It was time to get out and about and burn off some of the excesses of Christmas and New Year which had seen my weight creep up to 12st 1lb, (on the scales this morning I’m down to 11st 15lb!).9th January, Donegal Bay
. I must have seen every hour on the clock that night so was quite tired when I rose in the morning, there would be payback. With the gear loaded I took to the road, calling in to Lidl for some mackerel fillets (not to mention a bag of their excellent Triple Choc Chip Cookies). A brief stop in Killybegs for coffee saw me walking around the pier where I picked up a scad which had escaped the attention of the gulls, fresher than the bought mackerel, it was to produce the first fish of 2019. I was set up and fishing by 1pm but there was nothing happening for at least two hours at which point I nipped into the car out of the rain and promptly nodded off. A good hour later, I came to, possibly due to a cock pheasant calling nearby, and noticed that the distant rod had been pulled right round in the stand (grip lead needed?); a missed bite from something bigger than a pin whiting, payback! While I rebaited, the close rod, sporting a 3 hook flapper and small baits, started rattling but the interest faded away. At least the fish seemed to have started feeding but it was just after 5pm before the first fish of 2019, a dogfish, took a real liking to a slice of scad. This was a welcome change to the first fish being a small coalfish or pollack. The rattly bites continued on both rods until one of the culprits managed to impale itself on the flapper rig, a small poorcod. Another couple of dogfish were landed but by 9pm I’d had enough and retrieved the rods to find a doggie on one and a nice 34cm dab (just short of 1lb) on the other. Tally for the day ended at 4 doggies, 1 decent dab and a poor poorcod.10th January, Donegal Bay.
I tried a new mark today but stopped in Killybegs for coffee and grub again. Wandering around the pier I gathered 4-5 lovely fresh herrings on the pier steps, quite an attractive fish compared to bloody, glassy-eyed things you see in the shops. A small seal was swimming under the pier having a few samples as well. I was set up by 2pm on a very calm, quiet, dull day; I wasn’t surprised by the lack of fish interest. My hope was that darkness would trigger some action and sure enough around 6pm the first rattle of the night developed into a small pouting. Shortly after came a small whiting and then the first of 3 doggies. A small coalie showed up just before a slightly better pollack (32cm). Five fish, five species. A few more whiting and dogfish made up the numbers before I packed up for the night and headed home to the sound of a fox yelping in the darkness.24th January, Donegal Bay.
An old familiar mark today, a beach where a nice surf was coming in. Well, I liked the surf but the fish were fairly unimpressed; just one small flounder from close in was all I had to show for over two hours of effort. Perhaps the strong lateral tow had washed them all away. The tide was close to half flood so I headed for another deeper mark arriving just as darkness fell. It was now wet and breezy with a fair swell building. The next two hours produced 5-6 small coalies and 1 small pouting to the herring bait. I was disappointed not to see any whiting about, perhaps the relatively mild winter so far hasn’t helped. The swell was now threatening to come washing around me so I called it a day. It was still 9c as I headed for home at 8pm, must be this global warming.30th January, Louth Coast.
Some really wintry weather was forecast and I was itching to get out again. Rather than a long run to Donegal, I took the local option and visited the Louth coast for convenience. I dug some lug and picked up a few white rag while doing so. It has become a tough spot to dig, there were plenty of casts but there are stony patches under the sand, other areas have a layer of clay but every now and again you hit a sweet spot of deeper sand. Unfortunately, recent colder weather seems to have driven the worms deep requiring double digging. A bit of time to kill then before setting up at dusk as this mark never produces in daylight; not that it produces that much in darkness! Darkness duly came, the sea was like a millpond and what little breeze there had been was dying away. As the sun set, the mercury dipped too so I was glad I had resurrected my ancient one-piece flotation suit and moonboots. Three hook flappers baited with fresh lug, white rag and frozen Killybegs herring were launched to near and far, tip lights fitted and hands placed in pockets. Conditions weren’t ideal; had Charles Dickens gone fishing, he surely would have written “No Great Expectations”. However, I thought there might be something about but not even the crabs were there. I ended up watching ships, satellites, airplanes and the occasional shooting star as the tip lights refused to budge. At last, almost on high water, a rod nodded and shook but nothing came of it. Both rods started giving small nibbley bites but no fish. Hooks were being stripped of worms but the herring received no attention whatever all night. A switch to smaller size 6 hooks eventually resulted in a slug, a lovely blank-saving 17cm 5 bearded rockling. I failed to connect with any further bites; perhaps a change to size 8 hooks was called for? As the tide began to recede the bites dried up so it was time to go. It was so cold by now that ice crystals were forming on the rods and the frozen herrings which had just about thawed out on arrival had now re-frozen! Having scraped the frost off the windscreen, I started the car, -4c was showing on the temp. gauge. What’s all this global warming nonsense?
Four trips and 9 species, 2019 is up and running, well, walking.
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