The month started off on a disappointing note on the 1st with a visit to my low water mullet mark in Bantry Bay. It was a bite a chuck for the first hour but all mackerel and although they cleared off an hour before low tide, the damage was done. The mullet just won't hang around to compete with mackerel when they are there in that sort of force and I fished on for a couple of hours with no interest at all. Right at the death, just as I was getting washed off the mark, a couple of mullet swirled tantalisingly out of range. I stayed as long as I could but they didn't come any closer.
On the 6th I headed to Rosscarbery on a warm day with broken cloud. There was a little breeze blowing up the estuary putting a bit of a lop on the water. Not much was showing on the surface but the mullet were there alright ...
I fished from the grass with two leger rods out as usual, baiting up two areas, one at maximum range slightly left and one closer in slightly right. After thirty minutes or so I hooked a mullet about 3lbs on my left hand rod and played it in only for the hook to ping out with it just short of the net. Not the greatest start and I was immediately wondering if my August habit of losing as many mullet as I landed was going to carry over into September. However, five hours later that monkey was well and truly off my back as a succession of positive takes were converted into seven mullet on the bank. What a session! In ascending order the fish were 3:14, 4:02, 4:09, 4:12, 5:01, 5:11 and a clonking mullet of 6:01 ...
On the 10th I yomped a mile out to fish a deep rock mark in Bantry Bay. It was during the unusually warm spell early in the month and with a sea mist hanging in the air the conditions were roughly like a sauna. I arrived melting in a pool of sweat and I'd barely been fishing twenty minutes when there was a short but heavy shower of rain. I swear when it finished I was actually steaming!
Anyway, the bottom fishing was unusually quiet with my two big baits remaining mostly untouched apart from one small conger. Stephen and Martin were fishing across the other side of the bay, sensibly close to the car park, and Stephen reported everything was quiet on the bottom that side too. I was snagging more than usual on my mark and after losing my fourth set of gear I thought enough was enough and decided to put Plan B into operation.
Plan B involved plastic crayfish lures, Berkley URBN Bubble Creepers, fished weedless on a 1/0 Sumato Texas hook with a 10g Cheb weight. That sounds impressively technical but basically I know next to nothing about modern lure fishing so I just lobbed the thing out using the light carp rod I brought along, waited for it to sink to the bottom and then grubbed it back in slowly.
Despite having had very limited success with these lures before, today the wrasse seemed to be properly in the mood for them, especially for the green ones. There was one lull in proceedings for no apparent reason but most casts I'd get taps and knocks, possible smaller wrasse plucking at the claws and legs, and every now and then the rod would arch over with a proper take. I landed nine or ten, nearly all 2lbs to 3lbs in weight I'd say though I didn't actually weigh any. And one pollack interloper.
Late in the day Stephen did get some action on his bottom baits, winning their match with a 4lb+ pollack and a 7lb+ huss and a few other scraps. Perhaps I should have persisted longer but I'd really enjoyed the wrasse fishing anyway.
By the 12th the mini-heatwave was coming to an end and I decided it was now or never for triggerfish on another Bantry Bay mark.
It seemed a perfect calm day for them but I tried three different spots where I'd caught triggers before and not a sniff - I think the damage was done already by the awful weather through July and August.
Half expecting this outcome I'd brought the wrasse gear with me again so I moved a few hundred yards to a spot which catches a bit more tide and swell and set up for them.
First cast I was in on the green crayfish again, and landed a nice wrasse that I weighed at 3:14. More followed regularly, this time many of them taken jigging the lure under the rod tip against a vertical rock face. One brute of a fish took me down into the kelp below and snagged; the ones I landed were mostly 2lb class again.
The weather sites didn't cover themselves in glory for the weekend. Sunday 17th was supposed to be wet, so Sylvi and I chose Saturday 16th for a session at Rosscarbery. Instead of the gentle northerly breeze expected, we were greeted by a fresh north-easterly which freshened still further during the day.
David Norman was fishing from the grass across from the hotel, so we went a bit further along close to the bridge, unfortunately catching the wind on the corner there.
Water was pouring out of the lagoon after the rain over the previous couple of days, but happily the colour wasn't too bad. I put one leger bait straight out to maximum range and one closer in to my left on the edge of the flow. Next cast I changed to heavier 1.5oz weights which more-or-less kept the baits in place despite the buffeting side wind.
After half an hour I had a sharp pull and then slack line on the distance rod, and played in a spirited 2lber which David came over and netted for me.
Over the next couple of hours I had three more, all on the close in rod, a little bigger but none over 3lbs.
After that the swim went quiet, David wasn't catching either, and the wind was getting quite wearisome. When Sylvi returned from walking the dog down the west bank, we decided to relocate across the road to the lagoon.
I thought the east shore might be more sheltered but it was only marginally so. I gave it 90 minutes but didn't get a bite or see a mullet. I think the rainwater had dropped the temperature and put the mullet off the the feed, or temporarily they'd moved out into the estuary.
Sunday was calm ... and dry! It would have been perfect for Rosscarbery but as it turned out I ventured out late in the afternoon to catch the high water on a rock mark near the village.
It's a relatively shallow, reefy area I've not fished much recently but I had some nice wrasse and pollack along there a few years back.
Today I wasted an hour on the wrasse - not a touch on the crayfish or any other of the soft plastics I tried. Just not in the mood I guess, or maybe the otter I saw a couple of times as it hunted along the rock edges was keeping their heads down.
I changed over to a heavier rod and a trusty Redgill. That was also fairly quiet to be fair but after fifteen minutes or so a good fish hit. After doing the hard part I had a lovely pollack around 5 - 6lbs on the surface under the rod tip, only for it to have a good head shake and throw the hook out. No great matter, over the next 30 minutes I had another about 4lbs, then one 3lbs which I kept for a meal, then a pound size one. Then I beat a hasty retreat back to the car ahead of a squall I could see moving up the bay.
I was back at Rosscarbery on the 20th, arriving just as the morning tide was topping out. Sometimes there's a big shoal of mullet enjoying the flow into the lagoon for the relatively brief period it tops up, today I peered over the bridge and saw, well five or six fish.
The rest of the day looked like it would be a struggle in a strong westerly wind with squally showers so I dashed back to the car to get my float gear. Fourth or fifth trot through and my float buried ... I bullied the fish away from the water pouring under the bridge and after a fair scrap landed this nice 3:02 thicklip.
By the time I'd returned the fish, the flow of water had stopped and reversed. I had a few more trots through on the stream now leaving the lagoon but no bites, and a quick trip up onto the bridge confirmed the mullet were gone.
I set up the brolly and leger gear further along the grass and settled down for what proved a gruelling session.
I still had the heavy leads on the rods from Saturday so I left those on. They just about held in place but the tips were rocking around in the wind making it impossible to see any subtle knocks.
It was difficult to see if any fish were present in the strong ripple. I only had one clear sight of a mullet's back breaking the surface, and within seconds I had my only definite take of the session. It certainly wasn't subtle ... the tip yanked over and locked down, line was pouring off the clutch as I picked the rod up and the run continued for several seconds. When the fish stopped it came to the surface and I could see some massive whelms as it hung about eighty yards out for a minute or so. Had the fish come off at this stage I'd have thought I'd lost a proper big one, but now it gave up and came in relatively easily. It was a long fish but only went 4:00 on the scales.
I didn't get out fishing again till Friday 29th due to combination of troubles with both our cars and some pretty shocking weather, including ex-Hurricane Nigel and Storm Agnes in quick succession. On the 29th I headed to Rosscarbery again to fish with a small party of NMC members who were there for most of a week ... Tim Whiley, Mark & Al Stinton from England, Cliff Wilkins from Wales and Jim Murray down from Dublin.
I fished from the first section of wall across from the hotel, with Cliff to my right and Jim to my left. Jim was first into action with a tidy 3:08 ...
It was a quiet morning in my swim but just as I was tucking into my sandwiches at lunchtime, my left hand tip gave a couple of nods then the line fell slack. A sweeping strike connected ... the fish came in quite easily for a few yards but then really dug in and it was a good few minutes before Jim could get the net under a very solid mullet that went 6:00 on the scales. Thanks Cliff for the photo ...
Well into the afternoon, as the water level started to creep up I had another couple of takes. First a 4:09 taken at range then a 5:02 much closer in as I tried to avoid the loose weed drifting through on the tide ...
That was my lot for the day; I think it would be fair to say I had the best of things but Jim had a nice 4:02 later on along from me. Tim had a 4:08 fishing further down on the west bank. Mark and Al had scored earlier on in the lagoon, they missed a couple of good chances on leger from the grass but then had some smaller fish on float when the tide was up. Cliff unfortunately blanked but he and the others caught fair numbers and some good individual fish during the rest of their stay despite some very mixed weather including another blow and deluge of rain on Saturday 30th.
That day Sylvi and I were heading to England on a very bumpy ferry crossing for a few days visit ahead of our son's wedding. There'll be a delayed start to my October fishing but as soon as we're back I'm off to Ross for six days of fishing with my old friend Dave Matthews so hopefully there'll be some big mullet to kick off the next update on here.