Off to Ireland for a week, to include the Irish Bass Festival

My new car is going to get its first proper journey this morning as Mark and I head for Fishguard in Wales to get the ferry over to Ireland. As per usual I will do my best to keep the blog updated with the fishing we are doing over there, but please accept my apologies in advance if those updates are somewhat less than regular. I am hearing reports of some good catches of bass and I really hope the Irish Bass Festival this coming weekend goes well for the organisers and of course everybody who is fishing it. More to come…...

Filth! My new IMA Salt Skimmer, just itching to be unleashed somewhere in Ireland.....

Filth! My new IMA Salt Skimmer, just itching to be unleashed somewhere in Ireland.....

Is it as simple as “if the bait fish aren’t around, then the bass won’t be”?

You’ve got ideal conditions, a rather nice set of tides, and you’re running down the cliffs or across the beach because you’re so utterly convinced that there will be a heap of bass just waiting to impale themselves on the various lures you decide to hurl at them - but you draw a big fat blank and you wonder why on earth why when everything looked so damn good. There could be any number of reasons of course, but I wonder if many of us don’t go and overlook what I presume might well often be the most logical explanation - that the bass weren’t there because the food they want to eat wasn’t there either. Or as per the post title, “if the bait fish aren’t around, then the bass won’t be”.

And if there is one thing I simply don’t know enough about, it’s bait fish/predator food source movements and habits. As much as bass are some mighty fine fish, I am pretty sure that charity isn’t at the top of their list. I could be wrong, but I have a sneaking suspicion that they don’t come inshore specifically to please us anglers who are out there trying to catch them. Deep down I am pretty sure that when you catch bass from wherever you are fishing, they were in the vicinity because their food source was - and if that food ain’t there then no amount of willing a nice big predator to jump on the end of your line is going to work………..

Are some of you having a very up and down bass season so far, because it’s been like that around here this year. Not for one second am I saying that it’s all simply a food source thing that the bass fishing hasn’t exactly fired yet, and yes, like any of you I worry greatly about whether there will actually be a viable recreational bass fishery not too many years down the line, but as an angler who is fascinated by his sport, wow would I love to know more about what bass feed on - the when and where if you like, just as with trying to catch fish. I like to think that some bass will come inshore to mooch around for food that is always there in season as such (blennies, prawns, crabs, etc.), but that when you catch a bunch of bass I have to assume that they are in and feeding because a significant amount of food they are hunting is in the area as well - sandeels, mackerel etc. And to me it’s just feeling too barren out on the open coast around where I live so far this year.

One thing that has really, really struck home to me from spending time with John Quinlan down at their Thatch Cottage guided fishing operation is how he is always scanning the water and horizon on the lookout for feeding birds. Granted, it’s somewhat easier to know when there is bait around via such a visible sign as feeding birds, but then that’s the whole point - work with what you can see for starters. As with predatory fish, those birds are there because their food source is, and John is constantly on the lookout for the birds signalling that there is food around, on the basis of course that the bass should be around as well. Now there could be any number of reasons why - a less healthy ecosystem than over in say Kerry for starters? - but I don’t see feeding birds (gannets, terns etc.) around where I live with anything like the frequency I see them over in Kerry or indeed around the Copper Coast, and as such I can’t really use their presence as a food source indicator a lot of the time. Nope, the simple fact is that I don’t know enough about the food sources that bass are coming inshore to feed on, and like many of you here I am sure, we anglers base a lot of what we think we know on assumptions - but then one could argue that the very basis of fishing being our attempt to outwit nature is of course always going to be to a large degree based on our best guesswork. I want to know more, but I will never come anywhere close to knowing it all, and that to be perfectly honest is just fine by me.

Scierra C&R wading jacket review - around £170

When I first thought about putting this review up of a waterproof wading jacket during our summer it felt a bit daft, but with the weather we have been having recently I reckon it’s actually become perfect timing! I wasn’t sure that I would get a lot of use from this Scierra C&R wading jacket until the autumn, but over the last few months it’s come out of my rucksack on far too many occasions if you ask me, and whilst that might well be perfect for giving it a proper testing, ideally I’d like not to have to wear it thank you very much ye weather gods…….

As with when I first started wearing lightweight chest waders and wading boots, it was the same with a “proper” wading jacket from the fly fishing world - because I was doing some work with Svendsen Sports at the time, it was therefore Scierra gear that I turned to initially, and I have to say that I don’t remember any of their wading jackets that I used giving me any undue grief. I bet you all use any number of different waterproof tops from various markets, but I do happen to think that the slightly shorter and usually nice and easy to fish in wading jackets from the fly fishing world tend to work well for the way that many of us here go about our lure fishing.

OK, so it’s not as if around £170 is small change to spend on a waterproof jacket, but when I compare it to the price on say some of the Simms wading jackets, this Scierra C&R one getting towards good value for money I feel, and especially with how it’s working out for me. Yes, it’s going great guns so far and I haven’t come across anything that I actively dislike about it - initially I went for the XL size as that’s what I take with nearly everything, but it was a little tight across the shoulders for casting all the time especially. I asked if a mate could give it a thrashing and I then got an XXL and it’s the perfect fit for my lure fishing (he would usually take an L size and this XL one fits him perfectly if that helps). Nice and comfortable, very easy to wear, enough room to wear a few more clothes underneath when it gets cold, and it doesn’t catch me anywhere when I wind a cast up and let it fly.

Is it just me, or does this colour go well with my new, uber-good looking new car? Sorry!

Is it just me, or does this colour go well with my new, uber-good looking new car? Sorry!

I would expect a jacket like this to be properly waterproof, and so far there are no issues whatsoever, and that includes a fair amount of fishing in some perfectly horrible weather. Sure, as per every single waterproof jacket I have ever used for fishing, a little bit of water will eventually find its way in down the sleeves in heavy rain especially, and at the start I was a little worried that this jacket’s cuff design might lend itself to letting in that bit more. But I was wrong, indeed I reckon this C&R jacket is one of the better ones when it comes to minimal amounts of water trickling in via the sleeves. Same with the hood and face area - driving rain in your face and a bit has to get in via me peering out from underneath the well designed hood, but as with the sleeves it’s a minimal amount. As much as wearing a baseball cap annoys me because of the peak getting in the way with cameras, I have gone back to wearing one in the rain and I do reckon it’s worth it with helping the hoods on jackets work that bit better with you.

There are various pockets on the jacket which I must admit I haven’t really used, but the zipper up and down the front seems to be of decent quality, and it can’t rust via saltwater because it’s made from some sort of plastic/rubber or whatever? I went through a phase a few years back of trying out various walking/climbing jackets for my (saltwater) fishing, and the metal zippers all failed eventually, or at least got so stiff I would routinely curse the sodding jacket as I tried in vain to do it up or get out of it! Not a problem with this one. I like this Scierra C&R wading jacket as an outer shell that is not too heavy yet plenty warm enough for many situations, but then very easy to layer up underneath if needs be.

What more can I say? The jacket works well, I think the price is fair when compared to other fly fishing gear out there, but of course many anglers are perfectly justified in thinking that it’s far too much money to spend on a waterproof jacket for fishing. It matters not at the end of the day though, because the jacket exists, I am sure Scierra are selling a bunch of them, and I happen to think that it works well for how many of here go about our fishing. If anything untoward suddenly happens with this Scierra C&R wading jacket that I or a couple of mates are now using, I will of course report back, but after plenty of use now I think it’s a really good wading jacket that I wish I wasn’t having to use so much this “summer”.

And how about finishing up the Australia tour at 3-0 tomorrow morning in the rugby? I keep having to pinch myself that really are in the position to complete a clean sweep against the second place team from last year’s World Cup, but I am feeling that good about English rugby again that I see no reason why the boys won’t produce another monster performance down under……...

Got a new car, thanks so much for your suggestions

It feels a little strange not to be driving my twelve year old, dirty grey Ford Focus estate around anymore, but there you have it below, my new car - and it’s a big thanks from me for your help the other day on here and on Facebook when I asked, indeed via your comments and specifically the ones telling me to look at the Citroen Berlingo Multispace XTR, well that is what I am now driving. I was close to getting a Skoda Octavia estate or some other similar estate type car, right up until a few of you told me to have a look at the Citroen………

Photographing my new car, whatever next?

Photographing my new car, whatever next?

Which I did. I didn’t find it easy looking for a new car primarily because I have so little interest in them, but I did what most blokes do and carried out as much research as possible - but that Citroen Berlingo Multispace thing never once crossed my radar. Another straightforward estate made the most sense because it’s what I have driven since my eldest girl was born, and I was actively looking for a second hand Skoda Octavia estate. But via your comments I went and had a look online at the Citroen Berlingo and what it could offer me, and then I went and booked a test drive to see what it was like.

Absolutely bloody perfect for me and what I need a car for, that’s what it is. Thank you, thank you! Sure, if a drop dead gorgeous car is your thing then you ain’t exactly going to lust after those stunning sleek lines on a Citroen Berlingo Multispace (!!), but I am not buying a car to try and look better. Nope, a car is a tool to me, and I need a car that works for the family and for my fishing/travelling around with loads of stuff in it - this Citroen fits the bill brilliantly. So comfortable to drive (nice and high and upright, great visibility), plenty quick enough for me, decent stereo, acres of room in the back for kids or passengers, great big boot, easy to take any of the back seats out individually if I need even more space (or to kip in), and I love those sliding rear doors. Hell, it’s even got a touchscreen thing in the front that made me nearly jump out of my skin when a call came in over the mobile! I am far more used to shouting over a crappy bluetooth earpiece.

So there you have it. The new motor. And yes, there will be a fair bit of piss-taking from various mates about how I am preparing for old age with a car like this and what they are sometimes used for, but that’s no worries - loads of room for the old zimmer frame! Nope, I love it, and I reckon it’s going to be the perfect car for these high milage trips I make over to Ireland especially, either with a mate or two along with me, or those whole day journeys I do on my own over to glorious Kerry for my co-guiding work. Set the cruise control and have a damn good kip on the way! A great fishing wagon, and it makes me very happy to be driving something that is based on a van.

Many thanks again. The only reason I have ended up with this rather fantastic car is because some of you kind people took the time to leave a bunch of helpful comments the other day, and I hugely appreciate it. Oh, and the Citroen garage took my beloved old Ford Focus estate off my hands for the princely sum of £200 part exchange! The driver side electric window hadn’t worked for a couple of years and I am still finding it a thrill to press the button on this Citroen Berlingo Multispace and actually have my driver side window go up and down, instead of having to pull up just right at say the toll booth after the bridge going into Wales so that I can open my door, apologise for the sodding window not working, and hand over money/take ticket etc. It’s a new dawn…….