I met up with Paddy on Thursday and we spent the day looking around some marks before the festival begun on Friday. We fished 1 mark on the rising tide and although it usually fishes best on the drop we caught a couple of small schoolies which helped us get our bass fishing minds into gear.
Delighted with the results of our efforts we took it easy that evening as we were going to need all of our energy for the weekend ahead. We made a trip to the shop to stock up on some "festival winning" lures, created a plan of attack for Friday and set the alarms so we would be down to the shop and registered by 5 in the morning.
Done and dusted with registering Paddy, James' friend Kenny and I made for a mark which had been kind to us before. Arriving on the mark conditions were much flatter and calmer than they had been the day previous, which was to be the theme for the weekend. Still we remained confident as the sun was just starting to rise and we knew these first few hours would be the most important of the day. Starting off on hard lures I got the ball rolling with a fish of 52cm's which hit the lure first before doing the decent thing and hooking itself. It's important that if you feel a fish hit the lure don't continue winding, instead stop the lure dead. This makes the prey look injured to the bass. Sure enough after stopping the lure for a moment, one turn of the reel and the fish was on.
It was a great feeling, and a relief, to have the first fish under the belt. The aim of fishing this festival for us was to just enjoy our fishing and to hopefully get a fish or 2. Having sport so early was a bonus! As you can see above each fish is measured, photographed with your own individual I.D. and returned to the water.
Another 2 hours passed by with no hint of action for the 3 of us. Moving around the rocks trying to locate fish, everything was quite until we noticed disturbance to our right. All of a sudden the water was erupting with bass going crazy and bait fish flying everywhere! What an amazing sight!! I've heard of it seen plenty times by fisherman but I have not been bass fishing for very long and this was a first for me. No hanging about, the 3 of us set off on a sprint! Kenny was there first and on approaching saw 2 bass at his feet. 1st cast bang and Kenny was into his first fish of the weekend. The buzz about the place was now surreal! I was next up with a fish and this was on a surface lure, my first fish on off the top. Twice the fish came for it and as I mentioned above each time I stopped the lure. Luckily third time it engulfed the lure and the fight commenced. This was a good fish, certainly no schoolie and eventually, after a few heart stopping moments, I had my prize on the rocks. This was the biggest bass I had ever caught to date, talk about good timing! She measured 69cm on the ruler and brought Kenny's scales down to 6lb 12oz.
Ecstatic was an understatement, it was probably the most exciting fish I ever caught, visual wise at least as by using the surface lure you get to see everything unfold in front of you. Paddy was beside me as we watched it take the lure, the air blue as we willed the fish on! Without further a do the fish went back. As soon as it went back Kenny was in again with another fish and then Paddy, after losing 3 fish one after the other, managed to register his 1st of the day. And then that was that! The frenzy switched off as soon as it switched on, the 20 frantic minutes had passed but we were very happy with our results. We fished on for a couple of hours more but at this stage we were hitting low tide and the sun was really beating down on us now. The best thing for us was to head back to the shop, get some rest and head out again for a night session.
Kenny had to leave that evening and so myself and Paddy hit the rocks with another one of the lads, Ross. This was my first time night fishing for bass and I had been looking forward to it for a long time as I had heard how lethal it can be. Having the experience of sea trout fishing at night time helped me but unfortunately we drew a blank. An empty car park on the way back showed we probably weren't the only ones. Still we did manage to register a beast of a different kind on the way home!! Wave worm, slow retrieve did the trick!! ;)
At this stage the sun was up again and it was Paddy's turn to leave, very happy with his results! We now had 3 fish each and were able to enter the best 3 fish section of the competition. I fished on for the remainder of the day with Ross and a couple of more lads at various marks, a few hours either side of high tide, but we didn't see as much as 1 fish. Talking to other lads the fishing was tough going, only results coming at night and first light.
Evening approaching Kenny made it back and the plan for the final day was to hit the only mark working for us at 3 in the morning. Quick couple of hours kip and out to the rocks for one last throw of the dice. With confidence high we were expecting a nice bit of action, especially since we were fishing in the dark, but we didn't meet a single fish in 8 hours fishing. Everything but the kitchen sink was thrown at them and although plenty of baitfish were in evidence the bass had eluded us for the final day. But sure how bad, we had had great sport the previous 2 days and we felt even luckier to be in the right place at the right time when the frenzy of the first day had occurred.
A great crowd turned out for the evening prize giving. In a world of my own (as I was still hanging with the fatigue), I heard my name being called, as I had just picked up 3rd prize for 3rd biggest fish!! I was over the moon and received a great prize including new lures, costa del mar sunglasses, tshirts and a hoody. What a way to finish off an awesome weekend!
Overall, 117 anglers participated with about 200 fish caught, although I don't know the final figure yet. Below is a photo of the 2 lures that did the damage.
The top lure is the IMA Salt Skimmer in the Bora colour and the bottom one is the IMA Komomo SF-125 in the Sardine Red Belly colour. The SF-125 really was on fire for the weekend and it took most of our fish. It was my first time catching on it as the shallow diving lure which had done most of the damage previously was the Tacklehouse Feedshallow. Here is a link to the Bora colour of the SF-125 that caught me a couple of fish the day before the festival also.
Bring on the Irish Bass Festival 2014!