August 12, 2014 Last Updated 1:10 pm

* Rock Hopping!

There is nothing that Martin McGowan likes more that a decent session on the rocks....


near high tide marksent

For me there is no better kind of fishing then rock fishing. Rock fishing can throw up so many species of fish on any given day, and seldom lets me down. When planning for rock fishing it’s important to leave no stone unturned. This rock trip was not like your standard excursion. The venue we picked was a rock mark, which is accessible at low tide, and gets cut off from the mainland, when the tide floods in. That meant preparation was essential for our safety and an enjoyable trip.

We have fished this mark numerous times in the past at low tide, up to a point where we have to get off, but never over high tide. The exasperating thing was this mark gets better with the flood tide, every time we fished it. It was time for me to make a decision, and the decision was to fish the mark over high water a full twelve hour session.

from the islansentd

I started to plan out the session ahead. Along with all the tackle, food and equipment I needed, the weather was my biggest enemy. I needed the forecast to be on my side. If you where to rely on the TV forecast then I would not hold my breath, as they should just say “it will be a dry, wet, windy and sometimes chilly with the odd sunny spell” that would sound about right for the summer we get here, in Ireland.

One of the most important things when going fishing  to me is company so I got into the minds of some mates that I thought would be up for it.

Back to the planning! First thing was to fish the mark in daylight. This would give us a chance to suss out the mark over high water, and make sure it was safe. So we checked out the tide book for a suitable tide time which would suite us. We found it; low water was at 6.25am and high again at around 1pm. This would give us a great chance to explore, and fish the rock mark over high water during daylight hours. Next we needed to check the wind condition on the day. After checking some websites the day was to be calm, with very little wind. The websites we use also gives anglers the sea swells, – which happens to be very important when rock fishing. A couple of good websites out there, that can be fairly accurate when it comes to wind and sea swells, would be Wind Guru and another one called Magic Seaweed

That was the weather end of things sorted. Just to bring to your attention, while on the safety aspect of things, on average 150 people drown tragically in Ireland each year. This would be across the board lakes, rivers, farms and our seas.

A few key safety points to remember while rock fishing.

  • It’s important to let somebody know where you are going and to give them an estimated time of return.
  • Try not to go rock fishing alone if possible, 3 people is a good number. If one person gets injured, a second person can stay with them while the third person seeks help. On the bright side, it will give you someone to chat with.
  • Always bring a mobile phone with you, making sure the battery is charged.
  • Foot wear is very important, try and where non-slip soles if possible. These will aid you over slippery rocks and seaweed and support your ankles while travelling over sharp uneven rocks.
  • Wear lightweight, breathable comfortable garments.
  • It is very important to have an understanding of the area where you are fishing, (observe first, fish and later) spend some time watching your intended spot before fishing to give yourself an idea of the swells/waves cycle.
  • If you have a life jacket wear it. Lifejackets today can be near weightless. I am on the lookout for a new one.
  • Also never turn your back to the sea.

They are just some tips that we go by when rock fishing, and they have made all our trips enjoyable, to be honest, accidents hurt — safety doesn’t.


result from a rock mark 2

The morning of our trip arrived, 5:30am alarm clock “beep beep” out of bed, having the lunch made from the night before is always a plus. Gear loaded, quite a bit I must say, after all it is a 12 hour session. First step on route was to meet up with the rest of the crew. John Sheehan’s house was the meeting point; there I met up with John Aidan, and Clive Ivory who is from Dublin and I must point out, half a Kerry man, as he spends lots of time with us here in Kerry! So I explained to them our planes to fish a rock mark over high tide and that it would be a 12 hour session. They cherished the idea, they where well up for it, so the Island we where bound.

shallow feeder

We had around a 15 minute hike to the rock mark, from our car. With all the gear we had with us, it was time to shed a few calories. We got onto the rock for 7am via a reef that gets exposed at low water. What a morning, blues sky believe it or not! Not a puff of wind, and the sea like glass, it was like we were in the Med somewhere. The view was so picturesque we just spent the first 15 minutes gazing around at the scenery, and watching the gannets diving for their breakfast, breath-taking.

John O Connor close up

The main reason for this fishing trip was to see what predators would be lurking around this mark over high water. Not done it before, we were quite excited at the prospects that lay ahead. This was going to be 12 hours of lure fishing, so we brought a vast range of both soft and hard lures along with us. Our target species for the day was bass, pollock and wrasse; any other species would be a bonus. John and Aidan started fishing the West side and I and Clive fished the South facing side which was still in the shade of the morning sun. Right from the start we were all getting some action, small bass and Pollock. This would be the norm for this mark around this stage of the tide. We fished away for around two hours on the flood tide. John then happened to say “guys this is normally the time we would have to be making our way back before we got cut off by the tide”. Just as the words left his mouth, his fishing rod takes a bang “wow guy’s good fish on here” he was spot on with his comment. After a nice scrap using a Tubertini Dorado 2-7 meter 10-30g rod, with a Shimano Catana 4000fb spinning reel, loaded with 20lb Nanofil, up to the surface comes a fine Pollock of 7lb. The lure John was using was a soft plastic Sandeel. This laid the platform for a great day out, hopes were high. Next to get in on some real action was Clive who was using a SG prey 110 French Bone. Not a bad lure, but the hooks need to be a better quality. Clive had the first good bass of the day, a nice bar of silver of around 4-5lb.

Sean Palmer


The route we normally take on and of the rock was now covered over by the flood tide. It was from this point we hoped things would get really interesting, and it did.
The bigger fish started to show, the four of us where now fishing the west side of the rock. The choice to give this mark the full 12 hours was about to become rewarding. While we kept on landing and returning schoolie bass, and handy size Pollock, I got a take, a good hard hit. I knew it was a better fish, after a good battle I landed a nice bass of around the 5-6 pound mark on a Feed shallow pearl #14. While I was landing my bass Aidan O Sullivan was into another good bass. So as I was returning mine Aidan was landing his bass of around 6lb, fantastic. The bass frenzy lasted roughly another hour with two anglers often landing bass at the same time. I decided to change my tactics and try some soft plastics, and hooked up a SG Sandeel slug weedless style. I fished it in close to the rocks, hope in to temp any ballan wrasse that may be on the feed. It was great fun watching them following the lure up to the surface, until BANG! My lure got smashed a cracker, line screaming of the reel down it went. Time to show the fish who was boss, and guess what, it wasn’t me, ping up flies the line, “flipping knots” I screamed out. I could not believe it, gutted was the word to describe the way I felt. To make it worse it was not the knot that gave way, but the quick release swivel that I was using for the lures, it got straightened out, by the utter force of the fish.

a lure anglers dream

I won’t be doing that again, and just to rub some more salt in my wounds Clive goes and lands a wrasse of around 4lb on a Toby lure. Time for the lunch I said to myself, so it was on with the frying pan. After some bacon and sausages, we fished away for the rest of the day picking up some mackerel for supper. It did turn a little over cast as the day went on but the fishing never stopped. We had periods of the tide in the day that fished better for bass and Pollock, with some wrasse for good measures. So all in all it was a very fruitful days fishing, and one that will have to be repeated for a second time. So all the planning and safety measures we put in place paid off.

Fancy fishing with Martin Mc Gowan and crew, call me on 087-3152516 or check me out on Facebook Leave a message I will get back to you….

Savage Gear Sandeel green sent

grubs upsent



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