April Report

On Tuesday 2nd April I collected Steve Smith from Cork Airport for a short visit. He only had four days to fish and the last of these looked seriously at risk from Storm Kathleen, so it was straight into action down on the Mizen on Wednesday.


Heavy rain over previous days had left a peat stain in the water, but I'd fished through such conditions quite a lot this year and done reasonably well so I was fairly confident.


Sure enough, Steve was soon getting bites. Sport was steady on the dropping tide and he bagged six mullet. I didn't fish myself but was happy enough on ghillie duties, loose-feeding Steve's swim and netting his fish. Unfortunately it was a shoal of 2lbers in residence so some way below potential size-wise but he seemed content with his haul...

The fishing died as the new tide flooded into the pool, perhaps surprisingly as it was still very fishable on this neap tide. We called time and headed for a coffee and cake at O'Sullivan's.

We headed to Rosscarbery on Thursday. It was a blustery grey day with heavy rain forecast later, so we made to set up on the road on the sheltered west side of the estuary pool. We'd barely got the rods out of the car when a passing walker told us they'd seen hundreds of fish lower down the channel towards the pier. We were seeing a few mullet moving where we were but not many, so it seemed worth a look lower down. Sure enough we found a big shoal spread over about a hundred yards of the channel.


It wasn't the easiest fishing with a flow down the channel punctuated by surges up as the 

tide made. It was difficult to get a good trot through but we were soon getting odd bites in unpredictable places.


Steve was first in with a mid-2lb fish. I hooked one that looked significantly bigger but it came off after a few seconds. Steve had another smaller than his first. I bumped one on the strike ... and suddenly the shoal was gone, just melted away, whether up the channel with the tide or back down towards the sea wasn't clear.


We had a good look round but couldn't relocate the shoal, so we decided to head back up to our first choice swim and break out the leger rods.

It was already spotting with rain but we managed to lash the brolly to the back of the car so we were reasonably snug as it got heavier, and heavier.


We had a fair number of mullet showing in front of us at all ranges but it seemed to be the fish further out that were feeding confidently. Steve struggles a bit for casting range and he only had a couple of half-hearted plucks on his tips. Meanwhile I had takes from decent mullet of 3:00 and 3:14 and rounded the session off with a smashing fight from this chunky 5:06. 


The fish seemed to move on as the tide spilled into the pool. It was lashing with rain by now anyway, and it was an easy decision to call time for the day.

Friday we headed back onto the Mizen, in hindsight probably the wrong decision as the torrential rainfall of last evening and overnight had coloured the water up really badly and the extra flow of floodwater through the pool made for difficult trotting. The wind was already whistling ahead of Kathleen and the session was peppered by heavy showers.


To be honest I thought a blank was the most likely outcome but we stuck with it and as the flow died off when the flood tide neared, Steve had a couple of bites. He landed one mullet that didn't quite make 2lbs, but it was something of a triumph under the difficult circumstances.


The storm reached its peak on Saturday morning and we wrote off the day as far as fishing was concerned. We took a drive out and had a nice lunch at the Ouvane Falls in Ballylickey. On Sunday 7th, Steve was off home.


I was back at Rosscarbery on Tuesday 9th, the only dry day of another wet week but with a strong wind raking across the pool from the west. I hunkered down under the brolly on the grass, clipped heavier leads on the leger rigs and settled down for what might be a difficult session.


As it turned out I had two good fish early on, 4:00 and 4:08 ...

... but then the fishing died on me for what seemed a long afternoon watching the wind buffeting the tips.

By 5pm I'd about had enough. The new tide had just broken into the pool and the water would soon be flooding over the grass where I was. Given how slow the fishing had been I couldn't be bothered with relocating higher up, so I started tidying my kit away to pack up, leaving the rods fishing.


While my back was turned I had a good take on the left hand rod. I was alerted by the drag clicking away and turned back to see the rod locked over in the rest.


The mullet was hooked at range and continued to run out powerfully. Shiny unused line appeared on the spool and I began to worry the fish would get into the snags on the fringe of the mudflats opposite, but fortunately it stopped just short. After a couple of minutes of stalemate I started getting line back slowly and the fish came in without too much bother. It kited to the right and I beached it in the shallow margins in the corner of the pool. It was a very healthy 5:11 thicklip.


The 17th was my birthday. Sylvi and I headed to Rosscarbery to fish the afternoon before getting burger and chips along the road from the chipper by the garage, celebrate in style why not?


It was a very neap tide and most of the mullet activity seemed to be focussed around the outflow from the lagoon. I gave the leger rods an hour without incident then made up the float rod as I was still seeing fish and they seemed quite active on and near the surface.


To be honest I should have done better than I did. Trotting down the flow I managed to miss about the first twenty bites and bumped a fish on the strike before getting into the swing of things. I landed three respectable fish to 3:08 before latching into something much better. One epic fight later, I slid this scale-perfect 5:02 over the net ...

The mullet were moved further out with the disturbance of all that. I had a couple more bites at the extreme limits of the trot, missed one and bumped another on the strike, then the fish melted away.


The next day we walked the dog along the rocky shore near Kilcrohane. Summer had arrived for a few days and we found some mullet enjoying the sunshine in a spot I'd not fished before. Some of these early arrivals in the Bay looked very decent size. We finished our walk then I dashed back with my float rod, but the tide was up another couple of feet by then and most of the mullet had moved on. The handful left showed a passing interest in floating scraps of bread, and I had a couple of bites fishing about a foot deep but missed them.


I returned next day for a better prepared session. The mullet were there again, not in yesterday's numbers but again some chunky individuals among them. Typically they seemed less interested in bread today, but I did get odd bites till eventually bumping a fish on the strike ... it felt absolutely solid for an instant so probably it was a big fish. Predictably everything went quiet after that, till a little flurry of bites about an hour later. I missed several before finally hooking into a little thicklip that would have made barely 12oz!

On the 20th Sylvi and I headed up to Kerry, making a most of the pleasant weather for a go at the spurdogs. My friend Stephen had four spurs on a nearby mark a couple of days before so I felt unusually confident after what has been a pretty dismal season for them.

The first hour passed uneventfully then I had a tiny drop-back bite on a mackerel/squid cocktail bait. Nothing else happened but when I decided to wind in a couple of minutes later there was a heavy fish on. It put up a good scrap especially close in but soon I had a nice thornback ray flapping at the edge of the rocks and was able to hand-line it out. The ray went just a shade over 10lbs on the scales, so a new PB for me in Ireland.


Soon after I missed a bite on a sandeel/squid cocktail that came back shredded ... interesting ... possibly a spur?


Seconds later my other rod went and this time I hooked into the fish, indeed a spur. Bites continued to come sporadically throughout the session. I missed a few, hooked a few and ended up with seven spurs on the rocks. They weren't big fish at all, probably 4 - 5lbs at most, but very welcome after such a lot of unproductive effort for them this year.

On the 25th we were back at Rosscarbery. Winter had returned and it was a cold and blustery day with rain forecast later on. The water in the estuary pool was an unpleasant shade of brown, apparently being coloured up by the water pouring out of the lagoon which was even browner and reeked of cattle slurry. Not great, but there were mullet showing themselves occasionally so maybe not so bad.


We started off down the west side where there were a few mullet visible in the shallow water but I couldn't get a bite from those fish and after a couple of hours the swans moved onto my groundbait and made fishing impossible. We moved up to the grass at the north end and took shelter under the brolly, and more hours ticked by without any interest on the tips. It got to mid-afternoon and Sylvi took the dog for a walk before the rain arrived. While she was away I thought I might have had a drop-back on one of the tips but nothing came of it and it may have just been the wind moving the lead.

It was spotting with rain when Sylvi returned, she took some of the kit back to the car and I said I'd have a last cast then pack up. It was soon raining steadily and seemed to be set in.


I made the cast last as long as I reasonably could, wound in my right hand rod and started packing it away ... and my left hand rod wrapped round!


The mullet splashed on the surface and came in easily about ten yards. I was just thinking it didn't seem very big when it got its head down and steamed off about thirty yards. It came in very grudgingly indeed, kiting round slowly to the right so I had to get out from under the brolly to follow it across. I got soaked but it was worth it for a lovely 5:06. Another last gasp mullet!

On the 26th I went to the airstrip strand near Bantry for an afternoon session over the low water.


A light north-east breeze was forecast which wasn't ideal, and when I arrived it was blowing about 20mph! Still, here now so I may as well fish ...


As expected it was a pretty gruelling session, plenty of bites actually but all dogfish. Other casts I wound in massive starfish which I presume had been sitting on my bait fending off all-comers. It was a disappointing outing for sure but unsurprising in the conditions.


On the 27th we were back up in Kerry. The forecast was for a light north breeze which would have been sheltered by the forestry behind, but in practice there was a moderate easterly which increased to fresh every time a cloud came over. It was perishing cold and didn't seem like nearly May at all.


First bite was a good pull followed by slack an hour or so up the tide, resulting in another nice thornback, if a fairly drab one as they go. This one was just a shade under 10lbs.


The spurs were gone though, just a couple of LSDs to show for the rest of the tide. There were lots of seabirds working shoals of bait fish the last time we were there, but nothing like that today ... I guess the spurs follow the shoals. It would probably help matters if the pair trawlers didn't strip out thousands of tons of sprat from the bays each winter.

My last outing of the month was on the 29th, Rosscarbery again, another day with a strong and surprisingly chilly westerly cross wind. At least it was mainly dry apart from a couple of brief showers.


Those keeping count will realise I'd had a 5lber on each of my last four trips to Ross, so I was about due a duff session. As far as I could tell with the wind rattling the tips, I didn't get a bite all day and I barely saw a mullet move. The venue seems to be a bit off form to be honest - just one definite bite in the last two trips, about eleven hours of fishing. I'll probably give it a miss for a few weeks now; hopefully there'll be some decent mullet fishing available in the bays nearer home when the weather settles down again.

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