A recent invite from my angling pals down south saw me loading up the jeep once again and heading for Cork Harbour.
This would be an off-shore trip, and at long last, a chance to put a bend in the GX2 30-50lb boat rod from Shakespeare. I have had the opportunity to play with most of the range, from the short Kayak Rods right up to the 20-30lb class, and cannot fault the product in this price range. The 30-50lb is ideal for off-shore wrecks, reefs and shark angling, capable of handling most species on offer.
Favourable sea conditions at long last!
For once, forecasts were accurate with sea conditions flattening off nicely. Ross Macklin, Sid Kennedy and I met at the harbour and joined Ian and Ken aboard their awesome vessel “Sea Cheater”. It’s a 32 foot Off-shore and immaculate inside and out. Looking at the angling kit on-board, these lads knew their stuff and knew how to run a boat, I couldn’t wait to get out to sea.
Not a good sign. Sea should be teaming with large Mackerel at this time of year!
Mackerel were required for fresh bait, but all the usually haunts proved barren. Eventually we managed to run into a shoal of juvenile fish, and it pains me to say we had to use them. Was this simply bad luck in finding an adult shoal or was it fish that managed to slip through the nets? It is encouraging to see further generations of Mackerel coming through, but the sea should be teaming with adults. I am scared to think the worse!
Ross Macklin showing me the killer lure!
Our destination was a far off wreck, and my excitement was almost palpable. Eventually we arrived at the mark to find it surrounded with gill nets. A 300 mile drive, a 40 mile steam, a lot of money spent in the south just to witness another wreck being written off. When are the authorities going to wise up and realise that angling tourism creates more revenue and employment than a few destructive commercial hits on a wreck! To say I was disgusted is an under-statement. Wrecks and reefs, along with inshore sandbanks and estuaries MUST be offered protection from commercials if angling is to survive and continue giving sustainable income to Ireland!
Some small Pollack and Ling taken on the drift
Our trip would have been a “write-off” only for the skill and knowledge of our skippers. They had a number of other marks to try, once superb but now mediocre due to commercial over-fishing, but we had to salvage something from the trip.
Decent Whiting for Sidney Kennedy
After several drifts over well-hammered wrecks and reefs, finding only small Pollack and Whiting, our skippers found some “meatier” fish to put a bend in the rods. Double-figure Ling showed offering decent sport for the last part of the day, with Ross finding the largest nudging twenty pounds. Don’t get me wrong, this was enjoyable angling among great friends, and considerably better than what’s left in my neck of the woods up north, but this is the area where specimen fish were once abundant and new Irish records were knocking on the door.
This 20lb Ling for Ross Macklin was closer to the stamp of fish we were hoping for.
Ian with a decent Ling, Ken playing a fish in the background
The GX2 from Shakespeare in action, a fabulous budget priced rod
Still, despite all, it's good to be able to laugh when the world around you is falling to pieces!
That sort of angling disappeared in the north many years ago through commercial pressure, and its being rapidly duplicated around the south coast too. When I sat down to write this blog, I wanted to tell about the great fishing and fun trip out with friends, but my brain keeps slipping into the darkness of what is actually going on. The reality is we are losing our fish stocks at a fast rate, and very few people are either able, or willing to save or protect them. We are in serious risk of being the last generation to have experienced amazing Irish angling.
On a happier note, the GX2 performed extremely well. The EVA fore-grip (etched with the “Ugly Stik” logo) is comfortable and longer than normal to take both hands when fighting heavier species. Finished with quality rod rings and reel seat, it is a useful addition to the boat anglers’ armoury. At an amazing retail price under sixty quid, there is no excuse not to have one. Available from all good tackle shops. I just hope the fish stocks last long enough to give it some decent wear and tear!