I arrived at Lough Hyne in the half-light early on Monday morning to find the Lough mirror-calm. The place hasn't been on great mullet form this year, and I was disappointed again not to see much sign of activity on the surface. Still, I got the rods out and started feeding a little mashed bread, and soon Julian arrived. Mission: to catch his first mullet.
Given there weren't many mullet showing, and maybe it would be a one fish day, I got Julian fishing while I sat next to him slowly feeding the swim. Soon his float dipped away and he struck into ... a mackerel. A few missed bites, then another mackerel!
Soon we were seeing an occasional mullet swirl on the surface and Julian was getting, and missing, bites regularly. The mullet we were seeing looked small and in keeping with that the bites weren't particularly positive. Julian wasn't doing a lot wrong, but every miss was increasing the frustration level, and in his frustration he passed the rod to me to show him how to strike. I suppose the outcome was inevitable, one miss on another fiddly bite, then next cast when the float was pulled under much more decisively, I struck into a very decent-looking mullet.
I quickly thrust the rod back into Julian's hands. The mullet put up a good scrap, but Julian played it well, managing to steer it away from the mooring rope stretching through the shallows near where the fish had been hooked until it was in the clear deep water off the front of the pier.
A few minutes later and he was able to bring the fish into the net, and I swung it ashore. It was a very long and lean individual but otherwise in cracking condition and over 3lbs of weight.
We fished on. The tide was dropping now and we had stopped seeing mullet on the surface. Julian missed a couple more bites before they dried up completely.
Then, after a lengthy lull, a single mullet started taking bits of floating bread just out of casting range. It looked a good fish from the size of the swirls, and the swirls seemed to be coming closer towards us.
Eventually Julian's float sank away and he struck into ... a small goby! The mullet drifted off out of range again.
I had to head home and I left Julian fishing, he caught another goby but not a mullet. He'd have to wait till another day to get his first mullet that was all his own work, so to speak.
Today we met at Rosscarbery, and we started off legering from the grass by the bridge again. There were a few fish topping occasionally, but nothing like as many as on our last visit when I'd landed a couple and Julian had lost a couple. After two hours without a bite between us, we decided to move down the west side of the estuary.
Now we could see a few mullet moving in the shallow water quite well out, but obviously not feeding well as we remained biteless for another hour.
A couple of fish started showing closer in, and Julian dropped his bait about where they were. He was just rearranging his chair when the bite came and I noticed it first, two or three good pulls on his quivertip. I called and Julian grabbed the rod ... the fish was on and stayed on during a decent scrap, and after a few minutes a nice 4lb 13oz thicklip was in the net. One happy angler ...