It would have been a sin not to avail of the sudden spell of good weather so off I went. Tuesday, 17th
. First drop of the feathers produced a single medium mackerel and a bit of searching was required to find a few more for bait. Some of the smallest mackerel I’ve ever seen came to the feathers; in recent years I have switched to smaller sizes of feathers as what used to be Medium seem to have become Large or even XL compared to the size of mackerel. However, with a supply of fresh bait I headed off to drift the sand for a few thornies. I certainly got the drifts but it was a good hour before a “Ratchet Moment” finally signalled some action. I tightened into a very lively fish which made a couple of runs before surrendering himself to the net. I was surprised it registered only 7lbs on the scales as I thought it was a bit heavier. I’ll have to get myself some of those Specimen Hunter scales, you know, the ones which read about 10-15% higher and while making you suspicious, they could be right. That was the only bite at this mark; another hour produced nothing. I steamed off to another mark but a couple of drifts there gave up only a single pin whiting. The water at both these marks was very dark, brownish, I’ve never found this good for fishing. If the sand and shallows don’t produce, it’s time for the deeper, rougher ground so after changing from boom and long trace to baited hokkais and two boom pater noster rigs I made the move. The mark was dotted with pot markers but they seemed to be arranged in two strings and I could get decent drifts between them where I wanted to fish. The light north westerly breeze and flood tide gave a nice drift. The baited hokkais produced 2 decent mackerel straight away before a variety of species came to the boat. Numerous pollack, the biggest barely making 2lb 4oz, pouting, cuckoo wrasse, two codling and a small ling along with a hog-tied scad provided lots of activity but nothing of any great size. By now the sun was low and it was starting to cool down so I decided to call it a day. While I was tackling down and tidying up, a small group of 3-4 porpoises surfaced near the boat, making a change from the more usual dolphins.Wednesday, 18th
. I had kept 2- 3 better mackerel from yesterday for bait so I was able to head straight for the fishing grounds, different marks from yesterday. First stop was a deeper sandy area which is fairly reliable, however it took a while for any action to occur. I think it was because of the very slow drift; in fact the boat was almost static. Instead of the baits coming to the fish, the fish would have to come to the baits, which they did. One rod gave a couple of vigorous nods and up came a small spotty ray. Before I had time to deal with it, the other rod bounced and this turned out to be a nice 30cm turbot which had taken both baits. With both fish unhooked and returned, the action continued steadily as another nine spotties gulped down the mackerel baits along with 2 doggies and 2 small dabs. I wasn’t short of bait but I was cutting it into long thin slivers to imitate sandeels; I got 1 turbot, 2 doggies and 8 spotties on just one side of mackerel. At one point, I snagged on something and by the time I motored uptide to try and free it, something had grabbed the bait; an octopus, probably the biggest I’ve ever got. It squirted water everywhere, at least I hope it was water as plenty landed on me! Fortunately all of the ink landed in the water. A small thornback added to the numbers before I began to wonder if there were still any blonde rays about. Only one way to find out so I fired up the engine and moved to another mark. This mark is blessed with magnificent scenery and on a clear day you still can’t see America! Again, the slight breeze and flooding tide gave me a lovely drift over the mark. First fish was another spotty followed by 2-3 dabs, a bit bigger than those from earlier. One of the dabs was quite thin, almost transparent, another dab arrived as half of a double act with a particularly well marked spotty which made the dab look dRab. I tried flicking a small strip of mackerel out with a spinning rod to see if I could attract a few more dabs but the only offer came from a chunky 14oz mackerel. Then the first of 3 blondes showed up with the biggest nudging the scales round to 4lb 2oz. The best spotty of the day also came from this mark but at 3lb 6oz, it was no monster. No big fish today but with a total of 13 spotty rays, my best ever haul of this species, along with a few blondes I was happy enough to head for home. I stopped at Ballyshannon for a fish supper and I must say the fully illuminated by-pass bridge looked pretty spectacular with the moon rising over it. The fish supper was pretty good too. All in all, as an old man in a tv ad years ago used to say, “Aye, it were a good day” …and then went on to burn himself and his house down by falling asleep and dropping his fag end on the carpet. Good job I don’t smoke.
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