Southern Regional Fisheries Board
Bunmahon to Helvic
Just to the west of the junction of the R661 and R675 roads, is the seaside village of Bunmahon (1). In the mid 1800’s this was the centre of a thriving copper mining industry. Today, however, the beautiful blue flag listed beach, shows little evidence of its industrial past and is instead a major attraction for surfers and anglers alike. Beach fishing in spring and autumn is good for bass to 4.5kg, and flounder to 1.4kg with the obvious hotspot being where the Mahon River enters the sea. In calm spells, particularly on warm summer nights, thornback ray to over 9kg, plaice to 1.4kg and dogfish to 1.5kg have also been recorded, so there is plenty to aim at. Best baits are crab, sandeel, ragworm and mackerel strip. Boat fishing in the area will produce ray, plaice, pollack, codling, conger, ling, pouting and dab. About 3km west of Bunmahon on the narrow coast road a small lane runs down to the sheltered cove at Ballydwan (2) where fishing amongst the rocky outcrops in spring and autumn will produce bass and flounder. Dogfish and occasional ray are available from June to September particularly when high water and darkness coincide. Best baits are crab and sandeel, cast well out from the beach.
The coast road dips close to the sea at Ballyvooney Bridge (3) where the beach is a mixture of sand and rock. Fishing there is conducted mainly on night tides with bass, flounder, dogfish and coalfish all possible. The coast road turns sharply inland from there towards Stradbally village and about a kilometre south of there is Stradbally Cove (4) where bass, dogfish and flounder can be taken from the beach in moderate surf. Low water and the first two hours of a flooding tide, is the favoured period, particularly when this coincides with dusk.
There are several access points off the R675 road to the 2km long, south east facing, Clonea Strand (5) which is a popular beach with holidaymakers during the summer.
In fine weather, the beach becomes crowded, and anglers will find little room for manoeuvre, so fishing becomes a nocturnal activity. At the northern end close to Ballyvoyle Head, the beach is generally rocky with some sandy patches. Fishing is best around high water when spinning, with lures and plugs, fly fishing with streamer flies, or float fishing with sandeel or crab baits will pay dividends for bass and pollack. To the south, the rest of beach is mainly of fine clean sand, and in southerly or south easterly winds a surf will rise. Bass and flounder are the main target species, but dab, dogfish and even occasional ray have also been taken.
Spinning krill or wedge type lures and surface plugs from the rocks around the lighthouse and below the golf course to the west of Ballinacourty Point (6) will yield bass, pollack and mackerel (in season). Bottom fishing from the pier will produce bass, flounder and dogfish, and the best time is from half tide on the flood, through high water, to the first hour of the ebb. There is a slipway at Ballynacourty which can be accessed at most stages of the tide, but it is advisable to use a four wheel drive vehicle to tow the boat out on to the beach at extreme spring tide lows. Parking is available in the general area but care should be taken to avoid obstructing access to nearby premises.
North of Ballynacourty Pier, lugworm can be dug on the eastern banks of the Glendine River (A) and crab gathered under the weed and around the rocks.
At low tide, several pools are formed in the Glendine River to the north of the road bridge at Barnawee (7). Bottom fishing there, with crab baits, on the early flood tide, will attract flounder. Spinning or plug fishing around high water will turn up bass and occasional seatrout, while fly fishing for the latter species could also pay dividends.
Mullet are numerous and ground baiting at low tide with mashed bread and sardine, or similar tinned fish in oil (not tomato sauce!) should keep them interested enough to take float fished or free lined baits as the water rises on the flood.
Below the old priory on the eastern shore of the Colligan River at Abbeyside (8) spinning and plug fishing for bass can be carried out over the last few hours of the flood tide and through high water. Bottom fishing is also productive, particularly with crab baits for flounder and eels from the late ebb, through low water and on the first hour of the flood tide. There is a slipway at Abbeyside which is only accessible on the hours around high water. Boats launched there will have to negotiate the channel to Ballinacourty and the use of an up to date navigational chart is essential. The sandbanks in the estuary are also prone to movement, so local advise should be sought. The parking of vehicles may also be restricted when the town car parks are full.
On Spit Bank (B), lugworm can be dug on the sandy patches and crab collected under the weed and between the rocks south and east of the priory.
The town of Dungarvan (9) which stands on the western shore of the River Colligan dates back to around the seventh century when Saint Garbhan founded a church there. The town which is the administrative capital of County Waterford has a population of around 8,000 people and has been recognised as a sea angling centre for over sixty years. There is a vast array of angler friendly accommodation locally, and several well stocked tackle shops carry a full gamut of equipment and bait. Charter boats ply for hire from April to September and there is quality fishing to satisfy even the most discriminating of anglers, whether they wish to drift for shark, bottom fish over reefs or sand for pollack and cod or anchor on a wreck for conger and ling.
Some of the more notable catches, over the years, have included blue shark of 57.92kg, porbeagle shark of 113.4kg, angler fish of 19.96kg, ballan wrasse of 2.53kg, pollack of 5.63kg, conger of 21.32kg, turbot of 9.53kg, hake 5.8kg and stone basse of 4.76kg.
The voluntary CFB shark tagging programme has been in operation at Dungarvan virtually since its inception, and over the years, many fish have been tagged and released there. One fish worth mention was a blue shark which had been tagged off Dungarvan and recaptured in mid Atlantic halfway between the Cape Verde Islands off Africa and the Leeward Islands in the Western Caribbean. This fish had travelled a minimum of 3,170 kilometres and had been at liberty for 360 days.
Small boat fishing in the Harbour and Bay can be very productive with the main species being bass, flounder, plaice, ray and dogfish. On spring tides in late summer and early autumn, large numbers of bass often congregate in the narrow channels feeding heavily on sandeel. These “shoaling” bass offer superb sport on light tackle, particularly when live sandeel is free lined or float fished in the tideway. Dawn or dusk are particularly exciting times to fish there.
Above the old Railway Bridge which is between the R675 and N25 ring road, there is fishing in the main channel of the Colligan River, where crab baits, will produce flounder to over 1.36kg. The best flounder fishing has traditionally been found in mid winter, usually on the last hour of the ebbing tide, through the low water period and on to the first two hours of the flood. Bass are also available in the same general area in spring and autumn and will fall to plugs and spinners. Mullet are common in summer and the patient angler who is willing to ground bait through, possibly two or three tides, should be richly rewarded. Indeed fish of over 2.70kg are possible. South of the quays the shore road leads west and away from the town. Below the Swimming Pool (10) there is a channel which fishes best on a flooding tide for bass and flounder. Fish to over the specimen size for both species have been recorded there. The area of foreshore along the Sea Wall (C) adjacent to the swimming pool is also a prime bait gathering area at low tide. In spring and early summer, peeler and soft crab are common under the weed along this stretch, and some lugworm can also be dug there.
3km south of the town on the N25, after the main road crosses the River Brickey, there is a sharp turn to the east which runs to the south of Dungarvan Bay and leads to the small Gaeltacht or “Irish speaking” enclave of An Rinn (Ring). About halfway along the southern shore the 3km long, Cunnigar Spit (11) projects north into Dungarvan Bay. This narrow piece of land shelters the mudflats along the banks of the River Brickey as it winds its way to sea. At the point of the spit the Colligan and Brickey Rivers meet, and bottom fishing there with crab baits, yields bass, flounder, golden grey mullet and gilthead bream to specimen size. Spinning with wedge spoons or plugs also accounts for numbers of bass at times. The most productive period is the last two hours of a flooding tide and an hour into the ebb.
East of the Ballynagaul is the busy harbour at Helvic (12) where there is top class pier fishing for mullet and conger. From the main pier, small fish baits will attract grey mullet of over 3kg as they scavenge among the discarded carcases from the commercial trawlers. Conger to over 22kg, have been recorded from both piers, with the best fishing always after dark on a flooding tide. Distance casting from the main pier has also produced ray and dogfish on crab and mackerel baits. East of the harbour is Helvic Head (13), which protects the southern corner of Dungarvan Bay. From there spinning accounts for mackerel (in season) pollack and occasional garfish while float fishing produces ballan wrasse to over specimen size of 2.15kg
Tides at Dungarvan Bay are + 00.12 minutes on Cobh times.