August Report

First up, mulleting and on the 1st I headed to Rosscarbery on a gloomy, grey day with heavy rain forecast to arrive about 4pm. I turned up about 11am and fished from the grass across from the hotel so I could get the brolly up in preparation.


After a quiet first hour I started seeing a few fish out in front of me and getting odd knocks on the tips, possibly just line bites. 

Then a little pull followed by slack line on my left hand rod and I struck into a feisty but smallish mullet of 2:10 which was notable mostly for being my 100th landed of the year, mostly down some  prolific sessions in January, February and March. It was also of course a mullet in August, that's 29 months consecutive now since the end of the last covid travel restriction.


While I was playing the fish I'd noticed my other tip banging away. The fish had run out quite a lot of line but was gone by the time I could give it some attention.


No matter, within a few minutes of casting out both rods I was in again, a slightly better fish of 3:05. Remarkably while I was playing it my other line had been shifted round about twenty yards to the right, but that fish had come off too! They were feeding well though, and I was soon latched in to a stocky 3:11 that scrapped well above its weight.

The first raindrops rattled into the back of the brolly around 1.30pm and by 2.00pm it was lashing down. The swim seemed to have emptied of fish so I took advantage of a brief lull in the rain to pack up and get myself and my kit back into the car before everything was soaked.

I was back on the 7th, another grey day with outbreaks of rain expected. There was already someone fishing from the grass so I drove down the west side and got set up in the lee of the car.


There were plenty of mullet showing at all ranges so I fished one rod close in and one at distance. Surprisingly it was a couple of hours before I had a good pull, just a little mullet around 2lbs on the close-in rod. 


Ten minutes later the distance rod lurched over. A much stronger fish ran out a few yards of line then hung out there for a good while before slowly kiting in to the wall to my right. After a little more struggle it was in the net, a very well-conditioned 5:09...

A few minutes later I added another 2lb class fish then a lull in proceedings while I was visited by David Norman of Angling Adventures West Cork. It had been David fishing on the grass and he'd also had a nice mullet estimated 5lbs. We had a good chat while watching my motionless tips, but within five minutes of David heading off I missed a good pull on the close-in rod then almost immediately lost what felt a very heavy fish on the distance rod - it was still running out line strongly after a violent take when it came unhooked. Shortly after I landed another 2lb+ fish but no further action after that.


I was back in the same swim three days later. David was fishing from the grass again this time with a customer, John. John caught his first and very decent mullet though I couldn't make out any of that through the mist and drizzle! 


I thought I had the better choice of swims to be honest, snugly out of the wet stuff under the tailgate, but it just wouldn't happen for me today. The hours ticked by over the HW period and it wasn't till well down the tide that I had a credible take and landed a 2lb-class mullet to stave off the blank. Remarkably after waiting hours for a bite, I had another fish hammering away on my other rod while I was playing this one in, but just like the session on the 1st it was gone by the time I could get to that rod. Shortly after another fish also about 2lbs came adrift half way in to round off the session nicely.


My next session out after the mullet was on the 16th on a rare lovely summer's day on my low water mark in Bantry Bay. The first two casts yielded mackerel, not really a good thing as if they're about in force the mullet tend to make themselves scarce, apparently not wanting to compete. Fortunately today the mackerel moved on as the tide dropped away and I was soon seeing mullet moving on the surface. Catching them was something else though - plenty of bites on fish baits under a small waggler float but I missed what seemed an impossible number of them. I resorted to counting to five before striking, if the float hadn't reappeared, and I did eventually hook a couple. Even then, both were hooked in the very edge of their top lip. In compensation for all the frustration they were at least two decent fish, 4:08 and 3:13. The four was my best on the mark for a couple of years and it took my NMC "Top Ten" to over 50lbs for the season, a welcome milestone I've not always achieved, aggregate weight of the best ten mullet but a maximum of four fish to count from any one venue. The fish had historic damage to the tail which somehow I didn't even notice till looking at the photo later...

On the 20th I was back at Rosscarbery for what turned out to be another disappointing session for that venue.

The tide had only just started dropping away when I arrived and there was a heavy ripple from a strong SW breeze. A couple of days prior Storm Betty had dumped a lot of rain on West Cork, and the water was carrying a lot of colour. I couldn't spot any mullet so I set up on the grass, put out two leger baits, catapulted out groundbait and hoped for the best.


Second cast I had a good pull on my left hand rod and another of the 2lb-class mullet that seems the predominant size at the moment.


Sadly though that was it for the day. Lunchtime came and went, the water coloured up even more as the level dropped away and filthy water poured in from the lagoon, still not seeing any mullet moving. The only other action was mid-afternoon when my right hand rod yanked over, and I was in ... it felt like a bigger fish but it was an oddly subdued fight, the fish coming in far too easily with just a slight kite to the left. As soon as it reached the edge and turned, the hook popped out.


24th - Rosscarbery again - and why not? I find it hard to stay away this time of year when traditionally the big mullet show. Today was mostly sunny, alternating flat calm and little spells of  a NW breeze that had more than a touch of autumn about it. The water was still carrying colour but there was a good amount of surface activity. Some of this was coming from a couple of very busy sea trout, some from shoals of fingerling mullet, but some bigger mullet were topping too. I was getting quite a few twitches and knocks on the tips from the off but proper bites were hard to come by again, despite having mullet showing round my baits much of the day.


It was well into the afternoon when I struck a tiny but persistent rattle on my left hand tip and found myself connected to a very solid mullet. The fight was dogged rather than spectacular ... six or seven minutes in, still nowhere near ready for the net, the fish threw the hook. I'd had a good sight of it in the shallow water: a long fish, a big four possibly but probably topsides of 5lbs. Certainly it was one I'd like to have put on the bank and on a day of few chances it seemed a big miss. An hour later my right hand rod pulled over. The fish jumped right out of the water as I picked up the rod, and I briefly wondered if I'd hooked one of the trout. It was a mullet though, at around 3lbs a good bit smaller than the other one but it would have been very welcome under the circumstances. This one was almost at the net when the hook pulled. It sank to the bottom and lay there pointing straight at me for a few seconds before swimming off. I'm sure it had a smile on its face.


No more bites but late in the day a group of mullet appeared in the margins close to where I was fishing. I scattered some groundbait, dropped a bait out and watched as fish swam past ignoring it despite sometimes passing within inches. I rather imagine much the same had been happening further out all day. 44 years fishing for mullet and they still have the capacity to excite and frustrate in equal measure.


I was back again on Monday 28th, the last day of NMC's Rover competition on the UK bank holiday weekend. I'd won jointly last year with a 6:14 and outright in 2021 with a 6:11, so I wanted to mount at least a token defence. I had in mind to fish the deeper water by the bridge where I'd had both the aforementioned fish but someone else was fishing there. I started down the west side where quite a few fish were showing in close, it looked no great size to them. I dropped one bait in after them and welted one out hoping there might be some bigger fish at range. After a couple of abortive knocks close in, the distance rod pulled over ... a good fish ran out unfortunately picking up a bunch of lettuce weed as it went. After a minute or so I found myself playing just the weed...


That was the fourth fish on the bounce I'd lost across three sessions so I was pretty despondent, the more so as the swim seemed to die on me after that. Then I noticed the bridge swim had been vacated so I moved over there for the high water and had a couple of mullet close in. They were only 3:02 and 3:12 but by this stage I was just glad they hung on all the way to the net...

The Rover was won back in England with an astonishing golden grey mullet of 3:10 which was in excess of the UK record and set a virtually unattainable target of 8:01 to win with a thicklip!

On the 29th and 30th I did a couple of brief HW sessions stalking the shallows in one of the bays near home. I had loads of bites but most came from really small mullet just a few inches long.


On the first session I briefly contacted a half-decent mullet that swirled next to my float before taking, but it soon threw the hook. On the second I had this fish just under 2lbs fishing as deep as I could in two feet of water to try to avoid the tiddlers.


I probably should do more of this local mulleting but it's very weather-dependent and even if calm it's hit and miss if there'll be mullet present on the day. The average size of the open sea mullet has definitely dropped off over the last few years but I was pleased to get this fish. They don't have to be big to be beautiful, or indeed a challenge to catch.


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The Airstrip Strand at Bantry hasn't been in the best of form recently - or perhaps we've been spoiled with the ray fishing the last two or three years and it's reverting to type - it's easy to forget just how poorly I did on the mark for the first few years after we moved over! 


Anyway on the 4th I fished the last couple of hours of the ebb tide and over low water with just a huss about 7lbs and a handful of dogfish to show...

As the flood tide picked up, weed made fishing difficult. There were some big clumps of stuff drifting through on the surface but mostly it seemed to be long fronds of kelp trundling through on the bottom. After the best part of an hour struggling with it I decided to take a break and try for mackerel.

Second chuck with the sabikis and three mackerel hung themselves on. Seems it was an isolated shoal though because half an hour later the total was still only ... three.


I had another go on the bottom with fresh mackerel baits, but no interest and the weed was still bad.


It was raining heavily by now so I packed away the bottom rods then on impulse had a "last" throw with the sabikis. I was straight into the mackerel again and this time they seemed to be moving through in force. I packed up thirty minutes later, soaked, with a round total of twenty plus a few tiny joeys that I shook off at the edge.

A return visit on the 14th was particularly disappointing. Bite first cast and two LSDs were hanging on to either end of a pennell bait. That very much set the tone for the day - I had bites pretty much every cast but nothing else looked like ever getting past the doggie hoardes.


The weed was bad again on the bottom. It didn't seem to bother the dogfish at all but I wonder if the rays tolerate a carpet of kelp or move elsewhere?


There were no mackerel at the Airstrip today to rescue the session but I stopped at another mark on the way back to Kilcrohane and had a good few, just about a full complement in the bait freezer now.

Being a glutton for punishment I was back at the Airstrip on Monday 21st. I'd completely forgotten about Bantry Show at the weekend but fortunately public access was allowed to the carpark and along the edge as the arena and tents were being dismantled behind.


The weed was worse if anything after Storm Betty, and the dogfish were out in force again demolishing mackerel and bluey baits. Oddly they didn't seem keen on the shell-on king prawns I'd found at Lidl; though nothing else did either.


Well into "last cast" territory one of my rods pulled over a foot, paused, then carried on going over. At last a decent fish - a pretty thornback around 7lbs had hit the mackerel bait and was duly landed.


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On the 15th Sylvi and I drove up to fish Tralee Bay in Kerry. I had in mind the various ray species that are caught in the shallow waters: thornbacks of course, stingrays and small-eyeds that I haven't caught yet in Ireland and particularly undulates that I've never caught.


I'd spied a couple of promising-looking spots on Google Maps that didn't involve too much of a hike. Unfortunately the first of these wasn't accessible from the road so far as I could tell - what looked like an easy step over a wall and onto the beach on Streetview was actually a 20 feet drop covered in brambles. 


We ended up at an easier spot further west towards Fenit which I'm sure would produce on its day, just not this day. We had a very enjoyable and relaxing time feeding the crabs but completely untroubled by fish or even a bite, until it was time to pack up and catch a nice meal in The Tankard restaurant. By the time we were home I was already feeling I hadn't given it my best shot fishingwise...

... so it wasn't a big surprise to find ourselves back a few days later on the 26th, despite the awkward drive from ours, to fish a different stretch on a different tide.


Today we fished 5.5 hours on a session spread either side high water but sadly the fishing was scarcely any better. I did manage a little tub gurnard, the first gurnard of any species I've caught in Ireland. Another angler fished to our right and later moved to our left, but blanked in both swims.


Despite some rain and a bit of wind in the previous few days, the water was still pretty much gin clear and I can't help thinking this is problematic for the fishing given how shallow the Bay is.


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I didn't fish on the 6th but I did take a wander onto a headland in Dunmanus Bay to find Stephen and Martin who were down hunting mainly pollack on another of their roving matches. I have to say I admire their energy and persistence ... twenty minutes spinning and I'm knackered, and bored if it's not a bite every other chuck at least, whereas they stick at it for hours. Martin brought in a succession of pollack up to 4lbs on a big metal lure while I was there, and ended up winning the match with over 30lbs. Stephen's plastics were being less effective on the day...

My own chance to shine with the pollack came on the 17th on a deep mark in Bantry Bay. I took along a bottom rod and a rod to spin for pollack. Overall it was a quietish session, with just a bootlace conger on the bottom and a handful of pollack up to a couple of pounds on redgills...

Seeking inspiration, I ferreted through the lure box and pulled out a 60g blue & silver metal that Stephen had given me earlier in the year. I chucked it out as far as it would go, waited for it to sink well down, and brought it back sink and draw as close to Martin-style as I could remember. On the fourth or fifth cast, the rod lunged over. It was obviously a bigger stamp of pollack which fought all the way in and particularly when trying to get down into the kelp at my feet. Just over 6lbs...

That's my fishing for August, apart from a couple of mackerel-only trips and an ill-judged attempt for a trigger fish.


It's been the most consistent mackerel season for a few years and I've scored nearly every time I've tried - the bait freezer is well stocked now so it's just dinner and fresh bait from now on.


I don't think there's yet been a spell calm enough for long enough to bring the triggers inshore. They certainly weren't there on my mark in Bantry Bay on the rare windless day I picked on to try. The midges however were out in droves and despite spraying every inch of exposed skin I was bitten half to death in the hour I lasted. The start of September is looking promising on the weather front though so I may yet give it another try.

Write a comment

Comments: 2
  • #1

    Jonny Butler (Thursday, 05 October 2023 09:50)

    Hi David, I really enjoyed reading this, although I’m very jealous of the amount of fishing you manage to get through each month! I managed to get down to Rosscarbery for a couple of days and fished on Monday and Tuesday of this week. Caught up with a couple of the NMC guys who were rounding off their trip. I fished mainly down the West Bank of the estuary pool and managed to hook 6 mullet in total but, further to your experience, every single one of them came unstuck after a few minutes! Better than not hooking any at all I suppose, but very frustrating nonetheless. Talking to a couple of the NMC guys it seems that they’d been afflicted as well at times, the fish just weren’t “taking it right”. I did have a bit of a play around with changing hook size and hook lengths etc but none of it made any difference. But despite it all, all fishermen (and perhaps mullet fishermen in particular) are hopeless optimists, and I’ll be planning to get back down again in the next couple of months when I’m certain there will be great shoals of feeding mullet and no hooks thrown!

  • #2

    David Rigden (Friday, 06 October 2023 10:40)

    Hi Jonny, great to hear from you but ouch, losing six out of six must hurt. I've personally had a much better ratio of mullet landed in September - blog update to follow shortly - just a case of persisting with tackle and methods I trust and recognising that most of the time they hang on better! Might see you down there.