Two things in life that my husband holds dear – beer and sport fishing. When he retired after 40 years working, he was generously rewarded for his hard work and loyalty, and we decided to take a vacation some place exotic. I could pick the destination, but he asked two things that should be present wherever we will go – beer and sport fishing. I typed the exact words in Google and woohoo, I got Ireland.
First things first, we explored the pubs to get to the beer. The Irish are so serious about their beer. There is a pub in any street. There are quiet pubs with loyal patrons who know each other. There are dancing pubs that play loud dance music. And so, husband had a genuine Guinness in a genuine pub with the genuine Irish ambiance. The Guinness is referred to as ‘porter’ which is dark ale.
Beer aside, it was time to do sport fishing. I was personally a bit apprehensive about venturing out to sea for some fishing because Irish weather varies like every hour. It can be sunny, then cloudy, then with a bit of rain, and sometimes even both – something which they have a name for ‘sun showers’. But we got ourselves a good charter, and the day we cast out, we had a rainbow on our background.
Ireland is in the middle of the Atlantic, and has a long coastline of 3000 km. The inshore waters, tranquil bays and beaches are warmed by the North Atlantic Drift bringing in warm water, and create a rich marine life that fishermen enjoy.
Because of the long coastline, fishing can be done in the beaches, piers or quays. This is referred to as shore angling, widely popular from Galway to Dublin.
The other kind of fishing is offshore or deep sea, which we were more interested in. This can include activities like drift fishing for shark, bottom fishing and wreck fishing.
We were excited to get some Carp, Atlantic salmon, Cod, Bass and even the Atlantic Blue Shark. Locals usually like to fish freshwater species so the bigger catches are left for the tourists, like us.
We signed up for a charter boat, and found ourselves with 6 other people, 5 of them male and I was left with one lone friend. The tackle we needed was already included in the rate we paid. We were amazed by the ‘sea wisdom’ of our captain, who apparently comes from a long line of fishermen in the family.
Because I know my husband has never tried it before, and I wanted this trip extra special for him, we specifically chose to do wreck fishing when we chose our charter boat. Wreck fishing is fishing in artificial reefs, rough bottom and shipwrecks. We cast off from the Chesapeake Bay, and it was a day to remember.
I took time to ask the Captain how wrecks are found. He had some technical explanations using various gadgets, but the bottom part is, you can do some history-reading and find out where wrecks are, which are usually marine disasters or even intentional sinkings to create artificial reefs. Another good way to find a wreck is to study sea life. When there are dolphins, sharks, bluefish and seals in the area, there can be a wreck nearby. In some cases, there is the telltale sign of oil spill on the surface.
Sometimes, the Captain goes through several wrecks in just one day. We went to a couple in the morning and three in the afternoon. Our boat sometimes anchored when we got to these spots, while in some, we drifted. Apparently, anchoring has some disadvantages, too, and can be dangerous in some situations.
We were reminded not to be too greedy in fishing. It could get overwhelming when one sees a big school of fish, and one bite leads to the next. We can be overfishing this area if left to our human nature.
I noticed that we were given crabs or clams as bait. Apparently, these attract the Tautog. There were also squids to get the trout. I chose the cut baits, which one big sea bass found appetizing, and I got me an impressive one for the pictures. My husband chose bigger bait, and happily got a bigger sea bass, said to be male as they are bigger than the female. There were bluefish and sea bass hovering above the wreck. They were a good catch, too.
At the end of the day, we docked and got off a bit cold but happy. It was a truly memorable and fun experience. And of course, to get rid of the cold, we just had to get some Guinness.