A big improvement in the weather required a suitable response; no point in complaining about bad weather if you don’t avail of the good.
Friday saw me on the water by about 11.30 am and feathering for a good hour produced just 5-6 small pollack and a coalfish, time to try a different deeper mark. This produced a few more small pollack and eventually a couple of mackerel; this would have to do. Off to the “skate mark” to try for a few rays. By now it was apparent that the wind was a bit fresher than expected and more westerly so no shelter from the shore; the sea was quite lumpy and uncomfortable and persistence for an hour and a half gave only a single doggie, and a small one at that. A move to a deep water mark was thwarted by the sight of a plague of pot/net marker buoys scattered all over so I moved on to somewhere sheltered but devoid of fish other than two small dabs. I was almost glad when it was time to head in.
Saturday. I launched further west today in light winds and warmer temperatures; an improvement already. First drop of the feathers took a small pollack which was consigned to the bait box in case the mackerel proved elusive again. Even the pollack were elusive today but eventually I got 3 good sized mackerel from deep water. Now the fishing could begin; first drift produced a couple of half hearted rattles but no fish. A move to a different mark produced a couple of dogfish and a few welcome dabs (absent last time out) but no rays as I had hoped for. This mark is normally reliable for a spotty or two but not today. Again I moved further along like the picnicker thinking the further you go the better the spot will be, it might not be better but at 120ft it was certainly deeper. A gentle bite was given time to develop but with no further rattles, I reeled in. Aware of some extra weight I expected some weed but it was a megrim, only the second of my career and a new p.b. at exactly 1lb. They’re not the most attractive fish, only a mother could love them. They have a very impressive gape when they open wide so no problems when they go to the dentist! Over the next hour or two the dab tally slowly mounted with two small thornbacks at 3lb and 3lb 4oz putting more of a bend in the rod. One of the thornies seemed to have a hernia with what looked like a lobe of liver protruding through one of 3 holes in the body wall. A few doggies added to the numbers. Donegal Bay is pretty big, plenty of room for everyone yet a couple of guys motored up and started to fish less than 50 yds from me in my line of drift so I was now fishing water which they had covered. An acquaintance of mine on witnessing a similar display of bad “etiquette” on Lough Melvin suggested that “If he did that down on the Mask or Corrib, some man would give him a Red Ear!” No red ears today but the next thing to put in an appearance was a bright red octopus which squirted water in all directions. As soon as it was freed, then it ejected a cloud of ink, thankfully into the water. Fishing over the sand was slowing so I headed for a rock mark to try for a better pollack and first two drops produced mackerel, a bit late for bait today but now frozen down awaiting a later date. The shoal soon passed on and on hitting the bottom I had an almost instant hook-up. A few kicks and thumps suggested it wasn’t a pollack and sure enough a nice little codling broke the surface. Unusually, the swim bladder had blown so I took him home for tea. I don’t get many codling in the bay, not that there are none but I just haven’t found them yet! It seemed to be a shoal of one as no more fish of any sort showed up. On the way back to the slip, I chanced another drift on the first mark, good decision as it produced the expected, or at least hoped for, spotty ray and a couple more doggies. Before completing the run in, I gutted the cod and mackerel and soon had a crowd of appreciative gulls around the boat. Suddenly something shot in from behind me for a free sample, it was a juvenile gannet. It hung around so close to the boat that I was practically hand feeding it, I don’t think the adults would be so bold. It was a beautiful evening and with a total of 9 dabs, 3 rays, 6 doggies, a rare codling and even rarer megrim, I was a lot more content heading home than yesterday.
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