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Clare is a county wiith a wealth of shore fishing marks, possibly unmatched in terms of its variety. We have split it into North and South. The northern section offers the same remarkable mix of Atlantic storm beaches and exceptional rock fishing platforms. The returns from the latter can be quite haphazard. Black Head in particular has a very dodgy reputation, with many an angler (myself included) blanking on what is regarded as an excellent mark. This is down to the lack of local knowledge for there are specific hot-spots on the Head and if you are not fishing them, you will blank! A red spot indicates a known mark with recent information available, whereas a yellow spot indicates a known or suspected mark with no recent data but where you can get lucky!
I have a soft spot for Clare for this is where I learned to fish, specifically on Liscannor Bay in a small boating trailing mackerel feathers made from strips of burst beach balls (honest!) and from the big beach at Lahinch, down near the Inagh River Estuary, at a time in the distant past when it was incredibly alive with bass, plaice and flounder, not to mention the odd salmon and "white trout" (sea trout) running up the river. Whilst commercial fishing has reduced the flatfish numbers, word is that fishing is improving again... if the new bass record (17 lbs 4 ozs, c. 8 kilos) is anything to go by, albeit that was taken down the road on the beach at Doonbeg!
|1 - The Flats, near Black Head All along this extraordinary coast beneath the impressive Burren (karst limestone area), a wild range of rock platforms give access to deep and fertile waters. Species & Techniques: Bottom fishing onto mixed ground will produce rays in calm weather (including large sting rays - you have been warned), with dogfish, bull huss and conger eels all available. Float fishing will take ballen wrasse and mackerel in season, with the occassional scad (horse mackerel) in amongst the mackerel in low light conditions. Coalfish and pollack will be taken spinning, as will the mackerel and garfish.|
|2 - Black Head At Black Head itself, you will find numbers painted onto the rocks for shore competitions - that is how good a shore mark it is! Parking is alongside the road, and there are several wider stretches to facilitate this. Never misjudge your footing as a broken ankle in that terrain is no laughing matter. Some of the cliff marks will require a drop net or a willingness to lose the larger fish! Personally I never fish at the 60s marks alongside the fishing sign as this gets the heaviest fishing pressure. The further headland (west) offers the best fishing, although some excellent catches have been made from higher numbered marks (east). Species & Techniques: Bottom fishing will produce rays, dogfish, bull huss and conger eels, depending on whether you hit sand (first two species) or rocky outcrops and mixed ground. Flatfish are also a possibility. Float fishing will take ballen wrasse and mackerel, although the wrasse are confined to the most inaccessible locations these days. Coalfish and pollack will be taken spinning - this mark produced specimen dogfish and rockling irecently, and a 25 kilo (61 lb) sting ray!|
|3 - Fanore Beach This is the first of several superb westerm storm beaches. The regular catch of weeverfish points to its cleanliness. Species & Techniques: Bottom fishing onto sand will produce thornback ray, dogfish, bull huss, some bass, and all the standard flatfish. Night fishing on an incoming tide seems to be the best option available - this is yet another Clare mark also used in shore angling competitions.|
|4 - Ballyreen This is yet another rock platform mark that demands care and attention. It will require a drop net to land the bigger fish. Species & Techniques: Bottom fishing onto mixed ground will produce thornback ray, dogfish, bull huss and conger eels ... and reputedly it also produces Flatfish including a fair share of plaice. The conger eel fishing in the autumn 2004 has been reported as exceptional with lots of fish over the 13 kilo (30 lbs) specimen mark. There is a very foul bottom close to shore but it moves to sand from 40-50 metres out. This is one of only two marks in Clare (the other being Green Island) from which shark (porbeagle and blue) and tope have been successfully landed, but landing large fish off the cliffs is not a simple task.|
|5 - Doolin An extremely popular tourist village, Doolin is where the ferries depart daily for the Aran Islands. It has a wonderful array of pubs and restuarants, but the harbour, pier and beach is what anglers are interested in... Species & Techniques: Bottom fishing on the beach will produce bass, dogfish and flatfish... there are extremely dangerous currents with multiple drownings recently on the shifting sandbanks - do NOT venture out. Spinning will get mackerel and the odd bass off the rocks to the north. Smaller flatfish, dogfish and mullet are often found around the harbour itself.|
|6 - Cloghans Past Liscannor on the way to the Cliffs of Moher (well worth a visit) there is a favourite swimming and snorkeling mark called Cloghans. Ask around locally for directions - although you can forget about using it in fine weather. Species & Techniques: A dull day will let you fish into deep water in peace but take care with the swells. Bottom fishing will find ballen wrasse, dogfish, rockling, bull huss and strap conger eels over foul ground. Float fishing will take ballen wrasse, rockling, greater launce, mackerel, garfish and small coalfish. We would expect to see triggerfish show up here in the next few years.|
|7 - Lahinch Beach Most people will concentrate at fishing the beach down near the estuary of the Inagh river, and whilst this is a good mark (please be very careful of the dangerous current in the estuary itself), the entire beach can fish well. Fishing under the promenade of the village in a decent surf is more difficult now because of the surfers, but the margin nearest the rocks to the south is usually clear. Species & Techniques: The beach used to produce exceptional catches of Bass however whilst it is long past its heyday, some recovery has been evident in recent years. Our thanks to Maureen O'Callaghan for the update. Flounder and plaice were once commonly taken in the sea and the river channel. I have seen large pollack (for which Liscannor Bay was once famous) taken in the surf by anglers seeking bass. The key to surf beach fishing is not to cast too far, with the final breaking wave the ideal spot! Mullet, salmon and sea-trout can still be taken in the estuary or further upriver on the Inagh. January 2004.|
It is possible that other marks exist; - as you drive north from the Cliffs of Moher towards Fanore, the pounding surf breaking across an array of rocky headlands gives an idea of how dangerous rock platform fishing can be - a sunny day will also highlight how close to shore deep water can be, and I have no doubt that the exploits in taking big sting ray at Black Head can be repeated at other marks by anglers prepared for such an fight!