Angling Notes: on the hunt for the the largest tuna in the world

Irish anglers are taking part in a unique catch, tag and release programme to help scientists learn more about the Atlantic bluefin

Bluefin tuna, subject of an intense catch, tag and release programme in Irish coastal waters

Bluefin tuna, subject of an intense catch, tag and release programme in Irish coastal waters

 

Anglers in Ireland are taking part in a unique catch, tag and release programme to help Irish and international scientists learn more about the largest tuna in the world - the Atlantic bluefin tuna.

Under the Tuna Chart programme, recreational anglers on board 22 authorised charter vessels will be catching bluefin, and skippers tagging and releasing them back into the sea, alive, from July to November this year. The data collected will then be used for scientific assessment to improve knowledge of population structures, fish size and how the species is distributed in Irish waters and throughout the North Atlantic.

Migrating through North Atlantic waters, bluefin frequent Irish coastal waters to feed and become an iconic sports angling species that can grow up to 1,500lbs (680kgs). In 2020, 685 were caught, tagged, measured and released through the programme with the largest estimated to weigh more than 800lbs (360kgs).

Now in its third year, the programme has been a successful collaboration between Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) and Marine Institute in partnership with the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA), Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine, and Department for Environment, Climate and Communications. Anglers looking to target bluefin may only do so from an authorised charter vessel and the SFPA and IFI are undertaking patrols to ensure that no unauthorised vessels are targeting or catching the species.

Both organisations have also confirmed that any person engaging in fishing for bluefin on a vessel not appropriately authorised, would be in breach of the Sea-Fisheries and Maritime Jurisdiction (Bluefin Tuna) Regulations 2019 (S.I. No. 265 of 2019) and would face prosecution. All skippers have been fully trained and vessels have been fitted with a customised GPS device. Data is collected digitally by means of a specifically designed app.

Similar to last season, skippers will have to adhere to any local or national Covid-19 public health guidelines. A full list of authorised skippers and vessels in 2021 can be found at fisheriesireland.ie/bluefin.

Eamon Ryan, Minister for Environment, Climate and Communications, said: “The recreational fisheries sector is crucial in the delivery of this data collection programme and we look forward to continue working with all the State agencies involved. The fact that 685 fish were tagged last year with no mortalities recorded is a great achievement by the skippers.”

Fantastic sport

Famous for its one-time cheese making, Kilmeaden in Co Waterford in more recent times has taken on a new mantle in the form of two reservoirs which, on their day, can provide fantastic fly-fishing sport for the trout angler.

While the two waters have been in existence for decades, ever since Waterford Trout Anglers’ Association took over day-to-day control, the lakes have gone from strength to strength and are now rated as a premier all-year round venue for rainbow and brown trout.

Alongside the pontoon at Carrigavantry Reservoir in Co Waterford are (from left): club chairman, William Hanrahan; RTE’s Fergal Keane and committee member, Michael Sheehan
Alongside the pontoon at Carrigavantry Reservoir in Co Waterford are (from left): club chairman, William Hanrahan; RTE’s Fergal Keane and committee member, Michael Sheehan

On a fleeting visit last Sunday, I took the opportunity to visit the venue along with RTÉ’s Fergal Keane. There to meet us in the village was club chairman William Hanrahan and committee member Michael Sheehan. “Today, you can try Carrigavantry because I think you stand a better chance of fish,” Michael said. Our timing on the day was not conducive to angling with sweltering temperatures of 26 degrees and tropical sunshine, nevertheless, we could see the potential given the right conditions with fish splashing and turning across the lake.

The two reservoirs, Knockaderry (80 acres) and Carrigavantry (30 acres) are within 10 minutes from the village and fishing with electric engines is by way of bank or the more popular boat fishing to which the club has, on each lake, approximately 12 boats including a wheelie boat for wheelchair users. Day tickets can be purchased from the Centra store in the village or tel. 086-107 3086.

Qualified

Congratulations to the 11 anglers, including three ladies, who qualified as assistant coaches in Co Cavan, last weekend. The day followed on from a similar event held at Ballyshunnock Reservoir in Co Waterford earlier this month.

The practical assessment, which included techniques in tackle assembly, loop tying and long distance casting, was required for the final stage of the National Coarse Fishing of Ireland (NCFFI) blended learning programme.

The participants, derived from a range of affiliated clubs and youth organisations, will now have access to the structured Anglers’ Skills Awards programme, a six-step pathway designed to introduce novice anglers to the sport.

Anglers attending their final stage of blended learning programme as assistant coaches at Cavan Adventure Centre in Co Cavan
Anglers attending their final stage of blended learning programme as assistant coaches at Cavan Adventure Centre in Co Cavan

Venue for the day was provided by Carafin Lodge where its multi-purpose facility has become a firm favourite with anglers. Coaching was delivered by NCFFI education tutors, supported by Cavan Sports Partnership and accredited by Sport Ireland Coaching. For more information, see ncffi.ie.

If you have an angling story to share, please send to me at angling@irishtimes.com

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