As per my shore report, opportunities to get afloat were limited but I managed three trips. I was dismayed to discover that I had left some “research” (based on a link supplied by Donal Domeney) at home and I wasn’t keen on a 560 mile round trip to fetch it so I would have to rely on my usual marks. There’s always next year I suppose. 10th July
; This was my first actual launch of 2017, an earlier attempt the previous week failed at the slipway when I had major electric/electronic problems. Today, just after leaving the estuary, the engine alarm sounded when I tried to speed up so I kept the revs down; returning with a dicky engine and wind against tide would not have been fun. Then the alarm sounded again at barely 2000 revs. I fired up the auxiliary engine and made my way to a sheltered bay, eventually; there’s some difference between 60hp and 6hp! I fired up the main engine again and tentatively increased the revs to 5000, not a peep and it behaved perfectly for the rest of the trips. Time to fish and first task was to get a few mackerel. My usual mackerel mark threw up plenty of pollack and coalfish to about 2.5lbs weight but no macks. I tried a few other spots before eventually picking up 9-10 in fits and starts. The first drift produced a good take but the hook straightened enough to allow what was probably a ray to escape but almost simultaneously a second ray took the other bait and hung on to the bitter end, 6lb 12oz of thornback. Not massive but a nice start. Next up was a tub gurnard followed by a plaice just on the 1lb 4oz mark. A second thornback weighed in at 7lb and 10 minutes later a 1lb 8oz turbot took the mackerel strip. The selection of flatties was extended by a 9oz dab while a couple of doggies and a small grey gurnard increased the species count for the day to 10. Not an outstanding day but at least I got afloat.12th July
; I managed to gather a few mackerel fairly quickly today though the pollack and coalfish were competing hard. With very light winds I headed out to try a couple of deep water reef marks. The first mark was very disappointing throwing up only a couple of pouting and cuckoo wrasse; I would normally expect a few ling and decent cod from here. Another rough ground mark in slightly shallower water supplied a single codling and a few pollack to 3lb 8oz. Just as I cut the motor to fish this mark, I noticed a sunfish at the surface. It flapped its way towards the boat and hung around for 10 minutes before heading off. I spent the rest of the day drifting over the sand, this produced three small tubs, a dogfish and 5 thornbacks ranging from 3lb 4oz to 6lb 8oz. On this occasion the fish were lying in deeper water than usual, it took me a few drifts to work this out. At the start of one drift I heard a splash and looked right to see something large at the surface about 50 yards away. I thought it was a seal at first but it was black rather than grey. It rose up in the water slightly and threw up its head allowing me to identify it as a leatherback turtle, the biggest species of turtle on Earth, never seen one of those before. It dived and disappeared before I had a chance to get a photo unfortunately. There were quite a few jellyfish in the area, food for both the turtle and sunfish. 17th July
; Again the mackerel came quickly today and again they were mixed with pollack and coalfish to about 2lb 8oz. With bait sorted I started fishing the rough ground with a 2 hook paternoster rig, poor cod, 3 cuckoo wrasse, all male, and a double of 3lb pollack turned up but again, no cod. Two small ballan wrasse accepted the mackerel bait, one had a beautifully coloured tail. I headed for the sand again where I picked up a small spotty ray(2lb 12oz), 4 dabs with the best spot on the 1lb mark, 3 tub gurnard to 1lb 1oz and 14 thornbacks ranging from 3lb to 7lb 12oz. I’ve never had so many rays from this mark before and this was in the face of some competition from a small trawler which has been fishing the bay a lot recently and apparently taking a lot of ray. Surprisingly, not one dogfish showed up today, it hardly seems like a day out without one! This year, the fishing produced a lot of rays but very few cod, even the doggies were few and far between, but as I’ve said before, every year is different. I trailed my Waterwolf underwater camera for a while today and having had a brief look, there’s some nice footage of various fish. At some point I’ll post it up, it takes a while to reduce 4 hours of mostly nothing to 4 minutes of something!
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