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  Angling Guide to Cape Clear Island

Angling Guide to Cape Clear Island


Cape Clear is a small rugged Island rising out of the Atlantic Ocean in Irelands south west corner. It has a mixture of Shore fishing and Boat fishing and offers amazing opportunities for that fish of a lifetime. The shore fishing is limited to 4 or 5 locations on the Island but fishing can be had no matter what the conditions due to the fact that a lee shore can always be found. Bait on the Island is limited so a good supply should be taken along. The best baits for both shore and boat are mackerel, crab, sandeel and ragworm or lugworm. If one only had mackerel and one of the sea-worms than one would still catch plenty of fish.

For those without bait then fear not for there is fabulous lure fishing on Cape. Indeed Cape Clear is made for the new method of sea fly-fishing. The boat fishing is based around the harbour of nearby Baltimore but for the small boat enthusiast then this guide will help quickly identify some likely spots for catching some nice fish. There is one charter boat registered on the Island and enquiries can be made at the co-op office. All the information here is based on actual angling experience, both shore and small boat, over a few years. Permission to cross-land should always be obtained first and again enquiries can be made at the island Co-Op office or through their website.

Shore fishing general:

The island has mainly rock fishing and the angler is casting into rock crevices with kelp fringing most areas. The north of the island is quite shallow with low water depths of 5-6 meters. The east and south of the Island is much deeper with depths up to 30 meters. The only true sandy area is South Harbor, but even this is fringed with crevices and can be up to 7 meters deep.

Shore Species:

The main shore species around Cape are Pollack, Coalfish, Conger eel, Wrasse and Dogfish. Other species that can be encountered are Huss, Mackerel, Garfish, Mullet, Smooth hound, Cod, whiting and Rockling.

Boat fishing general:

The boat fishing information will refer to areas up to 1km from Cape Clear and no further. Fishing can be over rock, shell, sand or shingle as the severe tides in this area provide a huge variety of boat angling opportunities. Species encountered will be the same as shore angling with a few additions. Once again, due to the nature of an Island sheltered water can be found with productive fishing. You must ensure that all safety measures are taken prior to venturing out and beware of the large number of rocks that are to be found in the area, particularly on the north side of the island The locals will help in identifying local marks and hazards.

The Gascanane:

This refers to the channel between Cape Clear and Sherkin Island and is found on the eastern end of the Island. The area has very strong tides and has deep water close in. Take the eastern road past the church and continue straight on until you drive down towards a slipway with Sherkin straight across from you. The area you are in is called 'Comalaun'. Fishing is from the first point to the left of the slip. Alternatively walk over the hill to the left. Walk along the knee high stone wall until you come to a small style in the wall. Cross the wall and head straight down, carefully, until your standing beside a gully. With care the other side of the gully can also be accessed. There is also another fishing point some 200 yards further north but this has even more of a scramble to it.

From May through to October this area fishes very well for Pollack, Wrasse, Mackerel, Coalfish, Dogfish and Conger. Pollack over 101b have been taken here. Best baits are german sprat, sandeel, leadheads and eddystone eels. A cast of 70 yards will get you past the rock onto shell for Dogfish and other species if you try baits. Drop into the gully for wrasse which grow large in this area also with 31b fish being common. The kelp beds do not extend out too far as the water gets deep quite quickly.

Poul Dirk;

This area is quite close to the Gascannane but is located on the south side of the Island. Be warned that there is quite a walk to get to this mark but the variety of fishing here makes to walk well worth it. Heads towards the eastern side of the Island but instead of taking the last road straight on to towards Sherkin, take the uphill road and park somewhere around the top of that road. You are facing a peak to your left with a saddle­back pass. Walk over the field and up to the saddle pass. Below you stretches away the Island to the south west. Keep away from the edge of the cliff as you walk down. The shore here is quite flat and rocky. There are areas of platform rock where it is quite

safe to fish from. The 'polldirk' gully to the left has wrasse and conger. Spinning will bring all the usual species and also garfish in late summer and autumn. This area is superb for bait fishing and you are likely to pick up anything. The bottom is rocky interspersed with sand. Rotten bottoms are not essential but fine wire hooks and strong line is recommended.

South Harbour:

This is a small bay in almost in the village itself. Walk up the hill away from the ferry past Kieran Danny Mikes bar and follow the road around to the left. Below you is South Habour Its a shallow sandy bay and fishing is from below the road, halfway between the bar and the Hostel, or near the old pier, on the left side of the bay as you look south. A 50 yard cast will put you onto sand and the best fishing here is with bait. Spinning can be okay as it gets dark but with its lack of rock, it does not attract many pollack. Night fishing here is superb for dogfish and occasional whiting, cod and smooth-hound later in the year.

North Harbour:

Fishing from the ferry pier, on the inside where all the lobster boats tie up, can be very good for conger eel during the end of the summer and early autumn. Occasional wrasse can also be caught, with a suitable tide, and there are plenty of mullet there also. Walking round to the old pier or the former ‘Bulls Nose’ area can access deeper water. By casting out into the ferry channel dogfish, pollack, conger and bullhuss can be caught along with wrasse and other smaller species. Best fishing is to be had in the evening when boat traffic has quietened down. The bottom is quite clean here but strong line is recommended.

The rest of the Island:

There is no shore fishing to be had from west of the pier around to the southernmost point, which is known for its whale spotting and bird watching. The shore is just too steep and dangerous. There is some shore fishing available from the westernmost point of south harbour to the southernmost point of the island. Fishing here is similar to 'pouldirk' however, access over land is restricted and permission must be sought. Once again the co-op office will give advice.

Boat fishing Marks:

North Harbour to the Gascanne:

The bottom here is muddy shell from the harbor to close to Bird Island. Bird Island is the 200-yard long rock just out from the fish farm. After that the bottom gets very rocky. Depth is from 15 meters over shell to 2 meters over rock. Be careful of reefs in this area. A drift from 500 yards west of Bird Island, with baits, up towards the island, can produce small cod, pollack, whiting and gurnard. Over the reefs use jigs or lures there are pollack and coalfish. There are also plenty of wrasse if you fish for them. In the Gascanne there are plenty of places for big pollack and lure fishing in the strong tidal currents can be very productive. Again depths go from very shallow to 30 metres deep. Beware of the very strong tidal currents in this area.

Gascanne to South Harbour:

The area can produce very good pollack close to the shore and further out mixed fishing over broken ground. Flatfish and Ray can be caught here and very good flatfish can be had in the mouth of south harbour. Try a drift with a southerly breeze from outside south harbour Alternatively anchor down and fish light with a mixture of baits.

South Harbour to Western point of Cape:

This area is rocky and good for pollack and other rock loving fish. The tidal currents can be severe in this area especially near the western point of cape where large waves can be generated with the wrong wind battling the tide, so extra care is needed.

Western point of cape to North Harbour:

This is a grreat area for boat fishing. Along the cliffs from the western point of Cape to the castle rums provides a very good mixture of fishing The depth of the area can be up to 25 meters and the ground is broken with good outcrops of rock. Anything could be caught here with good pollack and Ling being the main targets. Good cod have also been caught along here with large huss and conger also being available. The best mark is 1 -200 yards out from the cliff and drifting from west to east, from the western tip of cape. Try half a mackerel flapper on a flowing trace for ling. Closer to the cliff can bring large wrasse and in good numbers. Drifting or anchoring will bring equally good fishing. From the castle to the harbour is much shallower and rockier and will bring mainly pollack, coalfish and wrasse.

This angling guide was originally prepared by Paul Casburn.



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