It had been a long winter and even longer since I last made it to the beach to fish an SAI comp. A combination of ill people, holidays and other commitments meant it was over a year since I had last made an appearance at club level in the corresponding fixture last year. Arklow South beach had once again been chosen as the opening venue and last years fixture had thrown up an unmerciful amount of fish. 600 fish caught last year between 13 of us, some of us were hoping for similar numbers, some of us (me..!) were hoping for a slightly less frantic day at the office! The journey up was made entertaining (and somewhat hazardous by my Scottish friend choosing then as a good time to spool up his reel. Several miles of hilarity and trepidation he did actually manage it but it wasn’t just the most straightforward operation you ever saw!
11 anglers braved threats of Corona Virus, howling gales blowing from right to left up the beach and driving sand and rain. David O’Sullivan had travelled up from Kerry, JP from Clon, Lee and myself made up the Munster contingent. Marco De Kleer and son Nathan had travelled down from Cavan with the rest of the crew (I think!) hailing from the East. 3pm came around, traces were sent out with a variety of tactics and it wasn’t long before the fish obligingly made an appearance with Lee Meiklejohn getting off to a flier with 3 doubles in quick succession.
I had started off slowly but consistently with 1s and 2s appearing on every cast. Fishing casts for about 10 minutes max meant that the day was going at a pace a bit more frantic than I perhaps wanted! Cast, unhook, measure JPs fish, nip up to Lee, measure mine, bait up, recast…repeat….. Hard going in the increasingly poor weather but it was great for once to have not only found fish from the off but managing to stay with them all the way through. As the weather deteriorated, the pace intensified. It was too rough and too busy to pay much attention to what was happening elsewhere on the beach with myself and JP, on adjoining pegs, locked into a tit for tat battle of mini whiting, rockling and the odd flat. A bonus dogfish for JP and untimely blank cast for me took him into the lead by a distance but such was the fishing on the day, an inexplicable blank cast or two for the Waterford man was capitalised upon with glee with 4 or 5 unanswered fish hitting my card and a nose in front at last.
Small neat black lug baits with a tiny square of mackerel fished on light flappers to size 6 hooks with plenty of point showing were doing the damage for me, tossed into the murky waters at about 80 yards or so. Standard enough tactics for here and the decision not to dig bait and go with the contents of the freezer were justified. Enough flipping energy spent running up and down the sand, imagine having to have dug 120 lug before hand….!
A decision was taken with darkness looming and heavy rainfall forecast (which duly arrived!) to finish an hour early and with the assent of all on the beach we headed into the last hour with everything still in the melting pot. Fishing calmed down a little for myself and JP with singles, an odd double and a blank cast or two making things hard to call. As 7PM rolled around I’m sure I wasn’t the only one utterly delighted to get off that beach! Utterly exhausted but happy with how things had gone.
There had been some nice fish caught amongst the smallies, JD had a lovely codling of 49cm and Darren Ryan managed a high scoring 62cm huss also. Keith Staffords flounder of 31cm was a welcome sight and there were some decent mid 20s Dabs taken too.
Results time came around and remembering that I had mentioned it was fairly impossible to get an idea as to how things were elsewhere on the beach it turned out that while myself and JP were locked in our own battle in the middle of the beach, that rising young superstar that is Evan Ryan fishing up the top end had quietly built a superb card and pipped both of us to top spot. Absolutely savage fishing from the young man, it took a hell of a lot of effort to stay on the pace in those conditions and you did so admirably, hearty congrats.
Results were as follows:
Longest Flat fish pool Keith Stafford, 31cm Flounder
Longest Round fish pool Darren Ryan, 62cm Bull Huss
1st Evan Ryan 26 fish 590 points
2nd Pete Davis 27 fish 554 points
3rd JP Molloy 26 fish 536 points
4th David O’Sullivan 22 fish 475 points
5th Keith Stafford 17 fish 390 points
Junior section winner was Nathan de Kleer with 6 fish for 116 points.
Master angler table:
Pete Davis 30
JP Molloy 29
David O’Sullivan 28
Keith Stafford 27
Darren Ryan 26
Lee Meiklejohn 25
Marco De Kleer 24
John O’B 23
Keith Murphy 22
John Diamond 21
Our next competition dates are May 2nd and 3rd and will be held in the Clonakilty area. Bass, Gilthead Bream and Golden Grey Mullet will hopefully make an appearance so if you fancy coming along, there is still loads of time to sign up on http://www.sea-angling-ireland.org
Signing off and looking forward to seeing you lovely blokes in the near future. Happy fish bothering and stay safe from that bloody virus. Can’t see you coming to much harm on an empty beach…!