SPECIES collector Dan Finlay, from Rathgill in Bangor, is well on the way to reaching his target of 100 different fishes after catching a 19lb conger eel from the town’s Eisenhower pier.
“I have been fishing for as long as I can remember and have travelled all over the country,” said the 23 year old. “My target is to catch 100 different types of fish in both freshwater and the sea. The conger makes 76.”
The pier’s ‘egg box’ construction is perfect for conger eels which can grow to enormous sizes among Ireland’s offshore wrecks and around piers and rocky headlands. A specimen fish is 40lbs and the Irish record of 72lbs has stood since 1914 but eels of over 100lbs are known to exist where conditions are right. Dan used a fish head as bait and his first Eisenhower eel was 6lbs. The 19lb conger put up a tremendous struggle before it was a brought to the surface. A much bigger fish was hooked and got away, according to Dan.
A good run of mackerel throughout July and into August has brought many anglers to the pier but conger fishing requires heavy fishing gear and a wire trace is advisable because eels are powerful scavengers. They have sharp teeth capable of shredding monofilament and even braid lines and can anchor themselves to the sea bed with their tails when hooked.
Meanwhile those in search of the ultimate in big game fishing prizes should head to northwest Donegal where the annual run of blue fin tuna has begun. Three fish were caught and released last week out of Teelin. The tuna grow to enormous sizes with the Irish rod caught record standing at over 900lbs. There are a small number of specialist hire boats available for sportsmen off the north coast. The skippers will provide expertise and tackle to those hardy enough for the challenge. The season usually lasts into October.
And finally the Ulster Angling Federation and the lifesaving community has paid tribute to two young members of Moyola Angling Club in County Derry who reacted swiftly and saved a man’s life when they saw him fall into the River Mourne at Sion Mills. Matthew Doyle and Joseph Spiers pulled him to safety from deep water. A UAF spokesman said,
“This helps to highlight the importance of the courses we run in conjunction with member clubs. Currently we are putting together an Angling Awards course which we hope will encourage more young people into the sport, there will also be a safety aspect to these courses. The UAF is very proud of the actions of these young anglers.”