Sheep's Head Fishing Blog

 

 

 

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2021

Sun

28

Nov

2021

November Report

Just a brief mullet-only report this month. I've not been doing much with my seasonal exam work underway.

I started off with a session at Rosscarbery on the 5th. It was a grey but mild day, and on arrival I could see a few mullet moving in front of the grass.

 

I soon had my leger baits out and after a few abortive plucks on the tips, finally a good take. After a spirited fight I landed this chunky 4:15.

 

A short while later I had a smaller fish about 2:08 but after that the fishing petered out. After lunch I decided to drive over to Clonakilty for a look round the estuary there.

 

I had a browse around a few spots about Ring but didn't see any mullet, then I found a few in really shallow water as I drove back up towards Clonakilty town. I gave them an hour or so but they were really skittish and I couldn't get a take despite at times having fish all under and around my float.

 

I decided to head back to Rosscarbery for a last hour into the dusk. The tide was up now and I was just set up and fishing again when a large seal stuck his head up right in front of me. I don't suppose it was the first up there nor will it be the last, but it was the first I've seen in ten years fishing on and off at Ross. It's only three feet deep even with the tide in, and I could see the seal exploring all round the pool from the hump of water he was pushing up in front of himself. He didn't seem to be catching anything to be fair but the mullet understandably made themselves scarce.

I was intrigued by the fish I'd failed with at Clonakilty, and decided to head down on the 7th for another try. I spotted a couple groups of fish on the drive down the estuary, but decided I'd have plenty of time for them later and chose instead to go for a few fish that were showing at Ring.

 

I got a bit engrossed as it's easy to do mullet fishing and in truth spent too long trying for what was only a handful of fish that weren't particulary interested. I had a few half-hearted bobs of the float and did eventually land a mullet that was barely 2lbs. 

 

By the time I'd returned to the fish further up the estuary I was limited for time ... I had a nice 3:07 before the flood tide surged up the channel and the fish disappeared with it.

I was back on the 20th for another attempt, on the last day before a cold snap was forecast. This time I stopped for a go at the first fish I found, in a long pool that is effectively cut off over the low water period, with just a very shallow channel in and out. And today there were many hundreds of mullet present.

 

I set up with a dumpy little float that trotted through beautifully right to left on the flow of fresh water through the pool. It took a while before the fish showed interest, but once they did it was steady action. I'd catch one then move a few yards along and eventually amassed nine, losing a couple of others.

The mullet were all 2lb-this and 3lb-that.  There was definitely a smattering of bigger fish present judging by some of the backs and tails I saw, and ideally I'd have liked a couple of 4s for my NMC Top Ten. That wasn't to be but it was still great fun catching these fish especially on the float and centrepin.

The cold snap did arrive and a couple of nights with really heavy frost followed. Nevertheless I was keen to have what would be a last go for a while - a proper Arctic blast from Storm Arwen was on the way and soon after that had passed we'd be having to travel to UK for an extended trip. So I headed back down on the 23rd.

 

The mullet had evacuated the pool where I'd done so well before, but this time I found good numbers lower down the estuary. The conditions were very different - a perishing cold day despite the lovely sunshine, the water now felt at least five degrees colder than last trip and was much clearer.

 

I was surprised the mullet fed as well as they did given the sudden drop in temperature. Despite missing a load of bites and three fish shaking the hook, I landed another five, though again they were on the small side.

I won't be back in fishing action again now till nearly Christmas - hopefully there will be enough time left in the month to catch a December mullet and maybe get started on the spurdog season.

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Thu

04

Nov

2021

October Report

A slightly truncated report this month with fishing opportunities limited by a variety of factors.

The 4th was a rainy day but it turned to showery late on, just in time for a quick pollack session down in Dunmanus Bay.

 

There were plenty about, with bites on most casts. I kept a fish about 3lbs for eating, and put back a couple similar. The rest were all pound-size or smaller.

 

The already short session was shortened still further when a massive bull seal appeared. He chased a small pollack I was winding in almost to the rocks, then stationed himself just off daring me to get anything else past him.

On the 5th I was down to Rosscarbery to try to get an October mullet under my belt.

 

The slow form from late September carried over, with only one definite take in a long session legering at range. About lunchtime my left-hand rod nodded then the line dropped slack. I struck and connected with a lively thicklip which turned out to be 4lbs on the button.

 

As the afternoon drew on the tide flooded into the estuary pool and I was soon forced back across the grass. I dropped my baits closer in, only two or three yards past the rocks at the 

margin, a tactic that had produced a couple of bonus fish in recent sessions. It worked again today as it turned out, when my left hand rod suddenly yanked over and a big mullet splashed on the surface. The fish never ran far out but the fight seemed to go on for ages. It was a lovely 5:13.

 

My next couple of mullet sessions were disappointing really.

 

It was a stunning day on the 9th, following some foul weather the previous day and overnight. The small pollack seemed to be gone from my low water rock mark in Bantry Bay but unfortunately the number of mullet didn't seem to have increased at all. I had a couple of chunky mackerel then finally a thicklip about 2:08 almost on dead low. A line of surface debris - leaves, sticks and other dross - moved in with the first of the flood tide, not in itself too much of a problem but the water behind the scum line was a thick, peaty brown. Obviously this lot had come down one of the streams off the hills in the heavy overnight rain, and not yet mixed with the seawater in the bay. The session turned from hopeful to hopeless in the bat of an eye.

 

On the 11th I arrived at "Mike's Pontoon" to fish the low water, having failed to locate a mullet in an hour session on Rosscarbery Lagoon on the way. The low tide proved lower than I expected, leaving not a lot of depth under the pontoon and apparently no mullet in residence. As the tide started to flood back in, I started to see whelms and splashes in the margins behind and upriver of the pontoon. They didn't look big fish but I didn't want to blank so I gave them a go. They proved tricky with not much interest in bread and just an occasional half-hearted dip of the float. The reason became clear when I finally connected with one ... a golden grey. Mine was only a pound but some of the others in the shoal would have been comfortably over 2lbs and I was left regretting I didn't have any more suitable bait such as maddies.

On the 14th I was out on a deep rock mark on the north side of the peninsula. It was nice to have the big rods out again but it wasn't the greatest session.

The highlight really was a small group of dolphins passing by right to left almost in touching distance of the rocks, it's special at any time to see them but particularly this year when there doesn't seem to have been many in the bays.

 

Fishingwise, the LSDs were out in force from the word go, a bite a chuck and I landed five or six. As the tide topped out I had a couple of better takes, and two huss about 7 or 8lbs. I've had many bigger but probably none so attractively marked as the leopard-spotted one in the photo. I was under orders to get a pollack for supper, which only took a couple of casts with a Redgill as the tide started to drop away.

On the 18th I had to drive Sylvi up to Kerry Airport - Cork being closed for rebuilding the runway - for her autumn trip back to England. It was an early flight so I had the better part of the day available. I headed to one of my spurdog marks, more in hope than expectation of a spur at this time of year but it's not bad general fishing.

It was a miserable grey day with outbreaks of rain and a fresh breeze pushing onto the shore.

 

For the first couple of hours the crabs were stripping baits almost as fast as I could cast them out, then for another hour they were replaced by LSDs.

 

Just after lunch I struck into a typical LSD bite on my last sandeel bait and found myself connected to something heavy. It pulled harder and harder as it came closer to the rocks in typical huss fashion ... then let go of the bait under the rod tip. I caught a glimpse of a long pale belly as it rolled over and dived away. It's a big huss speciality spitting the bait and hook this way but for some reason it seems to happen a lot on this mark. This one had taken the bait from the wrong end, the hook had turned and was tangled back up the trace. I'd undoubtedly land more with a Pennell rig but it's challenging enough wrestling the huss to get one hook out without the added danger of another one flailing about.

I fished on using squid/frozen mackerel cocktails without much happening apart from sporadic LSD attention. Then a mackerel took one of the baits as I was winding in, bolstering the bait supply. 

 

I put a fresh mackerel fillet out on one rod, a whole small squid on the other. It was the squid rod that pulled down decisively. The fight was very reminiscent of the huss so it was a slight surprise when a diamond shape appeared under the rod tip, a nice thornback about 7lbs.

 

The fresh mackerel baits seemed to have started the crabs off again, so after a couple more casts with stripped baits I put the mackerel head on and dropped it not too far out. After twenty minutes or so it was taken, and the rod pulled hard over. I felt the weight of the fish just for an instant, then it was gone. The head had a big bite mark across it, just missing the hook. Another good huss I'd say, or possibly a conger. I chucked the head out again, but no further interest.

 

I'd have stayed longer into the evening but with the Caha Tunnel closed for maintenance and an hour-plus diversion either through Castletownbere or a similarly tortuous inland route, I wanted to get the bulk of the journey on unfamiliar roads done in daylight.

 

The next ten days or so were written off for fishing - my exam work kicked off for the autumn season, I managed to pull a muscle in my back which laid me up for a few days, then some very poor weather.

I finally made it out again on the 30th, just some light mullet fishing as I was still dubious whether the back would hold up.

 

I headed to Rosscarbery on a very autumnal day. Considering all the recent rain, the water was remarkably clear, but it felt cold. On looking around I found a few reasonable fish just outside the bridge arch in the flow from the lagoon. I went back to the car and fetched my float rod, fed a little mashed bread, and was hooked into a nice fish after only three or four trots through. It was a lively thicklip of 3:08.

 

The rest of the shoal had dispersed with all the commotion. There was an odd fish or two showing in front of the grass to my right, so I fetched my leger gear and set up under the brolly. I fished the neap tide up to high water and back down a way, but to no effect. I think it's a bit between times at Ross, the bulk of the summer fish gone and the winter shoals not yet arrived.

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Thu

30

Sep

2021

September Report - Two PBs

I started September with a few trips just local onto the rocks near Kilcrohane, mostly spinning for pollack. The wind had been set in the east for a good while so I wasn't expecting much, but in practice there were plenty about.

 

Many of the bites came from what seems to be a healthy year-class of fish about ten or twelve ounces, a good sign for future sport but not much more than nuisance value at the moment. Among them, a good few fish around 2lbs.

 

Occasionally the redgill would be stopped in its tracks by bigger pollack. These two were just either side of 4lbs caught on the 1st ...

I kept a couple of the bigger pollack for eating, and to my surprise they were stuffed with small crabs - not normal green shore crabs, I presume some deeper water species. 

 

I don't know if there's been a plague of the things in the bay the pollack have cashed in on or if  a change of diet has been forced by a lack of bait fish. From the continuing scarcity of mackerel I rather suspect the latter. The mackerel fishing has picked up a little since the east wind finally relented, but numbers remain well down on normal. I've only once seen any meaningful gannet activity this summer and that was at least a mile out.

 

On the 2nd I visited a mark I've only fished rarely. It points out straight out of the bay into the Atlantic and usually if there's any amount of westerly swell running they roll up the sloping ledges and threaten to spoil your day. After ten days of east wind however, safe enough.

I took the big rods with me and put two baits out into the depths.

 

I'd no idea what the bottom was like so the spark plug weights came out again, and I did lose a few. As usual round the rocks I popped the baits up off the bottom by whipping on a small chunk of polystyrene.

 

There wasn't a lot of action on the baits, a few pulls on mackerel heads came to nothing but a couple of better runs on prawn/ mackerel cocktails produced a decent bull huss about 8 - 9lbs and a reasonable strap conger probably about the same.

I'd rather suspected the bottom fishing would be slow, so I took the pollack gear too. I had a few fish casting out the front but these were all small. I moved out onto the point and cast out along the line of the gully that runs behind which I felt may carry on underwater. It was shallower in that direction and I was catching bottom as soon as I started winding. I wound a bit quicker and after a few yards the rod bucked over in my hands. It was immediately obvious it was a good fish so I got the rod tip up as high as possible and wound line back as quickly as the pollack would allow ... and my luck must have been in as it didn't go to ground and I kept it moving towards me. It had a last dive under the rod tip then a massive bronze flank appeared. I manoeuvred the fish round the point and slid it up the sloping rock. It was a wonderful new PB pollack of 8.5lbs ...

The 3rd was Mike's last day fishing before taking his trailer home back to UK for a month of barbel fishing on the River Severn.

 

We fished at the pontoon where we'd caught earlier in the week and both had a mullet within a few minutes of starting. Surprisingly the fishing then seemed to die on us, although we'd occasionally hear a mullet sploshing beneath our feet under the pontoon.

 

After a couple of hours without another bite we decided to relocate to another pontoon higher up the estuary. This one is quite unusual in that the mullet don't seem to hang around under the pontoon itself, but it makes a good platform for trotting a float through the pool. We could see a few mullet moving and although they never really fed consistently we had bites occasionally. I finished with two mullet and Mike one, all fish around the 3lbs mark.

On the 6th I visited Rosscarbery. It could have been a great day's mulleting but turned into a session of frustration, only partly salvaged near the end.

 

I fished from the grass across the road from the hotel. There was another angler already set up to my left who seemed to have a lot of mullet topping in front of him but he wasn't catching any. I was only getting occasional stragglers from this shoal showing in front of me, but nevertheless I was getting action on my tips almost from the off.

 

The first mullet I hooked, on my left hand rod, felt reasonable but came in fairly readily then came unhooked about twenty yards out. Soon after I hooked another on the same rod that may have been a bit bigger. It chugged off a few yards of line then came off too. 2 - 0 to the mullet.

 

After a brief lull my right hand rod folded over and a much bigger mullet stormed out running parallel to the wall on my right. Two anglers fishing half way along must have seen the bow wave coming as I saw them hastily getting their lines out of the way. 

After this run the fish came in quite easily, kiting slightly left. I netted it without trouble and as you can see it was a pristine fish. Unfortunately it was hooked in the bony ridge across the top of its eye-socket, happily the eye itself wasn't damaged but it was foul-hooked in my book and not one to count. I weighed it out of interest, 5lb 10oz, but 3 - 0 to the mullet at this stage.

 

Almost immediately I was into another fish on my left hand rod. This one dropped off about ten yards out just as I was reaching for the net! It felt fairly modest but I'd have taken it. Instead, 4 - 0 down.

 

The angler to my left packed up - it was Terry Jackson whose Angling Ireland website many will know. He'd got a call to go bass fishing and kindly left me his leftover bread. I decided to move over a bit towards his swim as the main shoal of mullet was still there.

 

Soon after moving I was in again as my left-hand rod yanked over. The mullet was already screaming line off the drag when I got the rod up and it carried on. And on. And on. There was an inevitability in the outcome as it headed into the old oyster pens across the pool. Instead of snagging as expected it cut the trace on something sharp so at least I got most of my rig back, but 5 - 0 for heaven's sake and worse, this last one had been a very big fish indeed.

After that the shoal moved on as the new tide pushed into the pool and bites dried up. The water rose steadily and the left-to-right flow brought a lot of floating weed with it. I found myself fishing closer and closer in to dodge the worst of it. As high water neared I was dropping the baits only a couple of yards past the rocks into probably two feet depth.

 

I started getting knocks but nothing that connected, till eventually a slamming take and the reel screaming again. This fish proved much more manageable than the last one though, probably it was a good bit smaller to be fair. My Facebook friend Craig Murphy from Dublin popped up behind me as I was playing it, netted the mullet for me and took the photo. It weighed 5:03 and few minutes later I had a two pounder to bring the score back to 5 - 2 to the mullet. It was a better end to the day but I still left wondering what might have been.

On the 8th I did a visit to the airstrip for (probably) a last go at the rays there this year.

 

I started about 90 minutes before low water. First fish out was a pin-whiting to remind that the season was changing but I soon had a little ray about 3lbs on mackerel bait.

 

About five minutes before low I had a better bite from what was obviously a much bigger ray. It kept digging itself into the bottom on the way in and took some shifting each time. I had hopes of a new Irish PB but in the event the scales barely went past 7lbs. Still, I was happy with that. I was hopeful of getting more, but the airstrip dogfish had other ideas and demolished every bait in short order for the first hour or so of the flood tide before bites dried up completely. Later on a mackerel grabbed what was left of a bait as I was winding in. I put some Sabikis on and briefly got excited when I hooked another second chuck, but it came off and that was that.

Next up, a couple more mullet trips that didn't really go to script.

 

On the 9th I visited my low water rock mark in Bantry Bay. It was a real job getting past the small pollack that were there in almost plague numbers, but they relented just long enough for a mullet under 2lbs to get at my bait almost dead on low water.

 

Next morning I was up before dawn to catch the early morning high tide down on the Mizen. It was a massive tide that I hoped would bring some big mullet up the shallow estuary but as it turned out I only had two takes and both the fish were small.

The east wind had abated for a few days but it was back with a vengeance for my next trip to Rosscarbery on the 12th. It was also raining steadily when I arrived. There were some mullet enjoying the flow into the lagoon so I had a go on the float for them while that lasted, getting wet and catching just one of the fish, another small one.

 

The rest of the morning I huddled under my brolly legering and not expecting too much. Bites were indeed few and far between but I had a couple of good takes either side of lunch. In contrast to the shambles last time here, both these fish hung on and I landed a brace of fish both 5lb 5oz. 

The first was a really good fight, the second less so. It occurred to me it might have been the same fish twice, but examining the photos the second has a couple of small, part-healed splits in its tail that the first doesn't.

 

Much later on I had another good take, shortly after I'd seen a big fish bow-waving about just over to the right of my baits. The fish motored off across the pool but this time stopped short of the snags and I was able to bring it slowly back. I knew it was going to be bigger than the other two, in fact it was exactly a pound heavier at 6:05, my third six-pounder this season.

I was back on the 15th for another go. We'd finally lost the east wind but the north-westerly that replaced it was blustery and chilly. It turned into another slow day punctuated by just a couple of bites and two more good-sized mullet of 4:14 and 5:01 ...

On Monday 20th I had to head up to Kerry Airport, Cork being closed for rebuilding the runway, to collect my old friend Steve Smith who was coming over from England for a week of mainly mullet fishing. 

Steve's  flight wasn't in till 1710 so I decided to make a day of it and cast my lines for the first time into the sheltered waters of Tralee Bay. 

 

I chose a mark under the road out from Tralee towards Fenit which I know produces undulate rays and stingrays, though in fairness the best of that fishing would have been a month or more ago so this was a bit of a punt. 

 

I'd really like to catch an undulate, having missed out on what's been a boom in their numbers in the English Channel after they were given protected status shortly before we relocated to Ireland.

I'd even brought some fresh mackerel that I managed to catch the evening before, and some frozen sandeels, but the Tralee crab population munched its way through my baits in double-quick time. 

 

Perhaps when the rays are about they suppress the crab activity. If not I'd think the bait shop in Tralee does roaring trade ... in the event a solitary Kerry dogfish was the only thing with fins that came my way. Still, a worthwhile exploration and the drive up didn't seem to take anything like as long as I'd thought so I'll definitely be back next summer. 

 

I picked Steve up and we were straight into mulleting action on Tuesday morning. The Bantry Bay pollack were out in force again but we persisted and Steve had a small mullet on low water and a nice one of 3lbs 5oz as the tide flooded back in.

Steve also had a couple of chunky mackerel interlopers, while I was pollacked out.

 

An evening venture down onto the Mizen disappointed (again) then Wednesday it was down to Rosscarbery. We started off legering from the grass.

Bites had been hard to come by at Ross recently and today continued the trend, but after a quiet morning Steve had a couple of takes over lunchtime.

 

The first was a good pull. What looked to be a big fish swirled over his bait but unfortunately it was gone by the time he could pick up the rod. 

 

A few minutes later, a rattly sort of bite and Steve played in a mullet about 2:08. It was some consolation at least.

 

Any hope these bites might mark the start of a feeding spree soon faded, and we sat another couple of hours without a knock. Then a big fish bow-waved through our swim left to right without stopping. I decided to go for a walk to investigate where it had gone and could see a number of mullet just off the wall to our right, apparently browsing over the bottom. We had about an hour left to fish and decided to move over and fish from the wall.

 

Steve was feeling under the weather and when we got back to the car (parked along the wall) he said he was going to take a nap while I fished. Although I could still see mullet moving from time to time, the hour was nearly up when my left-hand rod pulled hard over.

 

The mullet ran out well but came back quite easily, kiting left well clear of my other line. At this stage I was thinking it was a good fish but not exceptional, but it really dug in in the shallow corner of the pool there, hugging the bottom and its tail bringing up great plumes of silt. This went on for ages but eventually the fish tired and I had it at the base of the wall. It looked colossal. I'd come well along the wall so I couldn't rouse Steve and had to net it myself. I could barely reach the water with my 3m net handle, the net head was almost vertical, half in the water and half out. Somehow I managed to bundle the fish in and lift it up.

I thought it might be my first Irish seven pounder but on my scales it went 6:15. I dug my spare scales out of the bottom of my bag and on them it went .... 6:15 again. It is still my Irish PB by an ounce, and I'm happy enough with that.

Thursday morning Steve was still feeling rough so we decided to take it easy and just venture out onto the pier locally later that evening.

 

I fished Sabikis till my arms were falling off but only had one mackerel. Steve fished sandeel under a float and added another mackerel, a succession of small pollack and finally, in the dusk, a better one just over 3lbs. It gave him a good scrap on the light rod he was using and made for a nice fish n' chips supper for the three of us next evening.

 

Friday morning we were back on the Bantry Bay rocks for a low water session. The fishing was made difficult by a freshening westerly cross wind and fair lop on the water.

The pollack were still about, not quite in the same numbers but still clearly outnumbering the mullet many to one. This time it was my turn to win the lottery with a two pounder mullet about low tide and a three pounder last knockings as the swells started breaking over the mark.

 

My friend Jim Murray had travelled down from Dublin to stay at Rosscarbery with his friend Anne-Marie. We had just missed their arrival on Wednesday evening.

 

The fishing had been slow on Thursday, just one small mullet on float, then was slow again on Friday till finally the fish came on the feed during their evening session. Jim had a mullet of 4:10 then thirty minutes later an astonishing new PB of 7:13. It's one of the very biggest caught at Rosscarbery - and makes me wonder even more about one or two of the mullet I've hooked and lost. The pics below are Jim with his fantastic PB, and with Steve after we'd arrived to fish the Saturday...

The recent general slow tempo of things at Rosscarbery carried on for the day. Steve had a little one out on the float where he was fishing there by the bridge, I had one bite all day on leger, a 4:05 from the grass. We finished off all legering from the wall where Anne-Marie had the only bite, a smashing PB of 5:09 (I think.) Then we enjoyed a get-together in a restaurant up in the village along with Sylvi who'd driven down to join us for the afternoon and evening.

On Sunday, for Steve's last fishing day, we headed east again. We stopped for a quick go in Rosscarbery Lagoon. There was a blustery southwest wind putting a good chop on the water and colouring it up, and it was raining quite heavily, so far from ideal conditions. We saw one fish whelm close in and I had a couple of maybe-bites on float, but after an hour we moved on.

 

We were soon set up and fishing on "Mike's Pontoon" for a longer session over the low water slack, on the float again. I had a bit of a 'mare, losing one mullet, snapping my hooklength on another on the strike, and missing about thirty bites, several of which looked completely unmissable. Meanwhile Steve did much better, hooking and landing first a 4:02 then a 3:15 which we both thought was the bigger of the two but somehow wasn't.

I drove Steve back to the airport on Monday, and had an easy day on Tuesday. On Wednesday I was out on a mullet mission, failing as it turned out though I had a fun enough time.

 

The Mullet Club's Venue Top Ten competition is based on the aggregate weight of best ten specimens over the year but a maximum of four can be counted from any one venue. My total this year so far is a healthy 51:01 largely due to four six pounders from Rosscarbery. I still have two three pounders on the list from other venues that I'd like to displace because, well, because it looks better. So I set off aiming to catch a brace of fours from anywhere other than Ross...

 

First stop was a shingle spit that juts into a creek somewhere south of Skibbereen; I've not fished the mark much but there are usually a few nice fish moving in the shallows on the north-facing side of the spit. Disappointingly, not today though. I walked right to the end then back along the south side. Surprisingly, despite a fresh breeze pushing a strong ripple onto this shore, I found several groups of mullet dotted along. They didn't look particularly big fish but I thought there might be some better ones among them, so hurried back to the car to don my waders and break out the float rod.

 

It's a nice spot, as you can see, and it was nice fishing wading out and trotting a float through. I had two mullet in 45 minutes or so before they moved on towards high water, but no real size to them, the best about 2:04.

Next stop was a spot between Union Hall and Glandore. I stayed a couple of hours but it was earlier in the ebb tide than ideal for this mark. I had one bite out of the blue, and another mullet maybe 2:08. I wanted to get away for what I expected would be the main event on the pontoon where I'd fished with Steve on Sunday and  the mullet had been there in force. What a contrast though ... after 90 minutes, the one and only bite. At least I didn't miss it, but I can't really say it was worth the wait, a thicklip barely a pound. 

 

It was getting late so I packed up. A charter boat had landed a while ago, the anglers had taken their pick of the catch and departed, leaving the skipper and his mate filleting what was left near the top of the gangway off the pontoon. I stopped for a look, it was mostly ling including one monster they said had been 33lb before gutting. Very generously they offered me a couple, so I ended up a day when I'd returned four mullet for barely 7lbs with about 20lbs of ling to take home and fillet for the freezer. Got to love Ireland.

0 Comments

Tue

31

Aug

2021

August Report - Mostly Fishing with Mike

I did two more gilthead trips in August. Both were unsuccessful, though on the first early in the month I was hooked into a gilt within about ten minutes of starting. It felt reasonable but nowhere near the biggest fish I've had this year and it came off after a few seconds anyway. The rest of that session was quiet, as was the entirety of the other. A flounder and a modest schoolie chanced along to save me from blanking on each occasion, but it wasn't scintillating fishing and I feel the gilt hunt is over for this year.

Mike Buckley came over to Sheep's Head to join me for some wrasse fishing early in the month. We drove along the narrow track along the north side of the peninsula to a deep mark in Bantry Bay.

 

It was a neap tide and flat calm, so perhaps not ideal conditions, but our floats were soon bobbing as the wrasse chomped on the limpet baits I'd collected the previous evening.

 

We had a succession of fish and Mike seemed happy enough, though I knew the size of wrasse we were getting was below potential. As the bites began to thin out I suggested a move a short way along the rocks to a different spot hoping we might find more and bigger wrasse there.

 

After a scramble over the rocks we were relocated. Mike was first fishing again, and his rod was hooped over almost immediately.

I went over with the net, but it wasn't a wrasse that surfaced ... Mike had hooked a triggerfish!

 

Four or five other triggers followed Mike's fish up and were milling around while I got the net under the one Mike had hooked. A good session was on the cards, as my limited past experience of triggers suggested we'd be able to catch most or all the fish in the shoal and some of them looked significantly bigger than Mike's.

 

I crushed a couple of limpets up and threw them in to keep the shoal interested while we got a pic of Mike's first trigger. And as soon as we were fishing again, I was in too ...

My fish was also followed up by a crowd of others, and they were chomping at my weight, swivel, basically anything that moved. One got hold of my float and gave it a good chewing. Note to self: hollow plastic floats and trigger fish don't mix well.

 

I had to tackle up again but Mike was soon into another good trigger, with another cracking scrap on the barbel rod he was using.

 

Before long we were up to three each. We weighed our biggest, Mike's 3:08 and mine 3:14, and some of the others would have been above the IFI specimen weight of 3lb 4oz.

Slightly frustratingly we each lost the last trigger we hooked, mine threw the hook at the end of a searing run along the front of the rocks to our left, Mike's bit his trace. That seemed to leave us with just one fish to target - it would give only the tiniest dinks on our floats, and winding in slowly it would follow the bait up and we could see it taking tiny bites out of the limpets without ever taking the bait properly. After a dozen missed strikes we decided this canny trigger had the better of us and we called time on a great session.

 

A couple of weeks later we were back on a similar tide, but it was after a spell of rough weather and there was still a metre of swell running. The triggers were gone but we had some better wrasse and I had a decent pollack.

Other rock fishing plans mostly fell by the wayside as I decided to make the most of Mike's company while he was over and concentrate on mullet fishing with him, as below.

 

I had one pollack trip but was forced by a strong west wind and swell onto a relatively shallow east-facing mark in Dunmanus Bay. After being lulled into a false sense of security by some small fish, I was comprehensively trashed by what felt a beast, no way could I keep it up out of the kelp. Not the first time nor probably the last it's happened on that mark.

 

Some mackerel finally appeared in Bantry Bay mid-month. I got one decent hit on an ebb tide that I could easily have missed, having already contemplated giving up after fishing 90 minutes over high water for only a few joeys so tiny I shook them back in. The shoals, such as they were, dwindled away again over the next few tides then disappeared completely as the east wind set in towards the end of August. Hopefully they'll be back but I'm beginning to get a bit worried about the winter bait supply, my freezer stocks of mackerel looking sparser than usual.

 

My mullet fishing for August started on the 3rd with a trip down onto the Mizen. I fished a deep low water pool in the estuary on float and had plenty of bites. The fish were only pound size though ...

When I first started visiting this mark it was common to find shoals of bigger mullet trapped in the pool over low water but it doesn't seem to happen often (or even at all) these days. I'm not sure what has brought that about - some subtle environmental change to the estuary possibly. Fortunately it's still possible to catch bigger fish but on leger and only in a relatively narrow window over spring high waters when they come up and roam over the shallow mudflats. 

 

Mike and I had an evening session legering on the 8th in just about perfect weather with just a slight ripple and we had quite a few bites. Those we connected with produced a nice 3:12 for Mike, a 4:01 and a 3:09 for me ...

We returned to fish an early morning tide on the 14th. I went out onto the rocks on the north side of the estuary, Mike fished off the road causeway again. It was a seriously bleak morning with an unexpected east breeze bringing waves of drizzle down the valley. At times I could only just make Mike out through the murk.

 

Although Mike had the easier time with the wind on his back, I had the better of the fishing. First off a 2:11 on the last of the rising tide, then a few knocks and rattles on the tips till finally a belting take and a much better fish that powered off downstream with the ebb flow. 

 

The mullet went a long way down then came back very grudgingly against the flow, eventually kiting to the right into the shallow bay below the rocks. I hadn't put my waders on but I thought it best to go and meet the fish rather than try to skull-drag it up any further. It was worth the soggy feet for a chunky 5:02 with a lightly chewed tail ...

Mike blanked that session but, encouraged there were some decent fish showing, we tried a repeat exercise over the next set of springs with an evening session on the 22nd and a morning session on the 27th. Unfortunately the fishing didn't live up to expectations. 

The conditions for the evening seemed perfect and on a nice big tide, but we had only one short flurry of bites well into the ebb. We landed a small mullet each, I somehow missed a clonking bite that all but had my rod over the causeway wall, and that was that.

 

The morning tide was smaller with the level further depressed by high atmospheric pressure. I wasn't sure in very bright sunlight if there would be enough depth to bring mullet up over the flats but in the event I had a nodding bite right at the peak of the tide and a long, lean thicklip of dead on 4lbs.

While I often seem to get the better of Mike on leger, he nearly always oufishes me on float. I joined him for a session on my low water rock mark in Bantry Bay on the 10th. We both had plenty of bites from smallish mullet, but Mike was beating me 3 - 1 in numbers landed ...

Then last knockings as the tide was flooding over, he was in again and attached to a very powerful fish that fought for ages. Eventually I lifted the net under a lovely black-backed 4:12 thicklip that equalled my best from this mark ...

Mike fished the mark on and off throughout the month, getting a mullet or two most trips including another good one of 4:07. I left him to it as it didn't seem to be in top form and there wasn't much point sharing out a limited number of fish between us when I have all autumn to fish there after Mike's gone home.

 

We had several outings at Rosscarbery, the first being on the 4th for an afternoon on my way home from gilt fishing that morning. Mike was just setting up close to the bridge when I arrived, so I settled on a spot further along the grass.

 

The first hour was quiet but as the small tide started to make I started to get bites. I had seven good takes, landing six mullet over a couple of hours until the water started to drop away ...

All except the first in the sequence were over 4lbs, the biggest being the 4th and 6th at 5:00 and 5:07. All six fish, and the bite I missed, came on one of my pair of rods, the one on the left. The other fishing identical crust baits on an identical rig a few yards to the right didn't get a touch. Mike came and fished just to my left after my second fish, and he blanked. All a bit inexplicable really when we could see fish active throughout the area.

Those fish seemed to be moved on by the time of another afternoon session on the 9th, and after a couple of fruitless hours I relocated down the west side of the estuary where I found some mullety activity. Mike soon joined me.

 

There were a quite few fish there, browsing the bottom so apparently feeding but not getting stuck into our bread baits. I had just one meaningful bite, from this 4:10 fish. It was probably the palest mullet I've ever caught and much slimier than most. It was a strange looking fish and the well-healed damage to its tail maybe hints at some trouble in its past.

 

Mike blanked again, as he did on the 19th when I managed to catch a small mullet to avoid a blank on another short session returning from gilt fishing. Fortunately he caught on days when I wasn't there, including lovely thicklips of 5:01 and 5:12.

 

My next visit was on the 26th. It was a bright day and the east breeze was set in by now, so I didn't have high hopes as I set up on the grass. It was a slow start but after an hour or so I started getting knocks on the tips, and I was just netting a two pounder as Mike arrived. He'd not been fishing long when I had a powerful take on my right hand rod.

 

The fish ran out strongly, stopped then surged out again ... it was way across the pool and getting towards the danger area for snags so I piled the pressure on and after what seemed an age had the fish moving back gradually. It swung left into Mike's swim, and by now I could see a clump of lettuce weed on the line. This often happens so I wasn't too bothered, but eventually I had the weed swinging around at my rod tip with the fish still out of netting range. The reason became apparent ... there was an old lost rig tangled up in it, stopping the weed shaking off or sliding down to the fish. I lowered the rod tip and Mike set about removing it all, nervous moments especially when he resorted to biting through the old nylon with his teeth. I was hoping he'd chew the right line!

 

Mike soon had that all sorted out and netted the fish for me. It was a pristine 6lb 7oz thicklip, my biggest of the season so far...

The irony was the old rig turned out to be one of mine! I can't remember the last one I lost there in a snag or crack-off, certainly it was well over a year ago. And I can't really imagine how I'd have felt if the mullet had thrown the hook while Mike was trying to disentangle one of my own lost rigs.

 

I soon had another small fish but by now the east breeze was strengthening and the occasional cloud cover had dispersed. A long blank spell ensued into the afternoon. I was just thinking of giving it best when my right hand rod yanked over again and another big mullet ploughed off across the pool. This one came in easier but seemed very heavy, almost deadweight in fact so perhaps this time some weed had slid down the line and covered its eyes. Unfortunately it gave a wriggle about ten yards out and the hook popped out. We packed up soon after, Mike blank again.

 

We were back a couple of days later on Saturday the 28th. The east wind was properly blowing by now and the sunshine was unbroken, on a smaller tide it looked like being a real struggle but I wanted to fish as it was the first day of NMC's three day rover competition on the UK bank holiday weekend. We both put our brolleys up, part as shelter from the wind but more for shade from the sun.

 

The morning passed. Lunchtime passed. About 2pm my left hand tip pulled down a couple of inches and stayed there. It was nothing like the ferocious bites of a couple of days previous but it seemed real so I struck ... and connected.  Another big mullet motored straight out, paused, then carried on diagonally left. I couldn't attract Mike's attention under his brolley so I picked up the landing net and stumbled along the grass in pursuit of the fish to the bridge arch on my left. When the fish stopped running it kited further left still, well past the bridge and into the shallower water on the far side where there are plenty of snags. My heart was thumping but thankfully it kept moving and ever-so-slowly I brought it back across the flow out of the lagoon and into my waiting net. It was another pristine fish and even bigger, at 6lb 11oz my third biggest in Ireland.

As I'd thought probable all along, it was a one-bite day and obviously I still had the legering jinx over Mike as I'd had the bite! He got his just rewards on Sunday though. I couldn't face the east wind/bright sun combination again but he had a splendid 6:01 last cast of another sweaty session in the sun at Rosscarbery.

 

For rover Monday we headed east to a pontoon mark that Mike fishes. We arrived to fish the last of the ebb tide and the bottom half of the flood. The wind was running up the estuary channel so it was quite choppy and the water quite coloured, meaning we couldn't see any mullet around the pontoon as is often possible. They were there though, and we shared a seven fish haul between us. This being float-fishing, Mike trounced me both on numbers, 5-2, and best fish, 4:01 versus my 2:08.

I have a couple more mullet sessions planned with Mike before he returns to UK, then a couple of weeks before Steve Smith arrives to reacquaint with the West Cork mullet after a pandemic-enhanced gap of two years. I must get out and try some non-mullety stuff...

4 Comments

Sun

01

Aug

2021

July Report

As mentioned last time, my old friend Mike Buckley is over from UK on an extended stay. On the 12th he joined me for a session on my low-water rock mark in Bantry Bay which proved to be in spectacular good form. It turned into a proper mullet-fest as we shared eleven between us and lost a couple of others. Mike won 6 - 5 on numbers and we drew on best fish with a 4:04 each.

A couple of days later we were at Rosscarbery in time for the morning high water.

Mike took his float rod down the west bank, I set up my leger rods near the bridge arch.

 

After a very quiet couple of hours I went up on to the bridge for a look and could see numbers of mullet cavorting in the flow pouring into the lagoon. 

 

I quickly set up my float rod and started trotting baits in towards them, accompanied by loose-fed bread mash. I started getting bites, but not many considering the number of fish there and only at the last instant before the float would be accelerated away over the rocks and under the bridge.

 

Mike arrived having struggled to find fish lower down, and gave me a running commentary from the bridge on the size of mullet around my bait! I missed a few bites  then hooked one, a nice 3:03 thicklip which gave a lively scrap once I'd bullied it away from the bridge.

 

Mike took his float rod further along the causeway, I carried on fishing where I was but the number of fish diminished as the flow into the lagoon died away and I only had a couple more bites. Soon I returned to legering.

 

It was still quiet on the bottom, but after an hour or so I started getting little knocks and taps, and eventually some better pulls. A golden hour followed when I hooked six mullet, somewhat tarnished by losing three of them including two decent fish right at the edge and a probably very large one - I pulled the hook trying to keep it out of the old oyster pens way across the far side of the pool after a series of powerful runs. The ones I landed were 4:11, a lovely 5:12 and a little one about a pound.

And then the heatwave arrived, and the mullet fishing took an immediate turn for the more difficult.

 

I left the Bantry Bay mark to Mike. He visited it a few times and caught every trip, though with far fewer mullet and, on some days, nuisance quantities of small pollack.

 

A baking afternoon session at Rosscarbery yielded me only one small mullet. I decided I'd go back a couple of days later for a morning session before it got too warm, but it was already uncomfortable by the time I was setting up at 7.30am. By the time Mike arrived after breakfast it was sweltering and he decided not to fish. I caught just one small mullet again before deciding at lunchtime I was cooked enough. In the meantime Jason had arrived and fished a couple of hours, catching a fine 6:01 just to prove what was possible.

I was back at Rosscarbery on the 28th to fish with Mike again and Jim Murray. The weather had broken and was more traditional Irish now with a west breeze and heavy showers, but the mullet were still playing hard to get. 

There was a big shoal again in the flow into the lagoon at the top of the tide, fish of all sizes including some that looked 5 - 6lbs. Mike had a go at them on float, but only the smaller ones seemed to be feeding. He landed one and lost two others, nothing over 2lbs.

 

Meanwhile Jim and I were getting tentative knocks on leger. These also proved to be small mullet. We had a couple each, including this impressive double-shot. Mine's bigger than his, it has to be said.

 

I was lucky enough to catch the only proper-sized mullet of the day after a powerful bite on the 'tip. The fish came in relatively easily then slogged away for ages at short range in the deeper water in front of the bridge, benefitting from the flow of water out of the lagoon. When it finally surfaced and Jim got the net under it I was expecting it to be bigger than its 5lb 2oz. Still, a nice fish on a difficult day.

I only did one more gilthead trip in July, on the 22nd, but what a trip it turned out to be, on a blistering hot day in the midst of the heatwave.

 

I dug some lugworms easily enough but the fishing part of the day didn't get off to a great start when I found someone had planted a new mooring plumb in the middle of my favourite swim. There was nobody else fishing so I had my pick of other swims, and settled on one up-channel a way from where I normally fish.

 

I had a schoolie on the last of the ebb tide then the slack water was very quiet. The first hint of flow on the flood tide brought a good positive bite and a nice little gilt of about a pound and a half. Sadly it had swallowed the hook and was bleeding from the gills, so I kept it for eating. They are very nice eating though ...

 

As the tide picked up further a couple more schoolies followed. By now my lines were showing signs of bumping round with the tide - usually the chance of a gilt has gone by this stage but I thought I'd give it one more cast on each rod. Bass rod out, carp rod out and just putting it into the rest when the bass rod yanked over. 

 

What followed was a fantastic fight with what was obviously a big gilt, but I'd chosen the swim well and despite several powerful runs it was never in much danger of finding a snag. Eventually the gilt tired and I steered it in round the clumps of bladderwrack in the margins - it was my second PB of the year, 5lb 9oz ...

I tried another cast with each rod but within moments the lines were swept round, festooned with green weed as the tide surged up the channel. The gilt really had been a last-gasp capture. 

On the 27th I had another session on the airstrip strand to see if I could add to the thornback tally reported last time.

 

I started around lunchtime for the mid-afternoon low water, one line baited with bluey and the other with mackerel. I'm still using the mackerel I froze down last summer as I have plenty left where the winter spurdog fishing was written off by the 5km travel restriction. It's going past its best but fresh ones have been anything but plentiful so far this summer.

 

Fifty minutes before low water the bluey rod pulled hard over, and the tripod started to tip 

forward. I grabbed the rod, wondering if it might be a big huss given the violence of the bite. The bottom-hugging fight was much more typically ray though, and soon I had a decent thornback flapping on the beach. It tipped the scales at just over 6lbs. I'd gathered a small audience of dog-walkers behind and one kindly took the photo for me.

 

Five minutes before low, I watched the tip of the mackerel rod unbend slowly then reverse direction and pull right over. After another tussle a second ray joined me on the beach, identical in weight to the first but with much prettier markings.

 

Half an hour up the flood tide, a more gentle bite on a bluey/mackerel cocktail produced another, much smaller, thornie then the inevitable airstrip LSD put in an appearence.

 

A few minutes later a massive drop-back bite dumped my line on the beach. I expect that was another ray but will never know as whatever it was had gone by the time I'd wound down to it.

 

I've done just one more session on the rocks near home, when I took the bottom rods out on the 31st. I fished about four hours over the high water and had a couple of bullhuss of 8 - 9lbs, one first cast on a prawn/mackerel cocktail and one dead on high water on a mackerel head. The start of the ebb was very quiet, then last cast I had a rattly little bite that seemed to come to nothing. When I came to wind in, there was a bit of weight there. My immediate fear was that a tiny strap conger had been twisting up my rig for the last several minutes, but it turned out to be a rare daylight 3BR ...

The summer is slipping by - I must get out on the rocks more over the next month. The main target will be pollack, but tomorrow Mike is coming over for some wrassing so I'm hoping that will make a nice start to August's fishing.

0 Comments

Sun

11

Jul

2021

June, and into July

My exam work, though reduced, kept up a steady pace from mid-May and inevitably limited fishing opportunities to a few shortish sessions.

 

My mullet fishing has felt rather on the back-burner recently anyway. I somewhat lost the habit over the winter lockdown then was unenthused if not actually demotivated by some pretty dour sessions in the grim spring weather once travel restrictions were eased.

 

Over the last month or so I have had a few quick goes in the bay here just local. In fairness I've found mullet each time but only in small groups and very easily spooked in the clear, shallow water. A few opportunities came and went fleetingly as I missed the handful of hard-earned bites, a bit frustrating.

If the mullet in the bay were difficult, on one of the trips I found a shoal in the tidal lake that were much more obliging. Perhaps it was the few extra degrees on the water temperature, but they were immediately on to the bread I catapulted towards them and immediately giving me bites after I'd gently waded out.

 

After a couple more misses, I was in. It wasn't a large fish, less than 2lbs, but it was pristine and very welcome. A few minutes later I hooked into another that felt bigger, but it came off after a short run.

 

My only other mulleting success was from a short, almost drive-by, session on my low water rock mark in Bantry Bay. I only fished for about fifteen minutes and had two out, also no great shakes at 2:08 each but it was nice to see good numbers of mullet there and feeding and I'm looking forward to getting back.

I've kept an eye on Rosscarbery in passing on my way to and from gilthead fishing. It hasn't looked great to be honest, I've never seen such large amounts of green weed there in most of the popular swims.

 

My old friend Mike Buckley is over from UK and staying in his trailer home near Skibbereen having done his PCR tests and quarantine. On Thursday I met up with him gilt fishing then on the way back we stopped to fish for mullet at Rosscarbery. Mike found a small clear patch to fish on float down the west bank and I set up my leger rods next to the bridge arch.

 

My swim was reasonably clear of weed on the bottom but soon the new tide was pushing floating stuff left to right. I ended up fishing very close in to miss the worst of it and remarkably had incessant action on the tips for about ninety minutes up to high water. Most of it was tiny knocks and drop-backs that I persuaded myself probably were down to very small mullet, but occasionally there'd be a better yank that didn't connect. Then one did connect, after a fashion, and a decent mullet swirled and splashed on the surface then came off before I could pick the rod up. A few minutes later, as the tide was topping out and activity on the tips slowing down, one of the rods lunged over as another decent fish took. This one ran off about ten yards in a couple of spurts before it came off too! 

 

It was getting late into the evening so I packed up and went down to Mike. He'd had mullet all round his bait throughout the session but only three proper bites and one fish about 2lbs. 

The gilthead fishing has been difficult too. The crop of smaller fish I was getting in April and May seems to have moved on, leaving just the chance of the odd bigger specimen.

 

I fished a fortnight after I'd had my 4:14 on a very similar tide. There were several other anglers out including one casting from the road into the channel directly over the spot where I'd have been sat fishing in my favourite swim. I headed a good bit further down the channel to get away from all that, pleased to be away from the splashing leads but dubious about the closer-spaced moorings lower down there. I had one buoy close in which was an obvious hazard but I decided that with waders I'd be able to cope if a big gilt tried to go round it.

 

In the event I had a massive bite about an hour up the tide, The gilt ran diagonally left, well clear of the buoy that had registered as a problem and inexorably round behind one well down-channel and much nearer the far side than mine! It was a proper zoo-creature and there was just no stopping it, particularly once it saw the snag and turned on its turbocharger. Then followed three or four minutes with my line sawing back and forth across the mooring chain. I was waiting for the braid to part then surprisingly I seemed to be winning line back. The gilt must have been almost clear of the chain when it finally broke me, taking just the hook and maybe an inch of fluoro trace.

 

Three subsequent trips in a mix of less-than-ideal conditions were all blanks apart from odd school bass and the fourth, with Mike's company, was shaping up the same way. I'd only had a couple of schoolies and the weed was already started to drift up the channel when I struck into a persistent tapping bite. I'd thought it was probably a flounder but I found myself connected to an angry gilt! No problem with moorings this time but it did pick up a large clump of green weed during the fight. No worries though with Mike at hand to get the net under the gilt, weed and all. It was a touch over 3lbs...

This time last year I was doing reasonably well for thornback rays down on the airstrip strand near Bantry, so I've done a few trips down there to try to repeat that success.

 

The first was on an afternoon tide and although conditions seemed good no rays showed, and even the doggies were slower than usual with just a couple of them over the low water slack.

Next trip out, for a morning session, was also quiet with just a couple of bites over the low water again.

 

One of them was a big drop-back which is always a good sign, and after much heaving I duly landed a very decent thornback.

 

At 8lbs it was my PB in Ireland, though I have to say I have landed many more attractive thornies than this unusually dark one.

 

I went back to fish a similar tide a fortnight later. This was a much busier session with the doggies out in force and bites every cast. Between the LSDs I had a couple more thornbacks, not so big but respectable at about 4lbs and 6lbs. 

 

All three rays were taken on bluey, as were most of last year's, I'm going to have to try sourcing some in Ireland. I've been bringing back a large poly-box of frozen baits from trips to UK but in another Brexit bonus this doesn't seem possible now, or at least risks confiscation at Rosslare port. There's a personal import allowance into the EU of 20kg of fish products but as far as I can see this only includes gutted fresh fish on ice or processed fish such as smoked or cured, not frozen fish of any kind.

 

I packed up this session running out of bait as the doggies reached plague proportions. They were even coming out two at a time on either end of my Pennel baits, though in the photo the lower of the brace is actually a small huss ...

Speaking of huss, I had a decent one on my only venture out onto the rocks on Sheep's Head here. It was a bright but blustery day with a moderate west swell running into the bay so I chose one of the few east-facing marks facing back up the bay towards Durrus.

 

I'd been donated a box of old spark plugs to use as disposable weights. I've used these before for wrasse fishing but one seemed a bit light on the beach rods so I tried lashing two together with electrician's tape. The results were far from the most aerodynamic things I've ever cast into the ocean but they lobbed okay and held well enough not to drag into snags. In fact it's remarkable once something is designated "disposable" it becomes almost impossible to dispose of it ... I didn't lose a one! It's not the snaggiest mark I fish but I'd expect to lose one or two rigs with normal leads.

 

Anyway - I had plenty of bites but most of these were quick rattles I put down to small pollack having a go at the pop-up baits. A few more decisive bites turned out to be strap congers and an LSD then dead on high water I had a good run. The huss was weeded but eventually I got it in along with a large frond of kelp (and the disposable weight!) It was a very dark fish and long, though I doubt it quite made double figures as it was definitely on the skinny side ...

0 Comments

Tue

25

May

2021

PB Gilt

On the 5th I headed down to Rosscarbery on a mission to catch a mullet for May before moving on to other things. It was a fairly miserable day's weather, grey and blustery, spitting with rain on and off and none too warm. I had a good look round but couldn't see sign of mullet so I set up to fish the deeper water by the bridge arch.

 

After a couple of hours I hadn't had a bite or seen a mullet in that swim, but as the water had shallowed up on the ebbing tide I had started to see an odd one or two moving in front of the rocks to my right. I shuttled my kit over but had to endure another couple of biteless hours. Those mullet seemed not to be feeding then disappeared anyway.

I upped sticks and moved to my third swim of the day, down the west side of the pool, more to get out of the wind than in expectation of catching much.

 

In the event there were actually a few mullet there, whelming and bow-waving occasionally so at least quite active. The water was very shallow at the bottom of the tide but fortunately there was enough ripple to hide my baits from the gulls which would in turn have attracted the swans ...

 

After another hour of frustration my left hand tip yanked over without warning. The fish swam out strongly at first then came in very gradually, kiting to my left. The water close to the wall was barely deep enough to get my net under the fish, but eventually I scooped it out plus lettuce weed and mud. At 4lb 1oz it was my biggest mullet of the year so far, though not as big as I fancied it was when it first ploughed off.

On the 7th I headed further east for another try at the giltheads. Remarkably there was frost across the fields on the drive down and the air temperature actually hit 0 degC for several miles. It had clawed its way up to 3 degC by the time I arrived and yomped out across the muddy sand to dig some lug.

 

An hour later I was setting up to fish, not really knowing how the gilts might respond to such an unseasonally cold snap.

 

After two hours without a touch I was fearing the worst when one of the tips pulled over, and a lively scrap ensued with a gilt pushing 2lbs. A few minutes later I was in again with a slightly smaller one...

As the tide edged up I missed another good pull, probably a gilt, then a more gentle nodding bite produced a big flounder.

 

Looking at the photo of it here on my seat, awaiting unhooking surgery, I'm thinking I should have put it on the scales...

 

The session was brought to an end as the making tide, and the weed it was pushing up the channel, became all too much.

 

I'd kept my mullet kit in the car from the last session, and decided to have a quick go at Rosscarbery on the way home.

I headed straight for the swim where I'd caught last time, and cast the leger baits as far as I could towards the few fish I could see moving, a long way out in very shallow water.

 

In the event I didn't have to wait long for a bite, a good rattle on my right hand tip followed by slack line. I struck into the fish but it was only a small one less than 2lbs.

 

I couldn't get another take after that and packed up as the tide arrived into the pool and moved the fish on.

 

On 10th May the inter-county travel restriction was lifted. I headed up to County Kerry with the vague hope of a late spurdog in the back of my mind. Well, that didn't happen and the weather turned very wet for the morning then increasingly windy for the afternoon. 

 

Around lunchtime I had a little flurry of LSD bites, landing three and missing a couple. Then a good pull-down on my left hand rod. The fish put up a stubborn resistance, especially the last few feet under the rod tip, then finally a big bullhuss broke surface ...

I thought it might go heavier than its 11lbs, but it wasn't packing a lot of weight on it compared to some individuals.

 

The bites dried up again but I didn't dry out much. I gave up mid-afternoon as the wind and swell became too problematic.

On the 13th I was back hunting gilts.

 

It was a warmer day than my last visit with just a touch of west breeze to ruffle the surface ... ideal conditions I supposed though I don't really know much about gilt fishing.

 

There were two guys fishing already on the ebb tide when I arrived, and another was fishing by the time I'd dug bait. I headed further down the channel than normal, leaving space for any late arrivals, as I really wanted the end peg so I'd have first grabs at any gilts coming up with the tide. In the event two more anglers arrived, but I was where I wanted to be.

 

A rattly bite dead on low water produced the first schoolie of the season, then it was all quiet for the first ninety minutes of the flood tide. 

 

I'd wound in both my lines, moved my tripod back for the first time, baited up and cast out one line and was just finishing baiting up the other when the first rod pulled right over and braid was stripping from the spool. It was the lighter of my two rods - my old Daiwa carp rod - and it was everything I could do to turn the fish as it headed towards the moorings to my right. I did though manage to turn it, only for it to steam the other way towards the mooring to my left! It just had to be a big gilt ... it made several more runs but these gradually became less powerful and I became more confident I'd get the fish in. A minute or so later I was sliding it out onto the beach.

 

The angler next up from me came down for a look and he turned out to be my blog reader and now fellow Mullet Club member Jonny Butler. Many thanks to Jonny for taking the photo ...

The gilt weighed 4lb 14oz. I'm delighted with that but it's worth noting there are 6s and 7s from this area every year on the IFI specimen listings so hopefully there may be bigger yet to come. Not on this session though - I had just another pound-size gilt and a small flounder before the tide surged up the channel.

 

On the 15th I had my first covid jab and was quite unwell for a couple of days after. With my seasonal exam work kicking off on the 20th I was keen to have another go at the gilts before that so I drove down on the 18th. It wasn't the greatest idea to be honest, I was still decidedly below par and felt knackered by the time I'd dug the lug, and the "occasional showers" forecast turned out to be several prolonged downpours. I did get a gilt, another small one, but several other good bites all turned out to be small schoolies.

 

The international exams I mark have been badly depleted by covid restrictions in various countries across the world. It's not what I'd have wanted but at least I'll be able to take more days out for fishing than would normally be the case over the next few weeks.

PB Gilthead 4lb14oz, 13th May 2021.
PB Gilthead 4lb14oz, 13th May 2021.
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Sat

01

May

2021

Mullet, Gilts and Flounders Too

The 5km travel restriction came off on 12th April and I was straight down to Rosscarbery to try to get my mullet year underway.

 

After a long spell of northerlies and easterlies, the wind had at least gone west for the day, but it was cold and mostly grey with dishearteningly few signs of mullet present. I set up on the grass under my brolly and settled down for what was likely to be an attritional session on the leger.

The morning was indeed quiet but about lunchtime and as the water level fell away, I started seeing mullet moving further out in the pool. Occasionally a fish would porpoise on the surface or jump clear. They didn't look any great size but I willed them to move closer and within range.

 

Eventually I had a rattle on one of the tips followed by slack line. I wound down and struck. It certainly wasn't very big, 2lb 6oz it turned out, but I was pleased when my strike connected and the mullet played in without mishap. A few minutes later I had another on the bank, slightly larger at 2lb 12oz.

The shoal moved back out of range and another quiet hour or so passed. Then as the first of the new flood tide pushed into the pool, often a key time, my left hand tip pulled over and I was attached to what felt a better fish. It was no monster at 3lb 8oz but still, a nice end to the session ...

The next day the wind turned back into the east where it remained stubbornly for the rest of April with only subtle variations in direction and strength.

I did a trip to an estuary near Mizen Head and didn't even see a mullet at what is often a prolific early-season venue.

 

On the 21st I headed back to Rosscarbery. The wind was supposed to be light and freshening later but it was already howling out of the east when I arrived mid-morning. I clipped on a couple of heavier weights, welted out the leger lines, tightened down and retreated under the brolly again.

 

To my total surprise one of the tips jagged round after about five minutes! I thought I'd missed it at first but it must have been swimming towards me as I reconnected after a couple of seconds. It was only 2lb 8oz but very welcome on a day like that. The rest of the session was very dour indeed with not another bite and very few signs of mullet present.

 

Between the Rosscarbery sessions and since I've done some trips further east in search of gilthead bream. As with the mullet, the bigger specimens haven't shown yet, probably deterred by the easterly airflow and associated low temperatures. I've tried to pick days when the wind has been lighter and/or had a touch of south in it and I've had a smattering of success with gilts from pound-size up to just shy of 2lbs. To my mind they are properly handsome fish ...

I've been fishing locally-dug lugworms on light leger gear in the estuary channel. Typically there's a narrow window of opportunity as the gilts pass by on the early flood tide, though the exact timing varies from session to session. Bites can vary from persistent taps to full scale launching of the rod, it definitely pays to have the drag set on the reel. The gilts fight well, certainly better than bass the same size though not quite the stamina of a thicklip mullet.

 

After the flush of gilts moving up come the flounders. Presumably they swim slower. The flounders have been a good size so far this spring with most fish around a pound size. The novelty will wear off I'm sure but it's been nice to see them. They were my staple winter target when I started sea fishing in Hampshire all those years ago but they all but disappeared from the harbours and estuaries there for reasons not really understood.

It looks like we're returning to Atlantic weather over the next fews days. Hopefully the milder conditions will get some bigger mullet and gilts into the shallows as well as kicking off the rock fishing season on Sheep's Head here.

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Sun

11

Apr

2021

Slow Time on the Rocks

Hungry Hill in the background but not many hungry fish in Bantry Bay
Hungry Hill in the background but not many hungry fish in Bantry Bay

It has been a desperately slow few weeks on my local rock marks as the 5km travel restriction has dragged on. To be fair the fishing always struggles a little in the early part of the year, but with no possibility of venturing further afield this winter has seemed particularly bleak.

 

We started off with some Atlantic weather, quite encouraging in some respects but in practice the swell rarely dropped to safe levels to be out before the next weather system arrived. When it eventually calmed down, the water looked fine from a distance but close up it had a milky sort of quality with very low visibility. I guess the protracted rough weather was to blame and I also noticed more bare rock than usual round the margins with the kelp and other weed stripped away.

 

More latterly the weather has come predominantly from easterly and northerly directions with cold winds and cold nights. The water has cleared but still feels perishing.

Anyway ... four trips for four fish, with exactly one fish each time so at least no blanks!

 

In order, a small conger, a coalfish just shy of 2lbs, a small bullhuss and a doggie. Until the last trip the LSDs had been conspicuous by their absence; I had very few other bites. 

 

The coalies I know are very common in winter from the sandy beaches south and east of us, but we don't see so many on the rocky ground here so I broke out the camera for my one.

 

From tomorrow we are allowed to travel within County Cork.

 

The north wind is turning to a gentle westerly for the day so I'm hoping to reacquaint myself with the mullet at Rosscarbery. It's odd how perspectives change. On the south coast of England I'd rarely have bothered getting the mullet rods out before May. Now, after a few winters enjoying the winter mullet sport in West Cork, this year's enforced absence has seemed really difficult.

 

After tomorrow the wind looks set back in the east for a good while, we'll have to see how that affects other plans.

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Mon

08

Mar

2021

Lockdown Latest

There's not a lot to report here. The level 5 lockdown with its 5km restriction on non-essential journeys has ground on and on, and is continuing as I write. I'm lucky I know to have some fishing available within 5km but it rarely shines in the early months of the year and I've found it a bit demotivating not being able to travel south for the winter mullet or north for the spurdogs that would have featured heavily in my plans. The weather has been very up and down and all I've managed is a few night sessions on the pier during the less unpleasant interludes.

First was on 21st January. The water was quite coloured after a rough spell which in the past has been the precursor of some good huss sport.

 

I had plenty of rattling bites on small to medium fish baits but they proved difficult to hit.  The half dozen I connected with all turned out to be really small LSDs - cute in their own way but not very exciting.

 

Towards the end of the session I had a good strong run on a mackerel head bait, then a lively tussle with the only huss of the night. It was a nice fish I'd say just into double figures.

I was next out on 6th February.

 

Again the smaller baits were getting a lot of attention, this time mainly from small pout.

 

I added a couple of badly-hooked ones to the bait supply, but neither these nor mackerel heads received much interest.

 

Instead I had to rely on the smaller baits to produce a smattering of better fish. There was  nothing very inspirational though, just a three bearded rockling and a couple of very modest strap congers.

About half-past midnight a car came down the access lane, An Garda Siochána had arrived to check me out! I can't imagine they'd routinely be touring piers in the middle of nowhere in the early hours, so I'm guessing someone had seen my light moving about from further up the bay and reported me for smuggling or holding an illegal party ... we had a friendly enough chat about the fishing then inevitably they asked where I'd travelled from. Fair enough question with my English accent and Kerry-registered car, but the pier is comfortably in my 5km so no problem.

 

The gardai had just gone when I had a stuttering run on a mackerel head. A mediocre huss about 6 - 7lbs shook the hook out at the edge for an appropriate end to an indifferent session.

I was back on the 21st February on the tail end of a very cold snap that had seen two snowfalls just inland of us around Durrus. The water was cold and clear and the session turned out very dour indeed.

 

I had no action at all on the big baits, The scratching rig turned in a small pollack, a tiny strap conger and another three bearded rockling.

 

The 3BRs are pretty fish but already losing their novelty value - that's the third this winter, or maybe the same one three times, who knows?

Gemini Splashdown and Breakaway Impact Shield.
Gemini Splashdown and Breakaway Impact Shield.

Between times I've been doing a bit of rig-building for better days ahead.

 

I think most of fishing is about the right time at the right place with the right bait so I don't often write about tackle. Just occasionally though ...

 

I've probably come late to the Gemini Splashdown bait clip party, but what a great piece of design!

 

For years and years I've used Breakaway Impact Shields on my clipped-down rigs. They've been great, but they're fiddly to set up. They rely on sliding up the trace a bit on impact (to a stop) to release the bait. If the rig body line is too thick or the rubber tube holding the clip in place is too long, they don't slide enough and the bait may not release. If the rig body is too thin or the rubber tube too short, they may slide and release the bait early in flight. No such issues with the Splashdown, just a foolproof release on impact every time. The slot in the metal blade part for the hook is happily just large enough to take the barb on a 4/0 Viking or Manta Extra which are the biggest I use on clipped rigs. I don't bother with clips for baits like mackerel heads on bigger hooks just lobbed off the rocks or pier.

 

I'm not a massive fan of attractor beads or other trace clutter but by many accounts spurdogs can respond well to luminous attractors so I thought I'd give it a go. I found these on moonglow.co.uk - they are basically just a rubbery silicone cylinder impregnated with the glow chemical. There's no hole, I just speared them onto the wire biting piece I use for spurs before crimping on the hook, but they could be added retrospectively onto the hook and slid up over the eye onto the trace. They are supposed to glow best when "charged" by a UV torch, but I haven't organised that yet and they glow pretty well after a few seconds' blast with a normal white LED torch.

I first used them on the spur rigs I used on my Christmas Eve trip, and I caught. I'll never know of course if the glow beads made any difference, but I feel there's no going back now ...

Late February and into March we had a dry spell with predominantly east winds that kept down the worst of the Atlantic swells. Instead of getting out on the rocks I was diverted into painting a neighbour's house ... well it made a change!

 

We finished the painting today just ahead of rain this evening and what looks a wet and windy spell over the next few days. As soon as that abates I'll get out on the rocks for a couple of sessions and fingers crossed we'll be let out into wider County Cork from 5th April.

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Thu

07

Jan

2021

December Update and Into the New Year

I headed down to Rosscarbery again on 7th December. It was a grey, gloomy day with occasional rain showers, so I set up under the brolly on the grass. Although it was mild there were evidently far fewer mullet present than last week; I'd see a bit of surface activity from time to time but bites were hard to come by. I had a couple of takes mid-afternoon and landed both fish, 2lb-class thicklips.

 

A wet and windy spell followed, and my next trip out was on the 12th for a night session on the pier just local on Sheep's Head. It's a Jekyll and Hyde sort of venue but tonight it was on form; colour in the water seems to help the bottom fishing and there was plenty of colour at the moment.

 

First fish out was a three bearded rockling that took lugworm on a scratching rig ...

3BRs are such cool-looking fish, in complete contrast to the greasy little shore rockling we used to catch in Hampshire which were universally unpopular, probably because they fed best when the water was at its coldest in January and February and they were often a sign you most likely wouldn't catch anything better.

The lugworms failed to produce anything else except a string of tiny poor cod.

 

Meanwhile I had out fish baits on two other rods.

 

Prawn/mackerel cocktail was getting bites on one rod - a bigger poor cod, dogfish and a strap conger resulted.

 

I was fishing mackerel heads a bit closer in on the other, and getting plenty of action from huss, including one particularly paunchy individual. I'd think she was around 11 - 12lbs but I didn't weigh her as I thought she must be on the verge of shedding her egg pouches and wanted to get her back into the water quickly. I lost count of the others, I think five or six with more conventional body shapes weighing up to 8 - 9 lbs.

The session was a first outing for a new Fenix headlamp.

 

My previous headlamp, an early model Petzl Duo, had suddenly stopped working. I think it had a break in the cable where it entered the lamp unit from the separate battery pack, but after struggling for a while I decided the thing clearly wasn't designed to take apart to investigate! I dragged the reserve out of the loft, an old Speleo Anglers Light with LED conversion, but understandably after not using it for at least a decade the NiCd battery didn't want to hold any charge so I've scrapped that too. It weighed a ton anyway!

 

Early days for the Fenix but I'm pleased so far. The middle setting on the flood beam was all I needed on the pier but it has two other flood settings, and four settings from low to turbo on the spot beam.

 

Next trip out was back to Rosscarbery on the 19th, on what looked like being the best day of the continuing miserable spell. Even so, there was a stiff westerly wind so I opted for the shelter of the west bank. The day was punctuated by some vicious squally showers and just a very few sunny spells.

I could see mullet moving in the shallow water on and off throughout the session, mostly at and beyond the limit of my casting range and apparently not feeding well. I kept welting the leger baits out, and eventually had a flurry of bites early afternoon. I missed a couple and landed a brace of mullet, both 3lb 12oz ...

The national travel restrictions had been lifted from the 18th for Christmas, the relaxation originally intended to last till 6th January. Everyone was expecting the in-county restriction to be reintroduced then, so I was keen to make use of the break to get up to Kerry to try for an early spurdog. The better tides were in the week after Christmas, so I planned on that basis. Then, with new covid infections already rocketing, the in-county restriction was announced as resuming from midnight on St Stephen's Day!

 

A hurried change of plans saw me heading up to Kerry to fish a less-than-ideal tide on Christmas Eve...

One of my regular marks looked favourite with the steep hill behind providing shelter from the northerly wind. There was light rain on and off through the morning, then the day dried up. It was a small tide but at least the water was a decent colour, a sort of cloudy grey and not the peaty brown I feared after torrential rain yesterday.

High water passed about 11.30am; the only thing that seemed to be feeding on my baits were starfish, I had three or four of these guys.

 

Lunchtime passed. I had a robin of all things for company down on the rocks, a cheeky little chap who was nearly hand-tame. I fed him some crumbs left over from my sandwiches and discovered he really liked squid tentacles which he sucked in like they were worms.

 

The afternoon wore on. A great northern diver was working close in along the rocks. We get them in winter on Sheep's Head too but I've not seen one this close, handsome bird. He seemed to be having good luck with what looked like small wrasse and gobies. Meanwhile, I still couldn't get a bite.

 

By 2.30pm the wind had turned to an easterly breeze and the ebb tide was bringing brown water down the bay. It all looked increasingly hopeless and I decided to knock off at 3.00pm.

 

At 2.50pm my left-hand rod pulled down firmly, I'd been fishing it a bit closer in than the other for a while in case it might pick up a conger or huss along the rock edge. The fish came up stubbornly then spat out the bait as my leader knot broke surface, just before I could see what it was through the murky water. My guess would be that it was a huss, though subsequent events suggest maybe not.

 

While I was baiting up that rod again, my other one gave a couple of rattles. Nothing seemed to develop so I left the squid/mackerel cocktail bait out there fishing on the muddy bottom.

A few minutes later it pulled down more decisively. I grabbed the rod, felt the weight of the fish and then it was gone. I assumed it had come unhooked but no, the 80lb mono trace had been bitten clean off just above the short wire biting piece I tie in! Huss will wear through a mono trace for sure but they don't really have the dentition to bite straight through, so I was immediately thinking the culprit may have been a spur. They don't normally deep-hook so my suspicion was it had managed to pick up the trace above the bait.

 

I tied on a new rig and got another bait out ASAP and almost immediately it was taken. This time I hooked up properly and played in a lively but clearly not very weighty fish ... it was indeed a spur, though only a small male about 4 - 5lbs.

 

I cast out again hopeful of more instant action, but in the event it was nearly 30 minutes before I had a more gentle nodding bite on the same rod. This was clearly a better fish so I hoped it stayed on. I scrambled over the slippery rocks to the edge to slide out a nice spur, this one a female about 8lbs...

I was elated with that. The whole trip was a long-shot forced by the expectation of being restricted (at best) to County Cork all through the spring. I think after scoring in February and now in December, the traditional March/April/May spur season is a bit misunderstood ... perhaps they are there all winter just nobody is trying for them. I ended up staying right into the dusk, but no further action.

I was half-minded to dash up to Kerry again for St Stephen's Day, but in the event Storm Bella put paid to that.

 

After the storm we have had a protracted period of bitter north winds that I really didn't fancy at all till they'd eased off a good bit. A 5km travel restriction was reimposed from New Year's Eve with the covid crisis still escalating, so a planned mullet trip to Rosscarbery on New Year's Day fell by the wayside. In fact, all my mullet fishing has fallen by the wayside for the forseeable future so I don't feel so bad about dipping out in November now.

 

My first trip of 2021 was on 3rd January, to a rock mark on the Bantry Bay side of the peninsula on the fringe of my 5km zone. The north wind had died down to next-to-nothing and it was a gloriously sunny day, it's not often you'll see the Atlantic like this in wintertime ...

The fishing, it has to be said, didn't really live up to the occasion.

 

Smaller permutations of squid, mackerel and prawn fished well out produced a few knocks and rattles, but I only landed a smattering of LSDs.

 

Meanwhile, mackerel head baits fished closer in remained untouched till a nodding bite late on that I missed then an identical bite next cast which I hit. It hadn't been much of a bite, but it was a good weighty fish that pulled hard in the clear water.

 

Much as expected, a big bull huss broke surface. I scrambled down the rocks to lift it out by the trace, and estimated it at 12lbs.

 

Happy New Year.

0 Comments

2020

Sat

05

Dec

2020

Over, but not out ...

Well, my run of consecutive months with mullet came to an end (at 32) with the 5km travel restriction throughout November. I can't even say it went out with a bang; more of a fizzle ...

 

I thought I was in with a shout at the start of the month. On the 1st I went for a walk along the brackish lake that had turned up trumps during the spring lockdown. It's never a prolific venue but I spooked a couple of mullet out of the margins so I was hopeful of some action when I went back with my float rod on the 2nd. 

 

I waded out in a favourite area, and ran through a float on the drift caused by the gentle SW breeze, loose-feeding a little mashed bread every trot. After about ten minutes the ripple was broken by a swirl under some floating scraps of bread. Whether it was a mullet or one of the resident trout I don't know, the fish didn't show again and I didn't get a bite. I gave up after a couple of hours.

 

I was back next day in a flat calm, but didn't see a sign of mullet aside from a small shoal of fingerling fish in the margins. 

 

I decided I'd leave it a few days till the lake had had a top-up on the next set of springs, but instead the weather took a turn for the worse with one of the wettest and windiest spells since we moved over here.

 

By the time we had a couple of better days we were heading into the last week of November, and winter seemed to have set in. The leaves were off the trees and the lake seemed devoid of life. The fingerling mullet had gone; even the resident swans had disappeared. It didn't seem worth getting the mullet rods out either at the lake or indeed off the pier, the water in the bay being unusually clouded from all the swells and rain. 

 

I decided to call time on my mullet run ... a decision not exactly helped when Jason posted photos on Facebook of the six mullet he'd caught in the shelter of the estuary near his home at Clonakilty the very same day! I was tempted ... but stuck to the Level 5 rules.

 

Instead I ventured out onto the pier one evening with the big rods. I was hoping for a huss but in the event managed only dogfish and poor cod. I had one tentative take on a mackerel head, but my leader parted when I tightened into the fish, the last few inches shredded - I'm guessing it was a conger that had just backed off with the bait under a sharp rock ledge.

 

It wasn't much of a session but appetite whetted I headed out onto the rocks on the 27th ...

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Fri

30

Oct

2020

October Update: Mostly Mullet and COVID Levels

My October fishing started on the 2nd at Rosscarbery.

 

I arrived late morning and had a good look round. I couldn't find many mullet anywhere, so in the end I went for the default option of the grass by the N71 where I could get the brolly up as shelter from the chilly north breeze and the showers that were threatening. It's also nicer for Fern collie than fishing off the side of the road and where I'd be more socially-distanced from people passing by!

 

I was spotting occasional mullet whelming, mostly further out, but it was lunchtime before I had a take on one of the leger rods. The mullet ran out powerfully then took me right along the grass to the right to land it. I was a bit surprised it was smaller than I thought and only went 3:15. It was a decent enough start though.

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Sun

04

Oct

2020

September Update

September was a busy fishing month, with the weather thankfully much improved after the storms and flooding in August.

 

Possibly the most exciting news was the appearence in Bantry Bay of shoals of spurdogs, big ones some of them. The boat doing mostly short trips out of Glengarriff was reporting them on their Facebook page late in August and into the first few days of September, seemingly mostly high up the Bay, not far below Garinish Island I think. I got as far as having a look for some shore access in that area but there doesn't seem to be much - a mark that seemed promising on Google looked much less so on the ground. I didn't pursue it as the spurs didn't reappear on the next set of tides; I suspect their appearence coincided with some really exceptional numbers of mackerel in the Bay and once the mackerel started to thin out the spurs were gone. If anyone knows of any shore access to deep water up towards Glengarriff I'd be very happy to hear from you for future reference.

 

On the 1st of the month I headed to a north coast mark on Sheep's Head mainly intending to get a hit of mackerel for the smoker and the final top-up of my bait freezer. There'd been loads of mackerel on this mark for several weeks and it had become quite popular, and I'd noticed some of the guys fishing were cleaning the mackerel on the spot and dumping the heads and guts over the side. It seemed too good an opportunity to miss, so I took one of the big rods with me and lobbed out the head of the first mackerel I caught, stopping the spool as the bait sunk through the deep water so it would swing in towards the base of the rock face. As usual I popped-up the head by lashing on a small piece of polystyrene with bait elastic; it's a proper snag-pit of a mark.

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Sat

05

Sep

2020

August Update

It's been a funny few weeks. It took a few days to get properly mobile again after crocking my knee on the rocks, then August became something of an exercise in weather-dodging. First we had thunderstorms that caused flash flooding around West Cork - Rosscarbery was hit twice in the space of 48 hours - and the bays both sides of Sheep's Head turned brown with peaty water pouring in off the hills. Then later in the month, two major storm events - Ellen and Francis - kept things stirred up and brought more floods including wrecking the middle of Bantry town.

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Thu

30

Jul

2020

Mixed Stuff for July

July isn't normally a month I get to do much fishing but with my work from the UK cancelled this year I found myself with plenty of time on my hands. I was determined not to spend it all mullet fishing ...

 

Early in the month I did a couple more trips to the Airstrip Strand. It was hard work getting past the dogfish but I landed three more thornbacks, a couple of small ones and my best for the venue so far just a shade over 6lbs.

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Tue

30

Jun

2020

June Update

We entered June still on a 5km travel restriction, due to be extended to 20km on the 8th on the government's covid roadmap. Unfortunately the small mullet population of the brackish lake seemed to have dwindled to nothing, perhaps gone out on the last set of springs or eaten by the otters. My attention turned to the bay here.

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Sun

31

May

2020

May Update

The 2km travel restriction was raised to 5km, but this did nothing meaningful to increase the choice of mullet marks available. We were blessed with warm sunny weather for the most part but easterly winds persisted on and off throughout the month. Only once did I find a few mullet on the open shoreline of Dunmanus Bay and I couldn't get them interested in feeding in the fleeting opportunity available. This left me with the brackish lake, and unfortunately numbers appeared well down from when I'd caught in April.

 

I found an old research paper online about the lake, which is apparently a designated Local Nature Reserve though there's no signage on site to suggest that. It was an interesting read though not an encouraging one ... an unusual ecology but not a rich one, with few species of flora and fauna able to cope with both the sudden increase in salinity when spring tides break in and massive influxes of acid, peat-stained water after heavy rainfall. Relatively poor feeding is perhaps why despite looking the part the lake never seems to hold more than a handful of sizeable mullet. I also wonder whether even on spring tides many fish would be deterred by the journey up through the narrow channel and under the very low flagstone bridge.

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Sat

16

May

2020

Developing Pop-Up Crust

My previous writings about pop-up crust mullet baits in NMC's Grey Ghost magazine and on my blog here seem to have attracted some interest both back in the UK and in Ireland. I started some new experiments with the technique last autumn. In an ideal world I'd have liked some firmer conclusions but some particularly poor winter weather limited progress and now the covid travel restrictions look set to reduce my leger opportunities severely till at least 20th July ... so I thought I'd get on and share some thoughts now.

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Mon

11

May

2020

More Old Rods

Some more rod renovations as the covid lockdown grinds on...

 

These are not as old as some of the others I've been giving a facelift, but they still have history.

 

On the right is my Zziplex 3500. It was a gift from my friends and colleagues in 2000 when I moved on from Fareham College in Hampshire after nineteen years there teaching physics. It's a lovely slim blank that in many ways reminded me of my original 1005, more so anyway than the Dream Machine GS Match I'd had in the interim.

 

In 2001 I caught a 52.5lb stingray on the 3500, by accident really when I was hound fishing at Selsey but it won me the fish of the month competition in Sea Angler magazine, and the prize was the rod on the left. It's a Shimano Antares 129 Beach. It is a nice blank but the rod came without any sort of reel fitting which I thought was a bit cheapskate (I bought coasters for it) and the rings had poncey gold ceramic liners which started chipping and cracking at the first sight of a shingle beach, so within a couple of weeks I'd had them off and replaced them with a set of BNHGs.

 

Photos. The 3500 in action with a Solent smooth-hound, my lad Luke is now 26! And one of several Selsey tope I had 2005 - 2008 mostly on the Shimano Antares, this one 38lbs.

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Thu

30

Apr

2020

An April Mullet Against the Odds

On Friday 17th April IFI published clarification that we are, after all, allowed to go fishing during the covid lockdown as part of our exercise regime. The inevitable conditions attached are rather limiting though ... only for brief periods, walking to a venue within 2km of home. A "brief period" is defined on their website as not more than an hour or an hour and a half.

 

This allowed just a chance that I might be able to keep my monthly mullet record going, but only a slim chance. The mullet don't seem to arrive in the bay here particularly early in the year. The earliest I've seen them is mid-April and the earliest I've caught one is well into May. So I wasn't expecting much over the next few days as I used my dog walks to check out some possible spots. Indeed nothing at all was showing along the rocky shore; the chances of an early mullet showing were probably being further diminished by a nagging easterly breeze.

 

I did however see some encouraging swirls and bow-waves in the brackish lake east of the village, 1.1km away from home measured on Google Maps. It's not a venue I've fished much as it's mostly only inches deep, and though it looks the part and there are usually half-pound size mullet to be seen, it's rare to see more than an odd bigger mullet in there. It's also very badly affected by heavy rainfall though the mullet must be able to survive the sudden plunges in salinity as they can only get in and out on the biggest couple of tides each month when the lake tops up from the sea.

 

I waited a few days for the east breeze to die away. Then on the 23rd I printed off the IFI poster in case anyone objected and set off with Fern collie and fishing tackle ...

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Mon

20

Apr

2020

Old Rods

One of the few positives about being locked down has been the opportunity to get on with some rod renovations, some of which were tentatively underway already and accelerated, some were scheduled and others brought forward. I have some fairly modern mullet rods but otherwise it's been a bit of an eye-opener realising just how old some of my kit is - some rods already on their second or third iterations and in need of TLC again ...

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Sat

04

Apr

2020

A March Mullet Before Lockdown

March was always going to be a truncated fishing month with a UK trip planned.

 

I drove down to Rosscarbery on the 2nd. The water was horribly coloured after Storm Jorge and the day was grey and blustery. I didn't get a bite or even see a mullet move for sure.

 

We headed for the Rosslare ferry on the 4th with Ireland beginning to shut down with the coronavirus crisis. It was good to see family and friends but we were pleased to get back on Patrick's Day ... it was obvious by now the way things were headed and the Atlantic coast of Ireland seems as safe a place as anywhere to weather out the storm.

 

I went back to Rosscarbery on the 18th, fishing from the grass by the bridge arch. It was blustery again and none too warm. I couldn't see any fish moving but after a couple of hours Jason arrived and said there'd been "thousands" of mullet here yesterday and no way could they have moved out of the pool on the very neap tides at the time. Jason hadn't caught yesterday and went off to fish down the west side but he didn't stay long. As it calmed down later in the day I started to see big shoals of mullet boiling from time to time along the fringe of the mudbank, way out of range across the pool. There didn't seem to be any at all straying closer in and eventually I tired of waiting and took Fern collie for a walk down the estuary before driving home ... and promptly wished I'd packed up earlier as we found an active group of mullet in one of the deeper pools lower down. A quick dash back to get the car and tackle and soon we were relocated by the pool with the mullet still showing. I wasn't sure whether to try trotting a float through, the ebb flow looked a bit fast for that so in the end I broke out one of the leger rods again and touch-legered. I had quite a few knocks but I couldn't say for sure if they were proper bites or just fish bumping into the line ... nothing I could strike anyway and after ten minutes or so the fish moved off and out of the estuary with the tide.

 

I was back again on Sunday 22nd. Someone else was fishing from the grass, a blessing in disguise as it turned out. I drove slowly down the west side and soon came across a big shoal of mullet just within casting range, so I parked up there and set up the leger rods. I had these fish all over and around my baits for a couple of hours, but they obviously weren't feeding as there was barely a twitch on either tip. I started to see an odd straggler from the main group closer in, so I dropped one of my baits in there just in case one of these fish might be bucking the trend and feeding ... and a few minutes later, mid-coffee as usual, the rod fishing closer in jagged over.

 

The fish powered off and put up a good scrap all the way in, to the extent I was surprised it looked relatively modest in size when it reached the foot of the wall. After a bit more struggle it was in the net, it went 3lb 14oz on the scales and had a massive paddle of a tail that was probably something to do with how well it had fought...

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Sat

29

Feb

2020

Weather Windows and Personal Bests

After those first few calm days and my mullet on the 5th, the February weather has been truly dire. Storms Ciara, Dennis and Jorge have written off three out of four weekends and the weather between was scarcely better with a string of other low-pressure systems pouring in off the Atlantic. I don't think there's been such a protracted windy spell since we moved to Ireland and the rain ... well at least living on a mountainside we don't have to worry about flooding.

 

It was an effort to get out fishing at all but fortunately there were a few brief gaps in the dismal weather.

 

The wind dropped light on the afternoon of the 18th in the aftermath of Dennis. I headed out onto the pier that evening not sure what to expect, but in the event the huss were unusually active again. Perhaps the water in the bay, now as coloured as I've ever seen it, suits them. I missed a few runs and latched into five. Two were only 5 - 6lb size; two better fish let go of the baits as they reached the surface but fortunately the best of the night had the circle hook firmly planted in its scissors. The scales said spot on 13lbs, equal to my personal best ...

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Wed

05

Feb

2020

Two Years of Mullet

After the busy session on New Year's Day, the Rosscarbery mullet fishing quietened down in January. I went down twice, on the 8th and 22nd, and on each day I could see a shoal of mullet well out in the middle of the pool and mainly staying put. The sessions became a bit attritional, whacking out leger baits to maximum range and hoping an odd straggler would find them. In the event I had just one mullet each day, both middle three pounders ...

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Tue

04

Feb

2020

Mostly Huss

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Wed

01

Jan

2020

Happy New Year

I arrived back at Rosscarbery at about 9.45am on New Year's Day. The mild spell had persisted and a gentle southerly breeze was putting a slight lop on the water. The tide had only just peaked and I couldn't see any sign of fish moving, but I felt confident I'd be in with a good shout in the swim where I'd caught last time out.

 

I was fishing by 10.15 but the first couple of casts passed without any indications on the quivertips. Around 11.15 the left-hand tip trembled slightly then a few seconds later it nodded more decisively. The nodding repeated and I struck, hooking into a solid-feeling fish that chugged out a little then hung out there a while before coming back in very slowly, hugging the bottom. It wasn't a scintillating fight to be honest, but the fish obviously had some weight to it and when it surfaced just slightly off to my left I thought it might make 6lbs. I had it in the net at the second attempt and soon had it in the weigh-bag on the scales, 5lb 14oz as it turned out and a very satisfactory start to the year.

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2019

Tue

31

Dec

2019

November & December Update

To be fair, there's not a great amount to update here! I was busy with exam work throughout November and well into December, and the weather was mostly wet and windy. I did however get out in a few of the calmer interludes to try to keep my monthly mullet run going.

 

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Wed

16

Oct

2019

October Fishing - Mostly Mullet & Steve's Back

4:11 in the first rays of morning sun.
4:11 in the first rays of morning sun.
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Wed

02

Oct

2019

Atlantic Chub Mackerel

I had a couple of days mullet fishing yesterday and today, making the most of a brief calmer spell before ex-hurricane Lorenzo heralds the arrival of another lengthy unsettled spell. I'll write up the mulleting separately but today's session on a low water rock mark in Bantry Bay brought something of interest - my fourth new species of the year.

 

There were mullet present but they weren't really hanging on and nearly every positive bite I hit turned out to be a mackerel. They were quite good size and I decided to keep a few for eating, in the end taking a dozen. One immediately attracted attention, being a really slippery customer to get hold of, much more so than the others. Then I noticed its black band markings weren't quite right and it had feint spots right down its silver flank to its belly. Its tail was noticeably yellow and its eye seemed bigger than normal. Here it is with a standard mackerel below for comparison. The spots and yellow tail have faded somewhat in death ...

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Fri

27

Sep

2019

September Mullet

My first trip out after Dave's return home was down onto the Mizen on September 5th.

 

I really wanted one of the bigger thicklips that browse the sandflats over HW like I had fishing last month with Mike. But after a couple of hours on the leger, the tide hadn't come in as far as I'd hoped and I'd had only one small mullet with no other bites. I wasn't even seeing any fish moving over the flats so there didn't seem to be much prospect of getting anything else and a change of plan was called for.

 

As the first of the ebb flow eased off, there were some quite decent numbers of mullet starting to show in the deep pool by the bridge arches. Although most of them looked small, occasionally I'd see a bigger fish so I decided to take the leger rods back to the car and break out the float rod. 

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Mon

02

Sep

2019

Triggers and Other Fish

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Thu

29

Aug

2019

August Mullet: Fishing with Mike & Fishing with Dave

On 1st August I headed down to see my old friend Mike Buckley who was over on a break from UK. Mike had been staying in B&B in Skibbereen for a few days already but had found the fishing along the road at Rosscarbery still in poor sorts, with just a few smallish mullet landed. So we decided to head to a pontoon mark to the east where he'd found more consistent fishing.

 

Sadly this day most of the mullet seemed to have vacated the pontoon: we saw a few fish but after an hour we were still without a bite between us. 

 

Someone called down to us that they could see some mullet under a small boat moored next to the adjacent higher section of quay, so I went to investigate. Sure enough, I could see three or four mullet under the bow of the boat that was actually tied to the outside of a larger vessel that was against the quay. I was able to drift some crusts down towards them and I thought odd pieces were being taken just as they disappeared out of sight down the far side of the boat. We didn't have a drop-net with us but I decided to fish anyway with a vague plan to walk a hooked fish back to the pontoon or send Mike with the landing net down a rather rusty-looking ladder ...

 

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Mon

12

Aug

2019

Rock Sessions

Late in July a German friend in the village had visitors, including twin lads who wanted to go fishing. I somehow got volunteered to take them ...

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Wed

31

Jul

2019

June & July Mullet

June and July are never the greatest fishing months for me, with loads of exam work on and precious few opportunities to get out. However I did manage to slip away a few times ...

 

On 7th June I headed down to Rosscarbery for a shortish session over lunchtime. It was a blustery day threatening rain, and as far as I could see in the choppy water there didn't seem to be many fish in residence. 

 

I set up on the grass and catapulted out a dozen small balls of groundbait in a tight pattern, supplemented each cast into the same area by another ball moulded round my leger weight . Often it's not possible to tell if this groundbaiting does much good, but today when I started to see mullet moving, after about an hour, it was right in the area I was baiting. Activity remained concentrated in the same area over the next couple of hours.

 

Soon after this activity started up, I began getting bites. First up a modest fish that threw the hook after a few seconds. No matter, as I was soon in again, and then again, with a couple of fish either side of 3lbs ...

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Wed

22

May

2019

May Mullet - Fishing with Steve

Each spring some sickly mullet return inshore, individuals that haven't coped with the rigours of the winter and spawning, most probably old fish nearing the end of their lives ... "on their last fins" as one of my Facebook friends put it. These fish are particularly visible at shallow venues like Rosscarbery, and I'd seen a couple earlier this year. One, pale in colour, swam along listlessly just under the surface. Even more distressed, one was belly up near the bottom but just barely paddling itself along against the gentle current. Such sad specimens can't last long before the otters get them.

 

Then early this month reports started circulating of greater numbers of poorly mullet at Rosscarbery. I wasn't convinced it was anything (much) more than the normal state of affairs for the time of year, but still when I headed down on the 10th there was a slight sense of fearing the worst.

 

In the event everything seemed fine. There weren't great numbers of mullet around - a legacy of weeks of mostly easterly winds I think - but the small gaggles of fish moving past me as I fished near the bridge all seemed to be in good nick apart from one tatty-looking individual that even so was keeping up with the others. I couldn't get a bite from those close-in fish but eventually got one legering further out. Later I walked Fern Collie all down the west side of the estuary and saw more mullet in ones and twos, and they all looked fit and alert. I decided to have a last hour fishing from the wall. Again I couldn't get any interest from the near-in fish but had one at long range. Both the fish I'd landed were pristine four pounders ...

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Sun

12

May

2019

Rock Sessions - and Another First.

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Tue

30

Apr

2019

April Mullet

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Sat

13

Apr

2019

Sheepshead Rocks

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Tue

09

Apr

2019

First Spurs

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Fri

29

Mar

2019

March Mullet

Back from Africa, a few days to recover ... and then a really stormy spell of weather that knocked thoughts of fishing on the head!

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Thu

28

Feb

2019

Namibia 2019

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Mon

11

Feb

2019

Twelve Months Running

I next ventured down to Rosscarbery on 25th January, just about over a miserable cold that had hung on me for most of the month. There were plenty of mullet present but they seemed to be in two or three big shoals way out in the middle of the pool - I'd see them occasionally boiling the surface when a bird flew over and spooked them.

 

I fished from the same area as last time and cast both leger rigs out as far as possible, which was still well short of where they needed to be. It proved quite a wait before (I guess) one of the shoals edged my way a couple of hours after starting. My left-hand rod nodded then pulled over, and soon I was involved in a feisty scrap with a decent mullet ... and while that was on, my right hand rod pulled over too and line started stripping off against the drag! I got the first fish in fairly quickly, left it in the landing net in the shallows then went to the other rod. This felt a better fish and it was miles out by now, though fortunately it didn't seem to have found any of the many snags out there. The mullet came back very grudgingly but I did eventually get it in to complete my second brace of the year already ... 3lb 5oz and 5lbs exact.

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Sun

06

Jan

2019

Up and Running in 2019

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2018

Thu

20

Dec

2018

Season's Greetings ... and a little update

Apologies to my regular readers for the lack of new material over the last couple of months.

 

I'd planned to have a good few rock sessions through the early autumn but it certainly didn't work out that way. First time out on the rocks and I somehow injured my back. I'm not even sure how, I had a few chucks with mackerel feathers to no avail then sat down on the rock ledge dangling a float close in for wrasse. Had a couple of small ones out then realised I couldn't stand up! Eventually I managed to get onto all-fours and scrabble my kit together and crawl off the rocks. Then I hobbled my way back to the car using my net handle and a rod butt-section as makeshift crutches. Not recommended.

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Mon

17

Sep

2018

With Steve and Just After

Last Tuesday I met Steve Smith at Cork Airport for his second trip over this year.

 

Best laid plans and all ... Steve's flight was delayed and an already tight schedule to fish a low-water pool in an estuary not too far from the Airport became even tighter. We were heartened to find some good numbers of mullet on arrival, and even more heartened when they showed interest in the scraps of floating bread we put in. But by the time we were set up and fishing, the first of the tide was beginning to push through the pool, and soon it became a torrent, taking the mullet with it upriver.

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Tue

11

Sep

2018

Mullet Here & There

My mullet fishing has also been patchy recently. I missed a potentially good week for a family visitor staying with us, and the mullet themselves seem a bit unsettled by some up-and-down weather.

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Sat

08

Sep

2018

Rock Update

I've not done a huge amount of rock fishing this summer, and the rock fishing form has been patchy on those occasions I have been out.

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Tue

14

Aug

2018

Mullet Update

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Fri

20

Jul

2018

Ticking Over ...

Apologies to my regular readers for the lack of recent updates. I've not been fishing much - a trip away in the UK, an exceptionally busy exam work season and the World Cup footie being mostly responsible.

 

I did manage to get out on the last day of June for a short mullet session on the Bantry Bay rocks. I caught it just right with lots of mullet showing on a sunny day with just a touch of breeze to ripple the surface. I briefly contacted a decent fish first cast on bread bait, but after that the bites became very finnicky on bread and I couldn't hook up again. I changed to using slivers of salmon and the fish bait produced much better bites. I finished the session with three nice mullet before the rising tide forced me off the spot, the best a lovely 4lb 12 oz thicklip, the best I've had from this particular mark.

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Sun

20

May

2018

Contrasts

Last Friday was a wonderfully sunny day with a fresh westerly breeze. I had to go to the dentist in Bantry about lunchtime but on the way back I drove along the coast road. I wanted to have a look at an outfall pipe that I haven't fished before, and maybe get the rod out if conditions looked suitable. The pipe has been there a while but only over the last few months does it seem to have become active, carrying waste from a fish processing plant.

 

It's not an easy spot to fish, the end of the pipe only being accessible for a short session over low water and it's not far above water level so it's prone to getting sloshed over if there's any swell. The water in front of it is not very deep, and there's a kelp-covered reef just under the surface only slightly to the left.

 

Anyway, today the conditions looked fishable with just a light cross-wind from the left and only a small swell. I walked out to the end of the pipe and it was working well ...

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Wed

16

May

2018

Steve Back Again ...

Last Friday my old friend Steve Smith flew into Cork Airport for a short mullet fishing break. He'd decided to try an trip over in May on the basis of my early-season fishing the last couple of years, but regular followers of this blog will know that this year the fishing has been patchy so far, with a long winter stretching into a disappointing early spring.

 

The most consistent venue has been Rosscarbery, so there we headed on Saturday for Steve's first session. The tide was still quite neap and, paradoxically, unbroken bright sunshine streamed down on us. We could see lots of mullet in the shallow water, contentedly browsing over the surface of the mud, possibly sampling the algae that has put on a growth spurt over the last week or so. They looked like they might be difficult to turn onto bread baits, and so it proved.

 

We started off by the bridge arch. I set Steve up with two leger rods and fished one myself. Predictably, because I was keen for Steve to get off the mark, it was my tip that nodded first. I struck and played a modest mullet two-thirds of the way in, at which point it picked up one of Steve's lines and then came off. 

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Tue

08

May

2018

Scratching ...

Writing these blogs it's easy to gloss over the bad days, concentrate on the good days and give a sometimes over-optimistic impression of the fishing. There's no disguising though that the last month has been difficult, and after some promising catches in March and April the mullet fishing has gone backwards. Main culprit I'm sure has been the unseasonal weather. Two early heatwaves have come and gone in the UK and the east of Ireland, while West Cork has languished under a blanket of cloud and mist with temperatures struggling to get into the teens of Celsius and some days much colder than that!

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Wed

11

Apr

2018

Back on the Rocks

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Mon

09

Apr

2018

More Mullet

I've been keeping an eye on some marks further west, but for now there's been little sign of any mullet on them. To get my mullet fix I've been heading back to Rosscarbery, trying to pick the milder days with a gentle southerly breeze to maximise my chances of getting a few fish. The last couple of weeks the tactic seems to have been working.

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Fri

16

Mar

2018

Catching Again

February mullet fishing proved difficult and ultimately unsuccessful. I did a first trip to Rosscarbery on the 4th. I couldn't see any sign of mullet and ended up fishing blind in the swim where I'd caught the two fish at the end of January. Incredibly, I missed a decent pull on my very first cast! As I wound in, the thought flitted through my mind that I may have just missed my best chance of a February mullet. And how prophetic that turned out to be, as that session petered out without further interest, and three further blank sessions followed before we headed for the ferry and a long-scheduled UK trip on the 19th. That put an end to any prospect of a mullet in February, though as the Beast from the East and Storm Emma arrived shortly after and dumped a blanket of snow over West Cork, I doubt I'd have been out much anyway.

 

It was frustrating that I'd missed that chance, frustrating also that I'd seen mullet on the other trips, albeit not in big numbers and apparently not feeding. And frustrating that as soon as we were back in Ireland and I was fishing again, the mullet were around in greater numbers and feeding again ... in March!

 

My first trip was on the 8th and there were decent numbers of fish showing out from the west bank when I arrived about lunchtime. I put out the usual two leger lines but I didn't get any definite takes, I thought slightly surprisingly given the fish seemed quite active. Eventually a sizeable group of them gathered in a shallow corner and I decided to break out the float rod. Tackled up again, I waded out a little way, crouched low and put a little Puddlechucker out into the midst of the feeding mullet, fishing a small flake bait just a few inches deep. Still bites were hard to come by, then unexpectedly the float stabbed under and I missed with the strike. But I was better prepared a minute or two later when the float dipped again and I was in ...

 

The fish bow-waved out through the shallow water scattering its shoal mates then put up a decent if uneventful scrap before I could beach it. It weighed 4lb 5oz. The blingy reel is the Shimano Catana that I won in the raffle drawn at the Mullet Club AGM ... it seemed churlish not to give it a whirl and in fairness it did a decent job but I don't really like rear-drags much on fixed-spool reels so it may not get a lot of other outings.

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Tue

30

Jan

2018

Slow Start (but Worth the Wait)

The storms between Christmas and New Year and on into January made for some difficult fishing.

 

I visited Rosscarbery on the 1st and the 10th of the month without seeing a mullet or getting a bite fishing blind. On the 10th I packed up early and had a good look round several parts of the Clonakilty estuary hoping to find some fish but to no avail there either.

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2017

Sat

23

Dec

2017

More December Mullet

The weather has stayed very mild this week, so today it was back to Rosscarbery for some more winter mullet.

 

On arrival I could see a group of fish grubbing around in very shallow water on the west bank. I fished for them for twenty minutes or so, getting a couple of line bites but no proper takes. Then a couple of cormorants arrived and started harassing the fish, which soon moved on. The cormorants left and I fished on for a few minutes hoping the mullet would reappear, then I decided to move. I was just breaking down my first rod when the other pulled over hard then sprang back before I could pick it up - a missed chance.

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Thu

21

Dec

2017

Long Time Coming

Work took up the rest of November, and the first week of December. I finished the last batch of exam scripts just in time for a visit by Keith Gillett, the chairman of the National Mullet Club in UK. 

 

Unfortunately Keith brought some horrible weather with him, a blast of strong northerly winds straight from the Arctic dropping the air temperature close to zero. We fished two long days at Rosscarbery and though I was slightly surprised that we saw a few mullet each day and we did have a couple of half-hearted bites on the first afternoon, ultimately we blanked. The swan population of West Cork seemed to have descended on Rosscarbery and they made a real nuisance of themselves.

 

On Monday this week I was back, this time with Julian. It was flat calm and the water was both low and very clear and although the air temperature was up to about 10 celsius, the water still felt icy cold. There seemed to be plenty of mullet about but they mostly stayed well out in the middle of the pool. The few that strayed into range showed no sign of feeding on our baits, another blank! Most of the swans had moved on but those still present hung around us right through the session, a proper pain. 

 

And so to today. It was overcast with drizzle on and off, but there was a gentle SW breeze putting a ripple on the surface and the air temperature was up to 13 celsius so despite the recent poor form I felt much more confident about the prospects. Another positive, the swan population was down to just two adults and their four nearly-grown cygnets, and happily they left me alone all day!

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Sat

04

Nov

2017

Fishing at Christchurch

Ex-Hurricane Ophelia and Storm Brian rattled through in quick succession and the inshore waters around West Cork were thoroughly stirred up. I ventured down to Rosscarbery on 22nd October, just after Brian, and even in the relatively sheltered waters there the mullet had made themselves scarce. It was a six hour blank across two different swims, not a bite and only a couple of fish seen. That was my last chance gone before a trip to the UK spanning two sets of work meetings in Cambridge, more than a fortnight away in all.

 

However, between the meetings I was staying in Christchurch in Dorset with my sister, and late in the season though it was, it just wouldn't have been right not to have a go fishing in the Harbour there.

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Sat

14

Oct

2017

Fishing with Julian

I arrived at Lough Hyne in the half-light early on Monday morning to find the Lough mirror-calm. The place hasn't been on great mullet form this year, and I was disappointed again not to see much sign of activity on the surface. Still, I got the rods out and started feeding a little mashed bread, and soon Julian arrived. Mission: to catch his first mullet.

 

Given there weren't many mullet showing, and maybe it would be a one fish day, I got Julian fishing while I sat next to him slowly feeding the swim. Soon his float dipped away and he struck into ... a mackerel. A few missed bites, then another mackerel!

 

Soon we were seeing an occasional mullet swirl on the surface and Julian was getting, and missing, bites regularly. The mullet we were seeing looked small and in keeping with that the bites weren't particularly positive. Julian wasn't doing a lot wrong, but every miss was increasing the frustration level, and in his frustration he passed the rod to me to show him how to strike. I suppose the outcome was inevitable, one miss on another fiddly bite, then next cast when the float was pulled under much more decisively, I struck into a very decent-looking mullet.

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Mon

09

Oct

2017

Rock Sessions

Mackerel had only been showing patchily here this summer, but on both sets of springs in September they seemed to be around in force, especially on the Bantry Bay side of the peninsula.

 

I do quite enjoy catching them individually on light tackle, but for now the order of the day was to catch big numbers for some meals and to stock up the bait drawers of the freezer.

 

I've been a long-term fan of the Mustad Ayaka shrimp rig for mackerel fishing, and these were catching well enough, but I had a few sets of TronixPro Sabikis I'd been meaning to try and one of these did finally get a go ... and I must admit they were better fish catchers than the Ayakas. Quality kit though they aren't: at the end of their first session the set of six had lost one hook completely and two others had been reduced to bare hooks. I had in mind to salvage what I could as a set of three, but by the time I got round to it the hooks were all very rusted so I chopped the rig up and consigned it to the bin.

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Tue

03

Oct

2017

Rosscarbery Mullet Sessions

Three mullet sessions to report on here, all at Rosscarbery which is a great venue to have available when westerly winds write off most of my other mullet marks, as they have all too often recently.

 

On 26th September I had a morning appointment in Cork, so I arrived late lunchtime. It was another dull and blustery day, so I set up the leger rods on the sheltered west side of the estuary pool. There were decent numbers of fish about and I ended up with four on the bank ... 4:06, 2:14, 4:10 and a lovely specimen fish of 5:07 to round the day off nicely.

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Thu

21

Sep

2017

Mullet Update

It's been a slightly frustrating few weeks at what is generally one of the best times of year for mullet fishing. The up and down weather has limited my opportunities, but even when I have got out I seem to have missed the best of the fishing. I've also lost a couple of good fish under unusual circumstances, more of which later.

 

On 4th September I had a short session on the rock mark on the north side of Sheep's Head which had been reasonably consistent when Steve was over, if not hitting the heights of earlier in the summer. There were still mullet in residence, but the size was disappointing. I had three between 1:12 and 1:14, this from a mark where I've rarely had fish under 2lbs before. Pretty little fish though...

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Sat

09

Sep

2017

Before the Storm

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Thu

31

Aug

2017

Wrasse ... No, Pollack

I arrived back from driving Steve to the Airport about lunchtime. After a pretty gloomy week weatherwise while he'd been here, today it was bright and sunny. I was feeling inspired  by my efforts with the wrasse on soft plastics yesterday, so I bundled the kit together and headed to a rock mark close to the mouth of Bantry Bay.

 

Well sometimes things just don't go to script ...

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Wed

30

Aug

2017

Fishing with Steve - Again

Tuesday last week I picked up my old friend Steve Smith from Cork Airport; Steve was over for his annual mullet bash with us. It had been a miserable wet day and we didn't intend fishing, but it brightened up progressively as we headed west and I couldn't resist a look at a mark on the Sheep's Head as we neared home. 

 

I chucked out a few crusts and we watched, but nothing moved to them. Steve however spotted a mullet flanking occasionally as it scraped the stones on the bottom of the shallow gulley. It looked a decent fish, so we headed back to the house, offloaded Steve's suitcase and headed out again with fishing tackle. 

 

Ninety minutes later we packed up fishless, Steve having missed the only bite of the session. I secretly hoped this wouldn't set a trend for the week ahead, especially after the lean trip Steve had had last year.

 

Bright and early we were out to fish the bottom of the ebb and low water on a local rock mark. I really wanted to get Steve off the mark, so I fed bread into the swim little and often while he fished. He was getting sporadic bites almost from the off, and before long he connected with one ...

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Sat

19

Aug

2017

Rock Fishing Two Ways

Two different ends of the rock fishing spectrum this week.

 

On Monday - coarse float rod, centrepin, 6lb line, waggler float and size 10 hook. The target was mullet, and I had five, two on bread bait and three on mussel flesh. I kept them in a rockpool pending release at the end of the session. No monsters today, the biggest was a middle-three pounder.

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Sat

12

Aug

2017

Pollack on a New Rock Mark

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Fri

11

Aug

2017

Mullet Round-up

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Mon

07

Aug

2017

Wrasse

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Thu

03

Aug

2017

Rosscarbery Trips ... and a new PB.

I finally emerged from under my mountain of exam marking in mid-July, with just a short window before we had family visiting and then I had another short work-related trip to the UK. Desperate for a mullet fix, on 12 July I headed for Rosscarbery for an afternoon session. It was a bright if blustery day, and Sylvi came too.

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Sun

25

Jun

2017

Mullet on the Doorstep

I have a load of work to do from the last few days of May through to mid-July, so the option of some quick mullet sessions on the shore near our home in Kilcrohane is very attractive.

 

A lot of the fish are tiddlers like this one, but get past them and there are some bigger fish to be had.

 

I arrived one particular Sunday evening to find a few fish moving, and I soon had them swirling on loose-fed mashed bread. I had some stabby little bites on my little Puddlechucker float and wasn't unduly surprised when the first fish I connected with was a small one. However, as high water neared I started to see some bigger swirls, and after a few more misses I connected with a much heavier fish which put up a terrific fight trying to get among the rocks to my left ... 4lb 3oz. I waded out again and fished on more in hope than expectation, and as the tide started to drop away another decent fish turned up and started attacking floating pieces of bread. I tried fishing a surface bait but couldn't get a proper take ... I reset the Puddlechucker to fish flake a foot deep and soon had a good bite. The fish felt more solid than the first but the fight was steadier and less spectacular ... 4lb 10oz.

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Tue

30

May

2017

Rock Sessions

I've had a few short sessions out on the rocks recently, making use of some settled weather.

 

First up a trip to a mark on the north side of The Sheep's Head to fish for conger and huss. Disappointingly after a bit of a walk and climbing down to the rock ledge, I noticed one of the local crabbers had dropped a pot in the exact same spot I usually cast to! I relocated thirty yards or so along the ledge and cast into the unknown, only to find it a bit of a snag pit. I persevered and eventually got out a couple of eels before deciding I'd lost enough kit for the day. This the best, just into double figures ...

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Wed

24

May

2017

Mullet Sessions

A couple of mullet sessions to report over the last few days. Firstly to Rosscarbery earlier in the week, where some new flags were flying to welcome me, and some new advice for would-be swan feeders...

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Sat

13

May

2017

And After the East Wind

The east wind certainly didn't bring any favours fishing-wise ... though the associated dry weather was a bonus for some work we were doing in the garden. Perhaps I should have stuck with the gardening, but I gave over two days to investigating new rock marks. Both marks accessed cleanish ground, and both maybe will fare better later in the year, but I couldn't muster a credible bite from either on a variety of baits. One day the wind fell light enough to get onto a favourite rock mark for some mulleting, but the place was infested with baby coalfish.

 

The easterlies had now been replaced with a southerly, much better but already the strength was kicking up towards a proper blow over the next couple of days. I still haven't seen much by way of mullet locally this year, and these conditions weren't ideal, so I headed down to Rosscarbery.

 

Not so many fish were visible as earlier in the month, but the ones I could see seemed a better size. Both observations were borne out by what was a slowish session, punctuated by occasional bites on the leger baits that yielded three fish of 4:11, 4:04 and another 4:04 ...

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Tue

02

May

2017

Before the East Wind

The weather forecast for the next few days or so isn't great, a strong and cold east wind about to set in for a week at least. I was keen to get out fishing before that arrived, and there being little sign of mullet around Sheep's Head yet this spring, I headed down to Rosscarbery. There was already a touch of east in the wind, but mostly it was southerly and running up the estuary, variable in strength but never more than a fresh breeze.

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Sun

23

Apr

2017

Calm ...

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Sat

22

Apr

2017

Mulleting

I've had a few mullet sessions over the last week or so that I can report on - had some fish but nothing very special size-wise.

 

On the 13th I headed down to Rosscarbery for an afternoon session. It was a grey day with a none-too-warm breeze blowing up the estuary. I settled for a favourite west bank swim where I could sit in the lee of the car. It proved a slowish session with just three definite takes on the leger baits ... 2:04, 2:12 and to finish a 3:10.

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Tue

11

Apr

2017

Another Day ...

... another rock mark. Again on the south shore of Bantry Bay. And more bullhuss. Three of them today, all on popped-up mackerel heads. Two were about 7lbs, and last knockings out came this one just over 10lbs. This is a good illustration of why I use a wire biting-piece for them ...

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Sun

09

Apr

2017

Bantry Bay Rocks

In contrast to the mulleting, other fishing has been slow recently. I fished a rock mark last week for just a couple of doggies. The only better fish of the day - probably a big huss - escaped when the Sakuma circle hook snapped, there's a first. This was followed by a blank session one morning on Bantry Airport strand, definitely not a first.

 

This afternoon I headed to another rock mark on the Bantry Bay side of the peninsula.

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Tue

04

Apr

2017

Ten Mullet Day

Today I headed back to the same estuary as Saturday.

 

I was hopeful that the falling water level over the smaller tides would have concentrated the fish into the deep pool, if indeed they hadn't evacuated altogether when they could on the last of the bigger tides. This is a risk particularly in high summer - perhaps when it's warmer they fear the water deoxygenating over several days without a top-up. But equally I've had some big bags in springtime before. Also after a foul day's weather yesterday, I thought there might be a little more colour in the water which might help.

 

On arrival I could see mullet topping occasionally in several parts of the pool ... game on.

 

I set up in the same swim as Saturday, but this time set the float to fish only about eighteen inches deep. I could already see fish swirling around the floating bits of the first handful of loose-feed I'd chucked in, so they were obviously going to feed shallow, at least to start with.

 

What followed was an incredible four-hour session that resulted in ten mullet landed. None of the fish were over 4lbs but who cares really when you can fish in such wonderful surroundings and get loads of bites and rod-bending action from mullet around the 3lbs mark? For the record the best was 3:11 ...

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Sat

01

Apr

2017

Out West

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Thu

30

Mar

2017

Rosscarbery Braces

Two trips here, separated by a few days, in contrasting weather conditions but with similar results.

 

Last Saturday, and it was back from warmer climes to a chilly easterly breeze that looked set to increase in strength over the next few days. I decided to get out at the earliest opportunity to get some fishing in before the worst arrived. This meant a relatively brief Saturday afternoon session. 

 

I headed for Rosscarbery and although there were good numbers of mullet to be seen, I wasn't that hopeful with the water low and very clear, bright sunshine and the breeze a bit fresher than forecast. I cast out my leger rods well out expecting an attritional session, but in the event I had a good pull-down bite on only my second cast and landed a 4:12 thicklip a few minutes later. 

 

It was quiet for a couple of hours after that, but as the water level (and colour) increased as the flood tide arrived, I had another bite. This time I struck at a couple of knocks and duly played in a 3:11 ... it fought better than the first fish and I was mildly disappointed it didn't turn out a bit bigger.

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Tue

21

Mar

2017

Namibia Holiday

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Sat

11

Mar

2017

First Irish 'Six'

After a wet old week, Saturday was a lovely warm and sunny spring-like day and an ideal opportunity to get a March mullet before I'm off on holiday on Monday.

 

I drove down to Rosscarbery and set up on the west side of the estuary, arriving soon after low water. I could see odd fish moving in the shallow water in front of me and to both sides so I was hopeful of some quick action as I welted out both my leger baits.

 

The reality was somewhat different with not a touch for the first four hours. The swans were a complete pain, back and forth in front of me and occasionally one would get its head down on my groundbait. I noticed a pair of anglers set up near the bridge ... but didn't see any action their end either and they left a couple of hours later.

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Sun

26

Feb

2017

National Mullet Club AGM

One bonus of our trip to the UK was that it allowed me to attend the Mullet Club AGM held in Portsmouth. It was the first time I'd been for a couple of years. It was nice to meet so many old friends again at one time, and there was a nice buzz about the meeting from the 40ish members present.

 

One good feature of the AGM is that the formal business of reports and elections is dispensed with quickly, allowing time for plenty of chat before the meeting and over lunch, and a series of presentations by guest speakers.

 

This time we had Martin Salter of Angling Trust in the morning and after lunch, Mat Mander of Devon & Severn IFCA both giving conservation-related talks. Then there was a presentation on fly-fishing for mullet by Colin Macleod and finally my good friend Mike Ladle, who'd been doing book signings with me on and off all day, gave the last talk about his innovative fishing as only Mike can. All the speakers did a great job.

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Tue

14

Feb

2017

Rock Session

Not much fishing to report on in February.

 

I had a blank mullet session at Rosscarbery early in the month; there were still a few fish around just no takers.

 

Then a spell of cold east winds set in for a week, and only abated today. We are off on an extended visit to the UK later this week, so I was keen to get out if not overly hopeful following the easterlies.

 

I chose a deep rock mark on the north shore of the Sheep's Head. For bait I grabbed some mackerel bodies and a bag of heads from the freezer, and fished fillet baits and heads as pop-ups to raise the bait a foot above the snaggy sea-bed.

 

As half expected action was slow to come, but as the tide neared high in late afternoon I did start to get a few knocks and eventually a couple of decent takes, both on heads, and both yielded bullhuss.

 

The first huss was about 7lbs, the second was bigger and put up a good scrap as it neared the rocks. It went just into double figures on my scales. Neither was particularly co-operative about holding still for a photo, so not the best pics I'm afraid ...

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Tue

31

Jan

2017

More January Mullet

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Sun

22

Jan

2017

Underway in 2017

It's not been a hectic start to 2017.

 

I've had two blank mullet trips, a night session on a local pier that produced only two poor cod and the smallest conger I've ever seen, and today a session on the rocks locally that produced a few rattly bites but nothing that held on to the large hooks I was using for huss or conger.

 

In the midst of all this, a small success story. I headed down to Rosscarbery last Tuesday for a go at the mullet. I'd been there the previous week and blanked, though I'd seen a few mullet moving. Today was such a mild day I really fancied my chances if there were any mullet present. It was so calm when I arrived I was sure I'd see any mullet if they were about, but disappointingly the normal swims down the west side of the estuary pool seemed barren of fish. I walked round to the bridge arch, still without seeing anything. Then, to my relief, I saw a few fish moving further along to the east.

 

It's not an area I've fished before as it requires an awkward jump down from the road causeway then an undignified scramble back up at the end. Still, needs must ... a few minutes later I was back with my kit. I had one leger rod set up so I put out a pop-up crust bait on that while I set about making up my second rod. The line was half-threaded up through the rod rings when I noticed a couple of bumps on the tip of the rod in the rest. Line bites probably ... I stopped a moment to watch, and suddenly the rod pulled right over. I grabbed it as the rod rest threatened to collapse, and a great scrap followed with a thicklip that turned in at 4lb 6oz ...

 

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2016

Sat

10

Dec

2016

More December Mullet

Make hay while the sun shines. Or translated for West Cork, catch mullet while the mild, still, misty weather persists ...

 

I arrived at Rosscarbery to find the water still well down and mullet all over the estuary pool topping, bow-waving and occasionally jumping. They seemed slightly more numerous near the top end so I walked round to the grass bank by the bridge arch and set up my leger rods there.

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Thu

08

Dec

2016

December Mullet

I'd never caught a December mullet before. I'd caught late into November on the south coast of England, but that was always a bit of a struggle and I'd run out of enthusiasm by the time December came. Years ago I took a pre-Christmas trip to Alderney and managed to blank.

 

December is a busy time of year for me work-wise. Last year I'd missed out on some potential good fishing, finding out after the event there'd been big shoals of mullet at Rosscarbery. So in the current mild weather I was determined to get out ...

 

I arrived to find good numbers of mullet in the shallows down the west side of the estuary, so I was keen to make a start. As I unloaded my stuff from the back of the car, I was dismayed to realise I'd left my landing net head at home. I had to relocate a hundred yards along the wall so I could fish close to an area where I'd be able to beach hooked fish ... not a problem in itself but the road is much narrower here so I wouldn't be able to fish out of the back of the car, and there was a persistent heavy drizzle.

 

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Wed

07

Dec

2016

Pop-up Crust

National Mullet Club's Grey Ghost magazine is arriving with members about now. I have an article in it about fishing the pop-up crust leger bait that has been so productive for me in Ireland this year, and before that at venues such as Christchurch and Broadwater in the UK.

 

If it helps, here is the picture sequence for baiting up that appears in the article, in colour ...

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Sat

05

Nov

2016

At Christchurch Again

After work meetings in Cambridge I headed down to the south coast for a few days before returning. It proved to be a fairly hectic stay trying to dovetail work stuff with seeing family and friends, but on Saturday I managed to steal a few hours to fish in the morning, before driving back to Cambridge later that afternoon.

 

I set off across Stanpit Marsh before it was properly light. My friend Dave Matthews had been catching up to last weekend, but the temperature had plummeted this week and the heavy frost on the ground didn't bode well. On the plus side I was treated to a wonderful dawn as I set up to fish the river channel down from Grimbury ...

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Fri

28

Oct

2016

Fishing for Ghosts

I found out today that my long-term writing project with Mike Ladle has finally been published. Mike and I wrote the first draft of the book - now titled "Fishing for Ghosts" - way back in 1990. At that time it turned out Mike's previous publishers weren't interested - mullet fishing too niche - and we had a similar result when we tried again a few years later.

 

Since then it had been a case of "we must do something about the book" without ever getting round to doing anything, until Mike sent Medlar Press a couple of chapters in 2013 and they wanted it! Only trouble then was that the text was pretty out of date, so we spent the thick end of a year rewriting sections and adding new material, and I recruited Paul Fennell and Nick Murphy to add sections on kayak fishing and dinghy fishing for mullet respectively. We spent the summer of 2014 sourcing more and better photographic material and the package went off to Medlars in the autumn.

 

Since then it's been slow progress but the outcome was never in doubt and I'm pretty pleased with the book, especially considering it's my first (and probably only) attempt.

 

If you're interested in mullet fishing or just in collecting angling books, you can get more detail and order a copy from the Medlar Press website here.

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Fri

28

Oct

2016

Two Mullet Sessions

I have an extended visit to the UK coming up followed by a load of work to do. I wasn't at all sure what the mullet prospects would be later on in November and into December when I might get a chance to go again, so I was keen to get out this week.

 

First up on Wednesday, a trip to Rosscarbery for a relatively short afternoon session. I headed straight for the shallow west bank swims that had been so productive for me this year, and set up both leger rods to fish the pop-up crust baits that had done so well. The tide was well down so I cast well out and sat back to await developments. 

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Wed

26

Oct

2016

Saved by a Conger

It was an unusually quiet session on the north of the peninsula today. I had just a few rattles that didn't come to anything and a couple of small LSDs. Then near the end the session was rescued by a proper run at last on a popped-up mackerel head and this character joined me briefly on the rocks ...

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Thu

20

Oct

2016

Mullet Large and Small

Two mullet sessions to report on this week.

 

On Tuesday I went down to Rosscarbery to catch the last of a series of really big spring tides. Although I arrived well down the ebb, the estuary pool had had a really good top-up and there was plenty of depth to fish the west side swims throughout the low water period.

 

I fished two leger rods with pop-up crust as usual.  The first hour was slow, but shortly after missing the first, rather half-hearted bite I was into a good fish that pulled the left hand rod over. It turned out to be 4lb 3oz ... 

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Mon

17

Oct

2016

Evening Pollack Session

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Sat

15

Oct

2016

Hard Work but ...

I fished today at an estuary on the Mizen peninsula. There had been a lot of mullet showing there on the same tides a fortnight ago, on a day I wasn't fishing for them, but that was a fortnight ago and today I was disappointed to see hardly any mullet activity as I looked around on arrival. There were a few shoals of fingerling fish surfacing from time to time, but that was all. The  breeze was just about southerly so whether it was still recovering from the east winds of the last two weeks or now winding down for the winter, I don't know.

 

I set up to float-fish in the deep pool just above the bridge. The float was trotting through nicely left to right, with the breeze in my face gradually pushing it in closer to the bank. Many trots later, the float dipped near the end of the run ... missed it, but I was ready for the repeat performance on the next time through and struck into a weighty fish.

 

The fish chugged all round the pool staying deep, but never did anything very spectacular. Eventually it weakened and a very thick-looking fish surfaced. Soon after I had it in my net. It weighed 5lbs exactly, and I was well pleased with that as it was only my second "five" from this venue.

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Thu

13

Oct

2016

East Wind Mulleting

We've been plagued by east winds of varying strength for well over a week now. All forms of fishing seem to become instantly harder with the easterlies blowing; mulleting seems to hold up better than most, but after a few days even the mullet seem to go off the feed.

 

Wednesday last week I fished a newish mark south and east of Skibbereen, crucially on a west facing shore so I'd be out of the worst. I'd fished the spot briefly a couple of times before and had seen mullet on each visit, but I was yet to catch one there or even have a definite bite. Today I arrived halfway down the ebb tide and immediately saw a couple of mullet working over mudflats near where I parked the car, but I chose to ignore them to go and floatfish some deeper water a few hundred yards away. It was a mistake, and three hours later I returned to the mudflat area without having had a bite.

 

There was barely a foot of water over the flats now, but I could see a half-dozen or so decent mullet moving around. It was too shallow to floatfish sensibly so I set up my leger rods and cast out a pop-up crust bait on one and flake on the other. I fished an hour or so without a bite but as the new tide started to push up the shingle, some interest at last. I had a couple of very sharp tugs on the flake, but nothing hung on; I missed a half-decent take on the crust; then more tugs on the flake that came to nothing.

 

By this time mullet were moving close in so, frustrated by my failure to catch on leger, I dropped a float out just past the bladderwrack fringe, fishing flake a foot deep. After a couple of minutes the float bobbed but didn't move away; I left it and after another minute it buried, and I struck into a good mullet that immediately cartwheeled out of the water then ran out strongly.

 

The fish put up a good scrap. At one stage I had to wade out and free the line from a clump of weed it had swum round, but I landed it without further mishap. I was pleased with this 4lb 8oz thicklip as the first fish from a new venue ... 

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Sat

01

Oct

2016

Mixed Stuff

A mixed bag of stuff here covering the last few days; none really seemed to warrant a blog entry on its own.

 

On Tuesday I grabbed a couple of hours fishing in Bantry while Sylvi did some shopping and had her hair done. The harbour there has a lot of development work going on, including a new pontoon extension for the old railway pier that is currently being used for the Whiddy Island ferry while construction work goes on around its old berth. Swimming and diving are prohibited from the pontoon, but fishing is allowed ... 

 

I set up with sliding float tackle for mullet on the harbour side of the pontoon towards the end. I plumbed the depth - about 14 feet - so set the float to fish around 12 feet and fished breadflake, dropping in loosefeed.

 

A couple of guys were fishing from the end of the pontoon. One was getting plenty of mackerel on a set of feathers, the other catching them singly on a Toby-type spoon. So it wasn't a huge surprise when my float first slid under after a few minutes and I struck into ... a mackerel. Two more followed, then a few bites that I missed ... maybe a mullet, but probably more mackerel. Sylvi arrived; I changed to a mackerel-sliver bait which upped the bite rate and she landed a few more till we had enough for a good meal.

 

On Wednesday I headed to a shallow estuary south-west of us. It had fished really well for mullet early on in the season but really poorly recently. Today it was still carrying a peaty stain, the surface was ruffled by a stiff breeze and there was not a sign of mullet moving around. I feared the worst but I did in fact have a few flurries of bites. I should have done better but ended up with just the one fish, 3lb 6oz ...

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Sun

25

Sep

2016

Close but ...

I was hoping to fish for mullet near home today but a big swell running into Dunmanus and Bantry Bays and a strong westerly wind put paid to that. With rain forecast too I opted for the relative shelter of the Rosscarbery estuary.

 

I set up by the bridge arch on arrival, not the most sheltered swim but the only one offering much depth of water with the neap flood tide yet to arrive. I put out my two leger lines, put some additional groundbait out by catapult and sat back to watch the tips. All was quiet for an hour or so, as best as I could tell with the gusty wind waving the tips around. Maybe timid bites were passing by unnoticed but there was no missing what was going on when my right hand rod suddenly pulled over and locked down in the rest.

 

The mullet didn't seem that big at first but then got its head down in a series of short but powerful runs out and to the left - fortunately my left-hand line was out of the water being baited up when the fish took so no worries there. Eventually I was able to stop it and recover line little by little, till the fish was in the deep water in front of the bridge arch where it swam to-and-fro hugging the bottom. I was acutely aware of losing a big mullet in exactly the same circumstances a few weeks back, and this time the wind buffeting the rod around only added to my nerves ... but the hook held and eventually the mullet surfaced and I was soon able to net it.

 

I've not had a mullet over 6lbs in Ireland yet. I knew this one would be close, but the scales stopped at 5lb 14oz. Very happy with that but still waiting ...

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Wed

21

Sep

2016

Fishing with Eddie

I drove down to Rosscarbery today to fish with Eddie Baker on the last full day of his holiday there. The tides were dropping away in height but I arrived on the high water which may have been somewhat wind-assisted by the strong southerly wind. Whatever - there was enough depth to float-fish along the west bank below the N71. Eddie was already fishing when I arrived, and had just landed a four-pounder. I had barely started fishing a few yards down from him when he struck into another good mullet, and after a long scrap he netted this 4lb 12oz thicklip ...

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Sun

18

Sep

2016

Near Home

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Sat

17

Sep

2016

Back on the Rocks

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Tue

13

Sep

2016

Steve's Week

My good friend Steve Smith arrived on Tuesday 6th September for a week of mullet fishing. Steve has had a dreadful year with illness since his trip over last September, but looks to be on the mend again. It was good to see him out and fishing again, albeit a little rusty after his lay-off. His flight into Cork was delayed so the planned afternoon session became a 90 minute evening session.

 

We went to the spot near Castletownshend where I'd seen the mullet yesterday. It  was even foggier this time. The mullet were there again in some force, but in the end we didn't catch. We had a few knocks and pulls on our quivertips, but couldn't really tell if these were proper bites or just fish bumping into the line.

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Mon

05

Sep

2016

Moving Around

I started today at the wonderful Lough Hyne near Skibbereen. I arrived on the morning high tide and could immediately see lots of mullet finning on the surface on either side of my chosen spot. I floatfished over the drop off from the shallow nearside shelf into the depths of the Lough. Considering how many mullet were around, bites were relatively few and far between, but when they came they were quite positive and over about 90 minutes I had four mullet out. Slightly disappointingly they were all less than 2lbs, although there were clearly some bigger fish around. 

 

As the tide began to drop, bites more or less dried up. Then as I was on the verge of knocking off, I had one last good bite and I was into a better fish, only 3lb 5oz but they always fight above their weight in the clear, deep water.

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Wed

31

Aug

2016

Just Local

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Sun

28

Aug

2016

Away Days at Christchurch

I've been over in England this week visiting family and friends. It has been a pretty hectic schedule but I'd left time to fish Christchurch for two mornings on the weekend of the National Mullet Club's National Rover fish-in.

 

The tide timings weren't great with an 8 a.m. high water yesterday, on Rover Saturday. I was out and fishing by 6.30 a.m., specifically legering at Grimbury Point with one rod fishing the edge of the main river channel slightly to my left and one fishing further into Grimbury Bay slightly to my right. 

 

All was quiet till just before high water when I had a couple of healthy plucks on the left hand tip. I struck and found myself playing a small mullet. The fight had a slightly different feel from normal and I had an inkling what this fish was before seeing it clearly - a lovely little golden grey of 1lb 9oz, a rare capture this far up Christchurch Harbour, especially mixing with the coarse fish on a neap tide when the water is almost fresh.

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Sat

20

Aug

2016

Last Trip with Mick

I have to travel back to England tomorrow for a week and Mick will have moved on in his tour of Ireland by the time I'm back ... so one last session together today.

 

Mick had blanked after I left on Wednesday, and was unlucky to lose two big fish in the lagoon at Rosscarbery on Thursday, but he had four out from the estuary yesterday including a 5:02 and was clearly on a roll as he had a fish on the bank before I'd even tackled up today ...

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Wed

17

Aug

2016

More at Rosscarbery

Back at Rosscarbery today to fish with Mick after we'd failed to contact the mullet on a Sheep's Head rock mark yesterday - though we had a bit of fun later on catching mackerel on light tackle.

 

I arrived after lunch to find the pool below the N71 very low but well populated by mullet, most of which seemed to be cruising around with little sign of feeding. Mick wasn't there yet so I dropped into the swim where I'd done so well last week and started off trotting a float down the flow of water coming through the bridge arch.

 

30 minutes later, without a bite, I was changing over to my leger rods to fish further out. Mick arrived and set up to my right. The first hour legering was quiet apart from one pull-round that may well have been a line-bite. But as the flood tide arrived and the water level began to edge up, I started getting a few trembles and knocks on the tips and eventually three good bites which yielded at hat-trick of four-pounders at 4:03, 4:07 and 4:01 ...

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Mon

15

Aug

2016

Who Let The Dogs Out?

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Sat

13

Aug

2016

Perfection in Miniature

What a difference three days makes.

 

Saw hundreds of mullet today but all juveniles from fry up to about herring size. I mostly fished down in the water hoping there might be one or two bigger fish lurking beneath. But the only bites suggested micro-mullet and eventually I hooked this scale-perfect specimen, one of the smallest I've ever had on rod and line ...

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Wed

10

Aug

2016

Five a Day at Rosscarbery

I fished with Mick Buckley today at Rosscarbery. It was a very neap tide that had not yet started to flood; the best bet seemed the slightly deeper water close to the bridge arch on the N71 bank of the pool below the causeway. We could see many mullet breaking surface with their backs and fins a fair distance out. We set up leger rods to fish the pop-up crust baits that have been so successful for me this year.

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Mon

08

Aug

2016

Fishing with Mick

I fished today with an old friend from the National Mullet Club, Mick Buckley, who has recently retired and is on an extended fishing tour of Ireland. I can't even remember the last time I saw Mick, it may well have been on a trip to Alderney in 1989! He came to see us for the day, leaving his highly impressive trailer home on a site near Skibbereen.

 

After the blow yesterday afternoon and evening I was concerned the rocks here would be unfishable, but the swell had gone down quickly leaving a difficult but fishable choppy sea. I wasn't sure either the mullet would have hung around during the rough weather, and it did indeed prove to be a day of few bites.

 

About an hour after starting, and continual drip-feeding of mashed bread, my float finally dived under. I struck and instead of the pollack or coalfish I was expecting, a mullet came to the surface. It was only a small one 2lb 12oz but it was a start.

 

About an hour later I missed a similar bite. At least there was another fish around and a few minutes later, it found Mick's bait. It was a fish similar in size to mine. Mick played it for a couple of minutes and then it came off.

 

Half an hour later, a repeat performance ... I missed a bite, and Mick hooked the fish a few minutes later. This one stayed attached and was a bit bigger - Mick didn't weight it but it I'd think it was over 3lbs. 

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Sun

07

Aug

2016

Blown Off

This was a pretty forgettable session to be sure. It was forecast windy so I chose an estuary mark south-west of us. On arrival in the early morning it was slightly misty and more-or-less calm, and I could see some fish moving on the shallows below the road causeway. I set up my leger rods and started fishing.

 

Second cast in I had a persistent bite and hooked a decent but obviously not huge mullet that turned out to be a long and lean 2lb 14oz ...

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Fri

05

Aug

2016

Stocking Up

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Wed

03

Aug

2016

Back to Rosscarbery

It's been a while since I'd been down at Rosscarbery and I've been out of touch with how it's fishing. But a new guy, Martin, on the Chelon labrosus forum posted this week that he'd been there recently and had a 6 and a 5 and some smaller mullet - it seemed like time to head back.

 

I started in the lagoon float-fishing. It soon became clear there were huge shoals of tiny mullet in there. They were very quick into the groundbait and onto my hookbait. After 30 minutes of almost constant dink bites on the float, but nothing remotely strikeable, I decided this was a waste of time. I moved over the road and wasted some more time trying to fish the edge of the stream of water exiting the lagoon - it was really far too windy for effective float fishing and I saw not a sign of a mullet.

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Sun

31

Jul

2016

Mackerel ... and Shark?

This session came about by accident. I'd been onto a south coast mark after pollack, and although I'd found plenty they were all disappointingly small. There was a fresh southerly wind and the swell got up before high water cutting the session short. I headed instead for a north coast mark, stopping in at home for a cuppa on the way.

 

I was set up and fishing again soon after high water. The pollack were again playing hard to get, with just a couple of small ones taking the redgill over the first hour. Then a mackerel latched on, and it seemed a good cue to change over to a shrimp rig.

 

I had eight more mackerel in ones and twos. Not great numbers but they were decent size, around a pound each. They were down deep and I could only find them with a very slow retrieve; fortunately the bottom is quite clear on this mark till close in.

 

 

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Sat

30

Jul

2016

Duck Broken

I first fished this swim in August 2014 with Steve Smith. Steve had a nice 4lb thicklip and I missed a few good takes until bumping a fish off on the strike. Next visit wasn't until September 2015 ... more missed bites and another fish bumped. Yesterday evening I managed to lose two decent mullet, one when the hook length parted on the strike, one that came off after about a minute. So you can imagine I was pleased to actually land a mullet here this morning, albeit not the biggest ever ...

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Sat

23

Jul

2016

Mullet ... Wrasse

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Sun

03

Jul

2016

Needed This

I've been grinding out the exam work over the past few weeks - and more of the same to come over the next few weeks - got to lunchtime today and thought, "I need a break from this."

 

I drove along the south coast of the Sheep's Head looking at likely mullet marks but at every one there seemed to be just that bit too much breeze and swell. It looked a struggle so in the event I headed off the peninsula and south-west to a small estuary where I've done well before.

 

The high tide was pouring through the bridge arch into the pool above the causeway. My normal swim looked impossible so I settled on legering over the sand flats on the other side of the road.

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Wed

22

Jun

2016

Congers with Stu

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Tue

21

Jun

2016

Pollack - and Mackerel

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Sun

12

Jun

2016

Ignored in Dungarvan

I've been back in UK working for the past week. I managed a half day on the National Mullet Club fish-in at Lymington yesterday, and blanked, before heading for the ferry home last evening. This morning I stopped off at Dungarvan for a break on the drive back across Ireland, and found these mullet (and many others) around the boats and pontoons in the harbour ...

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Wed

01

Jun

2016

Mussel Power

Eight days later, the sun is still shining. And the wind has turned west - it's a pity I have work on now! I had to drive into Bantry this afternoon and I decided I could afford the time for an evening session from about half-tide down on the way home.

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Tue

24

May

2016

Quick Rock Session

Work on and visitors staying so not much fishing at the moment. I managed to find the time today but it was always going to be a struggle in a strong easterly wind against a larger-than-expected swell off the Atlantic, and bright sunlight. I picked some limpets for bait and headed off to one of the few rock marks that would be sheltered.

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Thu

19

May

2016

Slightly Unusual Mullet Session

It was a rough old day on the Sheep's Head with Atlantic swells pounding the rocks, so I decided to head for the calmer waters of an estuary on the Mizen peninsula.

 

I arrived at 4 p.m. which was about high tide, so there was a decent depth over the sand flats below the road causeway. There was a stiff breeze and small wavelets running up the estuary, so I decided it would be best to leger. I set up on a rocky outcrop of the west bank, and cast out two pop-up crust baits.

 

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Wed

18

May

2016

Dogged Out

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Mon

16

May

2016

New Rock Mark

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Sat

14

May

2016

Rock Session

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Thu

12

May

2016

Quieter Day

It was time for a return to the rock mark in Bantry Bay where I'd done so well with seven mullet in a session last week.

 

Any pretensions of a similar haul today were soon dashed. I took up exactly where I'd finished last week with a string of small coalfish that were whacking the float under. However, as the tide dropped away towards low water I started to get some more delicate and missable bites, and I wondered if a mullet or two may have moved into the swim. After a few more misses I was suddenly into a powerful fish that shot off down the tide then came up and splashed on the surface - a mullet!

 

After a good old scrap I slid the net under this one, a pristine 3lb 10oz ...

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Tue

10

May

2016

Rosscarbery Return

Rosscarbery today! I arrived late morning at about high water. There was a good depth in the lagoon after several big spring tides, so I decided to make a start there.

 

An hour later, slightly deflated, I decided on a move. I'd only seen one mullet whelm and had only had one proper bite, which I'd missed, plus a few dinks and trembles on the float that may have been gobies or sandsmelt rather than mullet.

 

I headed down to the bottom of the tidal pool below the N71. It's been a kind swim to me this year, and once again there were mullet in residence. Despite the reasonable depth they seemed to be staying out from the wall, so I opted for legering with pop-up crust baits.

 

It was a slow start but I kept catapulting a couple of extra balls of groundbait out every cast, and eventually a pod of fish seemed to move over the carpet I was building up. I had three solid takes. The first fish came off about half way in, but I landed the other two. They were nothing spectacular in size but nice clean fish of 3:02 and 3:10 ...

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Thu

05

May

2016

Bantry Bay Mullet

There was a big swell running yesterday but this morning it had calmed off enough for a first mullet trip this year on the rocks on the Bantry Bay side of the Sheep's Head ... I was keen to give it a go before yet more northerly winds arrive for the weekend.

 

I set up a sliding float to fish bread flake about ten feet deep. I'd slightly over-shotted the float and it was struggling a little with the lop, but I thought I had bites on my first two trots through the swim. Then on the third trot, the float buried. I struck into a powerful fish that ran off parallel to the rocks on my right, worryingly close to the kelp, before coming out into open water. It turned out to be a very long and lean thicklip of 4lbs exactly with a great paddle of a tail.

 

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Tue

03

May

2016

Disappointed

Really quite a disappointing day ... I drove off the peninsula along the Dunmanus Bay shore, checking several shallow spots for mullet ... but the fish that were present last week were nowhere to be found. So I carried on to the south west and the estuary where I'd had good bags in March.

 

Clearly there were far fewer mullet present now, apart from large shoals of fingerlings. I did however have quite a few bites on float both above the road causeway and below when I tried a move to change my luck. I really should have caught more, but I only connected with two mullet, one very briefly as the trace parted just above the hook on the strike. The other was this slightly sorry specimen of 2lb 4oz and half its tail missing ... it fought surprisingly well considering.

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Sat

30

Apr

2016

Wind's in the West ...

Just a couple of short and blank mullet sessions since the last post, both in the shallows of Dunmanus Bay. There were plenty of mullet around for a while both times, but chasing each other and bow-waving around at speed, no real feeding activity. A cold north wind had persisted all week, and the water felt chilled despite good sunshine, definitely not helping.

 

Then today the wind was turned to west. I headed to a Bantry Bay rock mark with the big rods. On one I fished big pop-up baits either mackerel head or squid/mackerel cocktail. On the other, a two-hook paternoster with size 2 hooks baited with frozen lug and mackerel strip to see if there were any smaller fish about.

 

I had a dogfish out on the mackerel strip first cast, then surprisingly despite knocks and rattles most casts, nothing else hung on to the small hooks.

 

Meanwhile, a missed run on a mackerel head, then a dogfish on the same head cast out again. Then two missed bullhuss. One felt heavy for a few seconds then came off, the squid/mackerel bait had slipped down and choked the hook. The other was an unusually pale-coloured fish for the area that spat out the hook at the edge, good size too. Finally a good run on a mackerel head and this one stayed on ...

 

 

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Tue

19

Apr

2016

Slow at Rosscarbery

The east wind didn't seem to be blowing more than a gentle breeze yet, maybe time for one more session before it really kicked in ... I headed down to Rosscarbery.

 

Straightaway on arriving I knew it was going to be a struggle ... a fresh and cold SE wind blowing up the estuary, bright sunshine and the water the clearest and lowest in the pool that I'd seen this year. How low? About thigh deep for a heron ...

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Mon

18

Apr

2016

Well you don't see that every day ...

There were strong east winds forecast for the rest of the week after today, so I was keen to get out. I chose a deep water rock mark over the hill on the Bantry Bay side of the peninsula. I set up with two big baits - mackerel heads and squid/mackerel cocktails.

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Sun

17

Apr

2016

Birthday Mullet

Back from our trip to the UK and my birthday today. I really wanted a birthday mullet, a feat I've only managed a couple of times over the years back in Hampshire. So I headed back towards the estuary that had been producing so well before our trip away.

 

A few minutes fishing was enough to tell me the number of mullet in the pool had reduced significantly over the past fortnight, and on this very neap tide there was no chance of any more arriving on the high water a couple of hours hence. So I fished patiently hoping for a chance with whatever mullet were left trapped in the pool.

 

After the thick end of an hour, my float bobbed then slid away, and I struck into a mullet. It put up a decent fight but obviously wasn't a massive fish, and after a few minutes this thicklip of 3lbs exactly was in the net ...

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Sun

03

Apr

2016

Back on the Rocks

I fished a rock mark on the north side of the Sheep's Head today. It was in the main a rather quiet session ... somehow the ground fishing hasn't quite kicked off this year yet. However there was a little flurry of activity in the run-up to high water with a few knocks and pulls and a fish (almost certainly a bull huss) that let go part way in. Finally this one, possibly the same one, was landed after taking a popped-up squid and mackerel cocktail. It was nothing special in size, about 6lbs to 7lbs, but I was pleased to have avoided a blank with a decent fish. We have some time away back in the UK coming up, I'm hoping the rock fishing will get going in my absence.

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Thu

31

Mar

2016

Bass ... Nah, Mullet

Today I intended to dig some lug then go fish for bass on a surf beach on the Mizen peninsula. However as this took me close to the estuary where I caught mullet on Tuesday, and as my mullet gear was still in the car, I thought I'd head out a bit early and get in a couple of hours of mulleting before going to dig at low water.

 

I set up in the swim where I'd finished on Tuesday. The conditions were very different - gentle SW breeze and wall-to-wall sunshine - but the mullet were still at home.

 

I had the first bite on my second cast, and my first fish on the bank after about fifteen minutes, 3lb 14oz. Then a sort of pattern set up with bites stopped till the mullet gradually came back onto the feed, another fish and repeat ... the non-feeding spell getting longer each time. Five more mullet followed of 3:12, 3:07, 3:10, 3:05 and 2:10 ... I fished on another hour without a bite so decided that was that.

 

Somehow I'd fished right through the low water period, I'm sure I could have still got a few worms if I'd rushed off but I was happy with what I'd had and there didn't seem much point in rushing. The lugworms, and bass, could wait for another day.

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Tue

29

Mar

2016

Change of Venue

I fished a shallow estuary south and west of us today, one that had fished well when we'd been over on holiday in April 2014 and 2015. I'd had a look a couple of weeks ago but not seen any fish, and I wondered if I was still too early today ... it looked windswept and bleak on arrival.

 

I felt mildly encouraged to find a pile of scales on the bank ... looked like an otter had had some luck with the mullet anyway. I set up in a swim that offered a little shelter, but the first few times the float trotted through uninterrupted.

 

Then I started to get stabby little bites. They were impossible to hit but eventually one held under slightly longer and I connected. After a short scrap this pretty little 1:10 thick lip was netted; it had been hooked in the outside of the lip.

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Fri

25

Mar

2016

More Mullets

I had a blank session from the rocks midweek so decided on another trip down to Rosscarbery on Good Friday.

 

There were visibly less mullet this time in the shallows where I'd fished before, but I could still see a few moving around with trademark bow waves and swirls.

 

I put out two leger rods with pop-up crust baits like last time, and soon had a good take on the right-hand line. The fight was dogged but unspectacular, and after a few minutes I was able to reach down from the wall to net this one of 4lb 4oz.

 

On starting again there were now very few fish at all showing but I fished on more in hope than expectation while I ate lunch. All was quiet on the tips but just after I'd finished eating the left- hand tip pulled over.

 

It was obviously not a big fish but after a game scrap I landed my smallest mullet of the winter to date, this pretty 2:10 ...

 

 

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Sun

20

Mar

2016

Five at Rosscarbery

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Thu

17

Mar

2016

Strap Congers

I had a decent session this morning considering the chilly and freshening east wind blowing across the rock mark on the north side of the peninsula.

 

I had a couple of aborted pulls on mackerel head but most of the action came on squid/mackerel cocktail fished as a pop-up. This produced a small bullhuss and this brace of strap congers ...

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Mon

14

Mar

2016

Off the Marks on the Rocks

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Thu

10

Mar

2016

Great Winter Mullet Session

I had another blank session with the beach rods since my last post, this time at Bantry Airport Strand, so it didn't take a lot of thought deciding to head back to Rosscarbery today. There were many fish browsing around in the margins when I arrived but the first hour was quiet. It was much calmer today and easy to see the mullet swimming around and over not just my hookbait but free offerings too.

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Tue

01

Mar

2016

More Winter Mullet

I headed back to Rosscarbery today. There were good numbers of mullet in the shallows where I caught on Sunday.

 

I soon had a float out among them, but there was very little of interest in the bait. The float bobbed or pulled across the surface a few times, but as far as I could tell this was just fish brushing the line as they passed.

 

Then, after about an hour, a mullet stopped by my bait and the float bobbed repeatedly three or four times. I struck and hooked the fish.

 

This one fought much better than Sunday's 4:01 with a long initial run out towards the middle of the pool and several spells of resistance bringing it back. It was eventually in the net and weighed at 3lb 9oz.

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Sun

28

Feb

2016

AGM Day Mullet

It was a bright if chilly, breezy morning. We decided to have a drive out  and walk the dog somewhere different, and as it was the National Mullet Club AGM back in the UK and I thought it might be a smart trick to catch a mullet to coincide, I put my mullet tackle in the car and we headed for Rosscarbery just in case there were some winter mullet about.

 

Despite the sunshine there was a perishingly cold south-east wind coming up the estuary. We sat in the car to eat our picnic next to the pool below the road causeway. I kept my eye on the water but saw no sign of fish in an area I'd normally expect to see them if present. 

 

However, as we started to walk the dog down the west bank, we started to see odd mullet in the shallows towards the bottom of the pool ... then a group of fish that bow-waved out as we spooked them ... then a large shoal that was apparently feeding.

 

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Wed

24

Feb

2016

New Mark ... New Bait ... Same Result

I decided to use my lugworms at a mark on the south side of the Sheep's Head that I'd looked at several times but not yet fished. I reckoned - correctly as it turned out - that it might give way to a clean seabed away from the rocks.

 

The day was bright and sunny with a touch of east breeze. Not great to be honest but I fancied the mark for a plaice or other flatfish.

 

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Tue

23

Feb

2016

Lug Digging

Another blank session on the pier followed. I thought possibly the seabed had taken such a pounding that the area had been temporarily vacated by fishes, but at the same time I wanted to ring the changes on my normal fish and squid baits just in case. So today I set off on a drive off the peninsula to a spot I'd seen before and which looked to have some prolific lugworm beds.

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Thu

11

Feb

2016

Back Out Again

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2015

Sat

24

Oct

2015

New Mark

I'd been meaning to try the spot for a while. It's east-facing and sheltered from the worst of the Atlantic weather by a headland. It may become a regular haunt over the winter!

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Mon

19

Oct

2015

Pop-Ups

I feel like I'm beginning to get to grips with the rough ground fishing on (most of) the rock marks here now.

 

I'm fishing 30lb mainline on a fast retrieve multiplier (Daiwa SL30SH or Penn 525) with an 80lb leader - partly to give abrasion resistance down near the terminal tackle and partly because I am sliding/lifting out biggish fish. I don't like using a gaff for fish I'm returning and anyway it's just not safe to get that close to water level most days.

 

The end tackle is shown in the photo. The lead-link very free running on a plastic leger ring, and the link itself is 25lb so strong enough to lob-cast with but also provides a rotten bottom effect which has saved me a few rigs and a couple of fish so far.

 

The hook trace is 100lb mono knotted to 60lb plastic covered wire for the last few inches, crimped to a 6/0 hook.


The jury is out on the breakaway lead. I think it does reduce snagging by not rolling into crevices etc; but when one is lost it is expensive. I may change to using some form of disposable weight in the snaggiest areas.

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Thu

15

Oct

2015

Little Dogs, Big Dogs ...

I headed down to a north coast rock mark for an afternoon session on the rising tide. Plan was to put out a bottom bait on one rod, leave it with the reel on the ratchet, and floatfish for mullet with a second, feeding bread close in to the rock face. It was the first time I'd tried this combination, and maybe one of the last. There was so much action on the bottom bait I couldn't really concentrate on the mullet fishing at all, though as far as I know none turned up! I soon had to give up and concentrated on the big rod ...

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Wed

14

Oct

2015

Mixed Session

The last time I'd fished this mark for mullet I'd lost two powerful fish that went to ground in the kelpy reef a few yards out and to the left of where I fish. Even though they took bread I was sure they were big ballan wrasse, so today I arrived with some more appropriate gear ... carp rod, 10lb line and sliding float to fish a limpet bait.


I was soon getting bites fishing about 10 feet down close in, and landed several wrasse to about 3lb 8oz ... point proved, sort of, but even allowing for the lighter mullet gear I think the fish I lost before were substantially bigger ... must try again. After the wrasse came a couple of pollack over a pound, also on limpet.

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Tue

13

Oct

2015

Snakebitten

Just a short session on the rocks this evening. The fishing was a bit patchy as a large seal was around with a shared interest in the pollack.


Lure fishing isn't really my thing and I'd begrudge the price some lures cost. But I saw these in the Snowbee end-of-year clearance sale and thought why not? They are called Snakebites and I bought a load in different colours: as well as the pink, orange, black and a rather subtle shade of peach.


They seem to do the job ...


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Thu

08

Oct

2015

Change of Plan

A weather-enforced change of plan today. It was forecast dry but the morning dawned grey with repeated heavy rain showers. I'd thought I'd bottom fish a deep rock mark but the rocks here get very slippy when wet with rain and it no longer seemed a great idea. Instead I packed my mullet gear into the car, and my brolly, and headed off to the estuary where Steve and I had done so well nearly a fortnight before.

 

Doubts set in as soon as I arrived. For a start it had brightened up a lot and the showers had stopped, maybe I should have stayed on Sheep's Head and fished the rocks after all? Then as I unpacked I realised I'd left my landing net head at home! The shallows below the causeway seemed empty of fish. I saw an occasional fish move in the deep pool above the causeway, but couldn't be sure if they were mullet or trout. I decided to try there anyway.

 

I fished for an hour without a bite. I could see fish - now recognisably mullet - moving regularly  but all across the far side of the pool near a sandbank. Only a very occasional fish strayed closer.

 

I walked up through the reeds till the pool shallowed then waded out onto the sandbank, then crept back down to where the mullet were. I put some bread samples out, followed by my float and bait. The fish didn't spook but neither did they show any interest, they seemed engrossed by whatever they were scraping from the bottom. Then, out of the blue, a single fish clooped a couple of pieces of floating bread off the surface near my float, dived and my float shot under ... and I missed the bite. Soon after, the mullet just melted away, perhaps because the new tide was just starting to push through the bridge arches into the pool.

 

I returned to my original swim which seemed more hopeful now with more flow through it. I missed another bite third or fourth trot through, but no more followed. Instead I started to see fish surfacing where the pool shallowed up near where I had waded on and off the sandbank. I moved up there and straight away was getting a bite a cast. I missed several - what a muppet - had a hook open out on the strike and had a fish come off after a few seconds. The number of fish showing and the number of bites started to decrease as the flow through the pool slowed - it had only lasted forty minutes on this smallish tide. 

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Wed

07

Oct

2015

Gone to the Dogs at Bantry

Bantry Airport Strand is a relatively well known mark and perhaps the nearest I'll come locally to beach fishing back in Hampshire. Okay the cobblestone beach is a bit difficult underfoot and the water's deeper, but it goes out onto a more-or-less clean bottom so I can use normal beach tackle! And I can fish at night, which I won't do alone on the rock marks.

 

It has a reputation for producing thornbacks and bull huss as well as smaller stuff. Well, I'm sure it has its moments but as of yet I've not experienced one.

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Sun

04

Oct

2015

Quick Session

I've had a few days off from fishing after Steve flew home on Wednesday, and only time for a quick session today.

 

Had an early start, down to Skibbereen for an 8 a.m. cancellation appointment for an NCT test on Sylvi's car, the final stage in a convoluted two month long process of getting it re-registered and legally driveable in Ireland. Then a nice walk with the dog in the woods overlooking Lough Hyne, and on to Schull via a couple of possible future fishing marks for a late breakfast at Café Cois Cuan  (very recommended!) Back home the scenic route, couple of cuppas, washed my car ... and so on to the rocks near Kilcrohane this evening for a quick pollack session.

 

There were pollack aplenty about though a couple of quieter interludes possibly to do with a large seal who stuck his head up a couple of times to eye-ball me. I had a dozen or so in 90 minutes on the trusty firetail Redgill, mostly around 2lbs size but a smattering of larger fish, best this one just 5lbs ...

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Tue

29

Sep

2015

Steve's Last Day

Steve's last day, and miserable conditions. There was a heavy overcast and it felt distinctly parky in the east wind that was still blowing about f6.

 

We settled on revisiting the estuary where we'd had nine mullet between us on Saturday, partly because the wind would be behind us on the causeway, and partly because of the number of fish we'd seen. Surely some would still be there ... maybe in hindsight that was a mistake. We stood on the causeway watching the surface of the shallow water raked by the cold wind and the pool looked devoid of fish.

 

We tackled up anyway and were relieved finally to see a fish or two moving as we prepared to make our first casts. These casts passed without incident but on my next the rod pulled well over and I was in. What followed was a terrific fight of ten or twelve minutes as the fish kited round to the right and got its head down in the flow coming through the bridge arches, perilously close to the rocks where we'd started on Saturday.

 

Eventually the fish weakened and Steve was able to net a 4lb 3oz thicklip ...

 

 

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Mon

28

Sep

2015

Variety ...

Today was much brighter but the east wind was really howling now. We decided to have a break from the mullet fishing and do some general rock fishing for wrasse and pollack instead.


First we headed to a shallow rocky bay to collect some shore crabs for the wrasse bait. We found plenty of crabs ... but nearly all baby edibles that had to be returned as undersize. The shore crabs were like gold dust ... eventually we got a few but I really need to sort out a better supply, perhaps on the muddier ground towards Durrus. We topped up the crabs with some big limpets knocked off the rocks.


After a bite of lunch, we headed off only a mile or so from home to fish from a rock mark that would be out the worst of the wind and swell in the lee of a headland.


No monsters today but we had a very enjoyable session. I caught some decent pollack on redgills. Steve spent the time floatfishing the few crabs we had and limpets close to the rock edge, catching wrasse up to 3lbs or so. Plenty of the wrasse came to the limpet baits, and they also picked up a number of smallish pollack.

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Sun

27

Sep

2015

Back to Rosscarbery

Today was a dull day with a freshening easterly wind that was threatening to make fishing difficult.


We started by spending an hour at a north coast rock mark on our way off the peninsula, just before low tide. It quickly became obvious there were no mullet in residence today, and with no guarantee any would turn up we stuck with Plan A and soon headed off back to Rosscarbery.


There was more water in the lagoon now on bigger tides, but it retained its brown tinge and apparent dearth of mullet. We tried an hour or so but soon moved to the estuary proper.


The wind was indeed troublesome, but I tucked myself down behind a grass bank and legered out into the shallow water in front of me. I did see occasional whelms but had not a single bite all afternoon.


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Sat

26

Sep

2015

Nine Mullet Day

Venue today was an estuary about an hour's drive from Kilcrohane where I've had some big bags of mullet before ... but it can be a very moody venue.


We arrived to find one of the bridge arches on the road causeway collapsed in the flash floods the previous weekend, and the road causeway closed to traffic. This actually enabled us to park on the road very close to the fishing! 


Even better, good numbers of mullet could be seen swirling in the pool below the causeway.

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Fri

25

Sep

2015

Mulleting + Fun Session

We dropped Sylvi off at the trekking centre then headed to a north coast rock mark to fish the first half of the tide up for mullet.


It proved to be a slow session with just a few bites for me and none at all for Steve. Mine yielded a mackerel then a small coalfish ...

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Thu

24

Sep

2015

Rosscarbery with Steve

The stiff west wind threatened to make mullet fishing on Sheep's Head very difficult, but I was keen for Steve to get his first mullet of his holiday under his belt. So the decision was made to drive the hour or so to Rosscarbery, known to be in some mullet form after Pete and Jen's trip, and offering some shelter from the wind.


We parked up alongside the lagoon. The water was a foot lower than last week after the neap tides and carried a brown colour. We fished for an hour but with no bites and it seemed pretty hopeless, so we moved over the N71 to fish the estuary outside the lagoon. The tide was low but we could see a (very) few mullet moving on the shallows well out of range.


I set up leger gear and welted out a pop-up crust bait as far as possible. Steve set up float gear to fish in the outflow from the lagoon, the only area with any meaningful depth.

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Wed

23

Sep

2015

Steve's Pollack

I had been back in the UK for a few days for my Mum's 90th birthday party, and flew back into Cork yesterday on the same flight as my friend and NMC chairman, Steve Smith who was over to stay with us for a week.


The weather was against us today, grey and blustery and intermittently wet. 

 

We decided to start at a sheltered pier close to Kilcrohane. I hung a bread bag off the end, and set about trying to catch a few mackerel for tea while the tide was still high. Steve started tackling up to fish for mullet.


Almost straight away I saw a small mullet on the surface. I called Steve over and we saw it again, but before Steve had finished setting up it had disappeared.

 

An hour passed with just three mackerel for me and Steve one missed bite on the float with bread bait. I decided to join the mullet hunt, and set up a sliding float to fish deeper than Steve, about twelve feet.

 


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Fri

18

Sep

2015

Pollack on Redgills

Those who know me will know that lure fishing isn't really my thing. I'll make an exception though when it comes to pollack and when it comes to Redgills.


The pollack are a novelty for me and I'm impressed with the attitude they seem to develop when they reach 4lbs or so. Redgills bring back fond memories of childhood holidays in Cornwall. I must say though the modern colours seem a lot more effective than the natural finishes on Ingrams' original Mevagissey Eels. I particularly like the black/orange firetail and bubblegum pink.

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Thu

17

Sep

2015

Pete's Day

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Tue

15

Sep

2015

Jen's Day

I arrived at the venue on the north shore of the peninsula at 10.00 a.m. to find my friends and fellow NMC members Pete and Jen just getting out of their car. They are over from Cornwall staying at Rosscarbery for the week but were making the most of a calm day to come on a first visit to fish the rocks down on the Sheep's Head.

 

 

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Sun

13

Sep

2015

Salvaged Session

Made a right mess of swim selection today. Went out to drive along the south side of the peninsula back towards Durrus to check the various shallows for mullet, only to find the water everywhere still heavily peat-stained from Friday's deluge. And seemingly devoid of mullet.

 

I ended up on a north coast rock mark at the "wrong" state of the tide - nearly HW whereas I've usually fished this mark for mullet over LW. At least the water was clear. I started feeding close to the edge and watching the sinking bread - no sign for ten minutes or so. Then I saw a suspicious swirl further out and then (to my surprise given the water must have been at least 30 feet deep) a piece of floating bread disappeared amidst another swirl. 

 

The breeze was carrying the floating bread offshore and all this was going on far out of range using my usual centrepin reel. I set up with a fixed spool and a Puddlechucker float set to fish a flake bait shallow, about two feet. But by the time I was ready, the surface activity had stopped.

 

I carried on feeding and fishing at all depths, but it was another hour before the mullet returned. This time they were much closer in, but the bites were really hard to hit and I missed six or seven before finally connecting. And even then the mullet came off after a minute or so. A tiny scale from around the outside of its mouth came back on the hook point. 

 

Happily there were still signs of mullet feeding in the swim, and I was soon into a fish. I was wishing I'd changed back to my centrepin. For some reason I really hate playing mullet on a fixed spool on my float rod though it doesn't bother me using one when legering - go figure! I felt I had way less control over the fish than normal but disaster was avoided and the mullet duly landed. It turned out to be the only one of the day ... 3lb 12oz.


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Sat

12

Sep

2015

Bonus Pollack

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Thu

10

Sep

2015

Bull Huss

Same routine as last time but I headed a mile or so further west to a different rock mark. The east wind was really set in now and even the dogfish were subdued: quite a few typically rattly bites on the squid and sandeel baits but only two were hooked. Then towards the end of the session a much better bite ... the fish came in grudgingly, seeming to get heavier and heavier as it neared the rocks, then finally really diving for the kelp. No doubt what this was. Sure enough a bull huss surfaced, a typically dark fish from the kelpy bottom, about 9lbs ...


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Mon

07

Sep

2015

Experimenting

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Sun

06

Sep

2015

Pollack and Chips

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Fri

04

Sep

2015

Rock Mulleting

We've been here properly in Kilcrohane a week. I've had a few short fishing outings and have caught a few smallish mullet at different marks, but now with the worst of the unpacking done it was time for a serious session.


I chose a rock mark on the north side of the peninsula I'd fished before, and arrived a couple of hours before low water. There was an easterly cross-breeze blowing which was rippling the surface, but as I fed a little mashed bread in close to the rock face, I thought I could already see mullet moving down deep.


I set up with a sliding float set at about ten feet, and started fishing. Almost straight away I was getting bites but they were unusually timid for this mark and I missed a few before connecting. It was a decent fish about 3lbs and fought strongly in the clear water but all seemed under control till I thought about reaching for the net, at which point the mullet gave a twist and was off!


I was mentally cursing because I've had this swim die on me before in response to losing a fish, but this time bites resumed after  five minutes or so and I was soon playing and landing a smaller mullet, weighed at 2:05. 


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