Sheep's Head Fishing Blog

 

 

 

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2019

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.
4:02 from the Last Chance saloon
4:02 from the Last Chance saloon

October started with a calm couple of days before the arrival of ex-hurricane Lorenzo which was threatening chaos on Ireland's west coast.

 

On the 1st I headed down onto the Mizen peninsula and fished the shallow flats of my favourite estuary there with the leger rods. I arrived with the first hint of dawn in the sky on a wonderfully peaceful morning. It was a big tide so there was enough depth for a long session.

 

An hour in, as the sun broke above some cloud low on the eastern horizon, I had a drop-back bite and struck into a powerful fish which fortunately tended to head left not towards the water thundering through the bridge arches to my right. After a good scrap I had it out, a lovely 4:11. I soon added a smaller mullet of a couple of pounds. The expected lull over the slack water extended into the ebb. 

 

As the water shallowed up I wasn't seeing any mullet activity apart from shoals of fry-size fish. I packed up and was actually started walking back to the car when I saw a large whelm over my groundbait in the area I'd been fishing. I hurriedly unpacked one of the rods again and cast out ... too accurately as it turned out, I must have landed the rig right on top of the fish which departed with a large splash and a bow wave! I thought I'd probably blown the chance but I left the line out and made up the landing net just in case the fish came back, and ten minutes later I had a nodding bite that I converted into a chunky 4:02 thicklip on the bank.

On the 2nd I went down onto the low water rocks in Bantry Bay. There were a load of mullet finning on the surface, mostly small but a few bigger ones among them.

 

I was getting bites from the off, and soon had a pound-size mullet on. I tried to bully it out of the swim but succeeded only in pulling the hook. Bites resumed but seemed to be getting more and more finnicky with each cast - I missed several then had another pounder but neatly hooked in one of its ventral fins.

 

More finnicky bites then finally one that sunk the Puddlechucker float properly. This was a strong fish that threatened to get into the kelp reefs to my left then right, but eventually I got it under control and into the net. It was another 4:02, and quite a significant one from my point of view as it eliminated the last three-pounder from my Top Ten list. The Top Ten is a National Mullet Club annual competition for the aggregate weight of ten fish with only four maximum allowed from any one venue.

 

I continued to see mullet in fair numbers throughout the session but they really weren't showing much interest. I had plenty of bites as the tide started to make but all mackerel, including the Atlantic chub mackerel I posted about already.

That evening I went out onto the rocks near Kilcrohane, trying a couple of marks nearby each other. 

 

There was already a swell running ahead of Lorenzo and this seemed to be growing by the minute as high water approached. I didn't stay long but had a few pollack.

 

Most were disappointingly small fish of around a pound but  one retrieve just before I'd decided to abandon the session was stopped dead as a weightier fish grabbed the pink firetail redgill. After a short tussle I had a pollack around 4lbs in the net, one to take home for a fish and chips supper.

Lorenzo turned out to be a bit overhyped as it passed up the coast a couple of hundred miles out to sea before taking a right turn and making landfall well to the north of us. Still, it heralded the arrival of a wet and windy spell of weather that is still ongoing.

On the 6th I headed to Rosscarbery to check out the form in advance of Steve Smith's visit later in the week. The water was a little coloured but not too bad. I set up under the brolly on the grass by the bridge, casting leger baits into a fairly large clear patch in the lettuce weed.

I missed a good take early on but before long I had a nodding bite on my left hand rod and struck into a very lively fish. It put up a proper give and take scrap at long range before succumbing and kiting in to the rocks to my right where I netted it.

 

It was a lovely 4:09 thicklip and I was just letting it recover in a shallow gully when my Facebook friend Jason arrived to fish to my  left.

 

Jason was barely set up and fishing when my left hand rod lurched over violently and I was into a more powerful fish that ploughed off out and left through his swim! It went way out but then became a dead weight. After a lot of pumping and winding I had it back under my rod tip accompanied as expected by a large lump of lettuce weed. Jason expertly netted the mullet, weed and all. It was a pristine fish of 5lb 4oz ...

A chilly west wind sprang up and apart from one small mullet for Jason, the fishing went quiet. 

 

Jason packed up and left but soon after, despite the heavy ripple, I started seeing mullet moving in my swim occasionally so I decided to stay a while longer.

 

Soon I had a good take on my right hand rod and landed a thicklip just an ounce shy of 4lbs. It was success at the first attempt for a new variation on my pop-up crust technique. I'll write about it in more detail later after more trials.

On Tuesday 8th I collected my old friend Steve Smith from Cork Airport at the start of his second trip over this year. The weather forecast was, frankly, a bit grim with strong west winds and outbreaks of rain predicted with just a hint of something better for the weekend. However, the worst of the rain seemed to have passed for today so we headed down to Rosscarbery for a short session on the way back to Sheep's Head.

 

We soon had two leger lines each out, watching the four tips being buffeted by the wind from the shelter of the brolly. The first hour passed as the water level slowly dropped away on the early ebb tide. Then Steve's left hand tip pulled round as a mullet took the bait that was fishing quite close in, He grabbed the rod and was into a good fish. I took some action snaps and was just getting the net ready when one of my rods pulled over hard in the rest, and I was in too! Steve had to net his own fish and a few minutes later I beached mine over to our right. Steve's was a chunky 4:09, mine smaller at 3:05 ...

Twenty minutes later, Steve was in again on his other rod, and hooked into a stronger fish that went right out and gave a great scrap all the way in. A lovely 5:00 thicklip rounded off a great opening session to his trip ...

Wednesday we had strong west winds with heavy squally showers. We headed straight back to Rosscarbery and got dug in under the brolly. We had bites sporadically through most of the day, well I did more than Steve to be fair. The fish seemed to be holding just a little bit further out today, and Steve was struggling a little for casting range in the windy conditions. I finished with four mullet over 4lbs to a best of 5:09, while Steve added a 4:13 to the total ...

Towards evening the wind dropped and the weather fined off. All was good as the sun set behind the brolly ...

Sadly the briefly improved conditions passed by overnight. We were greeted on Thursday morning by an even fresher west wind with heavy persistent rain due later in the day. We had a quick look at Castletownshend but the water was quite coloured and there was no sign of mullet for the hour or so we fished around the quay area.

As the rain arrived we left for a warming bowl of soup at the Church Cafe in Skibbereen, then along the N71 to hunker down at Rosscarbery again.

 

The conditions were pretty dire to be honest, and I was surprised to get a good pull first cast. Unfortunately the fish came off after a couple of seconds. A short while later I was in again and this time the fish held on, a 3:09 that I was pleased with under the circumstances.

 

I told Steve to take the next fish whoever's rod the bite came on, and after an hour watching the tips rattling in the wind, one of mine pulled right round. Steve grabbed the rod but somehow the mullet avoided hooking itself and the chance was gone. The session petered out as the rain lashed the brolly, till it eased off slightly and we decided to pack up before the next deluge arrived.

Friday we had a slow start to recover from the battering we'd had from the elements over the previous three days, then headed for a local pier for a bit of light relief from the mulleting. Steve fished a float with sandeel and mackerel baits. It was hardly mackerel weather with a cold, blustery wind off our backs but he had plenty of bites and a few mackerel out, also rather more pollack including a some decent ones for the venue. I stuck it out with bottom baits but only had a dogfish and a small but typically uncooperative huss ...

Saturday morning was curiously calm, and we decided to have a look at the low water rocks in Bantry Bay. It was swellier than I'd have liked, and we had to wait a while to get onto the mark, but when we did it was just about fishable.

 

We fished the tide down with only a mackerel each to show for our efforts. No mullet were showing on the surface and it looked like they may not have returned to the area yet after all the rough weather of the last few days. Just before low water Steve's float dipped and he struck. Instead of the expected mackerel a decent mullet swirled on the surface, and proceeded to give him a merry fight on his light float rod. The fish weighed a respectable 3:04 and he soon added smaller fish of 2:06 and 1:13 to make a nice little session for him ...

It went oddly quiet after low water, and a light west breeze sprang up to make the fishing tricky. My only chance came just as we were getting forced off by the swell, a small mullet that came off anyway after a few seconds.

We headed down onto the Mizen and had a nice light lunch at O'Sullivan's in Crookhaven, then moved on to a nearby estuary mark.

 

We had a couple of hours to fish in the deep pool by the bridge arch until the new tide started pouring through but unfortunately there didn't seem to be many fish in residence today.

 

I didn't get a bite but Steve's float eventually dipped ... a small but perfectly formed thicklip.

 

The main event though was to be leger fishing the flats lower down the estuary over the high water.

This almost went to script. We had a little flurry of bites over twenty minutes or so just before the tide peaked. 

 

First I had a fish of 3:06 that gave a drop-back bite. Steve missed a take while I was playing it, then I missed a good pull within a few seconds of my new bait hitting the water. A few minutes later I was in again, a slightly bigger fish of 3:13.

 

It was a nice little session, but it was a pity Steve missed his only chance and a pity we ran out of daylight before the ebb flow kicked in, as I think we'd have had more if we could have stayed.

 

Sunday was Steve's last fishing day and it was reasonably benevolent weather again, dry and just the little west breeze that had kicked up yesterday to make life a bit awkward. We went down to the rocks in Bantry Bay again, full of expectation of a few more mullet after Steve's fish yesterday. Alas it was not to be - we packed up after three hours with just four chunky mackerel and a few missed bites to show for our efforts. We'd seen a few fish on the surface but I couldn't work out if they were small mullet playing hard to get or mackerel. A lazy afternoon and a nice meal out in Bantry rounded off Steve's time in Ireland this year.

My October fishing is going to be cut short by a combined family/work trip to UK, so I wanted to get out a couple of times this week.

 

Yesterday I went down to Mizen again, arriving on the early morning high water to leger the flats. I did have three mullet as the tide dropped away, but they were all small and it didn't seem any bigger fish had come up with the tide.

 

Today I fished what turned into quite a dour session at Rosscarbery, the west wind and squalls quite reminiscent of the trips last week with Steve but without the numbers of mullet present. I had a few knocks on the tips that didn't come to anything, probably small fish. I only saw one decent mullet move, that right over my groundbait and five seconds later it was yanking my rod over and splashing on the surface. It ran out strongly then threw the hook, the only chance of the day gone as it turned out.

 

 

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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 ...

 

It is an Atlantic chub mackerel, Scomber colias, formerly known as a Spanish mackerel though use of that name is now discouraged to avoid confusion with Spanish mackerel of the genus Scomberomorus which are much bigger and toothier animals such as the Atlantic Spanish mackerel found in the Gulf of Mexico and on the Atlantic coast of the USA.

 

The chub mackerel seems to be a rare capture in Ireland (though I'd guess it sometimes goes unrecognised for what it is) and it isn't even an eligible species on the IRFC record list. Other reported captures all seem to be boat-caught, such as one in Sligo Bay in 2018 that prompted this item on the Off The Scale online angling magazine website.

 

I'd hazard a guess nobody else has ever caught one on bread flake fished eighteen inches deep!

 

 

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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. 

What followed was a really enjoyable session of addictive bite-a-trot action. Yes, most of the mullet were small, the fish being less than two pounds and a few barely making a pound. They do pull your string though on light float tackle and it was nice trying all the permutations of surface bait, slow-sinking bait, fishing shallow, fishing deep ... but today it really didn't make much difference.

 

Striking into mullet number 13, the rod took on a fierce curve as the fish powered off across the pool and it was clear I'd latched onto one of the few bigger individuals present. After a prolonged scrap I had the net under a chunky 3:08.

After that it was back to the smaller fish. I stopped at twenty for the day. I thought more may have seemed a bit greedy.

 

After a week off for our son's visit over, I was back in fishing just in time for a spell of weather that was forecast dry and sunny, albeit with a freshening east wind.

On the 17th I went down to the low water rocks in Bantry Bay in just about perfect conditions, to find a big shoal of mullet finning on the surface, some of them large fish.

 

I was getting interest from the very first cast fishing bread flake shallow, and soon I hooked up. It was a lively fish but evidently not one of the bigger ones. I soon had it out, estimated it at 2lbs and dropped it gently into a large rock pool behind to recover and await its release by the flood tide.

 

There were still plenty of fish showing. I missed a couple of bites, struck another and ... crack ... the top half of my lovely Drennan Acolyte Plus float rod sort of got left behind as I lifted the butt. I  stared at it dumbfounded, then was brought back to reality as the float shot away, the fish hooked itself and the rod tip slid off down the line into the sea!

Probably fortunately, the fish came off as I started to play it on the rod butt and I was able to retrieve everything.

 

I was now in a quandary - perfect conditions, perfect state of the tide, mullet everywhere and a three piece rod now in four pieces and not much use! I hastily packed up, hurried back to the car and dashed 20 minutes home to get another float rod.

 

After a hiatus of an hour, I was back, tackled up and fishing again. The effort proved worthwhile ...

 

The mullet were still there, and I was soon in again. First a stocky 3:15 on bread and then a lovely fish of 4:10 (in the net photo) on salmon flesh which was the second biggest I've had off this particular mark. Both fought long and hard, really nerve-wracking as on LW on these bigger tdes the kelp is right up to the surface in places.

I had another smaller fish and then it seemed the shoal had moved on with the making tide. Just as I was thinking of packing up, a single large fish started swirling at bits of floating bread about thirty yards downtide. It gradually worked its way closer, I put on a fresh piece of salmon to welcome it to the swim, my float plunged under and I struck in. It looked a similar size of fish to the 4:10, fought at least as long and was still going when the hook came out. A mixed day to be sure! 

 

I've since heard lots of Acolyte disaster stories from various sources ... seems they're a bit prone to sudden failure but as it's been such a nice rod to use I've invested in a new middle section and it will get another chance. I think I'll carry a spare in future though ...

 

A couple of days later, I was back. It was another bright sunny day but there was an east breeze by now and fewer mullet were showing.

 

I took up where I left off by losing another decent fish. This one insisted on diving down and snagged in the kelp a couple of times. It came free on both occasions but it then threw the hook which seemed to have been opened up slightly, presumably by the mullet banging away on a short line while it was tethered to the kelp.

 

Thereafter I had a lot of bites and connected with three mullet, but only smaller ones up to 2:09. A shoal of mackerel rocked up on the start of the flood tide, effectively ending the mullet fishing.

 

I went back the next day to try to make amends for the lost fish, but the east wind was whistling now and no mullet were showing. I missed a bite second trot through but the rest of the session passed without incident till I called it a day at LW.

 

Sandwiched between these trips, on the 18th I travelled down to Rosscarbery for the first time in a while. I set up on the grass near the bridge and although I could see a mullet move now and again, my immediate thought was that today might be a bit of a struggle. The sun was very bright, the water was very clear and only very slightly rippled by a touch of east breeze.

 

It was indeed a struggle, with just two bites in about four hours fishing, a little drop back which I struck and a massive pull round which I didn't need to. Two decent fish though, a 4:13 and a 5:00 ...

On the way home I called in a spot near Castletownshend. There were a few nice mullet moving in and out of the patches of bladderwrack as the tide made over the muddy shingle foreshore. I waded out and fished a clearish patch of water on float, but couldn't get the fish taking bread. After about an hour I had to leave, dumped in the contents of my bait bucket, turned to go and two nice mullet were suddenly gulping down the floating bread as fast as they could! I hurriedly baited up again and cast out, the float settled a couple of yards from one of the fish then immediately slid away as, presumably, the other fish took the bait. I missed the bite and with it the chance of catching, the feeding frenzy was gone as if nothing had happened.

On the 22nd I was back at Rosscarbery. It was a Sunday and quite a few anglers were out fishing at various spots at the top of the estuary pool, so I ended up well down the west bank. I was fishing very shallow water, but I don't mind that, especially if I can see a few mullet moving around as I could today.

 

The biggest problem looked to be the lettuce weed. Although the wind had now gone westerly, the week of easterlies we'd just had had pushed large patches of the stuff over this side of the pool. I could aim for the clearer areas but ultimately it would be a bit of a lottery where the bait would land. 

 

I tied slightly longer traces on my leger rigs in case I landed the rig in weed, so hopefully the crust bait might pop up above the weed carpet. Then I baited up and cast out my first rod, and I hadn't even finished my other bait when the first was taken and I caught sight of the tip nodding out of the corner of my eye. I struck and hooked what seemed a respectable fish, but it came off about two-thirds of the way in.

 

A longish quiet spell followed. High tide came and went without another bite but as is so often the way, getting out my sandwiches and pouring a cup of coffee seemed to spark some mullet interest. In fairly short order I had out a couple of fish either side of 3lbs ...

A Chinese family of at least three generations walked by as I was landing the second fish. They stopped to watch and Grandad insisted my fish was a sea bass, even after I told them it was a mullet. It didn't seem worth arguing about but I made a show of putting it back to their general disbelief.

 

A quiet hour later, my left hand rod lunged over and a mullet splashed out of the water fifty yards distant having hooked itself. This was obviously a much better fish that ran off strongly and fought all the way back in. Landing it was complicated by the rubber stop I use behind the leger weight (to give semi-bolt rig properties) having slid up the line way further than it normally does even with very violent takes - I guess the lead must have been really dug in as the fish ran line out. When the stop jammed in the quivertip top eye, the mullet was only just barely in reach with my net. I managed to get it though, eventually. It was a lovely 5:07 ...

In another comedy passerby incident, a walker chanced by just as I was finally getting the net under the fish. "They don't fight that hard then," was the comment. I was a bit nonplussed but told him he should have seen the other ten minutes.

 

The swim was getting very shallow now and there were no fish moving, so I decided to move on and fish a spot near Glandore on the way home, a swim I hadn't fished for four or five years. It looked good and the float was trotting through perfectly, but there was no sign of a fish. I decided I'd pack up at 6.00pm after about an hour fishing. At 5.58pm a large mullet swirled at a piece of floating bread, did a lap of the swim and promptly disappeared. It didn't come back but I thought I'd give it another half hour. At 6.29pm my float shot under near the end of the trot - missed it! I gave it a few more runs but no repeat. I've no idea if that was a mullet or not but as last time I left feeling I could and should have done better.

 

After a wet and windy few days I was back at Rosscarbery today, a bright but blustery day. There were shoals of small mullet about but I couldn't find any larger fish, so I took pot luck on the grass by the bridge and set up there. 

While I was fishing I started seeing fish splashing about way out on the fringe of the sandbank, especially when a bird flew over and spooked them. After three hours they hadn't shown any sign of coming closer and I hadn't had a bite so I decided to pack away the leger rods and try on the float in the lagoon.

 

I fished by the Activity Centre on one of their little piers, and soon had a reasonable mullet swirling in the swim at odd bits of floating bread. I started getting bites fishing flake a foot deep, but I'm guessing the mullet was just pushing the bait along because I missed a string of them. Eventually it took the bread properly and I was in, no monster at 2:10 but I was pleased to get it out on a difficult day.

 

 

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Mon

02

Sep

2019

Triggers and Other Fish

I'd never caught a trigger fish ... the closest I'd come was hooking one on bread on my mullet gear in a Hampshire marina basin, but the blighter bit through my trace as it neared the net.

 

I've known a while they're present sometimes on one of the more sheltered rock marks here on Sheep's Head; one of the locals told me about them and though he misidentified them as Ray's bream I guessed what they were. I'd never got round to doing anything about it, but when my regular blog reader Stephen texted me to say one of his friends had caught some genuine confirmed triggers down there I decided enough was enough.

 

On the next calmish spell of weather, I collected some big mussels on Durrus shore and headed for the rocks, arriving just after low water. I've known triggers (apart from my nearly one) caught on bread by mullet anglers so I guessed they might be responsive to a bit of groundbait. I ladled in sloppy mashed bread with a few crushed mussels close in to the rocks every few minutes. I was fishing mussel on the hook on light float tackle, with just a few turns of bait elastic round the eye of the hook to hold the soft mussel flesh in place.

 

First bite was a small wrasse, next a wrasse just slightly larger. Then I had a funny little bobbing bite - I struck, missed, wound in and two trigger fish followed the bait up out of the depths! I dangled the bait in front of them and they both had a go at it. One took it properly but I struck the bait out of its mouth somehow. Fresh mussel on and I dropped the bait back down. This time the bobbing bite developed into something more decisive and I hooked my first trigger ...

They certainly zip around fast through the water, though I felt without any great sense of direction and without much stamina. A very enjoyable session ensued but I've got to say that when survival instinct was being handed out, triggers didn't get their fair share. They keep coming back for another go no matter how many times you pull the bait away from them; I netted one and its mate just swam right in along with it!

After an hour the mayhem was over. I wasn't sure if I'd caught them all or if the tide and swell now pushing round the corner into the bay moved them on ... whichever, they were replaced by pollack and some pretty wrasse up to a couple of pounds.

I haven't done any dedicated wrasse fishing this year. I must get round to it, but probably I'll save it to October when Steve is back. Most of my time on the rocks this summer has been directed at pollack, albeit that's been somewhat limited by my mullet-fanatic guests and several rough spells of weather. The video shows fairly typical conditions on the rocks here...

It seems to be a good year for pollack, lots of fish in the 2 - 3lbs class and most trips a bigger fish or two of 4 - 5lbs. I've lost a couple of larger fish - one hooked at range that plunged down into the kelp, one that slashed at the Redgill just as I was lifting it up through the water at the end of the retrieve, wallowed briefly on the surface then crashed down snapping the 20lb fluoro trace. The few I've kept for eating have, surprisingly, mostly contained smaller pollack around three inch size in their guts. I have a germ of a livebaiting idea ... something else I must get round to.

Bantry Airport Strand is something of a nemesis for me: home of lost tackle, monumental blanks, massive doggie-fests and never a sniff of one of the thornbacks or bull huss the place is known for. I've more-or-less given up on it, but I was encouraged back today by Stephen's recent message that he'd caught a thornback there in a small club match with five caught in all.

 

Anyway, it turned into a relatively successful trip by my standards. Still no sign of a thornback but I only lost two sets of gear, didn't go arse over head on the cobblestones and caught some fish that weren't actually dogfish! 

 

It was shaping up into the normal doggie glut when a shoal of mackerel happened by and starting picking up the bottom baits - not taking on the retrieve, proper rattly bites that broke the lead out. Then suddenly I was into a decent fish - a huss around 9lbs that I managed not to lose in the rocks and weed close in.

Sylvi had huss and chips at a restaurant recently and is after me to top one for her. I had a chat with the huss about this and the huss wasn't too keen on the idea, so back she went.

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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 ...

 

 

It was difficult to get the bait on the correct drift and even then it was only in the taking zone for a few seconds but eventually I got it right and a fish popped out to take my crust as it reached the bow of the boat. There followed a lively scrap but the fish was only a couple of pounds or so and I soon had it on the surface. A very helpful chap was just departing the pontoon in a small dinghy for a fishing trip and kindly diverted to net the fish for me then take it back to the pontoon!

 

Having unhooked, photographed and returned the fish I went back for another look. Slightly to my surprise I could still see mullet in residence and I soon had another one on, this time fishing flake a foot deep. Though not huge, it was a bit bigger fish and managed to touch the trace against one of the piles, game over.

 

I went back to my kit on the pontoon to tie on a new hook and returned just in time to see a procession of mullet streaming out from under the boat and taking station out of range mid-river as the tide started to make. I'd never have believed there could have been so many under there, there must have been fifty or sixty shoulder-to-shoulder under the little boat.

 

Mike had only had one bite on the pontoon and was no longer seeing fish. We decided to head back for Rosscarbery but we couldn't locate any fish there - I decided to head home leaving Mike waiting for the new tide to arrive in the pool there.

 

On 3rd August, Mike moved up to stay with us for a week on Sheep's Head. It was great to welcome him back and especially looking so well after a serious illness and open heart surgery over the winter. The weather however was less welcoming. We headed straight down onto the rocks in Bantry Bay but it was choppier than ideal ...

... and the wind never really relented during the week. We persisted on the rocks for a low water session each afternoon and did catch most days. Mike had the biggest fish of dead on 4lbs. The rest were mostly 2lbs-odd, on the small side but nonetheless a good scrap on float tackle.

A couple of the morning high waters on better days we ventured down onto the Mizen peninsula to fish my favourite estuary there, legering over the extensive sand flats. There were a few fish around but we didn't get many takes. I was lucky enough to win the lottery both days with nice thicklips of 4:11 and 4:08 ...

For Mike's last day we headed back to Rosscarbery hoping some mullet would have moved into the estuary pool over the preceding week. We did in fact locate some useful fish down the west side, but we didn't manage to get one before the new tide arrived in the pool and moved them on. It was a crazy windy day and eventually we gave it best and headed home to get ready for a nice meal out in Bantry that evening.

 

A few days later I was back, wanting to keep an eye on the Rosscarbery form ahead of Dave Matthews' visit later in the month. I found some nice fish milling round in the same area where Mick and I had seen them, and this time got one out before they could drift away. It was a long and lean 4:06 taken on pop-up crust as usual.

 

Dave arrived with his partner Jane on 23rd and on Saturday 24th, while Jane was riding with Sylvi, Dave and I drove down to Rosscarbery for his first visit to the iconic venue. We had a good look round, there wasn't much water anywhere on the deadly small neap tide. We met my Facebook friend Dan Smith who was just setting up near the bridge, but in the end we settled on the same area of the west bank where once again there were some decent mullet milling about. We both set up two leger rods, cast out and awaited the action ...

The tide flooded in (just barely) and at its peak I missed a take just as a swan was swimming over one of my lines ... a bit frustrating but at the same time, encouraging.

 

A while later I was in - nothing spectacular but a reasonable thicklip of 3:15 that put up a fair scrap. I followed this up with a smaller one estimated at 2lbs.

 

Dave missed a couple of takes but, after a long lull, finally was into an Irish mullet. It was similar in size to my first fish but unfortunately it dropped off near the edge.

 

We were rapidly running out of water in that swim so as Dan had just packed up by the bridge we moved up there. Dan had blanked and in the hour or so we fished we didn't get a bite worth striking.

 

Overall a disappointing start to Dave's fishing, the more so that this was the first day of NMC'c National Rover competition on the UK bank holiday weekend and it would have been nice to put a contender on the board between us. We'd been joined by Jane and Sylvi during the afternoon and we moved on to an evening meal at the Glandore Inn, only to find Dan at the next table.

Sunday looked the best weather of their week, so Dave and Jane took the opportunity for a long hike along the Sheep's Head north coast. Happily it stayed calm, if cloudier, for their whale-watching trip booked out from Baltimore on Monday. On Tuesday, more horsey stuff for the girls and Dave and I headed back to Rosscarbery. The weather had properly broken - there was a strong west wind and rain in the forecast. We were hoping there'd be fish on the sheltered west bank but we couldn't see any, so we set up on the grass by the bridge - we had a nasty crosswind to contend with but at least we'd be able to get our brollies up when the rain arrived.

Dave took the swim nearest the bridge so he could fish the deepest water there, and I settled a few yards off to his right.

 

I had to fish over a horrible band of lettuce weed that had blown in against the rocks, although in hindsight this possibly was a blessing in disguise. I fancied I could see fish moving occasionally close in, possibly working their way along the edge of the weed band. So I dropped one bait just over, and fished the other at distance as usual.

 

It turned into a good session that started with a 3:13 and finished by a 3:03 both on the close-in rod. Between these I had a lovely brace of 5:02s, one on the distance rod and one close in ...

Dave was getting less action over in his swim, but he missed a knock while I was over chatting with him and had a good pull round bite on the next cast. He was in!

 

It was a steady rather than spectacular scrap. Dave kept it clear of the water pouring under the bridge into the lagoon and soon I was able to get the net under his first Irish mullet. 

 

Remarkably it was another 5:02. We've looked at the photos for evidence that any of them was a repeat capture. My pair seem to be different fish. There are similarities in the tail ray structure between Dave's and one of mine but it's impossible to be sure. Probably they were just shoal mates.

Wednesday was a bright day so Dave and Jane went off on another hike, this time a loop walk along the hill ridges overlooking Kilcrohane. Their week was flying past - we had just Thursday left for fishing and as it seemed to be fishing fairly well now we spent the time back at Rosscarbery. 

 

There was a stiff breeze blowing up the estuary and we started off fishing from the first section of wall where we could see some good fish moving close in and where we could enjoy some degree of shelter from the car.

The fish seemed to move off but we continued seeing them further out and eventually I had a good take. This seemed to be a beast of a fish which took line slowly but inexorably. I began to get a very bad vibe that it was going to find one of the many snags out on the fringe of the mudbank so piled on the pressure to keep its head up ... and the hook pulled out. 

 

I cast that rod again and was just started baiting up the other when I had a massive bite on the first. The line fell slack just as I picked the rod up, and I was dismayed to find the violence of the take had snapped the hook. I said to Dave I think that's the first time I've had a hook break on a mullet in forty years of fishing for them. I was beginning to think this wasn't going to be my day, so perhaps it was a good thing the action shifted over to Dave.

 

Dave missed one take but was in on the next. Given our performance so far, it was a relief to get the net under the fish, a chunky 4:15 as it turned out ...

Our swim there seemed to die after that, so we decided on a last hour or so over by the bridge in the same swims where we'd scored on Tuesday. As the high tide arrived, Dave had fish lined up in front of him in the stream of water flooding into the lagoon, but they seemed more to be enjoying the flow of water than feeding and ultimately he only hooked a smallish one that came off.

 

Meanwhile, I had a couple of good takes just beyond the lettuce weed fringe. The first fish ploughed off along the shore to my right, passing worryingly close to the rocks that were submerged on this big tide. Eventually Dave was able to net it for me, a lovely 5:07. Thirty minutes later, an almost repeat performance ... but the fish turned out to be foul-hooked just under one eye. I weighed it anyway at 5:09 but it doesn't count in my book so no photo. Here's the 5:07 ...

I enjoy fishing on my own well enough but it's always nice to have the company of anglers as capable and friends as affable as Mike and Dave. I hope they'll both be back in 2020.

 

 

 

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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 ...

The lads had matching little Savage Gear spinning rods, and I've got to say they were experts at working lures with them. No surprise really as later on they showed me the pictures on their phones of their freshwater catches back in Germany - some massive perch, zander, pike and other fish you wouldn't normally associate with lures such as barbel and wels catfish.

 

Unfortunately their arrival coincided with a spell of wet and windy weather, and on the first morning the only mark we could fish safely was the pier.

 

While I failed miserably to catch any mackerel, Jonathan had some decent pollack for the venue and his brother Jamil was unlucky to lose a big ballan wrasse hooked close in.

 

Later we tried the rocks on the north side of the peninsula, but the swell was against us and there wasn't much doing in the more sheltered spot we moved to.

Conditions didn't improve much over the week of their stay, with more wet and windy interludes and a swell off the Atlantic that, unusually for summer, didn't drop much below 3m all week ... and all this at a time when the rest of Europe was basking in a heatwave with temperatures up to mid-30s Celsius in UK! The lads fished mostly from the pier, catching more pollack and some big mackerel and losing what sounded like a decent sea trout.

 

It was their final morning before the swell relented enough for me to get them out on the rocks again, and we tried a couple of marks on the north side. The fishing wasn't at its best to be fair but the lads stuck with it and caught some nice fish. Here's Jonathan with another pollack, and Jamil with a wrasse ...

On 2nd August I got out for a short evening session spinning for pollack from the rocks on the south side. The swell conditions were marginal but the mark seemed in good form, with lots of fish in the 2 to 3lbs class, a couple just either side of 5lbs that I kept for eating, and a beauty around 8lbs that unfortunately I lost in the swell at the edge when it ran the trace along the rock before I could get the net to it. Most of the fish took a bubblegum pink Redgill. Interesting colour variation on the two I kept - the bronze one popped up out of the kelp close in to take the redgill, the pale one took much further out, possibly over cleaner ground?

Since then I've been back on the mullet as my old friend Mick Buckley was staying with us - more on this later - but with Mick's departure I was out on the rocks today. I fished a deep mark on the north side ...

... specifically with the intention of bagging up with mackerel which appear to have arrived en masse these last few days after a very patchy season to date. I was into fish from first cast to last, with very few quiet spells. I stopped at 65 which is plenty for eating fresh and into our freezers both as food and bait.

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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 ...

A few minutes later my left hand rod pulled over more decisively and I found myself attached to an obviously weighty fish. It didn't run far but chugged around at range for a while and only came in very grudgingly. It started spotting with rain, ominously large drops, and as I slid the net under what looked a specimen mullet, the heavens opened. I left the fish in the net in the shallows, abandoned my rod, hastily erected the brolly and huddled beneath with Fern Collie as the rain lashed down.

 

My second rod must have been fishing at least half an hour and it was surprising the crust bait was still intact when, at just about peak rainfall, it pulled down hard in the rest and line started stripping off the spool. I grabbed the rod and played the fish as best I could from my seat under the brolly. It was a much livelier fish than the first and ran out strongly, kited left, ran out again, and finally kited in towards the edge to my right. Fortunately the rain had eased by now, so I emerged from shelter and beached the fish. It went 4:14, and the one waiting in the net was 5:04 ...

I got organised again, and soon had two baits back out in the groundbaited area where mullet were still showing from time to time. Soon I was into another good mullet that gave another protracted fight, the fish coming in quite easily but repeatedly surging out again. It was nearly ready for the net when the other rod pulled over ... not much I could do about that for now as I concentrated on getting the first fish in. With that one safely stowed in the net, I ran over to the other rod. The fish had gone way out but fortunately had not found a snag or picked up too much weed on the line. It kited over to the left then, as I brought it closer, it dived into the deep water in front of the bridge arch and spent ages there under the rod tip, banging away. After it surfaced, as my net was occupied, I had to lead it right round to the shallows to the right to beach it. It was a cracker of 6:01 and the other fish in the net was 5:09. Three-and-a-half hours, six mullet, three over specimen weight including a season best to date - what a great session.

Mullet always seem to find a way of bringing you back down to earth. On my next trip to Rosscarbery, in early July, I only managed one bite for the session, albeit a decent fish of 4:13. Next time down, even fewer mullet seemed to be present and again I managed just one bite, but the fish fell off half way in - it felt pretty middling anyway. Next time down, late July now, I lost a much bigger fish - something well over 5lbs and possibly over 6lbs - which I had on for seven or eight minutes till it came off near the net. Quite upsetting and that was also the only bite of the session apart from a pretty little golden grey that chanced along on my bread bait to save me from a blank.

Fortunately the fishing was a bit easier on my home patch. I did a couple of quick low water sessions on the rocks in Bantry Bay, catching three mullet each time - these were only small fish up to around 2lb 12oz, but they gave plenty of bites and scrapped well on float tackle.

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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 ...

On Thursday 16th my old friend Steve Smith arrived for a few days fishing. I collected him from the airport and we called in at Rosscarbery on the way west, for a short session from the shelter of the brolly in heavy rain driven yet again by an easterly breeze. Steve had a couple of knocks but nothing came of them and the numbers of fish present seemed to have declined yet again. Indeed the venue continued to disappoint, with further half-day visits on Saturday morning (lashing with rain again!) and Monday afternoon both blank. On Monday we met one of my blog readers, Pete, who told us that another, Jonny, had had three mullet on Sunday including a brace of five pounders, and indeed there were a few fish showing on Monday. However, we couldn't get much interest in our baits and when I finally got a good take last knockings the fish came off half way in.

 

We looked at a lot of venues over Steve's visit and located mullet at most of them, but feeding activity was fleeting at best and we struggled for bites. Fortunately my favourite rock mark in Bantry Bay bucked the trend and gave us good sport over each of the three low waters we fished it...

We were catching the mullet shallow float-fishing mostly with fish bait. They weren't massive fish, mostly two-pounders with a smattering over 3lbs to a best of 3:10, and each gave a great scrap in the clear water on light tackle.

Highlight of the trip though was at a shallow venue near Glengarriff. We fished there on the Friday afternoon and saw some good-sized mullet, but they weren't feeding well.

 

On Sunday afternoon we were back, and the mullet were back too. Steve crept off and hid himself in the bankside vegetation. He flicked out a flake bait on a 2 swan leger to lie in the shallows surrounded by a few loose offerings, and waited. 

 

Before too long, a decent mullet appeared and started mopping up the bread. It picked up his bait, and Steve was in ...

 

The mullet put up a good fight, repeatedly ploughing off through the shallow water as I worked my way round the bank to do the netting.

 

It was a wonderful 5lb 12oz specimen thicklip, in good condition but a long and lean fish that with more bulk on it could easily have weighed a pound more. Well done Steve ...

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Sun

12

May

2019

Rock Sessions - and Another First.

Over the last few weeks I've been doing mostly rock fishing, partly local on Sheep's Head and partly up in County Kerry after more spurdogs.

 

 

The Kerry fishing yielded very meagre results - two blank trips and one long day that yielded just a single spur. On the plus side it was a little bigger than the trio I had in early April, I gave it 7 - 8lbs so a new personal best.

 

The trips were livened up a little by bullhuss - I played three very chunky huss right to the edge only to have each open its mouth and spit or shake the bait out. The big ones seem to be expert at hanging on to the bait without getting hooked, but even so a 100% failure rate is a bit extreme!

 

Fortunately the huss were being more co-operative on my home turf, and I landed seven across two trips on the Sheep's Head rocks in early May, with the biggest ones just making double figures. Most of my huss come on mackerel head baits.

The mark I've been fishing seems incredibly deep - I've been counting the bait down to the bottom after it's landed and generally it's reached 24 or 25 with a 5oz lead pulling it down.

 

It seems to hold all the normal rock species but I think the depth may open up other possibilities. For example I know there are a few ling caught on deep marks on the Beara and I've often wondered if any of the Sheep's Head marks may hold them.

 

Well, question answered after a fashion. Though it was only a baby of a couple of pounds, it was my first ever ling and I'm hopeful of meeting some of its bigger chums later in the summer. It took a squid/garfish cocktail bait popped up off the bottom.

The pollack seem to be back inshore in some numbers. On the first of the two trips I had a three pounder that grabbed one of the popped up baits, and missed other similar fast bites. The second trip I took along half a pack of frozen sandeels of dubious quality that were left over semi-defrosted and refrozen from one of the spurdog trips. I spent fifteen minutes at the end of the session slowly spinning these on a long trace. The result was four pollack from five eels, three pound-size fish and a lovely four pounder to finish.

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Tue

30

Apr

2019

April Mullet

 

April wasn't the busiest of months on the mullet front - a bit distracted by the rock fishing and some family visitors - and the trips I managed met with mediocre results.

 

That trip on the Mizen at the end of March proved to be a false dawn. Two further visits resulted in blanks, though in fairness both were on grey, blustery, chilly days so perhaps not the fairest test.

 

The weather was also playing up at Rosscarbery, including one day with some spectacular hail showers like the one on the video above. The mullet numbers seemed to dwindle as the month went on. The protracted spell of east winds probably didn't help, though I think the main reason would be the shoals of mainly smaller fish that have been present on-and-off through the winter dispersing and spreading along the coast, whilst the larger fish that predominate at Rosscarbery over the summer and autumn have not yet arrived. Perhaps they are still busy spawning.

 

My catches reflected that trend ... four trips scoring four, three, two then a blank with just one missed bite. No really big fish either, the best a 4:12.

 

A few pics ...

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Sat

13

Apr

2019

Sheepshead Rocks

I've had three sessions from the rocks on the north side of Sheepshead over the past couple of weeks, using large fish baits such as mackerel heads and mackerel/squid cocktails, usually popped up off the bottom by wrapping on a small piece of polystyrene with bait elastic..

 

To be honest it's been pretty slow; I get the impression that things are only just starting to get going as we come out of winter.

 

First time out I caught only an LSD, and lost a load of gear on a mark that's been fairly kind to me in the past. I missed my one chance at a bigger fish when I failed to connect with a good run. The mackerel head came back completely crushed but the fish had missed the hook.

 

I did better second time out at a mark where I've not taken the bottom rods before - it faces straight out into the Atlantic and there are not that many occasions when the swell  allows it to be fished safely. The ground seemed remarkably clear and I only lost one lead. After a slow start I had a good run on mackerel head and struck into a strong fish that turned out to be a personal best bullhuss of around 13lbs ...

After that, a couple of rattly bites on the cocktail baits yielded LSDs, and after high water another run on a mackerel head produced a smaller huss.

 

I fished on well down the tide but couldn't get another touch.

 

Then this morning I was out again early for what proved to be a pretty bleak session under a leaden sky with a strong south-east wind swirling around at the base of the cliff. It was cold and the fishing was desperately slow, just one little nodding bite that seemed to have come to nothing. Then when I decided to wind in to rebait, everything was stuck. After a bit of heaving the "snag" gave way and turned out to be a conger eel - only a small one of about 8lbs but my first of the year and perhaps a sign of better to come as the water warms up.

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Tue

09

Apr

2019

First Spurs

Over the years, most of the common small shark species have come my way. I've caught loads of lesser spotted dogfish of course, and recently plenty of bull huss here in Ireland. In another life back on the south coast of England I caught literally hundreds of smooth-hounds of both species up to about 18lbs; and amid a lot of blank sessions trying, ten tope from the shore including fish of 43lbs and 45lbs.

 

One fish that has eluded me has been the spurdog - mostly I've just never fished in areas where they are ever caught from the shore. So it has been interesting to see there's a fairly reliable showing of them each spring and not that far away from us either, as recorded in the annual IFI specimen listings. And it was even more interesting when my Facebook friend Patrick posted some photos of some whoppers he and a friend had caught last spring.

 

So armed with some pointers from Patrick, this spring I've been heading north. My first trip was at the end of March, and despite perfect-seeming conditions and a perfect tide I blanked save for a couple of dogfish. Unbeknown to me, Patrick was just a bit further along on the rocks, also blanking! He had one modest size spurdog the next day, but the fishing was generally poor over that set of tides. In fact there had been a better showing over the previous few weeks, instilling an immediate doubt that I may already have missed the best of the fishing this year.

 

Last Thursday,  a fortnight later on another good tide, I was back and blanking again. Frustratingly, an east wind had kicked up overnight, probably doing for any hope I had of a spur. Worse, it was forecast to freshen and persist right through the set of tides. Then today, the wind fell light, little more than a nagging breeze. The biggest tides were gone but today's was still a reasonable size. All in all less than ideal, but I decided to give it a go!

 

Fern Collie and I headed for a low water mark, in fact one that has to be evacuated at about half tide (unless you want a very long session) as it gets cut off. We arrived in time to fish the last hour of the ebb, which would give about four hours to fish.

 

The low water period proved very quiet. About an hour up the tide, I had a couple of rattling bites that I missed but I thought were probably LSDs. Then a better pull on a mackerel/squid cocktail, and I played in a heavy fish that turned out to be a big huss - abour ten or eleven pounds. Unfortunately it shook out the hook right at the edge. Normally that would be pretty annoying, but as I'd recently caught a bigger one at home, and as I was there for spurs, it didn't seem so bad.

 

About two hours up the tide, with an hour to go, I had a bite on sandeel that I missed. While I was baiting up again I had a bite on mackerel/squid on the other rod. I hooked this one. It felt not very large but a bit livelier than the average LSD. I held my breath as I bumped it through the kelp close in and sure enough it my first spurdog, all 4 - 5lbs of it. Not a monster, but a result!

 

I took some quick pics then got two fresh baits out. Soon both rod tips were going - the sandeel rod pulled over hard so I grabbed that one and wound in another spur. This one zipped around a bit and was a shade bigger, I gave it 5 - 6lbs. The other bait was shredded, but the spurdog had missed the hook.

 

Quick look at the watch - time for a last chuck with both rods. Soon both tips were rattling again. I struck the cocktail rod this time, hooked and landed another spur about 5lbs. This time the sandeel bait was shredded but the spur responsible was gone.

It was more than a bit frustrating to have to pack up with the fish feeding well, but it was time to go so I tidied away as quickly as I could then Fern and I legged it before we were committed to another six hours with next to no bait left. I can't wait to get back on the next set of tides and hopefully find some bigger 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!

It was 20th March before I headed back down to Rosscarbery and the time had come take Fern Collie on her first mullet fishing expedition! 

 

I chose an area of shingle foreshore where I could see a few mullet moving in the shallows and where Fern wouldn't get in anyone's way, set up and started fishing.

 

I was getting knocks and twitches on the tips almost from the off, and was soon into a fish that ploughed off through the shallows and gave a really good scrap. It was just under 4lbs and I soon added another one of similar stamp. The shoal moved further out in response to that, but by long casting I managed to keep contact and add a couple more fish to the bag before bites petered out altogether, one a bit smaller and one just over 4lbs. Fern had been as good as gold, sitting with me, not barking at too many passers-by and deterring the odd swan, but I didn't want to push her patience too far. I was happy with four mullet so called it a day there.

We were back another twice over the next week or so for two remarkably similar sessions each yielding another four mullet, again mostly three pound class fish with just the odd fish topping 4lbs. I'd regard that as very decent fishing but it was frustrating to miss the short period - perhaps just one tide - when a shoal of bigger mullet put in an appearence. My Facebook friend Jason had a stunning 7lb 3oz fish and there were a number of others over 5lbs caught the same day. Anyway, here's a selection of my fish from the two trips ...

Today I made my first visit of the year to my favourite estuary on the Mizen Peninsula. I could see straightaway there was a decent shoal of mullet in the low water pool by the bridge, a welcome sight after the venue flopped on me last year. It was nice to have the float rod in action again too after all the leger fishing over the winter period.

It was soon apparent though that the fish weren't large. The bites were difficult to hit, and when I connected with them the mullet were typically just under 2lbs weight - still, game little scrappers.

 

While most of the fish were pristine, it was disappointing to catch one that was in a rather sorry state. A loop of nylon monofil had cut into its flesh just behind its gills leaving a nasty wound. I was able to snip the loop and pull it out then return the fish. The knots in the loop identified it as a single diamond section from a gill net, though how this could have separated from the rest of the net is a mystery to me.

 

A few years ago I caught a similarly afflicted mullet from the Sussex Ouse. That fish was subsequently recaptured by Eddie Baker, easily identifiable by the scarring, so I'm hopeful that this one will survive okay.

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Thu

28

Feb

2019

Namibia 2019

I stepped off the plane at Cork Airport, still two hours to drive home, feeling like I needed a fortnight’s holiday …

 

In fact the holiday was over; it had been enjoyable, but tiring. Two weeks earlier I’d set off on my seventh and probably last fishing adventure to Namibia’s Skeleton Coast, the primary target of course being the wonderful bronze whaler sharks that hunt those shores. I was there with friends from UK, Dave Matthews and Stu Read with our regular guide Johan Burger who is the absolutely the best of the guides operating on the coast there. Dave was fishing for seven days before heading off with his partner Jane on a safari tour led by Johan’s wife Joyce; Stu and I had another three days fishing with Johan before travelling home.

 

I flew with Aer Lingus to Heathrow where I met Stu, Dave and Jane for an overnight flight to Johannesburg with Virgin Atlantic. From Jo’burg we took a flight with South African Express on to Walvis Bay and were met by Joyce for the drive of ninety minutes or so north to our very comfortable rented accommodation in Henties Bay. The travel all worked fine, both ways, but it’s quite gruelling especially if, like me, you don’t sleep well on planes.

 

 

The fishing days fell into a pattern: breakfast, bait fishing in the morning, picnic lunch, bronzie fishing in the afternoons and on into the evening, home for a quick shower then out for an evening meal before collapsing into bed. Eating out is cheap in Namibia – you’d struggle to spend any more than the equivalent of €20 on a meal and that includes drinks. We used the restaurant at De Duine Hotel (nice but very slow) and Fishy Corner (nice and not as slow); other restaurants are available in Henties.

Spear-nosed Skate - the skate apparently took a small spurdog, just visible right, that had taken my bait
Spear-nosed Skate - the skate apparently took a small spurdog, just visible right, that had taken my bait

 For the bait fishing you could use the heavy end of the spectrum of UK beachcasters, though we used Johan’s gear which is a bit beyond that. You can pick up some big fish on the small mackerel and mullet baits, including sometimes a stray bronzie. This time out I had a spear-nosed skate estimated at nearly 60lbs, and a big spotted gulley shark nearly 50lbs both of which pulled like trains.

 

Smaller gulley sharks would be one of the intended targets of the bait fishing: their gills and livers make good bronzie baits, with the carcass being staked out in the surf as chum. This trip though they proved scarce but there was a good showing of smooth-hounds which did the job for us along with some sand sharks frozen down from Johan’s previous clients, err … Nigel Farage and his sons. Thanks for that Nigel (but for nothing else.)

Spotted Gulley Shark
Spotted Gulley Shark

I wouldn’t say butchering smooth-hounds to use as bait is the most endearing aspect of Namibian fishing … all I can say is it’s a different world out there! 

Stu and myself with the bronzie bait :(

Other fish that came along on the small baits this trip were the ubiquitous barbel catfish, nasty spiny little things which aren’t much good for anything except gulley shark bait; baby spurdogs, locally called green eyed sharks; and an elephant fish, locally called a St Joseph fish, for Dave.

Spiny critters - spurdogs two at a time and Dave's St Joseph fish

 

And so on to the bronzie fishing. Johan has some more powerful and slightly shorter rods for the big sharks coupled with multiplier reels taking roughly a kilometre of line starting with heavy nylon going down to braid backing.

 

 

At some marks Johan casts an 8oz grip lead and a bait weighing about the same again off these huge reels some quite remarkable distances, and even more so in that he barely ever gets a significant over-run. 

Johan and his drone
Johan and his drone

The latest thing on the Namibian beach scene is the use of drones to carry the shark baits out – it seems like everyone’s doing it, including Johan. There’s no doubt that it catches bronzies that wouldn’t otherwise see the beach by enabling the bait to be dropped further out, perhaps beyond a bank that the fish won’t cross on some days or in some conditions. It brings its own challenges though by exaggerating a number of potential problems. There’s a lot more line in the water potentially subject to side-wash, picking up weed or getting bitten by sharks swimming inshore of the bait. It’s a bit of a faff setting up the drone and carrying three baits out one at a time, with a consequence that there may be a slight temptation to leave the baits out longer and past their best. If you’re not getting pick-ups there’s a nagging doubt the bronzies may be closer in, particularly if there’s chum in the surf. And as I watched in dismay my reel emptying down to the last few metres of braid backing as a large bronzie headed for Argentina, I was wondering about the wisdom of giving it a 200m head start! Perhaps fortunately that fish cut the leader on a reef just as Johan thought it might be stopping; I wasn’t so sure about that.

Stand-up harness, saving my back
Stand-up harness, saving my back

Anyway … the baits are out one way or another, and the wait begins, maybe a few minutes, maybe much longer. Dave stands holding his rod poised for action and no doubt this is the best technique. I used to fish that way but my recently dodgy back dictated a more leisurely approach – my rod went into a sand spike after ten minutes or so and I watched from the comfort of a folding chair. Johan found me a stand-up harness which certainly helped to protect my back versus the standard butt pad – it spread the load when playing a shark and also with the lever drag reel clipped to the harness I could lean back and have a bit of a breather during an extended fight. Johan had recently used it to help bring a 1000lb+ marlin to a small boat off Angola, so it ought to be up to the job!

The typical bronzie take is a bump or two followed by line pulling off from the lightly set drag; but the rod may just pull over without warning, or the line may drop slack as a shark picks up the bait and swims inshore. We were using big circle hooks so once the fish was taking line well it was just a case of tightening the drag to its fighting setting and jigging the rod to make sure the hook was in – no striking as such.

 

Most of the bronzies we had were 150 – 200lbs and fish of this size typically will make several strong runs, especially the male fish that seem to surge faster through the water than the females. It might take 30 – 40 minutes to get an average sized bronzie into the surf for Johan to catch the leader and steer it ashore before finally grabbing it by the tail, turning it and dragging it up the beach to be unhooked, photographed and returned.

Dave's into a bronzie
Dave's into a bronzie
Johan bringing in another
Johan bringing in another

The fishing was certainly not at its best while we were there, and most days we did a good bit of driving up and down the coast in Johan’s 4x4 to find spots where the bronzies might be inshore and feeding. Finding the right combination of water colour and temperature in spots with the right depth and tidal flow is crucial. Johan is masterful in this respect but not even he can do much about it when mark after mark is full of weed, all you can do is move on to the next spot. So, challenging fishing, but to Johan’s credit we had pick-ups every day and we managed to land bronzies on every day but two. My total for the ten days fishing was eleven bronzies.

 

Incredibly I think I only missed one pick-up, on the first evening, though I went through a dodgy spell of losing hooked fish mid-trip. One picked up a huge piece of kelp on the line that eventually caused a break; another fight was ended abruptly when the line was bitten by another shark; there was that fish that nearly spooled me and one that felt nearly as strong that steamed off diagonally right and over a reef, cutting the line again.

 

The very next day at the same spot I had an almost repeat performance but although the shark spent several minutes swimming over the reef, this time it didn’t manage to catch the line on the mussel-covered rocks and eventually I got it moving back towards me. After an hour and ten minutes I had a new PB estimated at 308lbs on the beach. I felt drained, as much emotionally by the protracted period of expectation of losing the fish as physically.

Above ... new PB, estimated 140kg =308lbs. Below ... the other ten!
Above ... new PB, estimated 140kg =308lbs. Below ... the other ten!

Dave and Stu didn’t fare quite as well, getting more than their fair share of missed pick-ups, bite-offs and fish just coming off for no good reason at all. Dave finished with three bronzies landed; Stu had a couple on each of the last two days to finish with five.

Dave & Jane & bronzie
Dave & Jane & bronzie
Stu with his last & biggest, estimated 110kg = 242lbs
Stu with his last & biggest, estimated 110kg = 242lbs

It was a great holiday in great company and I hugely enjoyed reacquainting myself with the bronze sharks. I’d recommend the Namibian fishing experience to anyone who’s reasonably fit but I think this will be my last trip there. Dave accompanied each of his bronzie fights with mutterings of “I’m getting too old for this …” but in my case it was the flights and the driving that I found the more wearisome. Getting my first three hundred pounder seems as good a time as any to bow out.

 

Notes ... 

I booked my flights with the Irish online agency e-travel and they were great in notifying minor changes to the flight schedules etc. It’s worth paying the extra €5 for their post-booking service.

Johan and Joyce can be contacted regards either fishing trips or safari tours through their website Bushworx. Many thanks to Dave, Jane and Stu for use of some of their photos.

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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.

Later on I added a 4:14 from that swim and a lovely plump 5:02 to finish after I'd moved over to target a couple of fish I could see rising occasionally in the tail of the flow out from the lagoon. 

It had turned into my most productive ever January session and boded well for a February mullet.

 

I headed down again on 2nd February. It was a cold morning: -3 degC and I had to scrape the frost off the car. The temperature only clawed its way up to 0 degC in a couple of spots on the way to Rosscarbery. Even so, I wasn't expecting to find a thin layer of cat ice over much of the pool when I arrived ...

It looked lovely but there wasn't a sign of a mullet. I explored lower down the estuary and down on to the beach - still nothing. I went back up to the top to find Jason just setting up to fish with a friend. The sun and a slight breeze had broken up the ice but it looked pretty hopeless to me. I decided to head back home to watch the rugby! Probably the right choice as I later found the other pair had blanked without even seeing a fish.

 

More brassy cold weather and then Storm Erik followed. I eventually got back today on the 11th, with Sylvi and our collie puppy. It was flat calm when we arrived and, disappointingly, again there were no clear signs of mullet present. We gave the pup a good run on the beach, had a picnic in the car then finally I rolled out to fish a while by the bridge arch just in case there were some fish in the deeper water there.

 

Ninety minutes later I'd not had a bite, and the brief excitement of bumping a fish as I'd wound in had long passed. I was on the verge of giving up when I heard a splashing sound, looked across to my right and the whole corner of the pool there frothed with mullet for a few seconds after something had spooked them. There must have been thousands of fish in the shoal. I don't know if they'd been there all along or if they'd just swum in - either way, they'd done remarkably well to stay undetected given the water was eighteen inches deep, if that.

 

By the time I'd moved over, the fish had "gone" again but I thought maybe they were still there just lying doggo. My first casts passed without incident, but a couple of minutes into the next my right-hand tip nodded and I struck into a mullet. It came in relatively easily and I was just netting it when I saw my other rod pulling over out of the corner of my eye. I left the first mullet in the net and grabbed the other rod - a better scrap this time but five minutes or so later I beached the fish in the shallows. Incredibly I had my third one-on-each-rod brace in three trips this year!

Sylvi arrived back from walking the dog just in time to see me land the second fish and take the photo. They weren't monsters at 3:05 and 3:14 but I was very happy to catch them as that was now a mullet capture in every month since March 2018, only the second time I've ever managed twelve consecutive months.

 

 

 

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Sun

06

Jan

2019

Up and Running in 2019

We were still on our UK trip over the New Year period. It was very mild and settled weather both on the south coast of England there and back here in Ireland. I just knew the mullet would be out in force at home, so it was no great surprise to see my Facebook friend Jason's post on New Year's Day - he'd caught ten mullet at Rosscarbery including a specimen 5:08!

 

It was the 6th before I could get down there, on a still but slightly chillier morning than of late. There were plenty of mullet showing, mostly well out but some closer in, especially in front of the grass area. I was soon set up and fishing but despite having fish all around my baits, my tips remained motionless apart from an occasional little nod when a mullet swam over one of my lines.

 

After a frustrating couple of hours, my right hand tip pulled round then dropped back, and the line fell slack. I struck and was into a decent mullet that ran well out and then over to the right. I slackened off the drag of my left hand rod then followed the fish over and eventually beached it after a good scrap. I lifted the mullet up then walked back to base, only to find the other rod bent round fiercely to the left and line streaming off the spool of the reel. I quickly put the first fish in my landing net in the shallows, grabbed the second rod, sorted out the drag then played in my second mullet of the day, a smaller fish than the first. 

 

I discovered the battery in my scales was dead so I left both mullet in the net while I did a quick dash up to the village to buy another. The fish weighed 4lb 1oz and 2lb 4oz.

 

While all this was going on a light westerly breeze had sprung up to ruffle the surface. Fewer fish were evident but I suspected they'd still be there, albeit back in non-feeding mode as I fished on for another couple of hours. Jason arrived and fished from the wall off to my right, but he seemed to be having a quiet time too

 

Then, a good pull round on my left tip ... 2lb 5oz ... and ten minutes later I struck at a rattly bite ... 2lb 1oz.

After that, everything went quiet in my swim but I could see Jason into a fish from the wall - it looked a good scrap and a decent fish as he eventually hoisted it up in his net. I gave it another hour then decided to pack up. I loaded my kit into the car then went for a chat with Jason. His fish was 5:07, his second specimen of the year already, and while I was there he had another 3lbs-odd.

 

 

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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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