I'd never caught a trigger fish ... the closest I'd come was hooking one on bread on my mullet gear in a Hampshire marina basin, but the blighter bit through my trace as it neared the net.
I've known a while they're present sometimes on one of the more sheltered rock marks here on Sheep's Head; one of the locals told me about them and though he misidentified them as Ray's bream I guessed what they were. I'd never got round to doing anything about it, but when my regular blog reader Stephen texted me to say one of his friends had caught some genuine confirmed triggers down there I decided enough was enough.
On the next calmish spell of weather, I collected some big mussels on Durrus shore and headed for the rocks, arriving just after low water. I've known triggers (apart from my nearly one) caught on bread by mullet anglers so I guessed they might be responsive to a bit of groundbait. I ladled in sloppy mashed bread with a few crushed mussels close in to the rocks every few minutes. I was fishing mussel on the hook on light float tackle, with just a few turns of bait elastic round the eye of the hook to hold the soft mussel flesh in place.
First bite was a small wrasse, next a wrasse just slightly larger. Then I had a funny little bobbing bite - I struck, missed, wound in and two trigger fish followed the bait up out of the depths! I dangled the bait in front of them and they both had a go at it. One took it properly but I struck the bait out of its mouth somehow. Fresh mussel on and I dropped the bait back down. This time the bobbing bite developed into something more decisive and I hooked my first trigger ...
They certainly zip around fast through the water, though I felt without any great sense of direction and without much stamina. A very enjoyable session ensued but I've got to say that when survival instinct was being handed out, triggers didn't get their fair share. They keep coming back for another go no matter how many times you pull the bait away from them; I netted one and its mate just swam right in along with it!
After an hour the mayhem was over. I wasn't sure if I'd caught them all or if the tide and swell now pushing round the corner into the bay moved them on ... whichever, they were replaced by pollack and some pretty wrasse up to a couple of pounds.
I haven't done any dedicated wrasse fishing this year. I must get round to it, but probably I'll save it to October when Steve is back. Most of my time on the rocks this summer has been directed at pollack, albeit that's been somewhat limited by my mullet-fanatic guests and several rough spells of weather. The video shows fairly typical conditions on the rocks here...
It seems to be a good year for pollack, lots of fish in the 2 - 3lbs class and most trips a bigger fish or two of 4 - 5lbs. I've lost a couple of larger fish - one hooked at range that plunged down into the kelp, one that slashed at the Redgill just as I was lifting it up through the water at the end of the retrieve, wallowed briefly on the surface then crashed down snapping the 20lb fluoro trace. The few I've kept for eating have, surprisingly, mostly contained smaller pollack around three inch size in their guts. I have a germ of a livebaiting idea ... something else I must get round to.
Bantry Airport Strand is something of a nemesis for me: home of lost tackle, monumental blanks, massive doggie-fests and never a sniff of one of the thornbacks or bull huss the place is known for. I've more-or-less given up on it, but I was encouraged back today by Stephen's recent message that he'd caught a thornback there in a small club match with five caught in all.
Anyway, it turned into a relatively successful trip by my standards. Still no sign of a thornback but I only lost two sets of gear, didn't go arse over head on the cobblestones and caught some fish that weren't actually dogfish!
It was shaping up into the normal doggie glut when a shoal of mackerel happened by and starting picking up the bottom baits - not taking on the retrieve, proper rattly bites that broke the lead out. Then suddenly I was into a decent fish - a huss around 9lbs that I managed not to lose in the rocks and weed close in.
Sylvi had huss and chips at a restaurant recently and is after me to top one for her. I had a chat with the huss about this and the huss wasn't too keen on the idea, so back she went.