Henry Gilbey
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Henry Gilbey blog

Putting a "tough Irish bass fishing trip" into context

I'm back from Ireland after a trip that overall was fairly tough, and although I hear stories of doom and gloom from various corners, for me I have to come back to the fact that when the conditions fire I am seeing bass fishing that I never thought I would see, yet when the conditions are flat and lifeless, things can get tough. I tend to base myself at the Gold Coast Golf Resort on the east side of Dungarvan Bay because of the options that this huge waterway gives me, but even then this mysterious bay ain't going to fire all the time and produce heaps of fish for us when areas such as the Copper Coast are flat and crystal clear. But there be some serious donkeys in that bay.................

As tough as the trip was though, Mark and I were talking in the car on the way home (in between him snoring his merry head off - broken by bass fishing, love it !!), and we were putting things in perspective and trying to compare various bits and pieces to the bass fishing we have around us here at home. I class this trip as a pretty tough one, but on the second day there were bass landed of 12lbs, 9lbs, 9lbs, 7lbs, plus various other 5/6lb fish and a few more smaller ones. Have I ever seen anything like this here at home ? Nope, and as much as I absolutely love where I live and at heart I am a positive person, do I really expect to ? I go to Ireland because I need to for my work, but as you might have guessed it's gone way beyond that "need" now. If you have bass fishing like this around you in the UK then I take my hat off to you.

So it is with a sense of not wanting to become remotely blasé about anything that I class this most recent Irish bass fishing trip as on the tough side, because the simple fact is that I know of no other place that can produce bass fishing like it when things are on - and as Mark saw very quickly, Ireland is Ireland and anything can happen. I know I should be doing more night fishing when the conditions are tough, and I dropped a potentially good fish one night out on the rocks, but for me these trips are so wrapped up with photography that it breaks me to be out there when I am unable to do anything remotely creative with my camera gear.

I am increasingly of the belief though that when the conditions are tough there is some potentially scary-good night bass fishing to be had out on a coastline such as the Copper Coast. We saw photos of a cracking 11-12lb bass taken at night on the coastline, and the first Irish Bass Festival (2012) was won with a night-caught bass. So why aren't more Irish anglers out there plying their trade on the coastline when the conditions are tough ? Well there is the argument of course that they just don't need to do that much night fishing because the daytime fishing can be so good when it's on, but I believe that over time more anglers over there will start heading out at night for their lure fishing as the confidence levels grow and spread.

I have no idea how far that cold weather earlier in the year set us back, but I can't help but feel that when we were filming out in Ireland last month, it felt to me like it was late June/early July fishing, and conversely this most recent September trip felt like it was some August fishing - i.e. some serious fish around, but you can almost sense it all waiting to kick off when autumn starts to rear her head properly. I will be very interested to see and/or hear about the bass fishing in October and November.

I also think that the bass along the coastline we were fishing are absolutely stuffed to the gills with sandeels. I have categorically never seen such insane numbers of these little fish around. We had swarms of juvenile sandeels around us nearly all the time when we were fishing closer to the town in Dungarvan Bay, and out on the coastline at a couple of specific marks we had launce boiling behind our surface lures and occasionally impaling themselves. On one early morning we were catching a large part of the food chain on consecutive casts - sandeels, mackerel and bass. The bass are without doubt chunkier and fatter than when I was over filming in August, indeed I don't think I have seen these fish in better shape - but full fish must surely be less inclined to then hit our lures ?

And when it comes to their scrapping abilities, I must admit to being shocked on a few occasions. You know that I think bass are an awesome fish. I love how we need to fish for them and I love their attitude, but we can't pretend they are going to go on massive long powerful runs and empty our reels - unless of course one is setting the drag on their spinning reel a little loose, indeed I can't remember picking up many rod to have a cast with recently and not tightening up the drag by about 90% more. Why are anglers so worried about their mainlines breaking ?

But holy cow are those bass fizzed up at the moment out where we were fishing. I took a 4lb fish off the top on the second evening I think it was and if I had lost it I would have sworn blind it was a fish around the 6lb mark. Mark had a stunning 7lb fish that he took bumping a Black Minnow down the current in the bay and I was fairly taken aback by how hard that thing went. Yes, I know the thing was taken in a bit of current, but it was scrapping way above its weight. Same with Cian's 7.5lb fish from the same spot on the same method, and a few I had there as well. Huge fun and a bit of food for thought.