This is another episode of the podcast dedicated to sea angling. Our guest is James Raymond, the man behind the website Irish Angling Adventures. I had a great time talking with James about all things sea angling. As a seasoned angler myself, I could quickly tell that James is a hardcore sea angler like many of my friends. Yes, he is one of those folks who spend silly amounts of time on the shore chasing fish with a rod and line. And at Tommy’s Outdoors we love them for that! During our conversation, we discuss the secrecy of fishing marks, angling etiquette, overfishing, sea angling safety, and many other angling related issues. James also shares with us stories from his fishing trip to the Norwegian island of Vega. It is a great episode for hardcore anglers by hardcore anglers. And once you are done listening to the podcast, don’t forget to check out the Instagram page @irish_angling_adventures where you can find many inspiring angling photos.
I was sitting at my desk working when my phone rang. It was a text message from my friend and charter boat skipper Luke, who was our guest on episode 41. He had some spaces free on an upcoming fishing trip and was checking if anyone was fancy to go.
Regular listeners of the podcast already know that for more than five years I went crazy for sea angling. It would be hard to recall all the trips I took and all the fish I caught. However, for the last few years, I have been involved in other outdoor pursuits and my fishing rods have been gathering dust. Needless to say, I was keen to get back on the horse, or rather, on the boat. After a three-year-long hiatus, I wanted to remind myself how great sea angling is off the south-west coast of Ireland.
A typical boat fishing day starts on the pier where the anglers load their tackle and the skipper gives a safety briefing. Usually, the first order of business of the day is to catch some bait fish. Although the use of artificial lures is common, no bait works better than a strip of freshly caught mackerel. Early in the year catching mackerel may be a little problematic, so it’s always a good idea to read catch reports and have some frozen mackerel with you, just in case.
Once enough bait is caught the skipper heads off for more open waters. The most typical target species are fish from the gadiformes order. That includes pollock, coalfish, haddock, ling, pouting and whiting as well as cod. Of course, that list of species is far from exhaustive and anglers often catch various species of wrasse, gurnard and other fish. Fishing for sharks and rays is also possible but they need to be specifically targeted to increase the odds of catching them.
It is worth noting, that unless you are skippering the boat yourself, it is the skipper who does most of the work to catch the fish. It is his job to put the anglers on the fish. On our trip, the weather, although sunny and beautiful, was not favourable for angling. Light wind and calm conditions caused the boat to drift slowly, keeping us from covering a lot of ground. This made getting onto the fish more difficult.
It didn’t really affect us much though, as we were in very capable hands. It was a pleasure to watch our master-skipper at work! Luke tried a few promising marks from his vast collection of fishing spots. We fished deep muddy grounds, slightly shallower reefs and shallow rough ground close to the shore. It was not surprising that some of them were quite productive. In the end, every angler on the boat caught a good number of fish that day.
If you interested in booking a day out with Luke, visit Fish and Stay website and check his facebook page for regular fishing reports.
Some of you might remember Kuba from episode 12 of the podcast where we talked about his hand-made fishing lures. We ended that episode teasing about Kuba’s planned cycle through the Sahara desert to reach his bucket list fishing destination. Well, Kuba is back and in this episode we talk about that cycling and fishing adventure. It is really great to hear his stories from exotic countries. The cycle was also a fundraiser for aware.ie, a voluntary organization which aims to assist people whose lives are affected by depression. Please go and donate without hesitation!
A very special episode with a very special guest. Carrie Zylka is a fellow podcaster and also an avid hunter and angler. She hosts a number of podcasts but, for us, her Hunt Fish Travel podcast is especially interesting. Some of you might remember that I made an appearance on the Shark Week special of Carrie’s podcast. There are also other reasons why this podcast is special. It is the first episode of the Tommy’s Outdoors podcast recorded over the Internet and it is the first episode where my guest is an American. So it was a great occasion to talk about the specifics of hunting and fishing in the United States. We discuss the tag system, sheep hunting, anti-hunters, the issue of CWD in deer and many other topics. Also don’t forget to subscribe to her Hunt Fish Travel podcast!
It’s shark week! And it is no secret that I have a pretty intense, brief history as a shark angler. Some evidence of that can be found in the gallery and video sections on this website. So, I was stoked to be invited to the shark week edition of Carrie Zylka’s Hunt Fish Travel podcast. Go ahead and listen to Carrie and me talking about shark fishing in Ireland, shark tagging programs and shark conservation issues. Of course as a long standing member of The Shark Trust I couldn’t fail to mention this respectable charity which does so much great work for shark conservation.
The practice of catching a fish for sport, with rod and line, and then releasing it back to the water is known as Catch and Release. It has been discussed countless times in books, magazines, face to face conversations and on the Internet. Before writing this piece, I asked myself a question, “Does the world need another blog post about Catch and Release?”. My own approach to the practice has changed over time. That change has been due to personal experiences and to opinions expressed by respectable outdoorsmen. As a result, I decided to write about that change and hopefully challenge a few ossified opinions.
On many occasions, Catch and Release (C&R) is discussed from the perspective of an “ethical angler”. Proponents of the practice, quite often, unrelentingly criticize fellow anglers who take fish for the table. While I was certainly guilty of the latter, it was always my strong opinion, that C&R cannot stand on the grounds of ethics or morality. After all, we are sticking sharp hooks into a living creature and putting it through a torturous fight. Then, we remove the fish from the water and, while it is in a state of agony, we take photos of our grinning selves next to it. All that for our own enjoyment. Claiming moral high-ground for not killing it at the end is a bit hypocritical. C&R is purely a conservation measure, designed to protect fish as a renewable resource, while not completely denying anglers an opportunity to pursue their passion.
From the beginning of my journey as an angler, I could have been described as a hard-core C&R practicioner. It was because I realized that fish can be removed from the wild faster than they can reproduce. The evidence is easy to find. C&R was to me more of a matter of self interest than of ethics. I wanted to be sure that the fish would be there for my children and grandchildren. At that point in time, I refused to even consider killing a fish for any reason. And then… I was introduced to sea fishing.
Any discussion about sea fishing, commercial sea fishing in particular, and conservation measures can quickly get political. Since this article is aimed at recreational anglers I will skim over issues of overfishing and commercial exploitation of fish stocks. Let’s just say, that the number of fish removed from the sea by recreational anglers is miniscule compared to the amount taken by the commercial fleets of the economic powers of the world. Therefore, releasing a fish into the sea, from the perspective of conservation, is meaningless. In addition, many species of marine fish suffer from barotrauma, the injury caused by being pulled up to the surface from the depth of the ocean. This makes successful recovery of the fish, after it is released, doubtful. Given both facts, the responsible sea angler can either stop fishing altogether or keep the fish for consumption.
It is important to mention, that there are species of saltwater fish, like the european sea bass, which are particularly vulnerable even though they are not targeted by commercial fishermen. In such cases C&R still makes sense as a conservation measure.
After experience with offshore fishing and analysis of its place and impact my non-negotiable position on C&R was somewhat relaxed. A few years later, I put my hands on the book by a famous hunter, outdoorsman and environmentalist Steven Rinella. Although the book is a collection of hunting stories, it has a chapter dedicated to Catch and Release. To my surprise, this conservation minded author was not fond of C&R. That initially surprised me or maybe even made me a little bit angry. I even recorded an episode of the podcast reviewing the book. Spoiler alert: the review is largely very positive. After reflecting on what I read, I came to the conclusion that Steven might have a point. In his opinion, angling like hunting, was primarily a way to get food. As human hunter-gatherers became less dependant on hunting thanks to the invention of agriculture, the role of hunting and fishing started to shift. It is somewhat bizarre, according to him, that we still practice fishing but somehow try to distance ourselves from its original purpose. It has even become unacceptable to fish for certain species in certain ways!
Hunters, unlike anglers, don’t have an opportunity to “shoot and resurrect”. Every animal has to be dispatched as quickly and humanely as possible and the meat taken care of. Conservation measures are implemented by means of closed and open seasons. The number of animals that can be harvested, as well as the time and duration of open seasons for particular species of game, are decided based on scientific data. Factors like the carrying capacity of an area, the breeding capacity of particular species, food availability, the harshness of winters and the presence of predators are all taken into account. Application of these conservation principles to angling makes more sense to me. Especially because the mortality rate of fish caught and released can be significant.
In conclusion, it is my opinion that Catch and Release has its place in modern sport fishing. It is a useful conservation tool but it’s significance shouldn’t be overestimated. If the numbers of fish are dwindling, before we impose C&R we should first look at habitat issues and commercial exploitation. If an angler engages in C&R he must take extremely good care of the fish that he releases. Yes, that means no trophy photos, unhooking the fish while still in the water and using barbless hooks.
As an angler, I have arrived at the point where I am okay to stop fishing when I have reached my bag limit. If conservation of the fishery is a priority, there are better ways to tackle that problem. For example, working with authorities to establish sustainable bag limits and closed seasons based on scientific evidence. This will be much more beneficial for protecting fish stocks and ensuring that we can still enjoy the taste of a just caught, fresh fish.
In this episode of the podcast my guest is a true legend of the local angling community, Kuba Standera. He is an angler, fishing guide, co-founder and former editor of a leading Polish fly fishing magazine and, recently, founder of Pirate Lures, hand made soft-plastics. He will share with us his vast experience and opinions on a wide variety of angling related topics. We are talking about pike fishing and sea bass fishing with both lures and with a fly. We also discuss various conservation related issues, tuna fishing, his latest adventures as well as his future projects. This episode is the one not to miss!