As the weather was not as cold as predicted I decided to give the lough a go for carp.
For the past few weeks, I was keeping an eye on the lough to see could I spot any carp feeding. With some success. It was always early morning before first light I could see carp jumping or tailing as they feed off the bottom. After the bells rang for new years and all the hugs and kissing was over, I decided to take a quick spin out the lough to check the water temperature and hopefully see a carp move. With the water thermometer, reading 8.2 degrees a 1-degree improvement witch is a good sign. In addition, to top it off a small carp around 6lb broke the surface. That was my motivation to go. With a 6am start, I knew if we did not have anything before 9am it was game over. As my daughter, Amy wants to know and do everything when it comes to catching fish. Everything I was doing she wanted to do. Therefore, her first job was to set up the rod pod [and she did like a pro] as I set up the rods. Then she watched me make pva bags and how to put the boilies on the hair.
With every rod in the water and Amy sorting out the swingers we sat back under or bivvy. It took only 45 minutes before Amy’s alarm bleeped with a drop back and then screamed off with the swinger hitting the rod. She lifted the rod and said fish on, [I started laughing]
With a sluggish fight and with the fish in the net, I knew it was specimen.
Amy with our first specimen of 2018 that weighed 13lb 13oz well done
It only took 15minutes more before my rod bent into a fish
My first specimen of 2018 that weighed 12lb 7oz not huge but very welcome
Just before daybreak, we had two runs about 30 seconds between them. there were two carp that weighed 7lb and 6lb 12oz
As it was nearly nine am and the temperatures was started to drop over the heavy showers we were getting, we decided to go home. It was a super 3-hour session a one to remember.
Back a few years ago i did this article in Irish angler digest
BLUE SHARKS [pronace glauca]
Blue sharks are pelagic and a migrating fish. It is an indigo-blue colour with a snow white under belly. They can be found world wide and can travel in large groups across the Atlantic following the gulf stream which passes the south of Ireland, there main food source are squid and mackerel. The females mature after five years and give birth to numerous pups. Blue sharks start to arrive in numbers to the south of Ireland around the middle of May and stay until mid November, The peak season is July to September and the Irish record stands at 206 lb., which is small, compared to that, they can grow to over 500lb and Length of up to 14 feet. They can swim at speeds of 35 k,p,h due to It slim shape, pointed nose and big fins which makes it one of our strongest and top sport fish in Ireland and to a lot of specimens hunters and anglers alike a fish of a life time.
Robert with a large pointed nose and big fined blue shark
Best time to shark fish
I start shark fishing in July when the temperature of the sea are starting to rise which normally brings the first wave of big females. In my experience, the big blues sharks are caught in September and October especially at night.
An old photo of my biggest shark. Length 8ft 6in caught in September 2002
My first experience with blue sharks.
I started shark fishing in youghal over 22 years ago on a 27ft trawler that did only 7 knots. On that boat I landed my first blue, it was just over 65lb and still to this day, I can remember the fight. Now a day when I go shark fishing, I use 6.2-meter quicksilver boat with a 75-horse power engine and it can do 21 knots in flat conditions. The only draw back is the weather has to be good. It is perfect for three anglers and just enough room to land some of the larger blues sharks. But if you have not got your own boat there is a lots of charter boats now that are geared up to take you shark fishing with some days landing over SIXTEEN sharks and are all tail landed so they can be returned alive.
How to un-hook, land and handle a shark by tailing it
when shark gets tired and ready to land hold the steal wire tightly with gloves until you can safely grab it tail
when tail is firmly held slide it up the gunnels until it mid section is sitting on it and with a help of a friend gently put it on the deck
Shark fishing for last few years has been extremely good with many big females well over a 100lb being caught and returned right through the summer months and into the autumn. This year their are good numbers of small sharks caught between 25lb to 55lb with some larger female’s exceeding the 100lb mark.
when unhooking a shark first turn it on it back and trap it between your legs this will stop it from turning over
Then when the shark is secure pull back on it nose until its mouth is open and unhook it with long nose pliers don’t forget they have teeth and still can close there mouth
Months before I go shark fishing I make sure that I stock up with buckets of fish waste which is donated by my locale fish monger, and then I just freeze it. The night before we went shark fishing I took out two buckets, it will make four chum bags. That’s more than enough for a day’s shark fishing, when there are fully thawed out I then added bran and fish oil [don’t add bran before freezing it, it turns it milky and looks crap] then all I needed was some fresh mackerel for hook baits and I am ready to go.
Cut up some fresh mackerel and add it to your chum when possible
Therefore, with the buckets out, gear packed fuel tank full, and a few hours sleep I was up and away with the boat behind me. It was not long after that my brothers Robert, Brian and my self was a float and were off searching for mackerel. After traveling about twenty minuets I saw lots of gannets diving, that a good sign and well worth checking out .I turned the boat and headed for the spot, we fished over it, and in 5 minutes we had our fresh mackerel for hook baits with a few to spare to add to our chum. With that done, we resumed our heading and headed for 200+ feet of water were we hoped to find some sharks.
When we arrived we first mixed our thawed out fish waste with bran and herring oil then added some chopped up fresh mackerel when it is all mixed we put it in an onion bag and then we hang it over the side of the boat. The rocking of the boat will releases the oil soaked bran and fish particles slowly over a wide area this will gives the sharks a chance to find us while we are getting our rods ready. When preparing our hook baits we cut our fresh mackerel into flappers this makes it easier for smaller sharks to get it in to their mouths as well as big sharks and can stop you missing many dropped runs.
Sharks are normally not hook or line shy so when hooking the flapper put the hook down through the nose and out through the bottom lip [or visa, versa] this leaves most of the hook showing and will give you a better chance of connection on a strike.
When setting your dept between your bait and float make sure it’s Down more than 40 feet this will stop gannets diving and attacking your bait, if your drift is to fast and your bait is starting to rise, you should put a two ounce lead on your steel wire about ten feet from your bait, it can be secured with a bit of tape. The only one that I might have less than 40ft is the one under the boat as sharks have taken my chum bag more than once
When everything was ready, we knew that the first couple of hours would be slow because the winds were weak and the tide was slack. This meant we would have a short trail for the sharks to follow and we would have to wait until the tide turned. When the tide turned and started to build it was taking our trail away at a nice speed, every thing was looking good. It was only a matter of time before we got our first run,
It is a lovely sound when the Penn reels spinning off, what a rush. With the fish hooked and the deep fast runs nearly over, we could see it was a blue shark. When landed, it weighed in at 65lb. as soon as the pictures were taken and the fish returned the other rod sprung in to action, it was blue around the same
size and fought as hard and they both looked in good condition.
our first blue shark of this year 65lb was landed by brain Kennedy
Things were starting to get a bit too quite so we put out another chum bag to keep our trail Strong, you could see the slick on the surface and it looked a lot better. We knew it was a waiting game before another shark would find us. fifty minutes passed before we saw a shark swimming around the boat and then went deep, a few moments later all hell broke loose it was a double hook up, what a crack, until the two sharks were at the boat at the same time so what to do. We looked at the sharks and we could see that one of them was lightly hooked. We decided to release that one at the side of the boat for safety, now we could land the other one and unhook it. It is nice to see sharks at this size, they are good sport and easier to handle on a small boat.
As the day was pushing on it was time to pack up and head for land until a reel screamed off, it was my Brother Robert’s rod, he grabbed it in a flash and lifted into the fish. It dove deep and was fighting a lot harder than the other sharks we had that day. As he got it in close to the boat, we could see it was at least 90lb. it fought for a good 20 minutes more with heavy head shakes and long fast runs before we could land it. With the shark unhooked, we put it in the sling to our delight it bottomed out our 100lb scales. As a specimens hunter’s I knew that this was over specimen weight. Therefore, for the well fair of the shark we quickly returned it.
With the first session out of the way, we knew that there were sharks around and it was time to get focus on them and stock up with some shark traces and steel wire.
Steel wire, sleeves, and ready mead shark traces.
With any window of opportunity, we were out there and by the middle of august, the sharks were there in numbers. Our best day shark fishing this year was 17 blues and missed one on a 12 Weight fly rod yes a fly rod. There is still a few weeks left in the season so my goal is to get one on a fly rod and on camcorder before there disappear.
Robert with a big blue shark length from tip of nose to tip of tail was 7feet 7in
Since that day The Irish Specimen Fish Committee has worked tirelessly over the years in a bid to protect our species, with DNA identification and a new length-based measurement for specimen, blue shark are now on the list
CHECK LIST & TIPS
1] oil all reels check line.
2] check all eyes on rods.
3] onion bags, fish oil, bran and balloons.
4 200 + steel wire 8o to 10o hooks de-barbed, 250LB swivels big crimps and 250 lb nylon for rubbing trace.
5] wire cutters long nose pliers for unhooking shark.
6] gloves for landing sharks.
7] insulating tapes and some 2-ounce leads.
Me with an 85lb blue shark
[ That a big one]
The Wels catfish, also called sheatfish, is a large catfish found in wide areas of Central, southern, and Eastern Europe, and near the Baltic and Caspian Seas. It is found from the United Kingdom all the way east to Kazakhstan and south to Greece. They feel like a conger eel and there mouth is like a bucket. Their eyes a quite small but there hearing and their vibration senses are off the charts. I have watched YouTube where they are hunting pigeons in a few inches of water. They can grow to lengths of 4 m (13 ft) and a maximum weight of over 180 kg (400 lb) it is the third largest freshwater fish in the world. The river Ebro is Spain’s longest river rising approximately 50 miles from the Atlantic to the South of Santander in the Cantabrian Mountains. It flows approximately 395 miles along the southern foothills of the Pyrenees in Northern Spain before emerging at a large delta some 100 miles south of Barcelona, into the Mediterranean Sea. The larger Catfish are found above the hydro-electric facility at Mequinensa. This is where the catfish were originally introduced just over 35 years ago by a German scientist. The Ebro is joined at Mequinensa by two major tributaries, the Cinca and the Segre, and this is a renowned, heavily fished area of the river systems. The catfish population quickly worked its way downstream to the extent that they now thrive all the way down to the delta. At this stage the catfish of the Lower Ebro are slightly smaller than at Mequinensa, since these fish are of a younger generation. The biggest recorded specimens so far have topped the 180lb, which means that a 200lb fish is a definite possibility within the next few years. 100lb fish are common, at the moment approximately 1 in every 5 fish caught is in the 100lb category. The extremely rare albino catfish is also present with the chance of landing 1 out of every 2000 specimens each season. The growth potential for the catfish in the lower river is phenomenal due to the roach, carp and the vast shoals of mullet which migrate up stream from the Mediterranean. There are a lot of different Wels cat fish guides to choose from, some will have bank fishing others will bring you boat fishing it works out cheaper when you go in groups of three especially when you are fishing off a boat. The reason I went to Spain for wels is when I was fishing for carp in France I hooked a fish that ran me ragged up ,down and across the lake I was fighting it over 30 minutes before I could see it was a wels cat fish. It weight in at 45lb, I must admit it felt a lot larger than that. When I got back to Ireland I searched the net for cat fish holidays and found lots to choose from, I went with Catmaster Tours that were an English company working out of Mequinensa. Since then I believe that they are no longer operation but don’t worry there still lots to choose from.
My fishing holiday in Spain a good few years ago
looking at a tiny part of the Ebro
As my missus likes a bit of fishing it became a family holiday to remember. As we got off the plane we were met by our guide John, we were then driven to our apartment that was first class. After unpacking our bags he brought us for a tour of the town showed us the local swimming pool restaurants, pub and were he was bringing us fishing. With the tour done we sampled some of the local food in an English run restaurant that was lovely. With the belly’s full it was time to go to bed as it was a 5am start .When you are fishing for wels the rule in Spain is first light to 12 at night if you are caught out side them times the local cops will take all your fishing gear and if you don’t have the right license they will do the same. If you stick to the rules everything will be ok if not you will pay the price. That night I could not sleep with the anticipation of the size of fish that was swimming in the river in front of the apartment. 5am was here and the Mini bus was at the door, we were on our way to Mequinensa most famous swim the pump house. With our rods and bait set up by our guide John all we hade to do is hold the rod as john rowed out the bait. With all rods set up and in their upright stands all was left was the fish to start feeding. As we were waiting john was going through the baits we will be using and how they will be set up for the week. He said we will start with the large 25mm trout pellets, how we will fish them is, we will put seven 25mm pellets on a hair with a size 6/0 circle hook, our trace will be 300lb kite line added to a 250lb swivel our lead weighs a pound to keep a tight line to our rods the lead is then added to a sliding boom and our main line is 100lb braid. The next bait will be a live bait a carp around 3lb to 5lb when we use them a light line of about 25lb will be tied off the tree across the river on the island to the swivel above the carp, then with the rod in the stand I will tighten the main line until the carp is only a few feet under the water. He then said you will hear the line brake as the cat takes the carp. It only took two hours for our first take it was a small cat of 85lb
My other half Mandy with her first Wels cat fish caught on pellets that was 85lb
With the fish returned we could see small fish scattering over our baited spots, John said it won’t be long before we get another cat. We landed four more around the same weight, and as we were taking turns Mandy’s rod started to go. She lifted the rod into the fish and it started to run down river, she faced the rod towards the fish and put her thumb on the reel to put more pressure on the rod, it worked the fish started to head back to where it was hooked. After 25minuts the cat was on our side of the river and our guide John put on the gloves and got into the water waiting for the 300lb trace to appear. As the trace came up he grabbed it and put his hand into it mouth were he can safely hold it. He slid the Wels onto a plastic sheet at the side of the bank, with the fished weighed at 128lb I could see Mandy smiling.
Mandy with a 128lb Wels cat that put up an impressive long hard fight
The next few days we were landing fish between 75lb and 110lb it hard to believe that these fish are only in this river system around 35 years and nearly every fish was over 80lb. Day four was a day to remember it started with a hard fighting albino wels cat it was the luck of the draw that it was my turn to take the live bait set up and as John said I could hear the 25 lb line crack on the far side of the river with the fish in the sling it brought the needle of the scales to 146lb what a mad looking fish.
my first trip to Spain and the odds were in my favor with this 146lb albino Wels cat fish caught at the famous pump house swim on the Segre River that flows into the Ebro.
I was like a child after landing that fish and I did not believe that the fishing was going to be so good. The next day we decided to go site seeing and take a look at the massive dams, as you might guess I still brought a small spinning rod that I got off John just in case I saw some bass.
My first and only big mouth bass, its well worth going site seeing
One of the huge hydro dams in Spain
With a relaxing day over it was time to get back to them hard fighting fish. As it was the last day we decided to put out the full arsenal that John had at his disposal
Our four cat rods and two carp rods ready for action
With two live bait cat rod’s two trout pellets cat rods and two carp rods out we were ready for action and action we got the carp rods were going off every 30 minutes wit most of the carp in the 20lb bracket all caught on single 25mm pellets these fish are long and are designed to fight hard.
This 26lb river carp was a hard fighting fish
We decided to pick our rods for the last session in stead of taking turns. Of course Mandy picked the rods that were going off. She said her arms were getting tired as she smiled then her rod went off again. This time we knew it was a big fish it was taking line off the reel with ease and was going were ever it liked. John locked the reel as much as he could and Mandy put her thumb on the reel, it made very little difference to what the fish wanted to do. It was down to who was going to tier first and knowing Mandy it was not going to be her. After 45 minutes Mandy started to win the battle and like before John was waiting in the water for the right moment to grab the line. With the fish on the bank and its length measured at 7ft 11in it was time to weigh the monster. It took two of us to lift this 156lb cat what a fish.
This 7ft 11in 156lb Wels cat was landed by Mandy o Brien
Mandy in the water with her PB Wels cat fish 156lb
After that fish Mandy said to me all the rods are yours I have enough. It was like the fish new that Mandy wasn’t fishing because it got quite. As we were going over what fish we caught that week my rod sprung into action it was fighting like Mandy’s fish with long powerful runs. My heart was beating fast and I was praying I would not loose it as john got his hand into the fish’s mouth the hook came out, how luck was that john said. It weight slightly heaver at 160lb and was the same length, what a fishing holiday. I will go back in the very near future for more of them river monsters.
My PB 160LB Wels cat fish caught on the last day of the holiday.
Wels cat fishing is for every type of angler young and old, it is one fish you will remember and talk about when you are fishing with the lads at home.
I have a short video clip in my videos