The easterly airflow spilled over into March. The breeze wasn't forecast too strong for the 1st so I headed to Rosscarbery. Mission: to catch a mullet to complete 24 months consecutive since the last covid travel restriction ended.
I huddled under the brolly on the grass and endured a fairly bleak session on the chilly and grey day.
There was a big shoal of mullet that bubbled up occasionally well out in the pool, but very few fish were showing within casting range.
After five hours I'd had enough and started packing away. I was just breaking down the brolly when I noticed my left hand rod pulling right round. I dropped the brolly, grabbed the rod and a few minutes later had a fit mullet of 3:06 sliding over the net.
It was a stroke of luck, but on the other hand I firmly believe you make your own luck in fishing to some extent. I could have easily called time an hour earlier; and when I do decide to pack up I always leave the rods fishing to the last moment as I tidy everything else away.
On the 3rd I fished from the rocks up in Kerry. The breeze was still out of the east so I wasn't expecting the best of days but on the other hand, after the huss last time and dogfish hordes on previous trips, I wasn't expecting a complete blank either. I fished the bulk of the flood tide and half of the ebb ... and not a single bite so far as I'm aware.
My friend Steve Smith was arriving on Tuesday 7th for a week of early-season mullet fishing. I wanted to check on the form down on the Mizen, so on Sunday 5th I headed down to fish the estuary there. There were fewer mullet present in the low water pool than on my last couple of visits in February, but I did see movement from time to time and had sporadic bites. I ended up catching three mullet, all middle 3lbers...
I picked up Steve from Cork Airport on a pleasant spring afternoon, but the forecast for the week ahead was on the grim side of unpleasant.
The east wind was back with a vengeance for Wednesday, so it was back to Rosscarbery for another session hunkered under the brolly.
The air temperature was 3degC and we were barely set up before horizontal rain was rattling onto the back of the brolly. About lunchtime this was replaced with sleet and occasional flurries of snow.
Perhaps surprisingly for the conditions, there were plenty of mullet about. The big shoal was present again, today moving actively about the pool, perhaps because it was being harassed continually by several cormorants. Multiple times we had hundreds of mullet moving all over our baits, giving us line bites but no proper takes.
This is pretty much the norm for these tightly-shoaled winter fish. They don't seem to be on the feed at all, it's just the odd straggler from the shoal that might buck the trend and have a go at your bait.
I'd just re-cast after about the fourth such episode when, against the odds, one of my rods pulled over properly and I found myself connected to a very decent mullet.
I wish I could say playing it was an enjoyable experience, but it really wasn't at all once out from under the brolly and in the bitter wind. I had fingerless gloves on but my exposed fingertips were so cold they were painful; the sleet was stinging my eyes.
It was a relief when Steve got the net under the mullet after eight or nine minutes. It was worth the endurance test ... a mint fish of 5:10.
We packed up soon after, both chilled through.
The wind was forecast to drop overnight and to turn southerly for a while on Thursday afternoon. After a leisurely start we headed down onto the Mizen to fish the low water pool. I was pleased to see the water was still clear after yesterday's rain, and even more pleased to see odd mullet topping in the middle of the pool. There seemed to be more than when I'd checked the venue on Sunday, though still far fewer than had been there earlier in the year.
I really wanted Steve to have a good session after yesterday, so I decided not to fish myself and to act as ghillie, feeding his swim and netting his fish. After getting into the groove of striking the bites he had five, including a chunky 3lber and a very nice fish of 4:10...
The wind was howling out of the east again by morning, stronger than it had been on Wednesday but thankfully without the rain and sleet. We settled down under the brolly at Rosscarbery again, and blanked. The large shoal was still there but not as active today, they only came through our swim once. A short while later Steve had a couple of promising nods on one of his tips, but nothing hung on.
The wind was turned to a moderate westerly for Saturday, ideal for fishing the pool on the Mizen but the water would be too high till lunchtime. We headed down for an early lunch at O'Sullivan's in Crookhaven and arrived to fish at about 1pm. Happily the morning rain had cleared through by then.
We really needed a good session because the weather forecasts for Sunday and Monday were dire, and Steve was going home early on Tuesday. Wonder of wonders, the pool was packed with mullet, as many as I'd seen all year.
I let Steve get a head-start of a couple of fish before getting going myself, but I needn't have bothered. He added another nine fish to my six, and his included a trio of heavier fish from among the 2s and 3s. My best was a modest 3:13 while Steve had a 4:08, 4:12 and a very good fish for the venue of 5:04.
The forecast was unremittingly wet for the next two days. Best bet looked Sunday morning but the drizzle turned to steady rain soon after we arrived at Rosscarbery. We fished from the road on the west side of the pool, reasonably sheltered from the south-east breeze by the car but getting steadily damper and colder. We packed up just after lunch, not even having seen many mullet today. We gave fishing a miss on the Monday so we could get Steve's kit dry for his flight home, and had a nice lunch with Sylvi at The Quays in Bantry. The day fined off for the last hour of daylight, a tantalising glimpse of what might have been.
I didn't bother fishing the rest of that week with continuing poor weather and some very neap tides.
Saturday 18th saw a break in the weather and the tides starting to pick up. I wanted to watch the rugby that afternoon, so I headed down onto the Mizen for a morning session. The water was more coloured than when I'd last been there with Steve, but there were mullet topping all over the pool again.
I fished four hours and had, I think literally, a bite every cast. I missed a good few but landed an astonishing 16 mullet in an eclectic mix of sizes from 1:05 to 4:02, mostly 2s and 3s.
The weather soon returned to wet-and-windy. It wrote off the next set of spring tides when I'd really liked to have been up in Kerry chasing spurdogs.
I finally got back there on Sunday 26th for an afternoon session wiith Sylvi, after the rain had stopped that morning and a stop for brunch at Perrin's in Glengarriff on the way.
There was a stiff north breeze but we were sheltered from that by the hill behind. Everything looked perfect but yet again no spurs, just a few LSDs from the smattering of bites.
It was a disappointing outcome ... again ... as it has been all year. I'll probably give the spurs another chance or two in April, if only on the basis it would be a crying shame to miss them now after all the effort.
On Wednesday 29th I headed east for a first go at the giltheads this year. I've never tried this early before but I noticed on the IFI specimen fish list there were some big ones caught in late March last year, so worth a shot, potentially.
The day was supposed to brighten up for the afternoon and evening, but it was decidedly gloomy when I arrived and stayed that way. There was a fresh southerly breeze blowing straight up the estuary and perhaps because of that the tide never went out as far as expected, though it did drop enough to dig some lug, fortunately.
I'd been fishing an hour or so when Jason pulled up on the road behind. The good news was he'd caught a gilt about 3lbs the evening before. The bad news was that it was his first in five attempts so they weren't really in yet in any numbers. He kindly donated a couple of well-popped peeler crabs from his stash, and went on his way.
The fishing wasn't great. The water felt cold and as if to confirm the fact, I had lots of bites from small coalfish, landing several about 8oz. A couple of better pulls yielded shoal bass about the same size.
I'd intended fishing right into the dusk but about 7pm the heavens opened, the lashing rain moving up the estuary in waves and soon finding every opening in my waterproofs. It didn't seem worth carrying on, the slim chance of a gilt diminished even further by the shoals of little coalies. There'll be better opportunities ahead, no doubt.