After spending countless hours trying to hook my first bass, I figured I would take things back to basics. After all, I was not only trying to learn to fish in the sea but also use a vast spectrum of lures for the first time too! I decided to simplify things and remove a huge variable in the equation. I have always fished with bait, whether with a float or ledger, and figured that I could do with sticking to at least one part of fishing that I knew and that I would be comfortable with. I needed a new shore set up to help this. It was always on the cards, a combination of a shore set up and lighter spinning/float set up, would have me covered for almost all eventualities that this magnificent place can offer.
After a good while in The Angling Hub (god bless Martin for his patience and answering my incessant questions), I left with a brand new 15ft shore rod set up, a collection of weights, hooks, bits and most importantly… baits! I opted to pick up some mackerel and sand eels, having heard that these baits are favoured at some of the spots I wanted to try out, for bass in particular.
I had recently moved house to Killorglin and had a particularly stressful couple of weeks at work, so I decided I needed some time off, sitting on some of Kerry’s gorgeously wild beaches. Great for switching off and taking a moment to breathe. The plan was to pick up all my shiny new toys on Saturday and spend the following week fishing my heart out (and hopefully catching my first fish in The Kingdom).
Like a kid on Christmas morning, I couldn’t wait to take my shiny new toys to the beach and have a play. Living somewhere new, meant that some spots were not so distant anymore! I decided to nip out for an hour or so on Sunday morning and get comfortable with my new set up. As is tradition, I made myself a nice flask of fresh coffee and made a mini packed lunch. I wasn’t feeling especially hopeful of actually hooking anything, so figured something to eat and drink whilst I sat on a stunning beach wouldn’t be a bad way to spend a Sunday morning.
I packed up the car and made the short drive down to Rossbeigh.
Inch strand holds a very special place in my heart but it is that bit further to get to, so I made do with it’s equally stunning smaller sibling on the opposite side of the Castlemaine harbour, as I didn’t want to spend ages out. After arriving, I found a nice little spot to get set up. Using a simple two hook flapper, I hooked up some cut sand eel and cast out. Turns out a 15 foot rod is much larger than what I have been using and took a couple of casts to get the swing of the weight to balance with my cast and allow me to get some decent distance. I made the small walk back to where I had set up my morning camp and poured myself a coffee and enjoyed breakfast.
After 20 minutes of conscientiously watching my rod tip between sips of coffee. The drag on my reel started to frantically click, a little shocked… I pulled the rod up and began to reel in. I could feel the struggle of something on the line for a brief moment before the line returned to lifelessness. I reeled all the way back in to see, what, if anything had created this commotion. One of my baits had clearly been pulled on the hook (thanks to bait elastic for keeping it firmly in place), something had taken to a shine to what I was offering but must have managed to wriggle free. I secured my little juicy cuts of sand eel and re-cast.
Now approaching the end of my time at the beach and contemplating packing up, I was feeling content with my new set up. I had gotten used to the sheer size and weight of the rod and I had managed to give it a splash. The week ahead looked good… when all of a sudden the rod rattled furiously in its stand. I jumped up and lifted the tip of the rod, there was definitely something there, I could feel it’s head thrashing against the pull of the line. Keeping the tip high I began reeling in… when all of a sudden in a silvery flash… what was quite clearly a fish, jumped out of the water. I couldn’t quite believe my eyes – up until now the best I had dragged in was a hefty clump of seaweed. Reeling the fish in whilst clambering down to the waters edge to meet my new acquaintance, I was doing what can only be described as a mixture of singing badly and dancing (god knows if anyone saw this, I think it would have made for quite a laugh).
There it was… as I had got it up to the water’s edge I could clearly see it was a beautiful little Sea Trout. Not quite what I was expecting but finally the wait for a fish was over. I quickly unhooked my new friend, took a quick snap, held it in the water to revive and get it back on its way. The relief and happiness I felt in that moment was huge. Having struggled over the past few months to produce anything, I had finally removed that ever-growing monkey off my back and all when I was about to start packing up and call it a day. The thrill of catching a fish came rushing back and suddenly I remembered what it is that I love about this sport. The plan of simplifying my approach and using a set-up and tackle that I’m more familiar with paid off.
I very merrily packed up my rod in the car with a definite spring in my step. I may have even sung along to a song or two on the drive back too. I probably still have a slightly smug grin on my face, and I don’t care.
All of this is not say that my hunt for a sea bass on lures has finished, in fact quite the opposite. I have renewed confidence that I can actually catch fish (I had been joking that I may have to rebrand to simply, Man in Kerry).
This was before I had even officially started my time off, I can now go into that week with a new gust of wind in my sails. I still carry all of my tackle, even if I don’t plan on using it as I like the options it might provide, and there’s comfort in knowing that I have more in my arsenal if a particular approach isn’t quite working. My new set-up also allows me to fish spots that were not suitable for spinning from the shore. My week off just got a hell of a lot better!
Right, it’s now time to head back out and see if I can’t find myself one of those ever-elusive bars of silver!