After a wait of several months, I was off to Donegal at last, didn’t matter how poor the prospects were, I was going. 18th December, South Donegal Beach
. After an absence like this I usually manage to forget something but this time I had everything packed. Arriving at the mark, I was greeted by a less than ideal surf; periods of flat calm interrupted by 3-4 big waves coming in and crashing onto the sand. If some of those bigger waves had landed on a flounder they would have flattened it! I set up anyway and fished prawn, mackerel and lugwrap on flappers at all ranges to no avail. After a couple of hours with baits untouched I moved to a different mark, slightly deeper though with the same surf pattern. At least the first mark was deserted and I had peace and quiet; the second mark was a bit less remote. I wasn’t halfway out of the car door when somebody pulled up alongside and asked “What do you hope to catch here?” “Anything but Covid” I replied. As I was preparing to launch the second rod a beachwalker asked the inevitable” Any mackerel?” I have a Tee shirt designed for next year, see below for details. If there’s enough interest I’ll take orders. Anyway, back to the fishing/not catching; baits returned untouched and it was looking ominously like a blank, the first of 2020. But then the ubiquitous small coalie turned up! It must have been a shoal of one for the next 2 hours failed to produce another bite. Well it was a comeback but not exactly a stunner.20th December, North Donegal Beach
. Today was a group effort with Chuckaroo, Jonty and my humble self meeting up, Three Wise Men or perhaps The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, (modesty prevents me from stating which one I would be). We had some success here before but the ever shifting sands had completely changed the beach structure, no obvious hot-spot today! We had the stiff southerly wind at our backs, shelters with us in case of heavy rain, and a selection of fish and worm baits so all we needed was the fish to do their bit. It was a falling tide as we set up and six rods were soon searching the water. It was quite a while before anything happened but one of Chuckaroo’s rods starting rattling and he swung into action. As the fish came into the surf he thought it was just a dogfish; yeah Chuckaroo, one of those silver doggies with lots of black spots. Pretty sure it’s a seatrout! It was certainly a long fish at 60cm but very lean, perhaps it had recently spawned. It would have been a superb fish with the appropriate amount of flesh on and back it went to pile on a few pounds. It was almost an hour before the next fish appeared; a nice 39cm flounder and new p.b. for Jonty who was understandably pleased. A while later, someone shouted over ”Have you not caught a fish yet ?” “No, not YET” but I was getting worried. But an hour later I had a good bite which developed into a small seatrout. Another hour and a half later I had my best fish of the day, a 36cm flounder. As dusk settled upon us a few coalies put in an appearance and I managed another smaller flounder and coalie double shot. Things went quiet, even the small coalies seemed to have gone and with long drives ahead of us, we called it a night. While loading up the cars, my headlight caught a pair of eyes watching us from some way off, a fox out looking for supper.23rd December, South Donegal Beach
. With new Covid restrictions tightening their grip, Chuckaroo and myself planned one more trip to beat the imminent lockdown. The dunes behind gave shelter from a strong north wind but the sea was almost flat calm, no surf to stir things up a bit. We set up, two rods each carrying mackerel, prawn, lugwrap etc and for quite a while all baits returned untouched. Eventually, over two hours later, I reeled in a 27cm flounder and allowed myself to consider that perhaps the fish were starting to feed. Sadly there was nothing more until three hours later I had a small coalie. Chuckaroo had his only bite of the day, a persistent rattle from what was probably a small coalie but it failed to convert to a blank saver. The ebbing tide mirrored our hopes and enthusiasm and again with a long drive ahead and work in the morning for Chuckaroo, we decided to pack it in. I reeled in my second rod to find another small 20cm coalie hanging on. Every year I select 100 photos from my fishing trips and get them printed out and put in an album; I always include the first and last fish of the year. I checked when I got home and sure enough I finished the year as I started; with a 20cm coalie. They look like bookends. It was appropriate enough I suppose as the year itself has a 20 at the start and finish…..
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