May Report

A relatively quiet fishing month for me with my seasonal exam work kicking off mid-month.


On the 4th I headed out for a short session on the rocks just local. There was a little swell but not much and it was low down the tide so I risked a west-pointing sloping ledge which isn't often fishable.


First cast was into the mouth of the bay to the right of the point and within moments I was in, in a serious way. A very nice pollack had engulfed the orange/red Redgill and it was everything I could do to keep it up out of the kelp with the angles all wrong at  long range.

A minute or so later I had it on the surface and into my net, a proper lump of 5.5lbs.


I tried several more casts that way but couldn't get another take, so I turned my attention to the open water to the left of the point and over the next hour had about a dozen more pollack, mostly 1 - 2lbs but a couple of bigger fish about 3lbs. I kept one of those for eating and because I was intrigued what it had packed into its stomach. It turned out to be two semi-digested wrasse about six inches long each.


The swell was getting up a bit but before evacuating I thought I'd see if there were any wrasse about with the green crayfish lure that had been quite deadly for them last year. I had a couple, then a 4lb pollack that snatched the crayfish under the rod tip to round off a wonderful little session.

On the 6th I headed to the airstrip strand near Bantry to fish a couple of hours either side of the low water.


There were doggies about, as usual, but happily not in plague numbers so I was in with a shout of something better.


About an hour before low, my rod fishing mackerel on an up-and-over rig pulled down then the line fell slack. I wound down into a weighty fish and soon a very decent thornback about 7lbs joined me briefly on the beach.


I'd taken along a third rod to scratch for small fish such as the grey gurnard sometimes caught along the airstrip there. Just before low water I noticed that line had dropped slack. I wound down and it was soon apparent this was no gurnard - I played the fish in very gingerly and picked another thornback out of the shallows, about 7lbs again. It had taken a tiny strip of bluey on a size 4 Aberdeen, though the hook would never be quite the same again! A couple of hours up the tide I had another ray, just a small one, on prawn and bluey cocktail.

On the 8th and 10th I headed east a ways to try for a gilthead. I dug lug and both days had a long wait through the low water period before getting a few bites in the narrow window between the flood tide picking up and becoming unfishable with weed.


I did have a gilt - comfortably my smallest from the venue - and a few schoolies. It didn't seem a lot for all the effort. I like catching gilts but the estuary I fish has definitely gone off the boil a bit the last couple of seasons, I may need a re-think.

On the 11th I did my only mullet trip of the month, and the first of the year to my low water mark in Bantry Bay. I was dismayed to find long strands of Japanese sargassum trailing up to the surface - an invasive menace I know well from my time fishing the Solent. Thinking about it there were a few clumps appeared last year till they were washed away in the August storms but this year it looks like it may form a continuous band that makes fishing difficult to impossible, we'll see I guess when I next visit in June. For now it was manageable.


There were plenty of mullet topping when I arrived with the tide still dropping. I missed a few bites then hooked a couple, just small fish barely 2lbs. Unfortunately the others melted away and didn't reappear as the new tide made as they often do.

The fish in the photo was the first victim of my Kingpin reel as it enters its 21st year, a remarkable innings really considering it's operating well outside its comfort zone and like most of my kit suffers a sort of benign neglect till it absolutely needs cleaning or a dab of oil for the bearings. I was lucky to get mine for £130 when they were first introduced, the latest models cost hundreds and most are exported to the USA and Canada.

My last outing of the month was back to the airstrip on the 24th.


The doggies were more prolific today, bites off them most casts and I landed six or seven.


I'd almost given up hope when  a couple of hours up the tide, one of my rods pulled over and locked down. Then followed an unusually spirited scrap as thornbacks go. It had picked up a bit of kelp adding to the impression of weight ... even so, a very decent fish about 8lbs.


The bait was the front half of a sardine on an up-and-over rig. Lidl was selling kilo bags of frozen for barbecue season ... and Sylvi grabbed me a couple of bags for the bait freezer. Good stuff, evidently.

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