My first trip out after Dave's return home was down onto the Mizen on September 5th.
I really wanted one of the bigger thicklips that browse the sandflats over HW like I had fishing last month with Mike. But after a couple of hours on the leger, the tide hadn't come in as far as I'd hoped and I'd had only one small mullet with no other bites. I wasn't even seeing any fish moving over the flats so there didn't seem to be much prospect of getting anything else and a change of plan was called for.
As the first of the ebb flow eased off, there were some quite decent numbers of mullet starting to show in the deep pool by the bridge arches. Although most of them looked small, occasionally I'd see a bigger fish so I decided to take the leger rods back to the car and break out the float rod.
What followed was a really enjoyable session of addictive bite-a-trot action. Yes, most of the mullet were small, the fish being less than two pounds and a few barely making a pound. They do pull your string though on light float tackle and it was nice trying all the permutations of surface bait, slow-sinking bait, fishing shallow, fishing deep ... but today it really didn't make much difference.
Striking into mullet number 13, the rod took on a fierce curve as the fish powered off across the pool and it was clear I'd latched onto one of the few bigger individuals present. After a prolonged scrap I had the net under a chunky 3:08.
After that it was back to the smaller fish. I stopped at twenty for the day. I thought more may have seemed a bit greedy.
After a week off for our son's visit over, I was back in fishing just in time for a spell of weather that was forecast dry and sunny, albeit with a freshening east wind.
On the 17th I went down to the low water rocks in Bantry Bay in just about perfect conditions, to find a big shoal of mullet finning on the surface, some of them large fish.
I was getting interest from the very first cast fishing bread flake shallow, and soon I hooked up. It was a lively fish but evidently not one of the bigger ones. I soon had it out, estimated it at 2lbs and dropped it gently into a large rock pool behind to recover and await its release by the flood tide.
There were still plenty of fish showing. I missed a couple of bites, struck another and ... crack ... the top half of my lovely Drennan Acolyte Plus float rod sort of got left behind as I lifted the butt. I stared at it dumbfounded, then was brought back to reality as the float shot away, the fish hooked itself and the rod tip slid off down the line into the sea!
Probably fortunately, the fish came off as I started to play it on the rod butt and I was able to retrieve everything.
I was now in a quandary - perfect conditions, perfect state of the tide, mullet everywhere and a three piece rod now in four pieces and not much use! I hastily packed up, hurried back to the car and dashed 20 minutes home to get another float rod.
After a hiatus of an hour, I was back, tackled up and fishing again. The effort proved worthwhile ...
The mullet were still there, and I was soon in again. First a stocky 3:15 on bread and then a lovely fish of 4:10 (in the net photo) on salmon flesh which was the second biggest I've had off this particular mark. Both fought long and hard, really nerve-wracking as on LW on these bigger tdes the kelp is right up to the surface in places.
I had another smaller fish and then it seemed the shoal had moved on with the making tide. Just as I was thinking of packing up, a single large fish started swirling at bits of floating bread about thirty yards downtide. It gradually worked its way closer, I put on a fresh piece of salmon to welcome it to the swim, my float plunged under and I struck in. It looked a similar size of fish to the 4:10, fought at least as long and was still going when the hook came out. A mixed day to be sure!
I've since heard lots of Acolyte disaster stories from various sources ... seems they're a bit prone to sudden failure but as it's been such a nice rod to use I've invested in a new middle section and it will get another chance. I think I'll carry a spare in future though ...
A couple of days later, I was back. It was another bright sunny day but there was an east breeze by now and fewer mullet were showing.
I took up where I left off by losing another decent fish. This one insisted on diving down and snagged in the kelp a couple of times. It came free on both occasions but it then threw the hook which seemed to have been opened up slightly, presumably by the mullet banging away on a short line while it was tethered to the kelp.
Thereafter I had a lot of bites and connected with three mullet, but only smaller ones up to 2:09. A shoal of mackerel rocked up on the start of the flood tide, effectively ending the mullet fishing.
I went back the next day to try to make amends for the lost fish, but the east wind was whistling now and no mullet were showing. I missed a bite second trot through but the rest of the session passed without incident till I called it a day at LW.
Sandwiched between these trips, on the 18th I travelled down to Rosscarbery for the first time in a while. I set up on the grass near the bridge and although I could see a mullet move now and again, my immediate thought was that today might be a bit of a struggle. The sun was very bright, the water was very clear and only very slightly rippled by a touch of east breeze.
It was indeed a struggle, with just two bites in about four hours fishing, a little drop back which I struck and a massive pull round which I didn't need to. Two decent fish though, a 4:13 and a 5:00 ...
On the way home I called in a spot near Castletownshend. There were a few nice mullet moving in and out of the patches of bladderwrack as the tide made over the muddy shingle foreshore. I waded out and fished a clearish patch of water on float, but couldn't get the fish taking bread. After about an hour I had to leave, dumped in the contents of my bait bucket, turned to go and two nice mullet were suddenly gulping down the floating bread as fast as they could! I hurriedly baited up again and cast out, the float settled a couple of yards from one of the fish then immediately slid away as, presumably, the other fish took the bait. I missed the bite and with it the chance of catching, the feeding frenzy was gone as if nothing had happened.
On the 22nd I was back at Rosscarbery. It was a Sunday and quite a few anglers were out fishing at various spots at the top of the estuary pool, so I ended up well down the west bank. I was fishing very shallow water, but I don't mind that, especially if I can see a few mullet moving around as I could today.
The biggest problem looked to be the lettuce weed. Although the wind had now gone westerly, the week of easterlies we'd just had had pushed large patches of the stuff over this side of the pool. I could aim for the clearer areas but ultimately it would be a bit of a lottery where the bait would land.
I tied slightly longer traces on my leger rigs in case I landed the rig in weed, so hopefully the crust bait might pop up above the weed carpet. Then I baited up and cast out my first rod, and I hadn't even finished my other bait when the first was taken and I caught sight of the tip nodding out of the corner of my eye. I struck and hooked what seemed a respectable fish, but it came off about two-thirds of the way in.
A longish quiet spell followed. High tide came and went without another bite but as is so often the way, getting out my sandwiches and pouring a cup of coffee seemed to spark some mullet interest. In fairly short order I had out a couple of fish either side of 3lbs ...
A Chinese family of at least three generations walked by as I was landing the second fish. They stopped to watch and Grandad insisted my fish was a sea bass, even after I told them it was a mullet. It didn't seem worth arguing about but I made a show of putting it back to their general disbelief.
A quiet hour later, my left hand rod lunged over and a mullet splashed out of the water fifty yards distant having hooked itself. This was obviously a much better fish that ran off strongly and fought all the way back in. Landing it was complicated by the rubber stop I use behind the leger weight (to give semi-bolt rig properties) having slid up the line way further than it normally does even with very violent takes - I guess the lead must have been really dug in as the fish ran line out. When the stop jammed in the quivertip top eye, the mullet was only just barely in reach with my net. I managed to get it though, eventually. It was a lovely 5:07 ...
In another comedy passerby incident, a walker chanced by just as I was finally getting the net under the fish. "They don't fight that hard then," was the comment. I was a bit nonplussed but told him he should have seen the other ten minutes.
The swim was getting very shallow now and there were no fish moving, so I decided to move on and fish a spot near Glandore on the way home, a swim I hadn't fished for four or five years. It looked good and the float was trotting through perfectly, but there was no sign of a fish. I decided I'd pack up at 6.00pm after about an hour fishing. At 5.58pm a large mullet swirled at a piece of floating bread, did a lap of the swim and promptly disappeared. It didn't come back but I thought I'd give it another half hour. At 6.29pm my float shot under near the end of the trot - missed it! I gave it a few more runs but no repeat. I've no idea if that was a mullet or not but as last time I left feeling I could and should have done better.
After a wet and windy few days I was back at Rosscarbery today, a bright but blustery day. There were shoals of small mullet about but I couldn't find any larger fish, so I took pot luck on the grass by the bridge and set up there.
While I was fishing I started seeing fish splashing about way out on the fringe of the sandbank, especially when a bird flew over and spooked them. After three hours they hadn't shown any sign of coming closer and I hadn't had a bite so I decided to pack away the leger rods and try on the float in the lagoon.
I fished by the Activity Centre on one of their little piers, and soon had a reasonable mullet swirling in the swim at odd bits of floating bread. I started getting bites fishing flake a foot deep, but I'm guessing the mullet was just pushing the bait along because I missed a string of them. Eventually it took the bread properly and I was in, no monster at 2:10 but I was pleased to get it out on a difficult day.