Mackerel had only been showing patchily here this summer, but on both sets of springs in September they seemed to be around in force, especially on the Bantry Bay side of the peninsula.
I do quite enjoy catching them individually on light tackle, but for now the order of the day was to catch big numbers for some meals and to stock up the bait drawers of the freezer.
I've been a long-term fan of the Mustad Ayaka shrimp rig for mackerel fishing, and these were catching well enough, but I had a few sets of TronixPro Sabikis I'd been meaning to try and one of these did finally get a go ... and I must admit they were better fish catchers than the Ayakas. Quality kit though they aren't: at the end of their first session the set of six had lost one hook completely and two others had been reduced to bare hooks. I had in mind to salvage what I could as a set of three, but by the time I got round to it the hooks were all very rusted so I chopped the rig up and consigned it to the bin.
I dipped into the new mackerel freezer stock for the first time for a session on the north side of Sheep's Head. The best part of the flood tide was missed waiting for the rain to stop, and it was nearly high water by the time I was set up on the rocks and fishing.
It proved quite a slow session apart from a little flurry of bites about two hours down the ebb. These yielded a couple of small bull huss and a better one, a male fish about 10lbs which gave as good a fight as I've had from a huss. It took a king prawn/mackerel cocktail, popped up as usual.
Earlier that week I'd had a discussion about bull huss (among other things) with an angler who stopped for a chat as I was fishing on the roadside at Rosscarbery. He reckoned he used a 40lb mono trace for them, no wire biting piece like I use. He said he'd never been bitten off, lucky guy I think ...
It seems to have been a decent pollack season, and recently among a lot of smaller fish I've had them in the 5lb - 6lb class during several short sessions on rock marks either side of Kilcrohane on the south shore ...
I've dedicated a few other short sessions to try and get on top of the soft plastics for wrasse. I'm still not really there to be honest, in general catching less than I probably would do on natural bait. Some days loads of little pollack have got in the way; others the wrasse just haven't seemed turned on to the method, or at least not to the particular lures I'm using or the ways I'm fishing them.
It does appeal to me though that I don't have to spend an hour lifting rocks to collect crabs or decimate the local limpet population. And I've been catching enough to persuade me the soft plastics have merit, so I'll keep at it as and when ...
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