I continue to be amazed at the overall quality of the shore fishing over in Ireland - but perhaps what amazes me the most is that I still meet fishermen who almost don't want to believe how good it can be. Nowhere on earth offers good fishing all the time, but if you get the conditions close to right and do your research, then Ireland can offer some truly outstanding shore fishing for a huge variety of species. And you will catch a lot more if you are prepared to work hard and walk/hike a lot.
I am aware of some very good bass fishing in certain areas of Europe, such as the Channel Islands (awesome, go there), France and Spain, but I can only speak from personal experience when I say that so far I have yet come across anywhere that offers such consistently incredible shore fishing for bass as Ireland's somewhat "secret" and little-known south east corner. Ireland overall is an incredible place to visit, and in my mind the bass fishing is the pinnacle of it all.
Above is a shot of my mate Graham Hill with another quality bass that we caught the other day - the sun was just creeping over the hills to our right, and I used a large aperture on my 16-35mm lens to really make the head of the fish stand out in the frame. It's the kind of shot that a magazine could easily use over two pages, with the text running down the right side....
Using direct flash is something you can't really avoid when photographing fish in the pitch black, but you always run the slight risk with a reflective fish like the bass of losing a bit of detail in the flanks. Direct flash is a very harsh light, but when an incredible fish like Tom's 11lb monster comes out on the first morning, I'll use all the flash I need to try and make a half-decent shot. What a perfect start it was to another outstanding trip over there. I would hazard a guess that Tom is still in a state of shock back home in Frankfurt !!
Barely a cloud in the November sky as Patrick Gallagher fishes for bass with modern soft plastic lures - without a doubt it is the French bass anglers who are the most experienced at fishing these methods, and we have a lot to learn about it, but the guys I know are doing extremely well already. Fishing keeps me hooked because I am forced to learn new things all the time, and this drives me forward. We have all used soft plastics for years to nail fish like cod, pollack and coalfish, but using them for bass in very specific locations and ways is a new thing to me, and I can't wait to see how it keeps developing.