Shore, river & lake fishing in West Cork

West Cork shore fishing and surfcasting map: Baltimore, Lough Hyne, Rosscarbery

The map shows some recognised shore marks, but in reality much of the coast around Baltimore is unexplored from a shore fishing point of view. The known marks are no more than the tip of an iceberg.

Lough Hyne
This unique saltwater lake is a marine nature reserve. It holds no less than 72 different species of fish – most of them admittedly too small to interest the angler! Angling is permitted but please show consideration to other users of the lough and the scientific research that goes on there. Fish caught should be released. The best time to fish is from about 2 hours before high water. Fishing is not permitted from the piers. The main spots are:

1. Eastern shore just north of the Rapids. Approach by a steep footpath from the east (Dromadoon direction). No access from the road beside the lough. Wellingtons or waders needed at high tide.

2. Western shore from the foot of the bank under the trees roughly opposite the island. The water is very deep here within easy casting distance of the shore. You have to scramble down the bank but otherwise access is reasonably convenient.

There are two alternatives here:

1. Warren Strand at the mouth of the estuary, approached by road along the eastern shore, is the first of the series of bass surf beaches that lie between Rosscarbery and the Old Head of Kinsale.

2. The upper reach of the estuary near the hotel is one of Ireland's top mullet marks. The area also holds gilthead bream. The mullet can be caught both north and south of the causeway carrying the main N71 road. In the lagoon north of the road they are joined by the occasional sea trout. Swans can be a problem for anglers using bread baits for mullet, but the fish have also acquired a taste for less traditional offerings like chicken!

Roaring Water Bay
Except at a few points, the wide expanse of sheltered water behind the islands north and west of Baltimore and in Roaring Water Bay is hard to access from the shore, but is ideal for small boat fishing. The area is seldom fished but experience has shown that it harbours bass, monkfish, triggerfish, tope and other species.

Shepperton (Shreelane) Lake
This picturesque lake is well stocked with rainbow trout and also holds pike and wild brown trout. Fishing is by permit, available from the water keeper near the lake and boats are available for hire. Pike over 30 lbs have been caught here recently along with numerous 20-pounders. The pike are caught on lures and even flies. Dead-baiting is not permitted. Note that the pike fishing is strictly catch and release.

There are bass to be had in the creeks and channels around Roaring Water Bay, but the bass fishing for which West Cork is best known is the beach fishing from Rosscarbery eastwards. Conventional surfcasting techniques are effective using worm, peeler crab, mackerel and sandeel baits. Plugs work well among the rock gullies. Note there is a close season for bass from May 15 to June 15. It is illegal to sell bass caught in Ireland.

The rocky shorelines of West Cork are classic ballan wrasse territory. Almost any rock mark with deep water close in is worth a try and at the right time the sport can be non-stop. Float fishing is a popular method, but where the water is deep enough it can be better to dispense with the float and fish straight down from the rod tip as wrasse feed right against the rock face. Lugworm or crab are favourite baits, but limpets are a useful standby.

Mullet are one of the easiest fish to see, but not always the easiest to catch. Many creeks and harbours in West Cork are visibly teeming with mullet at times, but the less 'urbanised' fish are hard to tempt. Mullet close to human habitation, however, will often take bread or fish baits quite readily. Groundbaiting also helps. In addition to the common thick-lipped variety, golden grey mullet are well established in the area. The latter are more conservative in their tastes, preferring ragworm or small spinners.

Mackerel can be caught from almost any point on the West Cork coast. The season is long – May to October at least, but it is by no means unknown to find them within casting range of the shore as early as March and as late as December. However, weather is always a factor. Settled conditions with offshore winds are most likely to bring the shoals within reach.

Safety first
The West Cork coast is where the Gulf Stream first meets the shores of Europe. The nearness of the ocean explains the richness of the waters around Baltimore, but at certain times it can also mean large waves. There are some extremely well-sheltered fishing spots in West Cork (Lough Hyne and Rosscarbery are two examples) so keep away from exposed shore marks unless the sea is calm. At other times they are unlikely to be productive and could even be dangerous.

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