The Bro had been asking about wrasse fishing so the previous day I had gone to the shore to gather some bait, 60 juicy lug and a score of small hardback should provide enough bait for a session. We picked up some frozen sandeel and mackerel on the way and in Killybegs I got the last remaining fillet of fresh mack at the grub-stop supermarket and filling station. We were planning a long session and I didn’t feel comfortable relying on catching our own mackerel. First choice mark was fully occupied; I was a bit surprised as the weather was quite miserable at the time, so we headed elsewhere. Coffee drunk and hot snacks consumed, we set up float rods to start, lug for bait. The water was exceptionally crystal clear, I wonder does this reflect a scarcity of plankton? As I was setting up a flapper rig, The Bro gave a shout and I ran over to reel in my first wrasse of the day, not huge at 1lb 8oz but a handsome golden yellow fish. We both had a couple of bottom fishing rods set up but it was a while before they produced anything; in the meantime I had 2 more ballans to 2lb 9oz and The Bro had 2, both exactly 2lb 4oz; twins perhaps? I missed a number of bites on the float rod where I was experimenting with a new potential bait for the wrasse, the bites failed to hook up but perhaps the baits were a bit of a mouthful for smaller wrasse. More research required and it will be done. One other surprising catch on the float tackle was a long spined sea scorpion, something for the species count. It was almost 3 hrs before the fish bait produced, I reeled in the flapper rod to find a substantial weight offering resistance. Only when it was in close did the struggle begin as a spotty ray realised something wasn’t quite right. Always good to get a fish but I feel I have been short-changed when I don’t see the bite. She must have been just sitting on the bottom digesting; still it was another ray on the flapper, size 4 rig. As the tide ebbed, the wrasse fishing petered out completely but fortunately The Bro stuck at it. The action was a bit slow with an occasional small dab or dogfish breaking the monotony so there was plenty of time for cups of coffee and sandwiches. Out in the bay a pod of dolphins were sporting while overhead a number of gannets were flying around covering a large area, I didn’t see any dive; not much sign of mackerel about so probably as well we bought bait. The odd sunny interval encouraged the local cock pheasant to venture out to advertise his territory and at times we could see him throw his head back to let loose. At one point I was standing in front of the tripod watching some gannets when I heard a clatter behind me and then a 13’ spear shot past my left ear, almost taking my head off. I wouldn’t mind but it’s the only head I have and replacements are hard come-by, especially since they closed down all those head shops in Dublin a year or two back. Well, it wasn’t a spear after all, just my ZZippy and Mag2, a mere 400 squidsworth, now lying in the water about 30 feet out. A black backed gull had wheeled into the line at full wind-assisted speed and hauled the rod off the stand into the water. The butt cap had scraped off allowing the rod to start filling with water but fortunately the reel had landed on top of The Bro’s float tackle and had ensnared itself in the line. (Like I said earlier, fortunately he had stuck at it). He dragged in his float and my rod while the gull fought him every inch of the way. Scrambling down to the water’s edge, I managed to grab the rod butt, untangle the float gear and start to drag in the gull. The line failed to take the strain and broke at the gull’s wing allowing it to fly off, probably the best solution. Unfortunately there was now a 3 hook flapper and about 60 yds of line loose in the water but there wasn’t much I could do, was there? After such excitement I needed a rest so into the car for a seated coffee and the long range single hook rod gives a vigorous pull-down accompanied by a buzz from the ratchet as another spotty announced his arrival. This was a bit smaller at 2lb 8oz but this was a comment, not a complaint. This was just on the turn of the tide and a couple more dogfish and dabs came to the rods. Another strong pull on the long range rod produced the third and best spotty of the day at 3lb 12oz, this is the first time I’ve had 3 spotties in one session from the shore so I was doubly (or should that be trebly) pleased. The light was now fading and this was reflected by a surge of interest from doggies bringing my total to 10. One was good enough to tangle with the lost rig and 60 yds of line I had lost earlier so that was another bonus, waste line in the bin instead of wafting around on the seafloor. A minor complaint here though, not one fish on the 3 hooks of the flapper rig! The substitute flapper rig turned up the best of the 4 dabs at 27cm, not huge but unusually marked with a dark brown head. The same rig then supplied a couple of doubles, first a dog and dab and then a pollack (1lb 12oz) and poorcod. Just after midnight, a sandeel at range attracted a hesitant but persistent rattle, a bootlace conger, and that was me finished for the night. Meanwhile The Bro had his couple of wrasse, a few doggies and on the “Lines In “ call , reeled in a bootlace of his own and then on his second rod, a lobster! He was happy enough as he revives his fishing activity and with a nice treble of spotty rays in a mix of 8 species (and I still have a ZZippy!) I was happy too.
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