Holy Mackerel

Spent a week in southwest Ireland near Kilkee in County Clare. This is rugged and beautiful country, with many farms, pubs and cows. The 60-degree weather was a nice break from the 90+ temps in Connecticut.  I hiked every day, and the pic below is just one of many I took from the Kilkee Cliffs area. Truly spectacular views.

Kilkee, Kilkee Cliffs, Ireland, County Clare

During one hike I saw a line of fishermen standing on the edge of a 100 ft plus cliff, shoulder to shoulder, casting multi-lure rigs  in strong winds into the open ocean, hoping for mackerel. No guardrails or other safety warnings. I thought “Wow, that looks like a dangerous way to catch lunch.” Little did I know that I would soon be joining them.

Kilkee, Kilkee Cliffs, Ireland, County Clare, fishing, mackerel

A relative who lives nearby offered to take me fishing, but it was going to be weather and schedule dependent, so I wasn’t sure it would happen at all.

As luck would have it, the weather was agreeable and he picked me up the next morning for a half day fishing trip.  The destination was unclear, so I laughed when we went right to the spot I had visited.

I cautiously approached the edge of the cliff, hoping vertigo would not set in. The cliff edge tilted back towards land, but not enough to assure me that I wouldn’t go over on a errant cast or gust of wind. The the sea was churning. There were only 2 other anglers there. Both were catching fish.

As he rigged up, my relative admitted, “This is brute force and luck – not the finesse of fly fishing”. He was right – I was casting 3 lures anchored by a 3 oz weight into open water,  jigging the rod while reeling in line. To make matters worse, it was likely that I would lose some of the fish to the face of the cliff. And once again, the winds were howling. A good gust and I would take a plunge in the icy Atlantic.

It took multiple casts to hone my technique, sending out line while avoiding the jagged cliff edge.  As luck would have it, one cast landed in the right water. I had 3 mackerel on the line.  It felt like 3 bowling balls, but I successfully brought them in with no losses.  Here is a pic of my relative holding the catch.

Kilkee, Kilkee Cliffs, Ireland, County Clare, fishing, mackerel

My fishing is primarily in fresh water, so I wasn’t really familiar with mackerel. They have the colors of a crappie in the pattern of a tiger trout. A beautiful fish.

Kilkee, Kilkee Cliffs, Ireland, County Clare, mackerel, finfollower

We only wanted to catch enough for lunch, so we cleaned them and went home. They were good pan fried, but my cliff fishing days are probably past. There are easier ways to catch them, and I’m hoping to spend some time on one of the rivers when I return.

Kilkee and the surrounding area in County Clare is a beautiful part of Ireland, rich with history and amazing views. If you have a chance, put it on your travel list.

So why Holy Mackerel? I caught these fish just yards (meters) from Bishop’s Island, inhabited in the 6th century.

Hope you’re getting in some late summer fishing and looking forward to fall. Enjoy!

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  1. I didn’t realize that macs were such pretty fish. Looks like an awesome, windy and historic locale. Glad you had a great time there!

  2. Thanks Walt. I’d like to head your way soon.

  3. Whoa, that’s crazy. The height would freak me out… glad to see you were successful. What an incredible place to fish!

  4. Yes it was. Between the wind, the height and the rough ledge surface, I was literally on my toes.

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