Fished two marks, both in Northern Belmullet and checked out Tippe Pier / Blind Harbour in the company of a local charter skipper Sean Levalle.
Peter McGroary from Donegal came along and proved to be the best angler andthe only one I know who brings oysters with him for bait :D and wil doubtless post some reports on Little Killary and other marks as he is down here for a week's fishing - well for some that's all I can say!
Fished a spot that turns out to be known locally as the Sailors Graveyard (!) which is northwest of Tippe Pier, down the only metalled road (right hand turn, no seriously there is tarmac on it there... in patches) on the final stretch of the road to Tippe Pier. Parking at the old foot bridge take a sharp right, and head up over the first headland to an obvious finger sticking out into the bay. It is a tough decent and I would not recommend this or the next mark on anything other than a light wind and fair weather day - definitely not a spot on a wet day. Met Sean there - he had blanked.
Conditions were good, patchy sunshine, light NE breeze, mild swell... was fishing it from mid water down. Sean tells us that it fishes very well from mid water up but what the hell. First six casts with german sprats landed some nice coalfish, 1-2 lbs, known locally as "ribble" before something hammered me into a weedy outcrop and left me stuck for five minutes. All the teasing and pressure in the world would do nothing, reckon it had to be a very decent pollack, eventually got the sprat back complete with a piece of skin! If you catch a scarface pollack there... :wink: The mark is super pollack country, lots of rock, white water, loads of kelp, and odd patches of sand down below. 3-5 metres at low water in places, double that with a tide. Reckon it will produce excellent wrasse in another month, will have conger and bull huss, and the sand might produce flats and/or gurnard...
Moved on to Tippe Pier for lunch. Sean came down and gave us excellent advice. The narrow channel at the mouth fishes well for small pollack and mackerel, the channel draining Blind Harbour will produce plaice (small) and mullet in season. I know Mike Thrussel has taken bull huss from the rocks in front of Blind Harbour and the whole thing screams sea trout... you can dig sandeels from the edge of the channel at low water and we found lugworm and razorfish casts and marks all over the sand at the pier.
Moved onto a new mark called Scotchport Rocks, you will find it on the OS map for Belmullet. Bit of a tough walk out over very rough rocks and broken ground (east side). You can fish safely off any number of ledges there and it drops into as much as 25 m of water of low tide (yes!). At the end point, a scary spot even on what was a very calm day, it can reach 40 m depth... the swells here are absolutely enormous, a fair weather mark only and in company and with automatic lifejacket - not one for the faint hearted... in fact I would probably avoid it and fish the inner bay marks.
On the inner bay, we got the lures out and Peter was straight into decent 3-4 lb pollack (several). BTW the "sales assistant" in Hewetsons in Westport had told me that there were no pollack, all off spawning... mind you they also charge 8 EUR for 20 frozen lugworm! A superbly stock hop and very knowledgeable people (mostly!), but the prices, the prices...
Anyhow, back to the fishing... I rigged up a rotten bottom link on a 2 hook flapper loaded with sandeel and lashed it out - had a 3 lb pollack in seconds, with no bite indication on the mono - am switching to braid after I file this report. The water is too deep for even half decent bite detection.
Took to the spinning and we were taking a lot of small coalfish as well, very close in... only a few feet out, reckon they were cruising up along the kelp on the current and swells. Pollack were harder to find but we were catching regularly, especially Peter who was using a large silver Toby as opposed to a German Sprat and was a lot braver than I was in terms of letting it sink before the draw... I had quite qa few fish follow but not take it and decided to try a boat rod loaded with a wire trace and 7/0 holding a mackerel filet wrapped in a whole squid, chucked it out and was getting back to the spinning when it got its first run. Result was a nice pollack, which weighed the next day at home (long story) came in at 6 lbs 3 ozs. Think we might have been conservative with all the weights that day... second chuck on the boat rod was lost in the rocks after another near immediate run, definitely a spark plug mark. I will be back with that rod.
Peter tried for wrasse close in but the ground is appalling and lost a trace to the rocks and weed. He switched to a float rig with powergum stopknot and took a lot of coalfish before switching back to the spinning, nearing high water, and that produced more coalfish and a smaller stamp of pollack, all around the 1-2 lb mark.
Sean Lavelle - http://www.divewestireland.com
- is a mine of information on all the marks around Belmullet, hardly surprising being a native, and if this trip is anything to judge by, an exceptional guide. We will be heading out with him for an early season trip in May just after his boat gets back in the water and I will post a report when it happens.
Fantastic early fishing and I reckon a really big bait legered on the bottom will produce the lord only know what - the whole north western coast there is prime pollack ground and I have no doubt it will produce specimen fish.
I will put some photos up on the gallery either tonight or next weekend.
What can I say guys, head WEST!