On 1st July Sylvi and I headed down to Rosscarbery. We were going to miss some time later in the month for a UK trip so I was keen to get a July mullet under my belt.
I should have paid more attention to the tides. The late afternoon HW was predicted a decent size but the early morning tide had been smaller and coming off the back of a set of neaps there wasn't much depth in the pool. Coupled with mostly bright sunshine and a gusty NW breeze raking across the pool, it looked like the day would be a proper struggle.
And so it proved. We could see mullet moving occasionally across the far side of the pool among the wreckage of the old oyster trestles but few if any ventured within casting range. Four hours and more dragged by with no interest at all on the quivertips.
The new high water seemed to be taking forever to break into the pool, but it did eventually make it and the water level started rising quickly. Almost immediately I was seeing mullet whelm close in, probably fish that had come up the channel with the tide.
I dropped my baits in just past the rocks, and laid some groundbait around them. Soon I was getting odd knocks on the tips and before long a proper take ...
After a lively scrap Sylvi slipped the net under a 3:12 thicklip and I added another couple over the next hour, 2:08 and this fish of 4:00 exactly.
It could have been more but the mullet weren't really hanging on. I clean-missed a couple of good takes and a couple of others were so lightly hooked they were off again in a split second.
As soon as the tide started dropping away again the fish were gone. Still, mission accomplished.
The NW wind freshened overnight and persisted a good few days. By the 5th I decided I needed to get out anyway and headed down to the airstrip.
I was fishing a couple of hours before low water, reasonably effectively I thought albeit at reduced range because of the wind.
The first hour was quiet but in the hour down to low I had a couple of dogfish then a stronger fish that kited left as I brought it in, a decent thornback about 6lbs taken on mackerel. I discovered I'd left my camera at home with my mullet kit so the pic is one I caught earlier!
I had hopes for more rays but not for the first time the airstrip doggies had other ideas. I was blitzed by the things for the first two hours of the flood, by which time they'd just about run me out of bait.
On the 11th I fished the new rock mark where I'd had a couple of good huss last month. It was a busier session in terms of numbers of bites, but most of them seemed to be from small stuff. I missed a good few as I was using 6/0 hooks but landed four doggies and a couple of small strap congers.
As the tide topped out I had a better take and after a decent tussle another nice huss surfaced.
The mark's only just off the road and as I dragged the huss up onto the rocks a whoop from behind alerted me to a small crowd watching. An eastern European guy scrambled down clutching his phone and shouting, "Fish, fish". I thought he meant to get a photo of me with the huss, but he thrust the phone into my hand, grabbed the huss and obviously wanted me to take the photo of him with my fish! Bit of a cheek but it seemed too complicated to explain that's not how it works, so I obliged and thought at least he'll take a photo for me. I went to get my camera from my bag but when I turned back he'd already legged it back up the rocks and they'd all disappeared! The huss weighed 9lbs-odd, similar length to the others I had but not as fat.
On the 12th I did my first pollack session of the year. There was a fresh wind pushing up the bay and more swell than I felt comfortable with, so I settled for an east-facing mark in the lee of the headland.
It's not a typical pollack mark really being sheltered and quite shallow, but it usually turns up a few and I've had some nice ones there up to over 5lbs and also lost some proper lunkers that proved impossible to keep out of the rocks and weed when hooked at range.
So I wasn't unduly surprised when the Redgill stopped dead on my fourth or fifth cast, my rod bent over and braid started ticking off the heavily-set drag. Then everything came free - I assumed the fish had just come off but when I wound in the hook had snapped at the bend. I don't really trust the flimsy Aberdeen hooks which come with Redgills these days and swop them out for 2/0 Sakuma Manta Extras ... might have to have a rethink!
I had several pollack from the spot but nothing much over 2lbs. As the tide dropped away I ventured out onto the front of the headland. It was borderline fishable but I gave it 30 minutes and added a few more pollack of similar size.
On the 16th I fished a new rock mark on the north side of Sheep's Head with Stephen and Martin. Stephen had met the landowner on a previous foray and obtained the necessary permissions. There was a stiff west wind blowing up Bantry Bay, but we found a little shelter from the worst of it at the very east end of the mark.
The lads were fishing a roving match. Martin had had about 20lbs of pollack before I arrived. Stephen hadn't done so well and was just changing over to bottom fishing. They'd had some mackerel so he had some fresh bait. I decided to stick with the frozen heads I'd brought along in the hope of something big.
The bottom fishing was a bit slow. Stephen had a doggie, a 3lb pollack and a tiny conger. I was getting lots of knocks probably also from small congers but nothing that hung on. While we sat it out, Martin added a few more pollack to his score then about another 20lbs of wrasse fishing ragworms close in. He came third in the match, getting beaten by dogfish hauls from other venues.
I'd just about decided it wasn't going to happen on the bottom today and was breaking out the mackerel gear when the ratchet on my reel finally signalled a good run.
After a brief but brutal tussle I had a nice huss on the surface, and Stephen kindly scrambled down the rocks to lift it out by the trace.
The huss was just over 10lbs; we thought it would go heavier but it was another a bit lean down its flanks.
The lads packed up soon after and I had a last hour with the sabikis for mackerel. They were patchy but I kept catching in fits and starts and finished with a dozen, all a good size. Next day I headed to the go-to mackerel spot on the north side, cleared up the rubbish left by the weekenders then managed just five mackerel in the hour or so before getting rained off; plus a launce.
On the 19th I spent a couple of hours over lunchtime on my low water mullet spot in Bantry Bay. It was four weeks to the day since Mike Buckley last fished there. I'd wanted to rest the spot because Mike had given it a good hammering over four sets of tides while he was over, understandably as the mullet fishing was patchy at best on a lot of other marks. Anyway ... patience duly rewarded with plenty of bites on the last off the ebb tide on fish baits eighteen inches below a waggler float, and four chunky mullet between 2:15 and 3:11. I might have had more but the north-west wind freshened as the tide turned and there was soon too much swell for my light tackle.
We arrived home from our UK trip in the early hours of the 26th after a delayed flight out from Stansted and the long drive down from the Airport. We awoke to a foul day with a strong west wind and lashing rain so after getting the dog back from kennels I settled for a quiet day getting ready for a mullet session at Rosscarbery on the 27th.
On the neap tide there wasn't a lot of depth to the pool and there didn't seem to be many mullet present apart from a few groups of fry-size fish topping now and then. That said there was a heavy ripple across most of the surface from the blustery wind and the water was quite coloured from yesterday's rain, so it wasn't that easy to tell. I set up two leger rods to fish the slightly deeper water in front of the bridge arch, one close in and the other further out, settled down and hoped for the best.
The late morning passed without incident and about lunchtime the water started creeping up as the tide reached the pool. I was just thinking about getting the sandwiches out when my close-in rod yanked over about a yard then sprang back. I thought I'd missed the take but before I could get out a suitable curse the rod pulled over again and I was in. After a very spirited fight I had a chunky mullet in the net. It looked a good bit bigger than the 3lbers I had in Bantry Bay last time out, and I was surprised the scales wouldn't read more than 4:05.
The high tide, such as it was, came and went. I started getting a few gentle knocks on the close-in rod, maybe just baby mullet but nothing I could strike anyway. I was watching one such failing to develop when the distance rod pulled over.
This was a stronger fish which ran out some line then kited round to the right. I followed it along and we slogged it out in the shallows in front of the rocks. The fish was very reluctant to come the last few yards but after several minutes I got the net under a wonderful, scale- perfect 5:08 thicklip.
I'd barely caught my breath and I was in again, this time on the close in rod. This one hardly ran at all, instead diving into the deep water right in front of the bridge where it chugged up and down for ages close to the rocks, very nerve-wracking. The mullet wouldn't come up in the water at all, often the sign of a good fish and after nigh on ten minutes of this I was beginning to think it was a very good fish. Then I caught a glimpse of a massive silvery flank and I knew it was a very good fish indeed! After a few more minutes it suddenly capitulated, surfaced and was in the net.
It was a lovely 6:01, again in pristine condition. After all that protracted fight, the hook just dropped out in the net...
It's easy when writing these blogs to focus on the good days and memorable catches, but it's not always like that of course. After another manky wet day on the 28th, on the 29th the west wind was still howling up the bay. I tried an east facing mark where I hadn't taken the bottom rods before, but it turned into a disaster with four out of five casts snagged irretrievably, possibly because the swell coming round the corner was moving my rig around till the hook found a snag. Or maybe I was casting into a forest of kelp. Or both. The other cast I had a tentative pull on the mackerel head bait but nothing came of it. I'd taken a lighter rod to spin for pollack if the bottom fishing was slow, but I could only muster a couple of pound-size fish on that and lost another set of gear. I packed up and although I'd dodged the showers moving up the bay while I was fishing, I got a soaking walking back across the fields to the car ... capped the day off nicely!
We've been stuck in a rut of poor weather for several weeks now with an out-of-position jetstream feeding depression after depression across the Atlantic, and it looks like more of the same carrying on well into August at least. It would be nice if it settles down in time to have a realistic shot for some trigger fish, for example, and to get to fish some of the choicer west-facing rock marks, not to mention topping up the bait freezer with mackerel for the months ahead. We'll just have to see what happens.
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PS: Posted this, wasted most of the afternoon then decided it had just about calmed down enough for a quick mackerel session before dinner. Just took the bass rod and sabikis over to Bantry Bay. Breeze was still fresh over there, adding white horses onto the swells of about 3m rolling up the bay. It didn't look very mackerely at all, nor particularly safe to be honest, but I fished off a high ledge and caught eighteen in an hour. Four for dinner tomorrow and fourteen to add to the dozen or so already in the freezer. I still need more but it's a decent enough start.