It's been a while since I'd been down at Rosscarbery and I've been out of touch with how it's fishing. But a new guy, Martin, on the Chelon labrosus forum posted this week that he'd been there recently and had a 6 and a 5 and some smaller mullet - it seemed like time to head back.
I started in the lagoon float-fishing. It soon became clear there were huge shoals of tiny mullet in there. They were very quick into the groundbait and onto my hookbait. After 30 minutes of almost constant dink bites on the float, but nothing remotely strikeable, I decided this was a waste of time. I moved over the road and wasted some more time trying to fish the edge of the stream of water exiting the lagoon - it was really far too windy for effective float fishing and I saw not a sign of a mullet.
I headed down the road on the west side of the estuary and eventually found some decent size mullet in the shallows.
There wasn't enough depth to floatfish sensibly so I set up my two leger rods to fish pop-up crust baits and cast them out. I catapulted some groundbait around my hookbaits.
Action was slow coming but when it came it was decisive. One second the quivertip on my left hand rod was moving gently with the breeze, the next the rod was bent over and threatening to pull over the wall.
No need to strike at all. The fish powered out and put up a good fight for five minutes or so till the line picked up some lettuce weed that slid down and covered the mullet's head. That quietened it down a bit!
I soon had it out and weighed, a particularly handsome specimen of 4lb 6oz. I returned it, baited up both rods and cast out again.
It was slow again, but I was still seeing a few fish in the swim and a few casts later I had a much slower pull round on the same rod.
This fish came in quite easily, then decided to put up a fight and motored off out and right, crossing my other line but luckily not tangling with it.
Eventually I brought it back and netted it. Someone had stopped their van to watch and as I unhooked the fish they introduced themselves as Patrick Lombard.
Pat has persuaded IFI to set up a National Grey Mullet Programme to better understand the species and that (hopefully) may to lead to conservation measures. The first stage is some scale sample research. My sampling kit was still in the post but while I weighed the mullet - 4lb 2oz - Pat readied his kit and did the honours measuring length and girth and taking five or six scales from one flank. The mullet went back not too much the worse for wear.
My swim now seemed empty of fish but I carried on for another hour or so; no more bites.
I saw some fish moving close to the wall to my left so I took my float rod down to have a go. They seemed fairly undisturbed by my presence but uninterested in bread and they may even have been some of the thin lips that turn up at Rosscarbery.
After an hour I decided to relocate my leger kit further left still to a small grassy island.
My arrival coincided with the first flush of the new tide into the pool. I'm not sure if it was this or my move that got things going again. It certainly wasn't hectic but over the next couple of hours I had quite a few twitches on both rods and four good takes. I contrived to lose the first two fish. One I played probably too hard trying to keep it away from some snags to my left, and the hook came out just as I seemed to have it coming towards me. Predictably I eased up on the next one and it found one of the snags; I found myself playing a length of heavy duty rope part-buried in the mud. After that, things went better and I landed the 3:08 above and then a 3:00.
Bites dried up about high water. I spent a last hour on the float as I had seen several fish whelming close in - but to no effect.