February Report

Mullet-wise I spent most of my time down on the Mizen, failing to replicate the wonderful fishing of February 2023 but nevertheless clocking up a few fish.


The weather continued poor throughout the month, the venue carrying extra rainwater and a horrible peaty colour. Few mullet were evident on the surface but they were obviously present in modest numbers as bites would come fairly regularly fishing deeper down.


These two guys were an unwelcome addition to the local fauna, the more so in that they seemed already tuned in to bread and some days wouldn't leave me alone for more than a few minutes. Presumably they'd flown in from Rosscarbery or somewhere else they were used to getting fed.


My first trip was on the 1st. Conditions were challenging as described but the float dipped every now and then and occasionally my strike connected. I had three mullet around 3lbs to take my monthly run to 35 consecutive...

I was back on the 9th for another go. The ebb tide/floodwater was running out too fast to fish effectively at first but as the flow eased off I started getting bites. I finished with five mullet, bumped one on the strike and lost another after a couple of minutes. That was a bit bigger fish but the ones I landed were mostly 2 - 3lbs...

I wasn't back till after a particularly grim spell of weather, on the 24th. I bagged another five thicklips in a remarkably similar session.


It's not just the number of fish that's down, but the smattering of 4 and 5lb mullet I was getting in the bigger bags last year seems to be missing too. The biggest of today's haul was 3:12.


The Fox Adjusta Level chair, incidentally, is one of the best pieces of fishing kit I've ever bought, this one's now into its eleventh year and replaced one that lasted twelve. Very comfy and the fold-out undercarraige gives some instant height adjustment for uneven ground without the faff of four adjustable feet which would also need to be kept clean and functional.

In between times, on the 14th, I had an afternoon session at Rosscarbery. I had other plans but it had already started raining when I arrived and it was soon set in for a bleak, dank afternoon. I took the easy option and fished out of the back of the car along the first section of wall.


The water was surpringly clear but as I mixed up my groundbait I noticed it was perishing cold, even compared to the air temperature which wasn't great in itself.


I wasn't too hopeful the few fish I could see well out from the wall would feed, but for an hour mid-afternoon they seemed to get more active and I had three good takes, each converted to a mullet on the bank. The first was about 2lbs, the second a chunky 3:12. The third was a useful 4:10 that might have gone an ounce heavier if something hadn't bitten off half of its tail! A seal probably...

It was still pretty dank on the 16th when I had the big rods out for my first visit of the year to the airstrip strand near Bantry.


I arrived to fish the second half of the ebb tide then as much of the flood as I could into the dusk. It was a neapish tide, not ideal.


It was a quiet session punctuated by just two bites. The first was a little drop-back an hour before low that yielded a nice little thornback of 2 - 3lbs. The second, about an hour up the new tide just as I was on the phone to my friend Stephen, was a full-blooded take that had the rod pulled over about a yard. The fight though didn't live up, and I'd soon landed another smallish ray, this one about 5lbs. The successful baits were mackerel and bluey - I've never found much to choose between them though each seems to have its day.

I should really take down some whitewash for the concrete slab to get some better contrast on the photos! Just how effective is their camo?

I was out again on the 18th, to mark on Sheep's Head where I had some very decent bullhuss last summer. No such luck today though.


Unusually for this February it was a pleasant day in a brief window in the otherwise relentless rain.


Early on I had a few little knocks on mackerel head baits which I put down to small fish pulling at the soft bits. Nothing came of them and soon they petered out. I was really hopeful of some proper action as the tide topped out but it wasn't to be.


I had a couple of days up in Kerry, on the 10th and the 26th, hoping for a spurdog but I didn't get one, again, as has become the usual state of affairs over the last few seasons.

Both sessions I fished the tide up from low to just after high.


The 10th was a slow session, eventually I had a couple of takes close together about mid-tide, both on mackerel bait. The first was a little nod followed by slackline, and I soon had a bullhuss about 7 - 8lbs on the surface at the edge ... where it opened its mouth and let go of the bait. Not ten minutes later I had an identical bite on my other rod and this time had a much bigger huss about 11 - 12lbs do exactly the same thing! Huss are absolute masters at clamping their jaws on a bait without getting hooked so it's never exactly a surprise when it happens - still disappointing though, particularly the bigger fish and on a day when there was no other action.


The 26th was an even slower start. It was nice seeing otters, seals and then dolphins all within a stone's throw but maybe they weren't doing much for the fishing! About 90 minutes before high water I had a couple of knocks on my left hand rod. Nothing seemed to come of them, so I left the mackerel bait out. Ten minutes later, the rod pulled hard over.


The fish headed out, slowly but powerfully, peeling line off against the drag. Then it turned and headed straight in, not very fast but as fast as I could wind on a 6500. I began to worry it was going to come right in to the margin, so I worked my way forwards to the edge of the rocks. The fish turned and started stripping line again ... then the hook came out. 


I cast my mind back to my PB spur of 14lbs and some other big ones I had about the same time. As I remembered they zipped around and took a little line off the drag ... but the fish I'd just lost seemed in a different league altogether. I couldn't rule out its being the mother of all spurs, but I really doubted it.


No sooner had I sorted out a new bait and cast it out than my other rod locked over, line already pulling off the drag as I picked the rod out of the rest, with some difficulty. The fish carried on running slowly, further than the first, then just like the first turned and swam slowly in. It turned again and headed back out - this time the hook held - on an awesome run that took it well past my original casting range. Eventually it stopped and I could start pumping back line, but as it got closer to the rocks and the line became more vertical the fish seemed to get heavier and heavier. It kited left a bit which was bad news as I couldn't stay directly over it ... I had an inkling what the fish was now and wasn't that surprised when it went to ground somewhere at the foot of the rocks.


I spent a good ten to fifteen minutes trying to get the fish on the move again. Occasionally it would pull off a couple of feet of line which I could then get back with a lot of effort, but it wasn't really budging. Eventually I pointed the rod down the line and pulled gently at first, gradually harder ... I was expecting the line to break, but then I sensed some give and then the fish was coming up ... very slowly. I got the rod up again and started pumping - it was like lifting a slightly animated fridge! After about ten or twelve feet, the hook came out. It had opened out slightly, either by my pulling or more likely the fish pulling against whatever it had been snagged in. It was a Sakuma Manta Extra in 4/0, a good strong hook for most purposes.


I'm sure the fish was a common skate - a good bit livelier and a good bit lighter probably than the one I lost in January 2022, but a skate all the same. In some ways the hook coming out was the best possible result as there was no way I'd have lifted it out of the water, or even got very close to the water to cut the trace. But for a few moments I felt there was a chance this one was coming to the surface and I was disappointed I didn't at least see it.


I don't really want to invest a grand in tackle that might give me a better chance of getting a skate to the top next time - bearing in mind there may not be a next time - and take much of the enjoyment out of catching spurs, huss and rays. Maybe see about upgrading the hooks though...

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