With the boat down off the axle stands, a check on the bearings revealed one hub with a badly cracked rim so that had to be replaced along with a new set of bearings. It’s a bit like the dentist telling you “Your teeth are o.k. but your gums gotta go” (from Unfinished Sweet by Alice Cooper). A quick blast with the power washer inside and out to remove the pine needles, algal growth and day to day grime that accumulates over the winter and with the bung removed to drain the suds and gunge from inside, all I had to do was remember to put the bung back in before launching. I say again; all I had to do was remember to put the bung back in before launching. The rods were then dusted down and checked, all good. Reels lubricated and checked, tackle box sorted and tidied (I was almost scared to open it!) and with the weather looking good, it should be all aboard “baidin Phaidin” in the morning.
A handy drive to the slip with only a couple of delays for roadworks on the ever-improving road west and the boat was rolling off the trailer and soon moored while I parked car and trailer. I returned to find the boat listing to starboard; all I had to do was remember to put the bung back in before launching! Lying flat on the wet and less than spotless slip, I could reach down and fit the bung and after some frantic bailing I was ready to go (but not before a quick trip back to the car for a change of trousers!)
A small group of porpoises passed by as I started feathering and I soon had enough mackerel and a large launce for bait, it’s always heartening to get the first mackerel of the year; “a darlin’ thing, a darlin’ thing” as Sean O’Casey wrote, probably after catching his first mackerel. A few drifts over the sand with boom, long flowing trace, spoon, beads and fresh mackerel strip failed to attract much attention so I motored to another spot where the breeze was pushing the boat slowly out from the shore; I cut the engine as close in as I dared and drifted out. A few bites soon registered and resulted in a couple of thornies visiting the boat. The fish seemed to be lying close in as the bites dried up as I drifted out so I had to keep motoring back in tight to shore. At one point the breeze died completely, the clouds disappeared and the sun shone brightly giving a chance to try a new deep water mark. A change from boom and long trace to a large baited muppet and down it went. The boat drifted very slowly so it was easy to keep in touch with the bottom but the direction wasn’t what I really wanted. I got some rattly bites, small fish worrying the bait. I switched rig again to a two hook flapper with smaller hooks and baits, the bites converted to hook-ups; whiting. The rock itself gave nothing but the sand around it gave up a succession of double s of whiting with a couple of dabs thrown in, one of which appeared to be smoking weed. Is that illegal for fish? Oddly enough the dabs took the top baits furthest from the bottom, must be because they were high on weed! Hauling small dabs and not huge whiting from almost 200 feet is not my idea of fun; I’ll try the mark again but for now I headed back to the sand and added to the tally of thornies with a couple of spotty rays thrown in for variety. The rays were all quite small, the biggest being a thornie at 3.5lbs. Usually this mark produces more spots than thorns, conspicuous by their absence were dogfish, not one all day. No sign of the usual gurnard or flats either today. Conspicuous by their presence were the Fisheries guys as they blasted past on patrol; no doubt checking for illegal salmon nets. During the best weather of the day, Met Eireann issued a Small Craft Warning, the signs of the approaching squall were visible in the sky now; building gray clouds, breeze increasing, a little cooler. With 6-7 thornies, 2-3 spotties and some whiting and dabs accounted for, it was time to head home. I was entertained on the way by some dolphins close to the boat, seeing a bit of wildlife adds to my day. They weren’t playing; they would show a couple of times then disappear for a few minutes; feeding time! Talking of which, my own stomach was starting to talk to me…..
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