:4 trips from 6 to 8 hrsTide
:Glorious, hot, sunny, light winds.Bait
:Feathers, baited feathers and hokkais, baited muppets, sliding boom legerResults
We normally go on holiday to West Cork in August but for a number of reasons this year it was July. A last minute check revealed a grumbling trailer wheel and closer inspection uncovered a cracked bearing so that had to be replaced, a messy enough job made a bit more tedious by having to remove the bearing saver. At last everything was road ready and off I went on a six hour tow. Between the odd bit of shore fishing and family duty days I managed four boat trips which produced lots of fish but not many big ones though I did beat my pb thornback twice.
Day 1 Thankfully, compared to last year , mackerel were more readily available and of a decent size. The fish finder was working very well and below the mid water mackerel I could see fish tight to the bottom, lots of codling in the 2-3lb range. (See photo of fish finder screen, on left at 50 – 60 are mackerel. The thin line below the zero in 74.0 running slightly left to right is the lead and feathers descending. The red and blue ribbon just above the yellow seabed is a shoal of codling. The thicker line rising from the bottom, left to right is the lead, feathers and 2-3 codling being reeled up, you can see a faint line descending again from about 45 ft, probably a fish getting off). Having secured fresh bait I headed out to fish some rough ground in about 150 ft of water but there was very little on the mark, just a couple of pollack to 4lb, a few codling to 3lb and 2 small poor cod. The latter were probably an indication of a lack of big fish. While in the deep water, I was lucky enough to see a sunfish about 30 yds from the boat. I’ve seen them before but they have always shied away if I tried to motor closer but this one actually swam right up and around the boat allowing me to get a few pictures before flopping off into the depths. I headed in to a shallower sandy mark to drift mackerel strip along the bottom. This produced about 10 dogfish, 3 dabs up to 1lb and 5 thornbacks from 4-7lb. One surprise was a tub gurnard weighing 1lb 8oz, a beautiful orange-red fish with the blue edged pectorals, not big but a P.B. for me for this species.
Day 2 Again, plenty of mackerel in mid water with various combinations of pollack, coalfish and codling closer to the bottom. Baited feathers produced more codling and male and female cuckoo wrasse. Another visit to the deep water mark with baited muppet rigs produced lots of codling to 3lb, some whiting and a very small ling. One of the whiting was snatched by a black backed gull as I was swinging it into the boat; the gull came from behind me so I don’t know who was more surprised, me or the whiting. I headed to the sandy mark again which gave up a dozen doggies, only 1 dab and 7 thornbacks ranging from 1lb 12oz up to 11lb 12oz, a new P.B. for me. He might have made 12lb but a chunk of his tail was missing. A further 3 tub gurnard up to 1lb brought the species count to 11.
Day 3 Found it more difficult to get enough mackerel today as the place seemed to be stuffed with coalfish with some pollack and codling thrown in for variety (see 2nd photo of fish finder screen). The coalies were up to 2lb 8oz and were fat as pigs. I think I could have filled the boat with them. I tried a new mark today which looked good on paper but produced only 1 bite and the trace broke so I don’t know what it was. To be fair it was around slack water when things are often a bit slow, perhaps I’ll try it again next year. Back to the sand for a short while for 1 small thornback, 2 more tubs and 2 small grey gurnard before I had to head in to comply with tide times.
Day 4 After getting some mackerel I tried the deep water mark again with baited muppets but there didn’t seem to be any decent fish about; no ling or better cod and pollack which this mark has produced in previous years. One retrieve felt heavier than usual but no livelier and just as I was nearing the surface I could see a good sized octopus holding on. I’m not sure whether it was trying to eat the mackerel or mate with the muppet but it left go just as I was lifting it clear of the water; just as well since it’s quite a job getting them out of the boat again. Anyhow, the shallow sandy mark threw up a couple of dogfish, eight thornbacks from 2lb to 12lb (new P.B.) along with a 2lb spotted ray. The 12lb thornie was great sport on the 8 – 12lb rod, it dived to the bottom and for a moment I thought the line was snagged as I couldn’t budge it but constant steady pressure with the rod heeled right over eventually shifted it. I also got 2 more small grey gurnard on a spinning rod set up to try for dabs.
I was a bit disappointed at not getting some decent ling, cod and pollack but on the other hand I’ve never got so many rays here before. The sandy mark has thrown up some nice flatties including dabs to 1lb 4oz, plaice and turbot to 1lb 8oz in the past but not this year. Then again I’ve never got tub gurnard here before. Every year is different I suppose. The fishing was certainly busy and I got there and home without any trailer problems so that was good too.
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