outcrop looked the same, and landmarks were few and far between, green fields, rocks and sheep¦Oh and more sheep!
I thought about a trip out to the Skelligs but I think that was just a little too far for me, you can see them sticking up in the distance here¦
When I did drop a line the Pollock sport was exceptional, it was hard to avoid catching fish. What a difference a bit of conservation and the lack of fishing pressure does for the fish population.
That was to be my last trip of the week, the wind got up again and ruined the marks around the headlands, If I had been there just to go kayaking there were loads of places where I could have launched and fished in relative shelter. The place is a Mecca for kayak anglers, there’s Mullet in every cove and the sheltered beaches were stuffed with them. The Bass were hiding from me, but to be honest I didn’t really target them at any great length. They are there though , probably better sized ones in the Autumn as well. I would go back in a minute if it wasn’t such a long drive. It took me 14 hours to get there, not exactly a weekend venue¦..
Back to the norm now though, North Sea harr and a 2 meter swell forecast for this weekend…. :-/