The Lure Forums banner

Wexford 2008

1719 Views 21 Replies 12 Participants Last post by  Tom H
This is the report from a guided trip a few of us had with Jim Hendrick of SEAi in 2008 ... its written by my good friend Pat Boyle, bit of lure fishing included, but still its good reading ...enjoy


Usually, one might expect a report to have a beginning, a middle and some sort of an ending. Those familiar with the site will recall that in the early part of last year Andy, Marty and I took casting lessons from Jim Hendrick at SEAi and got all sorts of other useful advice. If you want to consider that the 'start' of this report, you'll find a link to it here shortly. Again, those following the site will have gathered that Andy, Gerry and I have picked up or been taught a bit of fly-tying. This report has a beginning of sorts, as above, a middle, but no end in sight. Read along and you'll understand.

After our last visit with Jim, Andy and I resolved to return this year for a spot of guided bass fishing and in due course set a date and settled out to wait for the appointed date, roping Gerry into the team along the way. Finally, August 3rd 2008 saw us arrive at Jim's place. I'd ridden down with Gerry and Andy arrived shortly after, to a warm welcome from Jim who promptly got us installed in his excellent accommodation which was thoughtfully provisioned with the makings of tea, coffee, breakfast cereals, fruit and other stuff. Also provided were a selection of books, DVDs and magazines - in short, all your angling comforts provided for.

The weather in the preceding days had not been great but seemed to be offering slightly better prospects for the coming days. Jim had given me a buzz before we came down and said he was off for a drive checking out marks and called again later to say it looked like we might scrape through. A relaxed Sunday evening was spent reviewing the plan for the following day and possibly drinking (responsibly - if responsibly means drinking what looked like the contents of a snow-globe from a bottle labelled in Cyrillic script and which refused to solidify in a deep-freeze) and 7am saw three possibly slightly bleary-eyed anglers head for mark number one. Jim drives you to the marks as a matter of course and he'd wisely avoided drinking what was probably Bulgarian anti-freeze the night before.

The first morning session was tough going, with both Gerry blanking on surface plugs while Andy and I blanked on the fly. Not an auspicious beginning but it cleared the cobwebs. There's not a lot to say about a blank, except that things can only get better and that faith has it's rewards - in time. The afternoon session was at another mark, having returned to base for lunch and an hours sleep. Believe me, there seemed to be a lot of hiking being done and rest was badly needed. As the week sped by in a blur, sleep and food became ever more important. If you fish with Jim, believe me, it'll test you. he afternoon ended with Andy racking up five bass to five pounds on his self-tied flatwings - his first bass on the fly, Gerry with two bass to eight pounds on surface lures (personal best for him, to my knowledge) and myself with two bass to six pounds (a new personal best), again on surface lures. At one point, I saw a bass leap like a salmon clear of the water in a perfect arc not twenty yards from where I stood. It was one of those moments where you blink and go to yourself 'did I really just see that?' That's one moment that wasn't captured on camera but will be indelibly imprinted on my memory for life.

Minutes later, I saw another bass slash at my lure literally under the rod tip in broad daylight. Both my other fish came at distance and while Gerry and I were reasonably close together, Andy was some distance down the shore. I noticed Jim had an uncanny knack of appearing, ghost-like, at your elbow as soon as you had
a fish on, camera and forceps at the ready - regardless of how far away he was when you last noticed him moments before.

Jim spent a considerable time showing us (particularly Gerry and I) bits and pieces of watercraft and how to work the lures effectively and exactly where to work them. Nine bass for the afternoon session in total put a much more cheerful perspective on things. Andy may have mentioned that evening that he caught five (5!!!) bass on the fly, just once or twice. Gerry and I resolved to suffocate him in his bed.

Tuesday morning proved another tough session, with only Andy taking two bass to the fly. However, by then even the most sceptical would have been hard pushed not to trust Jim's instincts. Back to base, lunch (and a quick trip to local tackle shop where I failed to find a replacement for the Super-Spook I 'lost' on Jim the night before and where Gerry got a new set of waders), sleep, back to another mark. And this is where faith has it's rewards. I'll tell my bit, and I'll let the others speak for to say Andy was on the fly again, while Gerry and I were on lures, I opted to test an Aillie Mag I bought earlier.

Andy wandered off to a likely looking spot (downwind, and he claims we abandoned him), while Jim led Gerry and I some distance away to two other spots, saw us set up, gave some advice and returned to where he could keep an eye on us all. He didn't get to sit for long, or didn't seem to - that afternoon is a blur for me with only a series of snapshot memories. We could have been on that mark for an hour of five hours - it was mind-blowing stuff. We may have 'only' got 4 fish between us but I think it's safe to say, if we never fished again, we could retire happily on the memories of that afternoon.

I was first into a fish, I think. As I retrieved my surface lure, I saw a bow-wave of water surge behind it and a bass slashed viciously with it's gill rakers three times, side to side. Shock, instinct or maybe Jim's training stopped my retrieve for a few seconds. I snapped out of it, having been stunned - literally - by the sheer speed and ferociousness of the attack and twitched my lure, only to have the bass slam down on the lure from the side where it had obviously circled off to see if the 'prey' was stunned. I played the fish on a fairly tight clutch, conscious of submerged rocks to either side and quite quickly had it at the edge of the rock where I intended to hold it until Jim arrived - but he was already at my elbow. I let an incoming swell lift the bass onto the ledge where Jim expertly subdued it and unhooked it, having de-barbed my trebles earlier. A few quick pictures and an estimate of seven pounds and the fish was returned, apparently none the worse for having fallen to the world's most inexperienced lure angler but having given him his second personal best in as many days.

Meanwhile, further along the shore, another drama was unfolding and if rock-hopping at speed were an Olympic event, Jim'd have a gold medal for it. In fact, he could probably have gone back and gotten silver and bronze as well... I'll let Andy take up the story here. Apparently, this is where he discovers religion and the possible value of deodourant...

You'se all fecked off and left me! I had a shower that day so I thought it must have been the waders - God they stank. Anyway, I was fishing the mouth of a small bay in the classic fish searching pattern, I had one hit but no hook up. Moving with the tide to the next rocky point , I noticed a boulder with waves breaking over it maybe 40 yards out, there's no way I could have got near it from where I was standing... but... the next fishing point along would allow me to get close to it.

I continued fishing where I was again in the classic fish searching pattern, but I had no hits, so I moved to the next mark. I have to admit I was knackered and before I started to fish I sat down and had a smoke, watching the waves breaking over the boulder. Don't ask me how but I knew there was a fish behind that rock as it was probably a 30 yd cast to get the fly out there and my casting had gone to hell, maybe because I was tired, maybe because of the excitement of finally getting a chance to fish bass country with the fly - I dunno. I had a few casts out towards it probably landing 5-6 yards shy of the rock. What I wanted was to get behind it and allow the fly to be carried in on the waves then strip like hell, thus allowing the fly to swim around the back of the boulder.

Now, you don't need strength to cast a fly - you need technique and timing. Mine had left me, so I waited for a lull in the wind and used brute force and ignorance (something I'm good at) to get the fly out. I think the Bass Gods were looking down 'cause it went and went and went and landed - perfectly. I watched the waves carry it in close and then stripped - it came round the rock and bang! Fish on.

I've caught a double figure bass before on bait and I have to say it wasn't a great scrap, more like hauling a big lump of weed through the surf. This, however, was different, the rod bent over, the drag screaming in protest as the fish ran, straight out to sea. Really there's not a lot you can do when a big fish takes your fly but praying it doesn't throw the hook is a good plan. I think I sold my soul several times during that scrap. I was in awe at the power of this fish - I couldn't hold him. Bear in mind during this fight I'm also trying to attract the attention of Olympic rock-hurdling gold medalist Mr. Hendrick, so I'm whistling, shouting, swearing (as in terminal Tourettes Syndrome), waving, etc, etc, trying to get their attention, and trying to land this bloody fish at the same time. Finally, I don't know if it was Pat or Jim but someone saw me and an arm went up to acknowledge me.

Back to the fish, I got it turned and was reeling like mad as it was now swimming towards me when I saw it was heading straight back to the bloody rock. I had visions of the leader getting snagged or abraded etc and losing it. I stepped a few paces to my right and applied pressure but he kept going I couldn't get him away from it and behind the rock he went. Further panic and swearing, possibly - but what to do?

Keeping the rod as high as I could I applied pressure. He came up and up and then a wave carried him over the rock (at this stage I found religion, and can be found every Sunday in my local tabernacle singing praise to the Lord). He had fought tooth and nail every inch of the way in, but in he came and as I let a wave take him up onto the rock where I was standing and I looked down on this magnificent creature, I was speechless (makes a change).

We did the photograph thing and returned him to the depths. What else can I say... it was an awesome experience, something I'll never forget. Its been a few weeks now since our trip and looking at the photographs all I can do is smile and wonder what next year's trip will bring.

No time seemed to have passed before Jim returned until Gerry had a fish on. Again, Jim was on hand in seconds, and if he flew at Andy, he wasted less time, if such is possible, in getting to Gerry. I lurched after him. When Jim moves that fast, whatever he's running at has to be worth a look. Seriously. This is Gerry's story...

It's incredibly easy to be a stupid angler. Go away far out of your way, spend wads of your hard-earned getting there and employing a professional to help you get fish, then ignore what he says, thinking you know better yourself. I know, I've done it often enough myself. And in the past year, I've had anglers come to me on the trout lake looking for advice. I tell them, they look me in the eye and agree, then go do something completely different if they don't immediately start catching...... stupidity, sheer stupidity.

So, this time around, I was determined to do exactly what I was told. No solo runs, no mods, no tricks of my own. Just do what I was told. Should be easy, eh?

Before we started fishing, Jim loaned me a reel loaded with braid. "Drag's a bit tight, Jim", says I. "Yup", says he, "When you've got a big fish on, you don't want him screaming off on you". I noted a couple of points on this exchange: He's expecting big fish, and wouldn't it be simple to fiddle with the drag, adjusting it as necessary....

But, in the spirit of doing what I was told, I resolved to leave the drag alone.

The first session was a bust. That happens, though it did rack up the pressure for the start of the next session. I was off on the right flank, 3rd or 4th cast and bang! A lovely Bass took the surface popper 20 yards out. Estimated 3 to 4 lbs and all the pressure was off. It's always good to get the first fish, there's bragging rights attached.

Change of mark for the second part of the session and an 8lb Bass hits the lure and makes off in the tide. A canny fish that knew how to use the run of tide to help him. A beauty of a fish, and a PB. Meanwhile, Andy and Pat were catching. This was turning out to be a fantastic session. Another fish hit my lure, hung for 30 seconds and came free. Fish gone.

Thinking about it afterwards, I'm convinced that I could have landed that fish if I had adjusted the drag whilst he was hanging. He was, I reckon, a fish of about 6 lbs. Too heavy to winch in, not heavy enough to take line from a tight drag. Had I slackened the drag a mite, he could have run and I'd have beaten him. But I was determined not to second-guess instructions. So that was that. However, it all jelled the following day - the reason why you do what you're told.

Jim directed me to a place that looked to me, frankly, just like every other bit of coastline. "You'll get your specimen here," says he. "Fish it in that direction, or in that direction. There'll be a fish on either lay." Retrieving the 5th cast, I looked down at the lure just as I was lifting it out of the water, just as the Bass hit it. Right in front of me, practically under my feet. And despite the tight drag, it zipped line from the reel whilst a wave carried it back towards me. A quick winding by me, another crash dive by the Bass, another wave rolled in and carried the fish onto the sloping shelf of rock I was standing on. A couple of smart-ish steps backwards by me, the wave washed out and there he was at my feet - my specimen Bass.

Pat measured him on the UKBass tape: 80 cms from tip of snout to end of tail. 11.5 lbs of very, very lively Bass, not at all exhausted after a 20 second fight. I struggled to hold him for the photos. He later made "Catch of the Week" fish on the Central Fisheries Board website.

After that, I stopped fishing. It was enough for me. I wanted to savour the moment. So Pat went and caught the 2nd Bass that Jim said was there. I think it took him all of 3 or 4 casts to hook into him.

So, lesson proven and learnt. Do what you're told. Don't try your own thing. Don't go fiddling, thinking you know better. You don't. Had I changed the drag
on that reel, that Bass would have been gone. Who knows if I'd have recovered him?

As for next year, Andy seemed to rate catching specimen Bass on the fly. I'll have to try that. And I'll be doing what I'm told, again.

Having returned another lunker, Gerry lay stunned against the rocks looking like a man who really regretted having given up smoking the year before. Jim put Andy's fish on a par with Gerry's, which a BASS tape measure showed to be all of 80cm and 11.5lbs. Considering the general condition of the fish, which was superb, it may have been more. But so long as it broke the magical double figure, I don't think any of us cared. I pointed out that his hours-old waders now had a small rip in the knee - he didn't seem concerned. It's possible he was in shock. I knew the feeling. I think Andy could sympathise. Jim, not normally excitable beyond a point, may have been ecstatic.

After a brief breather, Jim pointed out that Gerry's fish probably patrolled a certain area and if I edged out a few yards to the right on a ledge where the water was boiling white (beyond my personal comfort zone, but if Jim said to do it, I trusted him, surf to my knees and a cliff to my back or not....), another fish probably lay. I picked up Gerry's rod and in the space of three or perhaps four casts, with Jim urging each cast to be closer in to the rock face, I pulled out another fish, probably four pounds or so. Proof positive, if there was still an unbeliever left, that Jim undoubtedly knows his stuff. Oh, and Jim knows where much bigger fish hang out.

Here is my tip for employing a guide, a good one anyway. Do exactly what he says, without question. By all means, ask questions, but never question the judgement of the guide. I think if you might be inclined to take advice like that with a pinch of salt, have a re-think or save your money.

Just to add a little light humour here, while walking back from that mark, the path led around the top of a small cliff - maybe 20 feet high. Bounding the cliff was a fence (a single strand of bull-wire about waist high) which it didn't take an electrician to figure out might be electrified - at least by times - as Jim advised. With Jim in the lead, Gerry following, I next and Andy taking up the rear, Jim decided it safest to duck under the wire and walk in a bit from the cliff. Jim deftly ducked under, followed by myself (a veteran of electric shocks and in no mood for another, I got enough in my last job).

Gerry, hefty lad that he is, may have misjudged either the height of the wire, his own size or maybe both. Suffice to say, being soaked in salt water which is an excellent electrolyte, Gerry got the full benefit. From behind him as he lay roaring on the grass, I gestured frantically to Jim to get a picture and when Gerry turned to see why Jim was laughing at me, he indicated the camera was buried in his backpack and wouldn't get it out in time.

While it would have made a brilliant picture, three personal bests, two specimen fish and the memory of one electrocuted angler is not to be sneezed at

Wednesday, day three of the most amazing three days of my angling life, and the last day of our trip, proved tough. The weather had never been good, but Jim worked around that to produce some stellar results. The morning session, never the most productive for whatever reason, was blown out. Unfishable on all counts - anywhere. However, Jim elected to show us a very special place - perhaps knowing by then, if he didn't before, that it was somewhere that would appeal to us on a deep level. Without wanting to sound too Zen about it, he showed us where most if not all of the southern and eastern stock of bass were spawned and for me it was an almost spiritual experience to stand and gaze over what is effectively the cradle of creation of Irish bass fishing. I'm going to have to think long and hard about this, and why that site is not a designated heritage area etc so that it can be protected by more than the SFPA. And possibly, what I can do about it.

Conditions in the afternoon were a bit better and we fished low tide up in an estuary. Gerry fished lures, Andy and I electing to try the fly. We could see fish feeding on the surface - most probably the bulk of which were small mullet, in my estimation. Jim advised small shrimp patterns, but despite trying just about everything in my considerable armoury and at one point casting on my knees from holes in the sand with ninja-like stealth, I could not induce a take, even a follow. After a bit, I decided stealth was useless and waded waist-deep in the estuary. I had fish turning within yards of me, and spotted at least one as a sea-trout. Selecting a Baltic Special, I did induce one follow, but no take.

Gerry was plugging, Andy was on the fly, but none of us hooked up. As we left that mark, Jim observed that it could take years of experimentation to be able to crack that mark in those conditions. I pondered aloud if it might be considered unsporting to spear the buggers with my fly rod, so close were the turning to me. With a laugh, Jim responded 'only in some circles'.

Jim'll doubtless have it cracked by the end of the summer and I can't help but wonder if his calling today asking for some of my mullet flies mightn't have something to do with that.....(yes, the only ones I DIDN'T try.....and which he had remarked upon days before - should I have listened harder??? Let me put it like this - if Jim speaks, listen. It may not be relevant today, or tomorrow, but some day ......and upon that day, forget his comment at your peril....Jim never makes frivolous remarks about angling or related topics. I KNOW this, yet I still make fundamental mistakes - doh! - But just once....).

Anyway, to make a long story even longer, we stayed the Wednesday night with Jim and set off about lunchtime for the drive home - Andy was staying another day or so to see if he could Yak a bass. Or maybe a gilthead, or some smoothies. Gerry and I got about 20 Km north of Wexford town when his car made an ominous thumping noise. Pulling onto the hard shoulder, I noticed the noise continued when stationary with the engine running and figured we had maybe split a belt or something (Turned out to be a lot worse). As we waited for a towtruck, bonnet up, Gerry commented that it could have been worse - it could have happened on the way down and he might have missed his specimen bass. Angling mentality or what?

Despite all the challenges, we ended up with 15 bass, 2 specimens, 3 personal bests and memories to last a lifetime. I think the Tuesday afternoon session was one of those rare red-letter days, not just for us, but for Jim as well. As I say, this story has a beginning, a middle, and no end. Tune in next year, about the same time, for further adventures with Jim &'ll find a link appear here about then. In the meantime, we three have a year of advice to digest, memories to re-live and dreams to fulfil. Four of us are enriched by the experience

The words are our own and the pics come courtesy of Jim. With thanks from us.


All fish were returned
See less See more
1 - 20 of 22 Posts

What a thread :wackit: Will be back to read it in more detail tomorrow, I bought a fly rod and all the bits for a xmas pressi last year but have not used it yet :idea: i think it will be comming out of it's case after all I am reading on this section. Well done and keep it comming :jump:
Great thread.

If that doesn't inspire people, nothing will.
Super post and as Keith says, very inspirational. Used to do a fair bit of FF but I am now so far behind the SWFF curve it is not true. Some basic guidance would be useful, eg choice of lines is a minefield. Shooting head or not?
I think Keith would be the man to write a SWFF guide

On the front page of the old Jersey casting club site there was loads of articles he wrote which were very informative
I could do a googans guide to SWFF.

Trouble is, it is often seen to be more technical than plugging.
I get accused of making that too complicated and fly fishing demands
more angler skill than does plugging.

Sorry 'plugging' guys but it does.
It's a whole new world of fun.
myfish said:
I could do a googans guide to SWFF.

Trouble is, it is often seen to be more technical than plugging.
I get accused of making that too complicated and fly fishing demands
more angler skill than does plugging.

Sorry 'plugging' guys but it does.
It's a whole new world of fun.
Teach us then Keith :horsesword: Teach us, I know how technical it can be as I fished on rivers for many years for wild brown trout and fly fishing in the sea will have its own technical aspect, we are here to learn :?:
After that trip .I sold all my beach casters, reels . plugging rods, plugs terminal tackle .. the lot
All my fishing now is fly fishing salt and freshwater
What a red letter report, truly inspirational
fantastic report well done needless to say you will be back... :clap: :clap: :clap:
  • Like
Reactions: 2
Fantastic report Andy - fantastic results too!

I got hooked into bass swff'ing late 2008 and had limited success last year ...

Jim H reckons it is a 3 yr journey;
yr1 is getting to grips and learning to cast
yr2 is getting the feel for it
yr3 you get profficient and the journey is complete!

I had alot of tiddlers last year - nothing over 2lbs on the fly but I have the kayak primed for 2010 which is an advantage over my shore based antics ...
Jim H is right.

The learning curve IS steep.


Once learned, it transposes to ALL your fishing.
Anyone with river fly experience has a massive advantage imho. Stillwater buzzer
men too but not so much the long distance casters.

I know that statement sounds contrary to popular belief but, imho, presentation
at closer range is preferable to crap presentation at range with a misguided cast.

Just my opinions lads. No offence intended and yes, there are times a long, long cast is
needed. But, you still need presentation. That is the KEY.

One fish on the fly is worth 6 on plug imho. I often sacrifice numbers of fish to
catch the harder fish. It's where it's at for me.

I'll put some stuff together for the forum which may help the neophyte fly anglers
but watercraft is still the same as in Kevin's 'googans' guide.

Things like fly selection, casting, where to cast, how to approach fish at very close
range, night flycasting, spey casting for bass and loads more hasn't been covered on here
so we'll look into that stuff first i think.
See less See more
Will look forward to this.
I know its more than just about casting, but my thoughts on this re your "angling skill" comment are that the crucial difference is anyone who can fish can be reasonably expected to cast a plug well enough straight from the off to be in with a reasonable shout of catching, however casting a flyline well enough in the kind of conditions you get on the coast can be an infuriatingly dificult thing to do from the off, even if you have an experienced casting guide stood by your side.
I've been there myself in a bit of a breeze and have ended up thrashing the water in despair like an irate Basil Fawlty and his temperamental Austin 1300 on the infamous duck delivery run for Gourmet Night.
Don't think theres much Jim H doesnt know about catching large bass on the fly and his 3 year learning curve looks reasonable to me. I must try and do a bit of this this year, cos I have all the gear but no idea. To get to the end of year one by November would be an achievement.

Andy, thats a great write-up of a trip where everything came together perfectly. If only it was like that every time eh?
See less See more
Yeah if only every trip was like that ..

The casting comes with practice ... Myself and Marty H were in Wexford during the summer .. but the weather gods were against us

It blew a gale and the water was like chocolate milk... unfishable .. but we did we have a casting comp in the garden .

Interesting trying to throw a big fly into a gale .. but we both managed to get 20yds consistently and quite a few at the 25 mark .. he did get one beyond that and beat me .. but it was a fluke :D

Just keep practising mate... I use the local playing fields.. I do get quite a few strange looks and the occasional " caught anything yet " but as they say practice makes perfect
Cheers Andy - yes I will keep practising, now is the ideal time as I dont generally start fising till April.
Its a fair old drive down there for you from Belfast to look at a builders tea sea. At least you havent the pain of being committed to a ferry crossing when you are counting down the days and all you can do is keep the fingers crossed the conditions are going to be right for at least some of the time during your trip.
Did you go back to the same spots as 2008 or did you explore a bit? If you have a contact in the area its worth keeping in touch to save wasting all the effort, but you probably have that covered.
Yeah Its 220 odd mile . not good in a Defender 90 :D
I explored a lot Marty showed me a few new marks not a complete waste of time .
Pat and Gerry went back in September to fish with Jim... they only had one double figure fish tho ( my heart bleeds for them)
Cheers Andy.
Nice one. I find exploring by myself or with a mate really really satisfying - the trouble with being told about or shown a mark in good faith by a mate, (or a guide or book even), is if I am ever over there and struggling, then catching at, and tales of those known and proven marks get closer and closer to the front of my mind and interfear with making decisions on cutting new trails. I always find banking a good fish early on, is an absolute godsend, it takes the pressure off and allows clearer decisions to be made for proper exploration.
A really quality report - thanks again ;)
Andy Elliott said:
Interesting trying to throw a big fly into a gale .. but we both managed to get 20yds consistently and quite a few at the 25 mark .. he did get one beyond that and beat me .. but it was a fluke :D
LOL It was a fun day all the same, casting 10" flys on a 9# into 35knts of breeze is deff good praccy. Youll maybe hit the far wall next time ;)
Having spoken to Andy last night I read this report again... awesome... simply awesome!
1 - 20 of 22 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.