Irish Sport Fishing – Fishing in Ireland
I recently met up with top match angler Joe Byrne at his tackle shop Courtown Harbour Sea Angling Centre. The shop started life through Mick Redmond, primarily as a woodwork shop but with a corner dedicated to supplying bait and tackle essentials to anglers in the know. In 2008 with Joe onboard, the shop expanded and began to stock rods, reels, and all the terminal tackle you could ever need. But it didn’t stop there. The shop now also offers a charter boat service with its two impressive boats ‘The Brazen Hussy II’ and ‘The Puffin’. Mick was a great skipper, and although he is no longer with us, the shop and the boats are in Joe’s capable hands. The shop is open 7 days a week, and more often than not Joe or someone else will still be around late in the evening.
Over the last few years Joe has established himself as one of the country’s top match anglers. His results in competitions have been consistently good. He features regularly in competitions throughout the country and only recently was runner-up in the Irish Winter Beach Festival.
Joe was on the Irish team that travelled to Italy last year, and although the result wasn’t what the team had hoped for Joe recalls all the effort and preparation that went into the event. “We were confident during the lead up to the competition that we had done enough to get a result. We were catching well and placed 3rd on the official practice day”. But then the weather changed. We all know how the conditions can impact on our fishing, and for Joe and the other guys on the team unfortunately all their hard work in the lead-up was in vain.
It’s an unfortunate reality facing the teams travelling abroad to foreign waters, that although countless hours can be spent practicing in advance, building up a knowledge of what does and does not work, the weather can change bringing local knowledge and past experience of the venue into play.
For example, local anglers from the Mediteranean and those familiar with fishing the area will know automatically if the conditions are calm enough for garfish. They will have the confidence to persevere fishing for them knowing that if they keep doing the right thing, they will get their opportunity and should be able to pull one or two fish out. On the other hand, an angler from these shores may have a doubt in their mind about whether they are doing the right thing, and are more than likely going to change tactics after an hour of blanking. This could prove to be a bad decision.
I don’t know how he did it, but Joe somehow managed to get the sun to shine all day. I was a bit disorientated by the big bright thing in the sky at first as it had been so long since I had seen it, but after a while the strange sensation of feeling warm while outside became familiar again (i even managed a bit of sunburn!).
It was evident from Joe’s setup just how much of an influence the continental style of fishing has had on anglers here. The first thing I asked Joe was where were his beach rods? Gone are the days of 8 foot tips sticking out of a rod holdall. Joe’s main rods for competitions are a pair of 15’ Grauvell Teklon Surf Competitions, and a 15’ Grauvell DH Surf. His traditional beach rod of choice is a Daiwa TDXS133 and this gets used if fishing a match for dogfish, cod etc.
Joe pairs his Teklon with the super-smooth Daiwa Basia fixed spool. Tapered lines are preferred, and the line-lay from the Basia is impeccable. For more traditional fishing with a multiplier, Joe likes the Daiwa 7HT Mags. These are loaded with black Ultima F1 line.
Running a fishing shop has its advantages and Joe is never short of tackle. Again, the continental influence is very evident when you open his seatbox. One thing that Joe stressed the importance of was the choice of lead. “The lead you choose has a direct impact on the way your rig fishes”. Joe told me many instances where a simple change of lead had resulted in immediate results. “A six ounce grip lead is great when you need to hold bottom at distance, but it’s useless if you need to search out any features that may be holding a few fish”. The selection of leads was impressive, and Joe managed to hide a few of his favourite ones from the camera! I suspect they cannot be bought in this country anyway.
While the weather was great for sunbathing, it didn’t do the fishing any good. Still, Joe managed to scratch out a few fish for the camera. Joe posesses all the important qualities that make a successful match angler, from being fully prepared in advance of a competition to being fully aware of what is going on during it. His work ethic on and off the beach is second to none, and through this he has gotten results from supposedly bad-pegs when other ‘lazier’ anglers would not have.
I’m looking forward to a day out on one of the boats when the Tope arrive, and Joe has promised me sunshine again. The tope fishing around Courtown can be spectacular, and if you’ve been after a big one i strongly urge you to give Joe a shout – he’ll put you right.