The picturesque fishing port of Baltimore is in County Cork, 60 miles (97 km) south west of Cork city, situated at the point where the Gulf Stream meets the rugged south west coast. This is the southern tip of Ireland, sheltered from the prevailing westerly winds yet as close as possible to deep water. So it's not surprising that Baltimore is one of Ireland's top deep sea angling centres, with a fleet of well-equipped modern charter boats and an international reputation for reef, wreck and shark fishing.
With a good run of shark beginning around mid-June and often continuing into October, blue shark are one of Baltimore’s prime attractions for the angler. Warm weather offers the best prospects and, when there are plenty of shark about and an experienced skipper to guide you, stand a chance of catching one. The porbeagle shark, though much less common than the blue, also features in catches from time to time.
As at other ports around the West Cork coast, angling skippers at Baltimore tag sharks and then return them safely to the sea. Blue shark tagged off Baltimore have been recaptured as far away as Barbados! When you go fishing, you are assisting the tagging programme and contributing to scientific understanding of these relatively little-studied fish. Shark fishing apart, deep sea angling usually takes one of two forms: drifting with feathers or artificial lures or ground fishing at anchor with mackerel bait. The former tends to produce hectic sport with pollack, cod , mackerel, etc, while the latter affords a good chance of something really hefty. It might be a big conger eel, ling or even a turbot, but the biggest prize of all is the common skate (visit U Tube), which regularly exceeds 45 kg in weight. Like shark, these superb fish are tagged and released.
Wreck fishing is another option. The wrecks tend to be well offshore in deep water and the outsize fish that haunt them notably conger, ling, pollack, coalfish and cod must be prevented from gaining sanctuary in the wreck. So this kind of angling is perhaps not for the beginner, but for the more experienced angler, it is one of the most exciting forms of the sport.
Whatever kind of fishing you choose, sometimes the day s catch will include a less familiar fish, such as Longfin Tuna. These visitors from warmer seas arrive courtesy of the Gulf Stream. In recent years anglers have also started to target tuna. A number of longfin tuna, or albacore, have been taken on rod and line south west of Baltimore, West Cork. Tuna fishing is not yet an established part of the angling scene, but it could become one in the future.
Modern angling boats have powerful engines, sophisticated electronics, and all kinds of safety equipment. They carry anglers to and from the fishing grounds fast and safely. Individual anglers are welcome and skippers always do their best to accommodate them, though boats can also be chartered privately by families or groups. Fishing tackle may be hired on board and if advice is needed the skipper will be happy to help.
Boat anglers of an independent disposition may prefer to hire a self-drive boat or they may already have one of their own. Small boats are well suited to explore the large expanse of relatively sheltered water bounded by the islands that lie between Baltimore and Schull. The area also gives charter boats a unique alternative to the open sea if the weather is unhelpful. Mackerel, pollack, ray, small flatfish and dogfish make up much of the catch, though larger fish like tope are possible.
Good fishing should not be taken for granted. And, whatever you catch, a day at sea, against the backdrop of cliffs of Baltimore West Cork and the islands with their teeming populations of birds and other wildlife, is certain to prove a memorable one.
Catching bait is seldom a problem. The Mackerel shoals appear off Baltimore in April and remain inshore until November. Sandeels and small Coalfish are also abundant and easily caught.
And it's not just the fishing that you will enjoy. The clear blue sea and rugged coastline are a pleasure in themselves. Don't be surprised if you are visited by a school of dolphins, whales or even a leatherback turtle weighing more than half a ton (508 kg).
Individual anglers are welcomed, though a whole boat can also be chartered privately. Most boats carry a maximum of between 8 and 12 anglers. For larger parties two or more boats may be arranged.
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As well as enjoying the fishing on offer in this area, there are also many more activities and things to do in West Cork