Cork Harbour in Ireland is one of the world’s deepest natural anchorages and the port of Cobh is famous for being the last port the Titanic called in to before its ill fated passage across the Atlantic.

Given its depth and excellent shelter from the prevailing weather patterns means few days are lost and the port of Cobh and the Cork Harbour area has become one of the most popular sea angling destinations for UK anglers over the past decade, plus the port hosts numerous international angling events, and is host to the annual Cobh Sea Angling Festival.

The fishing, due to the deep water, is excellent with bass, conger, rays, trigger fish, gilthead bream, pollack, wrasse, blonde ray, small-eyed, thornback and spotted ray all taken to Irish specimen weight featuring without going outside Roches Point at the mouth of the harbour.


Top skipper Doney Geary works out of Cobh and knows both the inside and offshore grounds like the back of his hand. Doney runs the “John Boy” a Lochin 33 powered by a 300hp Caterpillar engine and fitted with all the latest electronic aids.

The WSF team has fished with Doney inside the harbour several times before taking big conger, good huss, pollack and enjoyed some cracking ray fishing, but this time we were to look at the fishing outside over marks like The Ling Rocks and also try the drift fishing.

It was a good crew on the day, two local lads and top notch anglers Pat and George, plus Mike Jr and me, with Doney acting as skipper and fifth angler.

There was a stiff southwest wind, but poking our nose outside the harbour the sea carried a fair swell but conditions were pretty good and “John Boy” punched her way steadily out to the offshore grounds. We stopped briefly and filled up the bait boxes with fresh mackerel and launce on the way.

We elected to drift first over clean(ish) ground, so Mike and I chose a boom drift rig with a chrome spoon above the long lower hook trace with size 2 Aberdeen’s. The other lads set up a mixture of three baited feather rigs and small muppet rigs baited with lashes of mackerel.

There were plenty of fish down there with some good pouting putting in a quick appearance on the baited feathers, backed up by some tidy whiting, some of these well over the pound.

The spoon rigs we allowed to trot out well away from the boat, periodically letting the bait rest on the seabed for a few seconds. Bites were quick to follow with several dabs, haddock and big grey gurnards coming aboard.

This whole area can give some really tremendous red gurnard fishing with Irish specimens always on the cards here. That’s what we were really looking for with the drift rigs. It was a case of cutting really slim fillets from the white belly of a mackerel and concentrating until we came across the really mixed ground the reds like so much.

Doney was watching the sounder as he’d realised what Mike and I were trying for and called out when the rougher ground appeared amongst patches of sand. Both Mike Jr and I got bites at the same instant and both landed red gurnards over the pound.

This mixed ground was certainly turning up some species with the other lads picking up good pollack to 6lbs as we came across the odd pinnacle ground, plus codling, small coalies, ling to 6lbs and some beautifully coloured male cuckoo wrasse. This same ground can produce rare megrim too!

As the tide turned the water clarity reduced, so we added small luminous yellow beads to each hook trace and found an instant improvement in bites, adding poor cod, ballan wrasse and dogfish to the species count.

We could have fished on the drift all day, but elected to fish at anchor over The Ling Rocks which, as the name suggests, is rough ground with big boulders and some high rise rocks.

It was a mix of baited feathers with ling in mind to start, and artificial firetail worms on flying collar rigs for the pollack sent to the seabed. The lads on baits were instantly in to ling and some good pollack to 5lbs, but we went on the Firetails looking to get a good pollack out.

Doney, honest as ever, told me straight that the past season hadn’t been the best of years on the southern Irish coast for pollack, but this mark had been as consistent as any.

Now the thinkers amongst you might be wondering why we were fishing for pollack at anchor and not on the drift. It’s a fact that most pollack fishing is done on the drift, but over specific structure such as the Ling Rocks, the pollack are constantly changing station swimming from area to area in search of food. Keep working the lures through the water column and the fish will, sooner rather than later, find you!

This was just the case! After a few drops and only 25-feet up off the bottom the familiar increasing heaviness on the rod tip indicated a pollack sucking in the worm. This was a decent enough fish about 5lbs. Mick followed soon after with a better fish about a pound heavier.

The fish were not grouped at ground level and we slowly brought our lures higher up through the water column searching for the fish. The overall depth was about 90-feet and we found them shoaled just 40-feet below the surface. This illustrates that the common written law of working lures upwards by counting “25” turns and then dropping back down again can be a mistake and you need to fully work the whole water depth until the fish are located.

Sport picked up immediately with a fish a drop, but the fish were all in the same 3lb to 5lb bracket and the bigger fish eluded us. With the small fish hitting the firetails we decided to change to bigger 4-inch Calcutta shads with the aim of targeting just the bigger fish.

Letting the shads down to just below the main shoal of fish and coming up fast through them produced the goods. On the very first retrieve a pollack smashed the shad and feeling the hook bored for the seabed ripping line off the reel. This was a better fish and looked about 8lbs when it hit the deck. Mick was also in to fish and eventually topped the 8lber with fish that looked just shy of 9lbs.

The lads were now getting conger bites and landed straps, plus picked up a few ling to 10lbs. This was the incentive for us to change tactics again.

Switching to flowing trace rigs and baiting with either fillets or mackerel flappers we set the rods in the holders and waited for bites. These weren’t long in coming and Mike was first in with a hard fighting ling around the 12lb mark.

We were all getting conger bites, but they were tentative and not over eager to feed. Periodically I’d lift the bait up and drop it back as this can sometimes trigger a more aggressive response. I noticed my rod tip lightly tap a few times, but again it was not overly interested, lifting the bait up a couple of feet and dropping it back got the eel thinking it might lose a meal and greed took over. I fed it a little line and the eel moved off with the bait.

Hitting the fish it stayed down deep, then came up and went down again taking a little line. The eel fought well and looked in the high teens as it broke surface. Other eels were coming aboard now with several approaching 20lbs. Backing the eels up were more double figure ling, some ballan wrasse, and Doney chipped in with some good sized pollack. On the day the eels were sub 20lbs, but 30lb plus reef fish are a regular catch here.

At close of play we’d tallied 14 species and landed a stack of good conger, ling and pollack. We’d been hitting fish all day! Doney felt the fishing was below par, yet it had been a great day and one you’d be more than pleased with at most other venues.

You can fish these waters comfortably with a 12/15lb class outfit and braided line of 20lbs, or mono to 15lbs. This does for the pollack fishing and light drift fishing for the smaller species.

For the ling and conger on the rough ground, we fished light 30lb braid outfits and there’s no need to go heavier.

In places you can get away with 4ozs of lead, but a good average size is 6ozs to 10ozs, depending on the size of the tide. Occasionally, on the outer ground, you will need a little more lead if the wind is with the tide, so it’s comfy fishing.

If you’re confined to the inner harbour, that’s not problem! The banks opposite Fort Camden carry blonde ray, thornbacks, spotted ray, turbot and I’ve seen 30lb plus conger come of it too! In fact Doney’s boat holds the Irish record for blonde ray with a fabulous fish of 37lbs caught by Paul Tennant, a local angler.

The bass fishing along the edges of the creeks and channels is outstanding with double figure fish caught regularly, plus there’s gilthead bream and golden grey mullet taken throughout the summer thanks to the hot water outfall from the power station. Also expect, codling, huss, coalies, wrasse and garfish too!

Doney also covers wreck fishing with potential for ling over 30lbs, pollack to mid teens, plus big coalies over 20lbs, and later in the year some big cod become resident on these wrecks.

You can also book Doney for blue shark trips. I’ve done a few trips for shark off this coast and can vouch for its consistency. The sharks average 40lbs, but 80lb plus fish are always there. Fish 20lb outfits for these to get the best out of them.

Doney Geary, Ballynoe, Cobh, Co Cork, Ireland. Tel: 00 353 21 481 2167.

Doney’s wife Mary, also runs a tackle shop which is just off the main street in Cobh on Pearse Street opposite the Rob Roy bar. The shop is well stocked with up-to-date tackle, lures, bait etc, and is the first port of call for visiting anglers, just to stock up on kit and get the latest fishing gossip.

Our ferry booking was made on-line at , plus this site has all the relevant information you need for alternative ferry crossings from both Rosslare and Holyhead etc.

Cobh has a wide choice of quality Bed and Breakfast houses and guest houses to choose from locally, plus hotels. You can get full information on all accommodation choices by accessing and . Additional info on request can also be gained from . Also visit .

We stayed at Ardeen B & B, 3 Harbour Hill, Ardeen House, Cobh, County Cork, Ireland Tel: 00 353 21 481 1803 E-mail: . This overlooks the harbour and is just a couple of minutes walk from the town centre, plus you get a cracking breakfast that will last you all day.

You’ve a good choice of pub grub, restaurants or takeaways in the town.

The Central Fisheries Board, Swords Business Camp, Swords, Co Dublin, Ireland. Tel: 00 353 1 8842 600 has a superb website at Click on Sea Fishing, then on Sea Fishing Maps For Ireland, and look at Co Cork and Cork Harbour. In addition this site has masses of other useful information and practical fishing advice.

Chart 1765 covers Cork Harbour and the offshore ground, with chart 1777 used for the inner harbour area.