Sunday, 7th July.
Met Eireann was tempting, Chuckaroo was chomping at the bit, and I wouldn’t mind a bit of fishing myself so arrangements were made to rendezvous at Killybegs to be away by 11.00am at the latest. I pre-empted the alarm clock by half an hour so got up and headed off a bit earlier. Arriving at the pier, I could see two big cruise liners at the new quay, buses were spewing their contents out onto the streets and the sound of digital shutters clicking would have woken the dead. Not so effective for the living however, of which more shortly. Between the cruise ships, an overnight Motorcycle Charity run, two day fishing festival etc, the population of Killybegs must have doubled! I got the boat launched, car and trailer parked, rods set up and had a quick coffee and sandwich while I waited for Chuckaroo. With 10 mins to departure I tried to call him to see where he was but my phone was acting up. I administered the cure-all for all digital equipment, switch it off and on again, it worked and just as I was hitting the call button I heard my name called out. There he was walking towards me. Turned out he had arrived early, just before me, and took a quick nap in the car, (oblivious to all those tourist cameras!) so didn’t see me arrive, launch and park right opposite him on the road. Anyway, on to the fishing. We stopped to try for mackerel when a shoal of fish appeared on the sounder hard on the bottom. They were small scad but 2nd or 3rd drop down I started hitting mackerel at the surface, hidden in the surface clutter on the sounder. With plenty of bait we headed for the first drift over sand. The wind direction was variable throughout the day coming from all points of the compass and making it difficult to get the preferred drift but there’s not much you can do about that. The fishing was a bit slow but eventually I opened my account with the first of four spotty rays ranging from 2lb 1oz to 3lb 6oz. A short while later I got a couple of knocks from a turbot, 1lb 4oz. “Bit small for the pan” says Chuckaroo. “What size of pan have you got?” “Bigger than that”. “I’ll see what I can do….” Back it went to fatten up for next year. At one point I snagged the bottom and exercised skipper’s privilege by starting the engine and motoring slowly back uptide to pull free, imagine asking to do that on a charter boat with 8-9 other busy anglers? As I reeled in the best mackerel of the day snatched the bait, how lucky can you get? Further along on the drift I had a delicate little pluck which I hit anyway and was rewarded with a few kicks and wriggles and something brown and round came into view, another turbot and what a turbot, 4lb 3oz and more than twice my previous p.b. I was about to ask Chuckaroo again about the size of his pan but he was salivating freely, obviously it would accommodate the fish. Chuckaroo was struggling at this point so we pushed in tight to the shore where he cast a soft plastic lure towards the rocks and kelp. After a couple of knocks, he boated 3-4 pollack, none huge but capable of putting a serious curve in his spinning rod. The water clarity was excellent , the lure could be seen from a distance off and I actually saw the first fish swim up and take the lure. Back on the sand and Chuckaroo managed the first of two thornies and a couple of doggies. The fishing was a bit slow and we steamed further along thinking like picnickers that the further you go, the better the spot. We hit a deeper spot but the wind changed and strengthened, spoiling our intended drift. A couple of small dabs later, we headed back in to shelter. Another thorny and a spotty to Chuckaroo and a couple of dogs, spotties and a tub gurnard to me kept things going. Time for a shift to a couple of rock marks to try for pollack again; the first mark produced nothing so we moved to a new spot. First drop with a baited 2 boom rig got a strong hit from a pollack which slipped the hook right at the boat. I still have to replace my landing net but that wouldn’t have helped in this case. I made up for that disappointment with a similar sized fish a short while later, 4lb 6oz on the scales. Tempus was fugiting and with the cruise liners leaving the bay and the charter boats returning to port, we decided it was time to work our own way back. We had a few spare small mackerel and scad left and we had a bit of fun trying to hand feed them to the gulls. A stop at another rough ground mark failed to give up any pollack but I managed a “Mr and Mrs” of cuckoo wrasse, they look so different I often think they should count as two species for the species hunt/list. Back to the slip, boat retrieved, a quick feed at the local restaurant/café and the day was done.
Monday, 8th July. Crewless and Clueless.
I was on my own today as Chuckaroo had to work, I get a bit nostalgic when I hear that word but somebody has to work to pay my pension. I arrived at the slip and had the place to myself apart from a lady in for a swim. It was a very still, dead sort of day, flat calm glassy sea, no wave, swell or breeze and dull grey in contrast with yesterday’s sunshine; in my experience these are not good conditions. On the way out, the fishfinder showed a large shoal of fish right on the bottom, scad again. They must shoal very tightly as they appear as a solid mass, no sign of individual fish. I had a few mackerel left over from yesterday so I wasn’t concerned about bait, as it turned out I wasn’t going to need much. First mark was in deepish water (50-70ft) with a broken ground bottom. There were plenty of fish showing, probably pollack and pouting based on previous visits. Feathers, baited feathers, firetails all failed to produce a fish, just the occasional knock and pluck and one small ballan foul hooked on the Hokkai’s. I managed to coax a couple of small pollack and a pouting to take a jellyworm. I was wondering if the fishfinder was being fooled and dropped my Waterwolf camera down for a look (to be done later at home). Perhaps things would be different over the sand. The drift was very slow so a long time covered little ground and produced only two doggies and a small tub gurnard. The Waterwolf was used again. With the tide turning and flooding, I tried the first mark again and managed another four pollack to 3lb and another pouting. By now the rain was coming down in earnest and even with the waterproofs on there was no great pleasure so I headed in. Looking at the camera footage later, there were numerous pollack and quite a few cuckoo wrasse on the deep mark; the wrasse could be seen nipping at the mackerel strips, pollack were either ignoring or swimming up to the jellyworm and either turning away or taking a half-hearted snap at it. Over the sand, a few dabs followed the bait but did no more, some tub gurnard did likewise, even a few doggies could be seen quartering the ground, approaching the bait and then turning away. Hard to imagine a doggie refusing a bait!
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.