Saturday, April 19, 2014

Light Lines 2014...the conclusion.

The Light Line series for 2014 concluded last Sunday, 13th April and what a tight finish it turned out to be. Paddy Swan from Wicklow Bay SAC had been leading from the first competition way back in November. However, he was shadowed all the way and on the last day the champion could have come from anyone of three. Aswell as Paddy, Davy McCormick, Millisle SAC, and Pat Condon, Carrigaline SAC, were also in contention.

The It all started last November. On what was a great day's fishing Paddy Swan triumphed. A total of 2,965 fish were caught between 30 anglers. The vast majority of fish were whiting and they were of good stamp too! Many were around the 1.5lb mark, with quite a few over 2lbs, and one or two touching 3lbs. Paddy had a total of 186 fish and was followed in second place by Pat Condon with 160 fish and Michael Barry in third with 141 fish. Michael Barry had a stonker of a plaice that was the highlight of the day!

The December competition, unfortunately, was cancelled. By the second week in December the start of a severe run of storms had begun, a run that we won't forget Winter 2013 for in a hurry! Luckily, there was a break in the weather for the Irish Boat Teams fundraiser over the Xmas holidays. Over 60 anglers fished the event. One of the boats fished offshore on the Smiths but the majority fished in Deep Hole within the harbour. They were rewarded. The harbour mark yielded plenty of fish with many dabs upto 36cm (almost specimen size), whiting to 46cm, coalfish to 46cm, along with codling, flounder, plaice and an assortment of others.

On the Cuan Bawn angler John Angles from Castletownbere thought he was into a big ray when he played out a fish for 15 minutes. Indeed, the area of 'Deep Hole' that they were fishing was a ray mark of old. Unfortunately, for John the line parted. John was using 15lb breaking strain. Shortly, after Pat O'Shea, Cobh SAC, was into another large fish. This time the fish was brought to the surface and the culprit was revealed. It was a large conger. While it thrashed on the surface the skipper tried to net it, but, unfortunately, it broke the hook - a size 6!!! However, after that several anglers hooked into congers and in all 6 were landed upto 25lbs in weight; all on small hooks and slivers of mackeral intended for dabs and whiting.

It is indeed known for conger eels to venture off the Harbour Rock and venture into the Turbot Bank after storms but for them to come so far in over clean ground is unusual.

The light lines got back on track in January and luckily there was another break in the horrendous weather. In fact it hadn't rained for a number of days before the comp and that did help. The numbers of fish were down, though, with 705 fish caught in total. The size of fish was also down and the whiting and dabs were much smaller than previous comps. Paddy Swan kept up his winning ways coming out on top, followed closely by Pat Condon, Davy McCormick and Pat Wright.

The less said about the February comp the better. The fishing was the toughest in the history of the series. No doubt the mid-week storm before hand and the days of rain leading upto the day had a significant bearing. The fishing was appalling. Nevertheless, Paddy Swan won out again with 19 fish. Closely, followed by Davy McCormick and Danny Cannon. A total of 158 fish were caught between the 3 boats. In some of the previous comps that number wouldn't even be enough to win it. One boat had only a total of 19 fish. Pat O'Shea, the 2013 champion, had no fish at all!!!

Things came back to normal, somewhat, for the March comp. A total of 1,946 fish were caught between the 31 anglers giving an average of 63 fish per angler. This time Davy McCormick won out, with the other boat winners being Pat Condon, Roy Kearney, and Pat O'Shea. This set things up nicely for the last competition in the series. With Paddy Swan leading the field he could only be caught by two others; Davy McCormick and Pat Condon. It was down to the wire on the last day!

....and so the pressure was on. A hearty group of anglers from Wicklow and Dublin travelled to lend their support to Paddy's cause. The three leading anglers were placed in Lagosta II to slug it out. With them were some able local anglers who'd give them some stiff competition. As it turned out the fishing was good on a glorious day that was more reminiscent of summer rather than winter. A total of 1,986 fish were caught between the 27 anglers giving an average of 64 fish per angler. These were mainly whiting and dabs but there were a few plaice and flounder scattered in amongst them. Winner on the day was Terry Boyle of Dublin, followed by Martin Kennedy, Danny Kane, and Dave Jolly. Indeed, both Danny Kane and Pat O'Shea had up-scuttled things slightly on the Lagosta by scoring so highly. However, Paddy Swan had come in at 5th place which was enough to secure him the overall winner's spot. Well done Paddy Swan - Cork Harbour Light Lines Champion 2014!!!

Many thanks to Ger Keohane, skipper of the Naomh Cartha, who sponsors the overall Light Lines Trophy. Thanks must also go to the other skippers who also sponsored prizes; Donie Geary of the John Boy, Alan Kennedy of the Lagosta II, and Joe Lynch of the Wreck Hunter II. In fairness these skippers have always put us on the fish and we would recommend them to any angler or group who would like to fish the grounds in Cork Harbour and off shore.