The Call to Arms came from Chuckaroo who was planning a run to Benone with another fishing acquaintance, Jonty. I’ve never caught anything at that venue so I wasn’t too enthusiastic at first. My most recent trip had also left me underwhelmed; but with the Covid situation creeping inexorably towards lockdown I thought I should head out while I still could. A rummage in the bait freezer came up with some frozen mackerel and lug wrap left-overs and I was sure I had some prawns for variety but they were nowhere to be found. Herself was heading for the supermarket so I placed an order for some frozen prawns. She arrived back just as I was closing the boot to head off so I took time to get a handful of prawns while enduring the tale of the trouble she went to just to find those prawns. Whatever. We had agreed to meet up at 4pm though I left earlier, just as well as I was held up for almost half an hour trying to get through the reputedly longest main street in Ireland, a harsh punishment for missing an earlier turn-off! Chuckaroo was held up too with the result that we both arrived at the same time. As always, somewhere further up the beach looked better so we travelled a bit further. The standard advice is to study a beach for “features” but some beaches are just long, monotonous stretches of featureless blandness. This I think is when people locate “hotspots” according to land features, a higher sand dune, a gap in the dunes etc, nothing related to the tidal beach. Stepping out of the 20c car into the 9-10c air was a slight thermal shock but a few layers sorted that out. We were setting up as Jonty pulled up, important as he was bringing fresh rag! A few quick introductions followed by a tactical discussion and we settled to our tasks. We all fished two rods with a selection of rigs, flappers and a sliding leger rig, the local killer according to Chuckaroo. I had my usual near and far rods, one with a 3 hook flapper and the other a 2 up and 1 down; not radically different but who knows? I was fishing a selection of rag, lug wrap, mackerel and prawn. There was a slight onshore breeze and very little in the way of surf so I fired one rig out as far as I could and forced myself to drop the second rod in really close; I find it almost counter-intuitive to do this. With the first casts made we assessed the tide situation and decided that I would run my 4x4 backwards and forwards a few times to pack down the sand allowing the other cars to move safely back from the high water mark and soon all 3 vehicles were nicely parked in a row on my tyre tracks though Jonty did move a little bit further back than the other two…….I went to check my rods which had been fishing away on “Auto” for 15-20 mins and noticed one had slack-lined. Thinking it may just be due to lateral pull I tightened up to feel extra weight and in came a nice plump 31cm flounder. Regretting not seeing the actual bite (my idea of an adrenalin rush) I began to wonder if this was to be the First Cast Fish syndrome kicking in but I need not have worried as number two at 33cm soon followed. With a choice of baits on offer, both fish had opted for the prawns, I was glad I brought them as the third flounder, a little smaller at 30cm, succumbed to the same bait. A quick text was sent to herself to inform her of the fruits of her labour and “Thank you for shopping at Tesco”. “Every little helps “came the reply. I only had a handful of them but I gave a few offerings to the other two, neither of whom had managed a bite. It went quiet for a while but eventually I noticed one rod tip rattling and as I watched it develop, the other tip started rattling too. As the first rod stilled, the second started to bend more (lighter rod) so I lifted it and tightened into a 32cm flounder. With it duly CPR’d, I reeled in the second rod to find a nice double of flounder; 3 fish in as many minutes! Since the fish were coming from close in, I switched both rods to close in, in fact an underarm swing was the casting technique used. Chuckaroo and Jonty still were waiting for a bite by the time I had got 7-8 flounder; “You might have 7-8 flounder but wait ‘til you see the size of the bass I’m going to catch” offered Jonty. Darkness was approaching, perhaps that would make a difference. I had another 2-3 flounder but the size was notably decreasing, low 20’s. With darkness upon us, the lights of Donegal were twinkling in the background like forbidden fruit and we had our own little display of rod tiplights operating. At last Chuckaroo and Jonty had bites but neither developed into a fish. A short while later,Chuckaroo connected and reeled in a dogfish. I followed suit soon after with a doggie of my own. I then got my smallest flounder of the night, “Last and Least”. The tide had now turned and receded enough to allow us to drive back along the beach so with bites stopping and Jonty suffering a tackle malfunction we decided to call it quits. Jonty was about to suffer another malfunction, after driving back off the hard- packed sand he was struggling to get moving on the soft stuff. He didn’t realise that Chuckaroo and myself had started pushing at the rear to get him on to terra firma until we explained to him that “it wasn’t all those horses under the bonnet that pulled him out, it was the two donkeys pushing at the back!” With 11-12 flounder (8-9 on prawn) and a dogfish I was more than happy, Chuckaroo avoided the blank but Jonty had to settle for a couple of missed bites. I must have been sitting on a little hotspot, I wasn’t doing anything radically different.
Benone has now been re-classified from “Never catch anything” to “Can sometimes fish very well”.
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