Sheep's Head Fishing Blog

 

 

 

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2020

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.

That fish might have marked the beginning of a feeding spell, but no such luck and it actually turned into a very slow afternoon.

 

Towards evening the new tide started pushing into the pool - it was a spring and I knew it would soon be flooding over the grass so I'd have to up camp and either set up to fish from the wall or pack up ... and packing up seemed favourite given how little action I'd seen.

 

With the deepening water I dropped one of the baits in close, just in case something might come mooching along the fringe of the rocks, and it was this rod that lunged over just as I was starting to gather my kit together. By contrast to the earlier fight, this one was fairly low-key with the mullet just chugging left and right in front of me and gradually coming closer. I suspected it had some weight to it but this time I was surprised how big it looked in the net. It was a bit of a lump - but I'd just missed out on my third "six" of the year, 5lb 15oz ...

The photo there has been Photoshopped a bit. The evening sun was so low in the sky I managed to get the shadow of the camera plumb-centre on the flank of the fish without realising! Three of my friends had a go at it after I put an appeal out on Facebook, thanks Laurence and Alan for trying and this one is marginally the best of the bunch by Mark Bennett, thanks Mark.

 

On the 7th Sylvi and I were supposed to go on a short break up to Portmagee in Co. Kerry, but at midnight on the 6th we were moved from covid level 2 to level 3 and restricted to Co. Cork! I wasn't expecting to do a lot of fishing but I was looking forward to trying a couple of new marks and scouting out some others, so it was rather disappointing ... we've carried the deposit over to an as yet unspecified future date.

 

Instead of our Kerry trip we did a couple of nice days out at the Gougane Barra and on Sherkin Island, then on the 11th I was back to fish at Rosscarbery

It was a small tide and a millpond-calm day. I could see a lot of mullet moving and set up right by the bridge arch. From there a long cast would put my baits out into the shallow water at the tail of the flow out of the lagoon, which was where the mullet activity seemed most concentrated.

 

My first few casts passed without a bite. I was winding in one line when I thought I'd snagged into a clump of weed or a small branch, until after dragging it in a few feet it came to life!

 

At first I assumed I'd foul-hooked a mullet but it didn't really seem lively enough for that. The fish kited off to the left as it came close to the bank, and by then I'd twigged what it was.

 

I netted a flounder, quite a big one but on the lean side for this time of year. It wasn't foul-hooked though, the hook was well inside its mouth. There's no way a soggy piece of breadcrust would have stayed on at the speed I was winding, so I assume the flounder made a grab for the empty hook as it shot by its nose.

 

Soon after I started getting mullet bites. I lost one fish and landed a couple ...

... in a short feeding spell that coincided with my own lunch time. Once I'd finished my sandwiches and put the coffee flask away, everything went quiet on the mullet front too.

 

Later on in the afternoon I started seeing the odd mullet flanking right in close to the rocks in front of the bridge arch. I set up my float rod and made my way down, and had a couple of more fish out from there ...

There'd definitely been a changing of the guard at Rosscarbery though, with the big 4s and 5s that had predominated over recent weeks replaced by the smaller stamp of fish that typify the winter fishing. The biggest of the day was the first at 4:03, the others were two and low three pounders.

 

My sense that the seasons were changing was reinforced by a visit to my mullet rock mark in Bantry Bay ... not a mullet seen and my first blank there all year, save a solitary mackerel on my first cast.

On the 14th I broke out the big rods and headed down near Mizen Head.

 

I'd fished the mark before soon after we'd moved to Ireland but at an unpromising time of year in early spring. I hadn't done very well but unlike the Sheep's Head marks it seemed like I was fishing out onto sand and I'd long meant to go back for a try to see what different species that might bring.

 

The day didn't get off to a great start when I broke my bait fork when I stopped en route to dig. I'd intended using mainly worm baits so I started with an unpromising bait supply of just sixteen lugworms, one pack of frozen sandeels and a frozen mackerel. At least I soon supplemented that with a fresh mackerel which grabbed a strip of the frozen one while I was winding in.

 

There was an east wind blowing off my back, the sun was probably too bright and in truth it wasn't a brilliant session. I missed quite a lot of timid little bites on the worm baits but along with a small pollack I did score my first dab and my first codling in Ireland. I've got to say I need to work the size up a bit though!

The east wind was still blowing, well howling really, when I was back at Rosscarbery on the 16th. I was expecting it to be bleak but I wanted to give it a last go before my exam work kicked off for the autumn session and, as seemed likely, even more stringent covid restrictions were imposed.

 

I hunkered down under the brolly and kept the leger baits going out, and a couple more mullet hung themselves on, just either side of 4lbs ...

From the 22nd the whole of Ireland has been placed on covid level 5, with a 5km restriction on non-essential travel. We are allowed to fish just local but I haven't been out since as I've decided to push on with my work so I can take a few days out in November to try to keep my monthly mullet run going, currently 32 months since March 2018.

 

A November mullet is a long shot to be fair, with not much chance at this time of year along the shallow rocky shore near the village here. The good news is that the morning of the 16th, Sylvi spotted some decent mullet in the tidal lake, the first either of us had noticed since I was fishing there in the lockdown in April and May. The bad news is they were hanging around the mouth of the channel down to the beach, probably waiting for a tide big enough to get out ... and with still more than a fortnight till November. Even worse news, the weather since has been shocking - cold, wet, windy and some massive swells running into the bay, up to 10m high in one spell. So there's not much to have encouraged the mullet to have lingered on at the end of their season here, but I'll give it a try in the tidal lake, and failing that in the deep water round the pier. I'm not confident but we'll see how it goes.

1 Comments

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.

It wasn't long before the rod tip was rattling - I landed and returned a big LSD, not really what I was expecting or wanting.

 

A few minutes later, a proper run. I felt the weight of the fish briefly, then it was gone taking the bait with it and I wound in an empty hook. I cast out another head.

 

A few minutes later, the ratchet was buzzing again. This time I connected, and a weighty fish was banging on the rod-tip as I hauled it up out of the depths. Soon a conger surfaced, not your normal Sheep's Head strap but a proper size one.

 

I hadn't given as much thought as I should have as to how I'd land such a big eel. I shuffled along to my left and down onto a lower ledge, then waited for a bigger swell before half sliding and half lifting the conger out. It was hooked well back in its mouth, but I got the hook out with my trusty Gemini disgorger. The eel coughed up two mackerel heads, the one I'd hooked it on and the one I'd lost! I couldn't be bothered with wrestling it to get a weight - it was a really thick one and I doubt any change out of 20lbs.

 

I was slightly surprised not to get any more takes, but to be fair I soon had a bucket of mackerel and as I wanted to get the ones destined as bait into the freezer ASAP I didn't stay on after that.

 

On the 3rd, for a change I headed down towards Mizen Head to fish an evening tide on a sandy beach. There was a really nice surf running and it looked good for a bass, but all I caught was a couple of nasty little weever fish; a first for me in Ireland anyway. I'll be back for a bass later in the autumn, maybe.

On the 10th I was back on the rocks, fishing a neap tide on a deep north-coast mark. It was a bite every chuck but apart from a strap conger first cast it was all LSDs. Finally I had a better fish as a decent pollack took a fancy to one of the pop-up baits. It's disappointing though not to have contacted a ling from this mark this year given the depth.

I had another relatively disappointing session on the same mark a few days later, this time after wrasse, surprising really given there'd been loads there earlier in the summer. I think maybe the storms at the end of August had unsettled them, probably it's back to normal by now. I float-fished limpet baits and did get some, but the bites were sporadic and the wrasse small to middling.

I'd been waiting for a settled spell to have a try on the trigger fish mark. By the 20th I'd decided this was as good as it would get - a calm day following a short spell of east winds that had killed the swell. Another disappointment  - after giving them the best part of the tide I decided the triggers weren't going to show today, or at all this year in all probability, and moved out of the bay a bit further along the rocks to have a go for pollack. At least the Plan B worked - in fact the pollack fishing has been very steady right through this season, with lots of fish of 2 - 4lbs. I've been making a conscious effort to wean myself off my Redgill habit ...

That's one of several on a candy-striped Savage Gear Sandeel on a north-coast mark after I abandoned the trigger session, and one from the south coast on a session earlier in the month on a generic orange jelly-worm thing from the Glasgow Angling Centre sale a few years back.  The jelly-worms came in a mixed box of black, orange and white but they've sat so long in my tackle cupboard the orange dye has leached into the white ones to make them a sort of peach shade! I've also had the Savage Gear lures for ages - I notice they've discontinued the weedless heads now which seems a strange decision.

The last weekend of the month I wanted to try the bottom rods on a couple of marks where I've not fished them before.

 

On the Saturday it was south coast on a lovely sunny day, though with a chilly east wind off my back. I've fished the mark before for pollack and mackerel - it was slightly trickier access carrying all the bottom gear but comfy once there. The session didn't get off to a great start with the first cast on both rods getting snagged, one set of gear lost, but it seemed clearer casting further round to the left and I only snagged badly once more in the session.

 

I had quite a few knocks and rattles that didn't come to anything, one modest strap conger and two nice huss that came in quick succession just into the ebb ...

The Sunday it was north coast on a day forecast dull but dry. It was still and warm and for some reason I thought I'd be okay leaving my coat in the car ...

 

I had my doubts about the mark, expecting it to be very snaggy but in the event it proved quite viable ... I lost a couple of leads when the rotten bottom I use gave way (as intended) with fish on and a complete set when I wound into a snag retrieving. Otherwise, okay and very deep so maybe another possible for a ling.

 

Today though I kicked off with four strap congers in the first four casts, then a quiet spell as the tide topped out.

 

The already low cloud descended to sea level and it started to drizzle. Thick, soaking drizzle. It was really unpleasant to be honest and I could easily have been persuaded to pack up. It was only the socially-distanced company of a guy just off in a RIB doing mackerel drifts that decided me to stay. He looked even more wet and miserable than I felt!

Anyway, I'm glad I stayed on as it turned into a decent session as the tide dropped away.

 

First off a screaming run on a mackerel head, and one of the liveliest fights I've had from a huss. It was positively zipping around and I was wondering what I'd hooked till it surfaced. The pic gives just a clue about the conditions and you can make out my "mate" in the RIB.

 

Next a more delicate bite and a more traditional fight but a bigger huss, an unusually attractive-looking one compared to the normal near-black ones.

 

That was on a mackerel head again and so was the last bite. Another good run but a different fight, this one the banging of a decent conger as it lashed side to side. I soon had it up to the surface and onto the rocks, about 15lbs.

It has been a really good month mullet fishing, one of the best since we moved to Ireland in 2015.

 

First up Rosscarbery, and a rare chance this year to fish in company. My old friend Jim Murray was down from Dublin for a long weekend. Jim's a Scot who's been living and fishing over here for years. His early writings in the NMC magazine about Irish mullet fishing indirectly brought me to Ireland for the first time and changed the course of my life!

 

I drove down on Friday 4th and  found Jim fishing the lagoon on leger. He had a fish about a pound soon after I arrived and another double that a little later, but as there didn't seem to be any bigger fish showing I moved across the N71 to fish the estuary pool below the causeway.

 

There was an awkward cross-wind but I was soon getting bites and landed thicklips of 3:09 and 2:13. I texted Jim and he replied that he'd move over. I had a 3:04 before he arrived.

 

Jim popped back to his car to get his rod rests he'd forgotten and while he was away I had a massive bite. It seemed a bigger fish and surged out, then came off after a couple of seconds. Oddest thing though - dangling from my hook were two split shot on a couple of feet of a really fine mono or fluoro, I doubt more than 2 or 3lbs BS. Presumably the fish had been trailing that lost gear behind it and my popped-up hook snagged it. Glad I've done the fish a favour getting rid of its unwanted load, though my guess is it's still carrying at least a hook.

 

Anyway, Jim got fishing and predictably things went very quiet. We didn't get a definite bite for over three hours till my right-hand rod lunged over.

 

I was fishing about 40 yards out and the mullet went about as far again in a series of short but powerful runs. It surfaced just to the right of a pole that by accident or design marks the start of a load of snags, wreckage of old oyster pens from years back that lie barely under the surface. The fish ran a bit further and I gave it as much stick as I dared to try to keep its head up. It came back a few feet then everything went solid. The mullet started swirling on the surface. It was snagged. Its tail kept coming out of the water as it thrashed about; it didn't look particularly big but then it was 80 yards away.

 

I've had fish go into the oyster pens before and it's never ended well, but I went through the motions of alternately pulling to see if I could shift the fish and giving slack to see if it would free itself. No joy. I walked along the grass to our right and as far out onto the rocks as I could to change the angle of pull. No joy. I walked back to Jim. By this stage I thought the fish was probably off but then we saw a weak swirl and Jim said try the other way, so I walked away along the road across the bridge to our left and heaved again ... a bit of movement but I could feel the line was grating through the snag. I tried again part way back to Jim, and suddenly I was getting line back. It felt like the fish was coming bringing part of the snag with it, but then it got easier.

 

It was a long drag but the fish was pretty much knackered. It gave a bit of token resistance close in then Jim had it into the net and onto his scales. 6lb 9oz of mullet that I'd more-or-less given up on ever seeing on the bank.

That was my best mullet at Ross (or anywhere) since January 2018.

 

A small crowd of other anglers arrived from Dublin to fish the weekend. They soon had a six-pounder themselves on the Friday and several big mullet including a 7:01 on the Saturday. On the Sunday it was much quieter.

 

I was getting regular reports by text from Jim, he caught nice fish both days but it was slow going. Then, last knockings on Sunday evening he had this wonderful new PB of 6lb 8oz.

 

I went back on the Monday. New NMC member Duncan from Northern Ireland was there and just netting a fish as I arrived, and Jim turned up soon after. Despite Duncan's early success it was a slow day ...

... until late into the afternoon when we started seeing a few fish moving. When the bites came they seemed determined to jump on my baits and I had three, best 4:13 and 4:15. 

Duncan had just his early fish and Jim blanked, though he had a couple of nice 4s on Tuesday morning before heading off up to Limerick to fish there. It's the last county left of his self-set Irish county challenge. He's caught mullet in every other county on the island of Ireland with a coastline including Leitrim which has only a very few miles of shoreline to choose from and Kilkenny which has only a few hundred yards of muddy tidal river frontage above Waterford!

 

I next fished at Rosscarbery on a neap tide the following weekend. The water was unusually coloured but there were one or two nice fish moving by the wall just down from the hotel. Jason was just setting up so I left those ones to him and tried by the bridge arch but barely saw a mullet the whole time. At least Jason had one, a nice fish of 5:13.

 

I was back on the 18th on a bigger tide but with a howling easterly wind ...

I was tucked up snug under my brolly but the conditions were challenging in the extreme.

 

My lines kept dragging round to the right. I didn't have any leads bigger than the 1.1oz Grippas I usually use, but the addition of a couple of double SSG shot on each rig as a kind of anchor chain sorted that out.

 

There was no chance of spotting delicate bites, but thicklips of 5:02 and 5:01 hung themselves on early in the afternoon.

 

After a quiet interlude, I hooked another fish just as the tide was starting to push into the pool. It ran right across to my right where I beached it in the shallows, 4:06.

 

By the time I'd dealt with that fish the tide was threatening to flood across the grass where I was set up. I went to wind in on my other rod and pack up, but found the line had moved uptide and upwind to my left with a fish on and a good bit of weed too. Most of the weed came off as I played the fish, several minutes trying to stop it heading under the road in the torrent of water now pouring through the bridge arch into the lagoon. I eventually got the fish to the net only to have the hook ping out with the fish half over. It slid back and swam off as I tried to push the net under it ... a bit bigger than the other 5s I'd had earlier, losing it like that took the edge of a nice session just a bit.

I was back again on the 23rd, a much more benign sort of day but a smaller tide. There were mullet showing but mostly well out. I had a couple of mid-4s out in a little flurry of bites over lunchtime, then a long wait till a lovely 5:01 in the evening sun just as I was thinking about packing up ...

My final visit of the month was on the 28th. I fished from the same swim on the grass and it was a busy if slightly mixed day. I'd left my camera at home, I broke a quivertip on my Drennan rod trying to cast with the line wrapped round it, I hooked three decent mullet that came off for no obvious reason at various stages of the fight. On the plus side, I landed four nice fish: 4:06, 5:03, 5:06 and this cracker of 6:07. I had to collar a kindly lady passer-by to take the photo on her phone and email it to me ...

All of my Rosscarbery mullet have been on crust bait, legered mostly at range though when the tide's been up I've had a couple fishing closer in.

 

Meanwhile I've had a couple of great mullet sessions closer to home on the low water rocks in Bantry Bay, fifteen mullet across the two sessions.

 

Both days have played out the same way, with the biggest fish taking first, 4:01 and 4:03 ...

... and then a succession of middleweight fish mostly 2 - 3lbs taking the fish baits and putting a nice bend in the Preston float rod ...

Towards the end of each session the mullet went off baits fished subsurface in the traditional way and bites dried up although there were still fish visibly swirling in the swim. I winkled out a last one or two by putting a piece of plastic bread on the trace as a second float just a couple of inches above the fish bait so the bait would fish just beneath the surface, under the plastic bread. It's quite exciting getting a big whelm, then the fake bread disappears, then the float slides under, then strike...

The last of my mullet fishing has been in the estuary down towards Mizen. I did a couple of sessions that disappointed with just a single pound-size mullet each time ...

I wasn't convinced the bigger mullet would come up with the tide into the shallow pool with the water so clear and the sun so bright, so I chose my next visit on the evening high water of the 29th with the weather forecast a bit manky.

 

I stepped out of the car and immediately thought I might have overdone it, with a stiff and surprisingly chilly SW wind right in my face on the causeway and already flecking with rain ahead of a front that would move through later in the night. The gorse-burning going on somehow added to the sense of impending doom, but I was there now and determined to give it a go.

 

It was very bleak indeed but as the tide peaked I thought I saw a knock on the right-hand tip, then the line fell slack. I wound down and struck, and connected. It was a strange fight with the fish almost swimming itself into the wall. I thought it was small and wasn't too bothered about pausing the fight to pull some weed out that was in danger of jamming up the tip ring of my rod. While I was doing that I caught sight of the fish, and promptly got the rod back up properly - it was a nice one, very nice in fact. 

 

The close-in fight once the fish woke up was a bit nerve-wracking but eventually I had the mullet at the base of the wall and scooped it into the net ...

At 5:01 it was only my third of 5lb+ from the venue, the first being over six years ago on the very first time I fished there. Its significance was enhanced by its displacing a 4:03 from my NMC Top Ten list and taking the total over 50lbs ... that's the aggregate of ten fish with a maximum of four from any one venue, and though I've won the trophy a few years recently, it's a good while since I've topped 50lbs.

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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.

Early in the month I did a couple of sessions on the trigger fish mark, but there was no sign of a trigger.

 

The many bites all proved to be wrasse, a few modest ballans but mostly pretty little corkwings.

 

The weather hasn't really settled down long enough since to warrant another go but hopefully we'll get a calm spell in September.. 

 

Another failure has been the gilthead fishing. I've had a few goes across the month when conditions have seemed okay, but drawn a complete blank on the gilts. My Facebook friend Jason has had a couple of real crackers this month but it's very hit and miss this time of year and ... I've missed. The bycatch has been several schoolie bass but only one that was sizeable, just barely. I was debating whether I could reasonably whack it to take home for dinner when the IFI inspector's van pulled up on the road behind me. I decided I could do without the discussion and put it back!

 

I also had one session on the Airstrip Strand but that was at the peak of the brown water and I didn't get a sniff on the bottom baits. Surprisingly there was some surface activity - a nice sea trout on the go, a couple of decent mullet bow-waved by close in, and against the odds a couple of mackerel emerged from the sepia water on my mackerel feathers to supplement my bait supply. 

 

The mackerel fishing has actually been spectacular every time the water's been reasonably clear, with big shoals in both Dunmanus and Bantry Bays and some numbers of porpoises, dolphins and minke whales followed them in. I caught my first glimpse of a fin whale in Bantry Bay and there have been humpbacks in close too on the right day.

 

I've had a few sessions catching mackerel for eating and to top up the bait freezer. There have been a few big launce mixed in with the mackerel too, also a welcome addition to bait stocks.

It's been strange to have company on the rocks some days. It's been an unusually busy tourist season with most Irish people taking staycations this year, and quite a few holiday anglers have been having a go for the mackerel. I've also met some guys who've been affable enough but I'd say must be fishing commercially from the numbers they are carrying off. Not really what I'd choose to see though I doubt it does much to dent the stocks in the grand scheme of things.

Towards the end of the month I fished a night session from the pier just local.

 

It was desperately slow on the bottom baits with just one small poor cod on a scratching rig and one non-commital pull on a mackerel head bait that came to nothing.

 

I was surprised though that a new solar power LED street lamp has been installed on the pier, given it's out in the middle of nowhere and I've never seen anyone else using it at night. 

 

There was a good bit of fishy activity under the light. Some fish were obviously pollack from their bronze colour, and there were a lot that turned out to be small scad - I didn't have any feathers with me but had a couple just jigging a two-hook paternoster baited with slivers of mackerel. Occasionally I'd see a bigger, pale fish ghost through a bit deeper, I don't know if larger scad or maybe mullet. Dead on high tide the water suddenly turned black as a shoal of mackerel moved in. I foul-hooked one in the tail and in a few seconds they were gone again into the night.

 

Anyway, I had some fresh bait to use next morning and headed out on the rocks not far from the pier, on the lee side of a headland as Storm Francis was still winding down. It wasn't a hectic session but I had a little burst of activity just before HW when one huss let go after a few yards then I had another (or possibly the same one) a few minutes later. It weighed dead on 10lbs and had taken a mackerel/scad cocktail...

I haven't done much pollack fishing, just a couple of short trips on the lee shore where I had the huss when the storms were limiting other options. I had a lot of small fish, lost a couple of clonkers that I couldn't keep up out of the kelp, and kept just a couple about 3lbs. They are really too tasty for their own good ...

And so on to mullet ...

 

Early in the month while my knee was still iffy I did a couple of short trips down onto my low-water rock mark in Bantry Bay. It's only a short hop (!) from the car and although it looks rugged I have a fairly flat spot to fish from.

 

There were plenty of mullet about giving plenty of bites, and I soon had my August mullet in the net, in fact six of them across the two trips, mostly on fish baits. As usual these weren't the biggest of fish, generally 2 - 3lbs size, but they still give the centrepin a good workout.

Later in the month I headed back, to be greeted by an extraordinary sight - the normally gin clear water had turned green and turbid.

 

We'd been seeing patches of what looked like yellow/green water out in the bay for a couple of weeks, but this was the first close-up encounter after a day or two of north-west wind had brought a large patch inshore. I can only imagine it's algae gone mad with nutrients run off from the land by all the rain this month when the water's just about at its warmest. The farmers routinely spray their silage fields with cattle slurry after each cut of the grass, I'd think a lot of that has ended up in the sea recently.

 

Fortunately, unlike brown peaty water, it didn't seem to have any negative effect on the fishing. I had a string of half-pound pollack that seemed to have appeared from nowhere on this mark, and four chunky mullet.

Between times I'd had a mullet trip down to the Mizen which was a blank. It was thronging with holidaymakers down there so I decided not to repeat the exercise till we're out of peak season. And a couple of trips down to Rosscarbery.

 

The first was in the aftermath of the flooding incidents mentioned above. The water was still carrying some colour but wasn't as bad as I thought it might be, and I really wanted to give it a go in the freshening southerly wind ahead of Storm Ellen as it often seems to fish well in those conditions. In the event, after a slow start, it turned into a real red letter day.

 

I was legering with two rods from the grass near the bridge. I was half way through my sandwiches at lunchtime when my left-hand rod pulled over. The fish ran out strongly and seemed to hang out there at range for ages before slowly coming back. Eventually I had her close in and in the net ... a lovely thicklip of 5lb 11oz. I did the weighing and the photos and put her back then went back to my chair to get set up again.

 

Fern Collie had helped out by finishing off my sandwiches for me, hey ho but never mind, I'd barely have had time to eat them anyway as bites followed regularly throughout the afternoon. After the 5:11 I had fish of 4:14, 5:09, 5:06, 4:10 and another 5:06 to finish ... a fantastic session after some pretty dour trips to Ross this year.

A few days later, after Storm Ellen but before Francis,  I was back. I hoping for a repeat performance, but that wasn't going to happen. There seemed to be far fewer mullet in residence, and it was quiet apart from a little flurry of three bites just after lunch. I missed the first, the second was a thicklip of 4:12 and I had a 4:02 on the other rod just as I was baiting up the first again after returning the fish.

The August bank holiday weekend in UK, this year the 29th to 31st, is always the National Mullet Club's fish-anywhere rover competition. On the Saturday I headed back to Rosscarbery as the venue most likely to throw up a big mullet for this specimen-based event. The water was coffee-coloured after Storm Francis and I couldn't see any fish moving when I arrived. I set up by the bridge, catapulted out some groundbait balls and settled back to wait ...

In the event there wasn't too long to wait, and after twenty minutes or so my right hand rod nodded then pulled over. It didn't feel a particularly large fish but I didn't really have much opportunity to tell, the mullet swirled on the surface and was off.

 

Next cast, a repeat performance with the same outcome.

 

A few minutes later I was in again on the same rod. This fish came in quite easily but any illusion it was small was dispelled when it plunged into the deep water in front of the bridge and put up a stubborn resistance for a good five or six minutes. It weighed 4:13.

 

Soon I had another fish on, this time on the left rod. This one also came in easily then came off at the edge. At this stage I was 3 - 1 down to the mullet and the session was shaping up as a bit of a 'mare. Fortunately though bites kept coming and I turned it round, finishing 3 - 5. Three of the further mullet were also four-pounders - another 4:13, 4:07 and yet another 4:13. I'm fairly sure this third 4:13 was a repeat capture of the first, about four hours between; at least, it had a fresh hook wound in about the right place.

Pick of the day though was a chunky 5:05 ...

All the fish fought the same way, unusually for Ross, coming in easily then slogging it out close in. I put it down to the heavily coloured water.

 

On the Sunday I did a brief session on the rocks near the village with no result. On the Monday I dropped in on Rosscarbery again on the way back from a disappointing gilt session. The water had cleared significantly and I found a shoal of mullet in shallow water down the west side of the estuary. I had time to catch two - smaller fish today of 2:12 and one about a pound - before the flood tide arrived and moved them on.

 

I was pipped to the Rover title by my old friend Ben Mullins who had a 5:06 from the River Adur in Sussex on the Monday; still it was nice to have been top of the leader board for a while. Another friend Paul Howe had a 5:01 from Christchurch Harbour in Dorset, so it was a good competition, albeit a remote one befitting this strange age we are living in.

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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.

The two smaller rays were on bluey, the larger one on mackerel.

 

The travel restrictions in the spring cut short my trips up to Kerry for the spurdogs, very disappointing. On the 9th I thought I'd head up that way to fish one of my spur marks. The spurs would be long gone of course, but I thought I might find some larger thornbacks than I was getting in Bantry Bay. 

 

 

That didn't work out. On the dropping tide it was dog after dog but after the tide turned the huss started to feed and I had six to around 10lbs before I had to evacuate the mark when the access flooded. Most of the huss were on cocktails of raw king prawn and mackerel. The only other captures were a couple of really baby congers.

It wasn't quite what I'd wanted but I was happy enough to catch the huss. It's a while since I've had a bag of them back on Sheep's Head though I've had some good individual fish. In fact just the weekend before the Kerry trip I'd been out hunting them on one of the few east-facing rock marks in Dunmanus Bay on an unseasonally stormy weekend. I had a few knocks and rattles that came to nothing then, as the tide started to drop away, at last a decent run on a half mackerel head bait. After an unusually lively scrap I had an unusually black huss on the rocks, 11.5lbs ...

I finished that huss session spinning the sandeels I had left over, and had out a couple of decent pollack.

 

I only had one other go after the pollack later on in the month, getting a couple of fish of 3 - 4lbs on a dropping tide after failing to catch any mackerel earlier in the morning.

 

Mackerel have been very scarce so far this year, though I've had reports from the boats and "the other side" that they have been in the bay, at least intermittently.

 

An early visit to the trigger fish mark where I scored last September also drew a blank.

 

I did however have some nice middleweight wrasse on a different mark, just on limpet bait ...

I really should do more wrasse fishing. It's one of those things that gets taken for granted and neglected because it's always there on the doorstep.

 

One thing I have long had a hankering for is to catch a good gilthead bream ... something else that went onto the back-burner this year during the travel restrictions as the sandy estuaries east of us where they are caught each year were well out of range. I'm kicking myself now that I didn't get straight onto it when the 5km restriction ended in June; in practice it was 8th July before I got my act together.

 

I dug some small lug near the mark on the last of the ebb tide then set up to fish the narrow channel with a couple of my vintage rods, the Fibatube bass rod and the old Daiwa carp rod, using simple running leger rigs.

 

Nothing happened for the first 90 minutes, surprisingly not even crabs on the baits. I thought I'd gleaned a bit of useful gilt information from various sources but I was just contemplating I could have any permutation of venue, tide, bait or rig wrong when suddenly the bass rod yanked over in the rest and braid was stripping off the reel.

 

It took a couple of fumbled attempts to get the rod out of the rest and then I was playing a fish that was running like a train towards a mooring buoy just a way down the channel. I managed to stop that but as the fish turned the hook came out.

 

I was gutted but cast again full of hope. It soon became bite a chuck as the flood tide picked up but it was all schoolie bass and finally a small flounder as rafts of green weed coming up with the tide made fishing impossible.

I was back a couple of days later, set up and fishing by a hour before low water. I was expecting another slow start but I had a small nodding bite first cast on the carp rod. I thought it was probably a flounder but I watched closely and was well prepared when the rod tip pulled hard over ...

 

The fish made repeated attempts to get round the moorings both up and down channel, but no mistakes this time and after three or four minutes I had my first serious-sized gilthead on the beach. It was hooked through the very edge of the lip, a miracle it had stayed on. It weighed 3lb 8oz, nice fish though well below potential for the area - the one I lost was a good bit bigger I think. I made a lash of the self-timer photos so I was glad I took this snap as I returned it ...

I hoped I might get another as the tide flooded back but it was all quiet till the schoolies arrived. I gave it a miss over the weekend as I thought it might get busy, but I was back to fish an evening LW early the following week. Three or four locals were out too, spaced along the channel, including ny Facebook friend Jason.

 

It was a slow session. As the weed arrived at dusk Jason came walking back past me. I'd only had a schoolie, he'd had a schoolie and a small gilt. Though everyone else was packing up, I thought I'd get one more cast in with each rod.

 

I cast the bass rod again and the tide almost immediately pulled the line tight. I was just reaching for the carp rod when the bass rod almost launched from the rest. I grabbed the butt and got into a semblence of control ... it was obviously a weighty fish but I could tell from the head-banging going on that it wasn't a big gilt. Sure enough after a couple of minutes I slid a bass out onto the beach, a lean fish of 6lb 15oz ...

I learned later from Jason that a 7lb 1oz gilt was caught the very next evening, but there didn't seem to be any about by the next week when I put in a couple of very slow sessions. There's a chance through August and into September but I'm already gearing up mentally for a proper gilt campaign in April and May next year.

 

Mullet-wise, nothing special to report. 

 

I did a couple of sessions on the low-water rocks in Bantry Bay. I still haven't blanked there this year but at the moment it's only small fish, nothing much over 2lbs ...

Also I did a couple of trips down on the Mizen. One was a blank legering over the sandflats at high tide. The other, in the low water pool, got off to a poor start when I snapped a few inches off the top of the Acolyte float rod striking into the first mullet of the day. It's the second break I've had on this rod, and though it's now back in use at a slightly shorter length, it's living on borrowed time I think - in hindsight a poor piece of design by Drennan that just isn't up to the rigours of fishing. That first mullet was small, as were the seven others that followed by press-ganging my fifteen year old and completely unproblematic Drennan quivertip rod into some float work.

I bought a new fixed spool to use on the float rod, a smaller version of my leger reels, a Daiwa Ninja 2500 BS, to replace the little rear-drag Shimano I've been using since I won it in the NMC raffle a couple of years back. I really just don't get on with rear-drags. It's for those days when I want a bit more casting range than is comfortable with the centrepin and it's a really nice piece of kit for its very middle-range price. I christened it with a little mullet from the bay near home, then had a better one of 4lb 2oz at Rosscarbery towards the end of the month. That was my only visit there in July, and apart from that fish early on it was a struggle to get a bite on either float or leger.

My July fishing went out with a bang of sorts on Tuesday when I was out mackerel fishing on one of the headlands just local. I tripped and went flat on my face! I'm now hobbling around on a very swollen right knee and my nose and right eye look like, well, like I've head-butted a rock. Fortunately nothing broken. I'm scrupulous about not venturing out on the rocks if it's wet or swelly, I wear a life jacket and locator beacon, so I'm really miffed I managed to crock myself through a moment of carelessness on a perfect sunny day ... take care out there and I hope to be back in action before too long in August.

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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.

Some rough weather coinciding with the last spring tides in May had thrown up large banks of weed. Over the next fortnight the seaweed flies did their stuff and as the next set of springs approached, their eggs were beginning to hatch into maggots in patches of the weed. It was before the best of the maggot crop really, a pity because it looked like nearly all of the weed would be washed away on this set of tides and there wouldn't be much left in another two weeks. 

 

I looked along there on the 5th but although the gulls were beginning to find the maggots, the mullet didn't yet seem to have latched on to them. In the event I had out a nice 3:04 thicklip floatfishing bread a few inches under the surface on a different part of the bay. A few days later I had a smaller one in the same spot before finding just a couple of fish mooching along in front of the weed ... I tried for them with bread and with bunches of maggots from the weed, but no joy.

The expected 20km restriction morphed into a go-anywhere-in-County-Cork restriction, and I celebrated this unexpected freedom by heading to Rosscarbery on the 8th. 

 

An unpleasant surprise was in store in the form of masses of horrible slimy green weed that had grown on in the unusual amounts of sunshine this spring and apparently had been pushed into one of the most popular fishing areas by the weeks of predominantly east winds. I could see two or three decent mullet grubbing around amongst it but I gave them a miss and fished near the bridge arch instead where the flow from the lagoon had kept the worst of the weed at bay. It was a disappointing session though with only one decent bite that I missed and a lot of tiny knocks and twitches on the tips from the large numbers of tiddler mullet that were about. I had a last hour on the float in the lagoon but the only result there was a small trout.

I was back on the 22nd on a wet and windy day. Most of the weed had broken up though if anything it was more of a problem now it was on the drift. There were some encouraging swirls going on all over the pool but the more I saw of them the more I realised they were mostly or all down to a few very active seatrout moving around. There seemed to be very few mullet present at all and a lengthy session split between two swims yielded not a single take.

 

I returned on a nicer day with a smaller tide on the 29th. It was an almost repeat performance but this time I had one good pull and a long, lean mullet of exactly 4lbs on the bank. Notwithstanding this minor success the venue seems to be in something of a summer doldrum. It will come back into form for sure at some stage, but I think I'll not hurry back for a while.

 

Fortunately other venues seem to have plenty of mullet present. This video clip is from an estuary on the Mizen peninsula on one of several days it was thronging with mullet ...

On the 12th I fished a short session there with Sylvi before we walked Fern along the beach as her post-lockdown treat. In a couple of hours punctuated by a picnic lunch I had eight mullet out. All were on the small side, the biggest barely making 2lbs, but it was a good fun session all the same ...

A few days later I was back. There were a few larger fish in the pool this time but still a lot of smaller ones and I just couldn't get past them. Rather than rack up another big bag of small fish I took the leger rods lower down the estuary and caught a lovely 4:03 off the sand-flats at the peak of the afternoon high tide. A week or so later I was back on a slightly larger morning tide and added a 4:04...

My low water rock marks in Bantry Bay were also fishing well.

 

A first visit on 9th June turned out a real mulletfest with eight landed, good average size too with three over 4lbs. I started off with bread but could only get half-hearted interest, they really wanted fish baits though. Unfortunately this was the day my camera battery decided to give up the ghost, I only got a few low resolution pics on my crappy old phone, this is the best of the photos and also the best of the mullet at 4:04. 

 

I did three more sessions over the rest of the month. I couldn't replicate either the numbers or the size of the fish from that first session, but neither did I have a blank and I'll never tire of catching 2lb and 3lb class mullet on float gear, especially on these open marks where they always fight long and hard.

I didn't do a lot out else on the rocks this month. I took the bottom rods out early on in the month in the last of the east wind for what turned out to be a really dour session with just one doggie. The return to Atlantic weather has certainly freshened things up, and in complete contrast today was bite-a-chuck for the four hours till I ran out of bait ... I was just about knackered anyway! Most of it was LSDs but I had a couple of small congers and a single bullhuss around 9.5lbs ... I thought she would be heavier but she was very hollow flanked, probably having recently dropped her egg pouches.

I also had some rattling sort of bites that I missed that I'm fairly sure were mackerel having a go at the big baits that I pop up just off the bottom - reminds me I need to start thinking about a few sessions to top up the bait freezer. I haven't done any pollack sessions this month, but there should be plenty around by this time of year.

I finished the last of my rod renovations for now.

 

I'm really pleased with how the Daiwa rod (Paul Kerry Carbon Supercast Mk2, on the right) has come up, though I'm not sure how much use it will get - it's a bit light for the rocks here and rather duplicated by my Zzippy 1005s for cleaner ground work further afield. 

 

The other one is an Anyfish Anywhere "Rock" rod belonging to my Facebook friend Stephen ... it's also come together nicely but it's a beast of a rod for sure! I arranged to hand it back to Stephen when he was down our way fishing at the Airstrip Strand near Bantry. 

 

Stephen said the Airstrip had been fishing well and he knew of a couple of people who'd been out that week and caught multiple rays. Stephen himself was just started when I arrived and catching dogfish, and only dogfish as it turned out.

 

Anyway, I resolved to give it a go on the better part of the tide next morning and before a load of rain that was forecast from about lunchtime.

 

In an unusual turn of events, the Airstrip decided to be kind to me. I caught doggies of course, four of them, but also four thornbacks.

All the doggies took mackerel, all the rays were on bluey but I don't know if it was bait making the difference or the few extra yards cast on the rod I was using with bluey. Nothing massive, the biggest was a male fish that may just have gone 5lbs, the smaller fish were various sizes perhaps indicating we have several year classes of these fish coming on.  

Stephen arrived to fish again just as I was packing up with the rain just starting, and I later learned he'd caught another four rays despite the foul conditions that soon set in. I couldn't keep the momentum going though; another visit a few days later produced LSDs and weed in roughly equal amounts as the venue returned to its normal form.

3 Comments

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.

Anyway, I dutifully turned up on the 1st to try to keep my monthly run going. The tides were neap and the water level in the lake had been dropping for several days. I wasn't sure there'd be enough depth to fish sensibly close in but I decided to have a go, and was surprised when the float shot away on only the second run through. My strike met a momentary resistance and then I wound in a single mullet scale  progged on the hook point!

 

A long quiet spell followed then a couple of half-hearted dips of the float as the session petered out into a blank. I decided to wait till the water level was higher before trying again.

 

I was back on the 8th, the lake having had a good top up from both some rain then the first of a series of spring tides. I could see a few mullet moving that looked reasonable in size, but they were just cruising around and clearly not feeding. Then as the tide outside neared high and water began flowing into the lake, I started getting, and missing, some tentative bites.

 

The water was in danger of flooding over the grass where I was sitting. I stood up to move my tackle to higher ground and - crunch - I promptly trod on my landing net handle. I was inspecting the damage when my reel clutch started screaming; I looked down and the rod tip was pulled over fiercely with a fish heading towards the middle of the lake. I dropped the net and grabbed the rod ...

 

It's rare for a mullet to self-hook on float tackle and an early thought was that I didn't really deserve this fish. Still, we play the cards fate deals ... the mullet carried on running but eventually turned and I was able to play it in fairly easily. I was suprised by its size when I first saw it, a long fish well over 4lbs. I wasn't sure if my net handle would be up to the job of landing it so I started to look for places to beach the fish, but the mullet had other ideas and ran round to my left and up the channel, against the tide towards the bridge. I had to stop that so I piled on the pressure. To my relief it turned and swam out again but to my dismay it had picked up some blanket weed on the trace. The weed inevitably slid down the trace and just as I feared when it reached the hook, the hook popped out. It's happened before, and it will probably happen again; the extra stress from the weed is enough to break out a tenuous hook-hold. If I'd got a proper strike on the fish in the first place the hook may have been better set.

 

I was deflated to put it mildly but fished on and had several more bites, missing the lot. In hindsight I'm not sure on the size of the fish involved.

 

I repaired the net handle the next morning with the help of a section cut from an old Penn beachcaster I was keeping in the loft for just such occasions. Disasters often seem to happen in threes so after breaking the net and losing the fish I wondered what trauma today would bring.

 

It didn't take long to find out. I arrived at the same swim to set up and found a fresh but very chewed carcass of a large mullet in the margins. I fear Mr Otter found "my" mullet while it was still knackered the night before, and made a good meal of it. 

 

Again I had to wait for the new tide to arrive before getting any bites, but I only had four or five this evening very randomly, and again didn't latch into one.

 

The next evening was cold with a north-east wind whistling across the lake. I nearly didn't bother but waded out so I could trot back down the wind and after half an hour or so started getting regular if tentative bites. At last I hooked one - a tiny mullet of just a couple of ounces.

I wouldn't have been too proud to call that my "May mullet" but I really wanted something bigger.

 

I gave myself a day off and went back on the 12th, armed with the leger rods for a change of tactics.

 

It was a quiet session with only small mullet showing close in and no action on the tips fishing further out. I was just contemplating a last hour on the float when the right hand tip twitched a little - not much, but enough to persuade me to give it another cast.

 

This time the same tip dropped back slightly, rattled around a little then started to pull over. I struck and was into a fish and a fight very reminiscent of the other evening. The fish ran out strongly, came back gradually then kited left. This time it went beyond the channel back to the bridge and into the very shallow bay beyond, and disaster nearly struck again when it fouled one of several clumps of bladderwrack growing off large stones. Fortunately, as I waded out with the landing net, the angle changed and the line pinged off the weed, and I was able to net the fish normally.

 

The mullet went 4lb 4oz ... by far the biggest I've landed from the lake, a plump fish but noticeably shorter than the one I lost.

I think the few larger mullet present must have evacuated the lake on the last of the spring tides

as they have been very scarce since. Two more legering sessions have produced not a single bite.

 

Two sessions on the float produced plenty of bites, but visibly all from shoals of tiny mullet.

 

Then on a quick evening session on the 28th, the shoal of tiddlers was gatecrashed by a better fish. It was no monster but a pretty and lively thicklip just under 2lbs.

 

I'm glad to have had the lake within the travel radius allowed; it's been interesting and it's kept my monthly run going. But I'm looking forward to June 8th when the new 20km restriction should allow access to one or two more prolific marks.

Meanwhile in other news ...

 

I've had the two refurbished bass rods out on the south side rocks chasing pollack, only short sessions as there doesn't seem to be that many around yet and it's been quite hard work getting a few. On the plus side there seems to be a fair proportion of decent sized ones among them and I've had a fish or two around 4lbs most times out, nice eating size.

 

The bottom fishing from the rocks hasn't really kicked off yet, apart from dogfish which seem to always be the last fish to be put off by the east winds. 

 

I've had a couple of sessions on north side marks within 5km, one already reported on and one earlier today which turned into a doggie-fest with bites literally every cast. In the midst of it all a couple of strap congers turned up, one on each rod barely ten minutes apart. The bigger one here may just have gone 10lbs.

0 Comments

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.

The new developments all revolve around this. It is called Mosella Magic Bread. I've had mine unused for several years, since back when it was widely available. Looking around it seems much scarcer these days, though I see one or two outlets are still selling it - it may well have been discontinued but I notice there's a similar or identical product called Sensas Paindor available now. It comes in "natural" white colour like my Mosella loaf and also coloured yellow or red.

 

The Magic Bread comes plastic-wrapped and is completely dessicated; in this state it lasts for years. It crumbles to dust under any attempt to cut it with a knife, but you can cut pieces off using mono line with a slight sawing action like a cheese wire. Then it needs to be reconstituted in water. Once reconstituted it is soggy but incredibly tough. It's very difficult to tear but you can now cut it up into bait sized pieces with sharp scissors.

 

I first tried Magic Bread a decade or more ago, at Christchurch. It wasn't a successful trial. I don't remember catching much on it, though in fairness it was early in the season there and I wasn't catching much on normal bread baits either. Biggest problem I had with it was bait presentation - yes it stayed on the hook wonderfully well but it tended to settle into a soggy lump on the hook bend. Anyway my old spaniel cut my experimentation short when he got into the garage, raided my tackle bag and ate both the natural and red loaves I'd been using!

 

I bought another loaf but never got round to using it and eventually I more-or-less forgot about it.

 

My interest was reawakened last season when my friend Steve Tierney started talking about his experiments with bait bands and normal bread baits - could bands offer a way of presenting the Magic Bread effectively?

 

Steve recommended latex bands and I found these ones by Gardner Tackle. I bought a couple of sizes but the smaller 3.2mm ones seem right for the size of crust bait I like.

 

I also bought a "pellet bander" tool for opening up the bands. The one I got is made by Preston Innovations and is shown in the photos below.

The other thing that occured to me was that there was no need to stop at using water to reconstitute the Magic Bread. 

 

Any liquid would do and at the time I had a bottle of Dynamite Baits' Liquid Krill for adding a bit of extra zing to my groundbait.

 

Why not use this to soften the Magic Bread? It would give a bait thoroughly impregnated with the krill flavour in a way you could never do with normal crust, because it would come off the hook on the cast or when hitting the water if wet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

So to take fishing I cut a few chunks off the Magic Bread loaf with nylon line and put them into a small plastic tub (with a tight-fitting lid) to steep in the Liquid Krill. Not much is needed for a session.

 

 

 

 

 

I cut off a piece of crust about this size as a single bait using nail scissors, and trim off most but not all of the flake.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then I open up a bait band using the pellet bander...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

... and fold or roll the crust to insert it into the band. The band is allowed to contract and at the same time the prongs of the pellet bander are teased out.

 

 

 

 

 

The hook is put in under the band. The hook point must be left clear, because unlike normal crust this one won't be coming off the hook on the take or strike.

 

 

 

 

 

A Magic Bread crust bait popped up in the shallows.

The biggest advantage of the Magic Bread crusts is their durability. They won't be washed off the hook by wave action in shallow water as (I think) can happen with normal crust. You can have a few winds of the reel handle occasionally to move the bait and possibly stimulate a take, without worrying about the crust coming off. Small fish and shrimps will eventually whittle the bait away, if they're present, but it takes them a long time. Typically I can get four or five casts out of the same bait, repositioning the hook each time before casting. I've even had more than one fish on a single bait - the photo is the first mullet I had last autumn on the Magic Bread crust, and as you can see the bait is still intact.

As I said, my trials were cut short over the winter and haven't been able to resume since. I had been fishing Magic Bread pop-ups on one rod alongside normal crust on the other, on identical rigs. My first impressions were that I was getting more takes on the Magic Bread crust, possibly hooking a smaller proportion, but overall a net win. I'd think the more takes is down to a combination of the survivability of the bait and the krill attractant but I think sometimes the crust chokes the hook instead of coming off as normal crust would, leading to missed takes. If you miss a take it's worth leaving the line out there for a minute or two: you'll still have a bait on and a feeding fish in the vicinity.

 

I may be able to add more later this year, but for now here's my best fish so far on the Magic Bread, 5lb 9oz ...

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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.

The 3500 and the Antares are still my first choice beachcasters. The coasters I used back in UK have been found a bit wanting on the rocks here with bigger reels and heavier line - it was difficult to get them tight enough to hold the reel completely firm, particularly when pulling for a break. So both rods now have a Fuji screw fitting, with a token coaster just for something to wrap my index finger round when casting.

I took the rods out on the rocks yesterday, on one of a few marks on the Bantry Bay shore of the peninsula that are within the 5km range of home we are allowed now.

 

It was a joy to be out but unsurprisingly after weeks of easterly winds, in bright sunlight and with a seal for company on and off throughout the session, the fishing didn't really shine.

 

Sporadic rattly bites produced only a handful of dogfish, no huss or congers at all.

 

The session was rescued to an extent by a screaming bite on the Antares as the tide started to drop away.

I could tell straight away this wasn't one of the usual bottom fishing suspects.

 

I had hopes it might be a ling - I had a small one on this mark last year - but in the event what surfaced was a decent pollack of 4 - 5lbs. It had taken a mackerel head bait popped up a few inches off the bottom.

 

I didn't have any spinning gear with me but I had a few casts improvised spinning a long mackerel belly strip using the 3500. It made for a nice end to the session, getting a few more though smaller pollack. I must get out for a go after them properly.

I thought the two beach rods would be the end of the rod renovations for now, but a Facebook friend saw the pics I posted and asked me to take on an Anyfish Anywhere beachcaster he'd been given a while ago but not had time to do anything with. 

 

If any rod has ever needed a bit of TLC this is the one. It's lost a few inches off the tip but it's such a stiff blank (their 13' "Rock" rod) I can't see that making much difference. It had had several replacement rings in various styles and the whipping was a bit rustic to put it mildly!

 

I like to do rods in pairs for economy of postage getting the parts mail order and to mix up epoxy for the whippings in larger amounts. I remembered I'd brought an old Daiwa Paul Kerry Supercast II rod (circa 1989) over when we moved and put it straight up in the loft ... so that's down now and both blanks are nicely cleaned up and freshly varnished, waiting for the bits to arrive from UK.

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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 ...

I headed for the inlet, an area of the lake that seems to be favoured by mullet whether or not there'll be a sea-water top-up on the day. Happily there seemed to be a few mullet there today with fins and tails cutting the surface of the shallow water and the odd swirl and bow- wave away when a fish spooked. Even more happily, at least some of the mullet seemed to be a half-decent size, maybe around 2lbs.

 

I tackled up with the smallest size of Puddlechucker float and set it to fish a bait just eight inches under which, even so shallow, was still catching bottom every now and again.

 

I was getting interest right from the off, though the depth wasn't enough for the mullet to pull the float under - instead it would mostly dink part way down and move a little sideways. I struck a few such bites and missed, but after a few minutes connected with a fish. It splashed out of the water on the strike - it looked a couple of pounds - and put up a stubborn scrap that just seemed to go on and on. I couldn't believe it when the hook pulled out just as it was coming closer ...

The disturbance seemed to have dispersed most of the mullet but fortunately there were still two or three grubbing around. Soon I was in again - a slightly smaller fish but still a good fight with it zipping around through the shallows.

 

I held my breath as it finally tired and I drew it towards the net, but no problems this time with the hook firmly in its scissors. 

 

It was a pretty fish I'd think just shy of two pounds, I didn't bother with weighing it.

Nothing was showing now but I fished on and after a few minutes started seeing mullet moving in the swim again. The float dipped and I was briefly in contact with another one, but it threw the hook almost straight away amid a lot of splashing. No matter - job done anyway. I looked at my watch. My ninety minutes was just about up and it was time to walk home.

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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 ...

First up, a pair of classic bass rods.

 

On the left is the famous honey-coloured glass Fibatube 132 blank used for, amongst others, the original John Darling Bass Rod by Going Brothers of Southend. I first built this rod up in 1977 for my father after he rescued the blank from the scrap box at Terry Eustace's shop in Birmingham; it had been returned and stripped of rings because it had an audible "tick" sound from the spigot when flexed, long since disappeared. Dad used and abused it for years till his declining health forced him to give up fishing and I inherited it.

 

On the right, a Mk 1 Zziplex bass rod that I built up for myself in 1987. I'd previously built one for my friend Jamie and was so impressed with how he got on with it I had to have one too. I caught a lot of bass on it from the Hampshire and West Sussex beaches near where we lived in UK, and some clonking wrasse down in Cornwall.

 

Both bass rods are still in regular use - I've caught lots of pollack on them since moving to Ireland, but oddly I've not got round to bass fishing yet - maybe this autumn if the travel restrictions are lifted.

 

Photos. Dad with a Solent stingray on the Fibatube bass rod, 1988; Jamie with a Solent smoothound on his Zziplex bass rod, 1987; Selsey bass on my Zzippy bass rod, mid-90s.

 

Next up, a brace of Zziplex 1005s, one of the very earliest Zziplex blanks, basically a light beachcaster that casts 3 - 4oz beautifully and 5oz at a push.

 

I bought my first 1005 in 1981. Martin Ashby at Going Brothers customised the blank for me, gluing in the dural butt and fitting a spigot to make two equal 6' sections so I could carry the rod more easily on my pushbike and on the train than in the standard 4' butt + 8' tip configuration. He machined and fitted two beautiful stainless steel collars either side of the spigot to protect the blank from splitting. The rod was my pride and joy for a few years till I lost some kit in a burglary. The scumbag couldn't even make a proper job of it - they left the tip section behind so I had a useless customised tip and they had a useless customised butt!

 

Years later, long after Zziplex had moved on to the 2500 and Dream Machines, I met rod-builder Mike Oliver through BASS and persuaded him to part with six 1005 blanks he'd been stashing in his loft. My friend Dave Barnes took two of them and I made up two more for other friends, leaving myself with two. One had a standard 4' carbon butt and the other was a long-butt version. I made that one up first and didn't really like it much. It seemed slightly cumbersome and a bit floppy compared to my original.

 

Now I've put a hacksaw to the long butt and re-rung the tip; and made up the standard butt blank that I'd never done anything with. They seem very nice and I'm looking forward to giving them a whirl later in the year.

 

Photos. My first ever double figure cod, winter 1981/82 taken on my original Zzippy 1005 from Milford shingle bank in Hampshire - I had to cycle to the station to catch the train to Southampton then change trains to New Milton then cycle again to get to the beach. I had to pack up in time to get the last train back and  I remember having to dump the foam mat I took to sit on to make room for the cod in the pannier bag on my bike! Then the best shot I can find showing the original 1005, a modest bass in April 1983 from the River Beaulieu low water channel where it cuts in close to Lepe Beach in Hampshire  - we were there early in the tide and I had to drag the bass across several yards of the gloopiest mud ...

Last of the completed renovations is a Daiwa light carp rod that Sylvi bought me for my 30th birthday, err ... 31 years ago. The transfer with the model number has long since worn away but it has a test curve about 1.5lbs and it was 12' long.

 

Soon after I had it I took about ten inches off the butt which was over-long, sticking out behind when holding the rod and getting in the way for striking when sitting on the beach. At the time I was mainly using it for bassing, fishing baits close in to the waterline on the steep shingle beaches outside the mouth of Portsmouth Harbour.

 

Later we moved to Hayling Island and the rod became my weapon of choice for hauling big mullet out from under the pontoons of the marina there. I even caught a few carp on it when I was invited to fish a little syndicate water near Chichester by my late mate Paul Stent, in return for showing him my tope mark.

 

Since we moved to Ireland it has become my go-to rod for dangling a float round the rocks here on Sheep's Head, catching pollack and wrasse and those triggers last summer that now seem so long ago.

 

Photos. Hayling marina mullet on the Daiwa carp rod, summer 2004; a rare carp fishing foray at Birdham near Chichester, West Sussex, autumn 2008; Sheep's Head trigger fish, summer 2019 ...

Works in progress - both my main beachcasters. The Shimano Antares is partly rebuilt but now waiting some parts from UK; as is the Zziplex 3500 that I have only just started stripping back. More on these later.

 

I've been getting the rod parts mostly from guidesnblanks.com who have a brilliant range of rings, reel seats, shrink tube, epoxy etc - though their postal rates to Ireland are crippling so I've been using the An Post AddressPal service which takes a day or two longer but is much more economic.

 

There are some nice late afternoon and early evening tides this week and the east wind we have at the moment looks set to fall light midweek. IFI issued clarification on 17th April that fishing is acceptable as personal exercise for "brief periods" within 2km of home, walking not driving to the venue which would be interpreted as non-essential travel. To be honest I wouldn't want to be out at the moment anywhere in proximity with people but that's hardly an issue for an hour session here on Sheep's Head where you can fish whole days without seeing a soul at the best of times. I may just be tempted out for a quick go on the offchance of an April mullet.

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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...

It was a much nicer day today. The morning had passed with just the occasional jogger, cyclist and dog-walker coming by on the road, but during the afternoon a steady procession of family groups came out in the sunshine for their Sunday exercise. Most kept a sensible social distance but I started to feel uncomfortable about the sheer numbers of them. I'd caught my March mullet and didn't fancy catching covid-19, so decided to pack up early.

 

On the 24th I headed up to Kerry and spent the day in splendid isolation on the rocks hoping for some more spurdogs. I started at a new mark but though it looked the business it soon revealed itself as a bit of a snag-pit. I was catching into a reef that was hidden underwater nearly every retrieve and it seemed to span right across the front of the mark. I wasn't sure at all if I'd be able get a fish out over that and after my third set of lost gear decided to up sticks to a well-tested spot nearby. The fishing was much easier as expected but I'd missed the best part of the tide and blanked apart from a couple of small LSDs.

 

Any plans for a return visit - or any fishing at all - went onto indefinite hold later in the week as stricter anti-virus restrictions were introduced, seemingly in response to the less than sensible crowd behaviour across the country the previous weekend. No non-essential travel and only "brief exercise" within 2km of home means fishing is out, and rightly too under the dreadful circumstances.

 

Stay safe please everyone, and I'll try to keep something ticking over on here during the lockdown.

 

 

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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 ...

Now I like catching the huss and I especially like their bristling attitude, but you can have too much of a good thing and my mind wandered to other possibilities for the next weather window. Mullet fishing seemed out of the question in the prevailing conditions. The IFI specimen list was published and I noticed several of the big spurdog caught in Co Kerry last year were taken in March  ... the traditional season is later, April into May, but might it be worth a try in February?

The first opportunity arose on the 23rd. It was a grey old day with outbreaks of rain but the wind was north-west and my rock was sheltered by the hillside behind. Although the swell was 3 - 4 metres outside, not too much was running up the bay so it was eminently fishable. The water was a dreadful colour though and I wasn't too hopeful. But still, I was there now ...

 

Second cast I had a good pull on a squid/mackerel cocktail on my left-hand rod. It was a much livelier fish than the average huss, zipping powerfully from side to side and even taking a little line off the drag. Eventually a spurdog surfaced close in, and it looked massive compared to the ones I'd had last year. I had a reef of rock in the water just in front of me but I managed to manoeuvre the spur into the gully on my side, intending to steer it along the gully then slide it out onto the rocks. Unfortunately a bigger swell came in and took the fish back with it over the reef. That was a bit nerve-wracking but I steered it round for another go and this time everything worked out. The scales hovered just either side of 14lbs as steady I could hold them, my best spurdog by a mile ...

It was still early in the tide and I was hopeful of getting more spurs, but that wasn't to be.

 

 About three hours later I had a persistent bite on a double sandeel bait. Instead of the expected LSD, a small thornback emerged from the depths. It was only a 2 - 3lb, a good 10lbs or more below my thornback PB, but it was the first I'd had in Ireland so some kind of milestone.

 

A few minutes later a very similar bite yielded the expected LSD. The rain had really set in now and was getting heavier, with rainwater running out of every orifice on the hill behind and trickling across the rocks. It seemed a good time to call it a day.

I was back on the 27th, a much nicer day, spring-like even. The water had cleared significantly but unfortunately another problem manifested itself as I was setting up in the shape of three scallop dredgers working close inshore. They persisted much of the day, working over and over the same ground. Two stayed just barely out of range but one repeatedly swung off his line in close to the promontory I was on, sometimes so close I could have lobbed rocks onto his deck. 

I'm not really sure what his problem was or what point he was trying to make, but I wasn't about to move having invested the time and effort into getting to the spot. I thought it was pretty churlish behaviour but it wasn't even that much inconvenience having to wind in every thirty minutes or so which is pretty much what I'd have been doing anyway to change the baits.

 

Fishing-wise it was quiet the three hours down to low water then an hour back. It was already past the state of the tide I'd had the spur last time and I was beginning to fear the worst when my left-hand rod tip lurched down. This turned out to be a spur about 9 - 10lbs and everything went well till I started sliding it out onto the rocks - suddenly it was off, sliding back and bolting away into the depths. I was gutted to put it mildly after the long wait and dredger-hassle, but fortunately redemption was not long in coming. On the very next cast I was in again and this time the spur hung on. It was a nice fish but obviously well shy of my PB so I didn't weigh it, estimated 10lbs+ ...

Soon after the scallop dredgers finally moved off for the day. The fishing went quiet again. I ran out of sandeels and ran out of the mackerel I'd been using to make up the mackerel/squid cocktails that both spurs had taken, but I still had plenty of squid left. I decided on a last hour with whole squid baits on both rods. This hour proved to be busy ...

 

The first pure squid bait was taken within five minutes, while I was still lashing on the one for my other rod. This felt a heavy fish which thumped away till I had it under the rod tip, then it spat out the bait. Ten minutes later, a repeat performance on the next bait on the same rod but this one let go a little further out. The hook point was clear on both occasions so I guess it was just a case of the fish clamping their jaws onto the wrong part of the squid. This is typical huss behaviour and I'd like to think both fish were huss, but I have a nagging thought they may have been big spurs. 

Twenty minutes later, I had a more rattly sort of bite on the other rod that came to nothing.

 

All a bit frustrating ... I had a last cast on each rod with my last two squid, had another rattling bite back on the first rod, and landed my second spur of the day, a smaller male fish about 7 - 8lbs.

 

I packed up feeling I could have done better but overall it had been an enjoyable session despite the losses and the unwanted company for a good part of it. Two target-species fish landed in pleasant weather conditions can't be all that bad.

 

As I write Storm Jorge is lashing hail against our windows and the unsettled spell looks set to carry on into March. We are off to UK for family visits shortly and hopefully it will settle down while we're away.

 

 

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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 ...

And so on into February, and I was back on the 1st with a mission to catch a mullet, any mullet, which would bring my tally to 24 months consecutive catching since March 2018.

 

It was a fairly horrible day, overcast with a cold westerly wind raking across the water and, unsurprisingly under the circumstances, no fish showing. I settled for the relative comfort of fishing from the wall on the west side with the wind off my back, but after four hours I'd not had a bite and I'd only seen one (possible) mullet swirl.

 

In the last hour of daylight the wind started to ease and with the water shallowing off I started to see mullet. Most were way out of range along the fringe of the mudbank in the middle of the pool but a smaller group was showing in front of the shingle area east of the bridge arch. I headed over there, jumped down the wall and was soon set up for what turned out to be a frustrating hour with mullet swimming all round my baits but no sign of a proper take. The only movements on the tips were two very obvious line bites, the quivers pulling round slowly then springing back as the line pinged off the mullet's dorsal fin. I regretted not moving earlier - okay they weren't feeding now but probably they'd have had a short feeding spell some time earlier in the day.

I was back yesterday on the 4th, a much nicer day to be out, very spring-like indeed.

 

The mullet present on my last trip would have been trapped in the pool on a very neap set of tides and they now had formed a single shoal that was very visible in the calm and sunny conditions. They were very skittish, probably because they were being regularly harrassed by one or more of several cormorants lurking around the pool. The otters had also been having a go overnight, with some success.

 

I fished off the grass by the bridge and had the shoal over or near my baits on and off throughout the day. I had lots of knocks and taps on the tips but disappointingly nothing I could strike. I think most or all of the indications were line bites as the shoal moved past; they just weren't feeding properly and a second blank February trip resulted.

I looked at the weather forecast last evening and it wasn't great news - getting gradually windier leading up to Storm Ciara at the weekend and what looked a protracted unsettled spell to follow. It wasn't obvious when (or if) it would be fishable again in February and I doubted if the mullet would hang around in the rough weather once they could escape on the bigger tides. So I decided I'd better head back today before it got too bad.

 

I was greeted by a moderate breeze from the south, usually a good wind direction though there was a chilly edge on it today especially when the sun disappeared behind a cloud. The mullet shoal was less visible in the gentle lop but showed itself from time to time, mostly off to the east of the bridge arch. I decided I could reach them from the corner of the grass by the bridge so I set up there.

 

The shoal seemed more settled, possibly because all but a couple of the cormorants had disappeared overnight, but the mullet were still not feeding well. I had a few gentle pulls on the tips that I was fairly sure were actual interest in the baits not just line bites. Interestingly they would come within a minute or so of casting, almost as if the mullet were sampling the newly arrived bait but deciding against ... I struck at a few but apart from briefly feeling one fish, no luck.

 

Then, just after I'd finished my lunch, one hung on properly - the rig had barely settled after casting out a fresh bait when the tip pulled round. No strike was needed - I grabbed the rod and was into a lively fish. It scrapped well and I certainly took it easy - I really wanted to land this fish after about fifteen blank hours and no guarantee I'd get another chance today or even this month. 

 

After five minutes or so it was in the net. 3lb 14oz but most importantly a February mullet to top off a run lasting two years ...

 

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Tue

04

Feb

2020

Mostly Huss

The mullet fishing proved slow through January and into February so I dusted off the big rods and made the effort to get out a few times.

 

The rocks on the Bantry Bay side of Sheep's Head were quiet as often seems to be the case this time of year. I tried two sessions a fortnight apart in January but these produced only a few small LSDs, a strap conger, a couple of dropped runs and just the one decent huss, a typically dark specimen just over 10lbs. The successful bait was a popped-up mackerel head.

I spent one blustery evening early in the month on the pier local here. It's a handy spot sheltered from westerly winds and straight into deep water. Normally I'd have the place to myself this time of year and it couldn't be easier fishing from the back of the car ...

I put out a couple of big baits for huss and conger and, on a lighter rod, a two-hook paternoster with small mackerel and sandeel baits to see what else might be about.

 

It was slow at first, then a little flurry of activity. A small pollack came out on the scratching rig, then a tiny conger. I was just unhooking that when a stuttering run came on one of the big rods.

 

A decent pollack around 4lbs had picked up the squid bait, an unexpected bonus.

I'd barely dealt with the pollack when the tip of the scratching rod was rattling again before pulling firmly over. I grabbed the rod and could tell straightaway what had happened - with two good big baits to choose from, a huss had decided to snap up half a small sandeel on a size 4 Aberdeen instead!

The huss put up a good scrap on the lighter rod, pulling over to the right and picking up one of my other lines. At some stage it bit through the hooklength but it was so comprehensively trussed up in the rest of the rig by then I still landed it. I didn't weigh it but it looked a little bigger than the one I'd had on the rocks, and it was nice to get a leopard-effect one. I presume the paler colouration goes with the cleaner ground in front of the pier.

 

A quiet hour followed and I was just thinking of packing up when one of the ratchets went. This turned out to be a strap conger maybe 5lbs. It had made a meal of the bait; I managed to unhook it okay and return it but the rig was such a mess it made my mind up about leaving. The wind from behind was threatening to blow me off the pier anyway as Storm Brendan wound itself up for the next day.

I was out again last evening for another go, a strange sort of session with a quiet start and a quiet end sandwiching ninety minutes of hectic activity in which I landed five LSDs and five huss and missed other runs.

 

A couple of the huss were only really doggie-sized, the other three estimated between 6lbs and 10lbs, all the paler colour again.

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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.

My Facebook friend Jason arrived soon after. I was just saying to him that I hadn't seen a fish move all morning apart from the one I'd hooked when mullet started flanking in the flow out from the lagoon just to our left. It quickly became apparent there were scores of fish there, all looking around 2lbs - 3lbs.

As the tide dropped away we could see shoals of mullet over much of the pool, with odd fish topping and occasionally fish boiling over a large area, spooked as a big bird flew over or a hunting cormorant took up pursuit.

 

For the most part these fish weren't feeding well and for long periods we couldn't get a strikeable bite despite getting plenty of tiny knocks on the tips, either line bites or fish just pecking at our baits.

 

Then once in a while a fish would hang on. I had another four spaced through the afternoon all between 2:08 and 3:01. Jason hooked a similar number but only landed a couple I think. They were not big fish but they all seemed to be fresh in from the sea and fighting fit, and the scraps they gave made for a very enjoyable time.

 

 

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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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