The magic of marlin


ANGLING NOTES:EUROPEAN Union Commission proposals announced last week to impose catch quotas on sea angling will have zero impact on sustainability, but are a direct attack on the Irish angling tourism industry, according to Fine Gael tourism spokesperson, Olivia Mitchell.

While anglers and commercial fishermen strive to catch the same species, EU officials are seeking to impose controls on sea angling and to deduct catch numbers from commercial fishing industry quotas. Equipped with this information, the proposal aims to allocate proportional shares to each nation.

"Expenditure by overseas anglers in Ireland is estimated at €66 million per year. Why attack it? These ridiculous proposals have come out of nowhere," Mitchell says.

The Irish Charter Skippers' Association (ICSA) has written to Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Tony Killeen, to voice its opposition.

It says the entire catch of the charter fleet would not equal the returns of one medium-sized trawler, adding that the proposals will further diminish already reduced quotas and create a huge volume of administration and paperwork for charter boat operators on the basis of a very small catch.

"Would fish caught by French or Dutch anglers be deducted from French/Dutch quotas? Imagine two teenagers walking along Enniscrone pier with a bag of mackerel and being told by a department official that the quota for mackerel had been reached and they must dump their fish? It's EU bureaucracy gone mad."

The ICSA has sought an urgent meeting with the minister to discuss the issues.

Hugh O'Rorke, of the Irish Federation of Sea Anglers, says: "While it may be possible to monitor catches in competitions, it will be impossible to police the thousands of home-based and tourist anglers who visit our coastline each year".

• I was delighted to receive a copy of Brian Kinsella's new handbook on sea fishing in Ireland. It's been quite some time since an update on our saltwater counterparts has appeared on our bookshelves. Over the past two decades, sea angling and, in particular, shore angling, have diminished dramatically. The main reason for this, I would suggest, is because of over-fishing by home-based and foreign commercial trawlers.

Kinsella has shone a new light on sea-angling, re-igniting the flame needed to entice anglers back onto our beaches. It's all about preparation - targeting species, suitable tackle, techniques, bait, tides and a new phenomenon (for me, anyway), Solunar Theory.

All anglers have identified defined periods in which most fish are caught, Kinsella says. Up to now, these have generally been attributed to a shoal of fish or a turn of the tide. These periods of peak activity were investigated by John Alden Knight in the 1920s. Out of 33 possible influences, Knight narrowed it down to three main factors: sunrise/sunset, the phase of the moon and the tides. From this, he created the Solunar Theory.

The peeler crab is considered by experienced shore anglers to be one of the most successful baits to catch fish. The chapter on peeler crab entitled, "Everything you need to know", must surely be among the finest in-depth guides on to how to identify the peeler, storage procedures, preparation and presentation.

Tide tables, tackle shop directory and angling regulations are also included in this fine publication.

Sea Fishing Ireland Handbook 2009is published by BK Publications (€9.99). Contact

• On a marlin fishing expedition to the Great Barrier Reef, Australia last month, Mary Harkin, John Gill and Gary Douglas had a bountiful time. Fishing for marlin bait each morning produced several species, including skipjack tuna, shark mackerel, wahoo and scad.

Twelve marlin were caught over the week, all of which were tagged and released. The largest fish of 950lb fell to John, while Mary had a fine fish weighing 900lb. Both were caught trolling dead scad and tuna bait, respectively. This was the most successful trip during the three-month marlin fishing season for renowned Aussie skipper, Laurie Wright.