A brand new mark today! I had checked out a possible launching site a couple of years ago and got some useful info, (as well as an offer of a free lobster!), from a local crab and lobster fisherman on accessibility. He advised that the slip was only useful over the top half of the tide due to the shallow water. I had done my homework on the area and from various sources had identified two particular marks, tope being my intended target. Weather and tides co-operated perfectly on Saturday to permit a decent launch window in the morning and recovery window in the evening. Having had a good day out last week, The Bro’ was game for another sortie. He passed me on the road about half an hour from the launch site but he was going nowhere without me! We were afloat and off by 11.30 am, all we needed was for the mackerel to appear quickly; first two drops yielded me 11 mackerel while The Bro’ contributed another 5-6. That would be plenty of bait so off we went to find the first mark, a 15ft deep channel in very shallow water, too shallow near low water as I felt the skeg dig in and kick up sand. A change of course saw us eventually find some deeper water and we decided to try a drift. A couple of mackerel flappers were soon swimming in the channel, held down by 6oz leads on zip sliders and long flowing traces of 200lb mono sporting 8/0 hooks. The waiting game began but it gave us time for some feeding activity of our own. After a sufficient amount of waiting, The Bro’ had a couple of rattles and nods on his flapper, looked like a dogfish struggling with a large bait, but he picked up the rod just in case and after another couple of nods, the reel started paying out line, and then more line! Engaging the spool, he lifted into the fish and off it went like a steam train. This run allowed me to retrieve my tope bait and the two scratching rods we were fishing so The Bro’ could play his fish unencumbered. The fish was soon alongside and I grabbed it by the pectoral and tail and hoisted it in. A new lease of life had him thrashing about a bit but we eventually got it settled and under control; a deft twist of the pliers and the hook was out. Stretched out on the measuring mat, it just made 147cm (32lb according to Angling Addicts length to weight converter). A few quick photos, into the recovery position for a short while and then the fish swam off serenely into the murky waters as if nothing had ever happened. On checking our drift on the plotter we could see that we had drifted over a deeper channel, 25ft in 12-15ft of water and the fish had taken in the channel so we decided to drop anchor and fish the channel. Over went the anchor and the boat settled nicely in the ebb flow. It was quiet for a while apart from The Bro’ scratching 2-3 doggies but it was approaching slack low water. The boat slowly swung around as the flood tide started to push and the boat settled nicely in the current. Then one of the flapper reels started nodding gently, again suggestive of a doggie. A moment of nothing then suddenly a loud buzzing as line was torn off. I picked up the rod, engaged the spool and tightened into the fish which took off for the far horizon. Another couple of runs and it was alongside, ready to be hauled into the boat by pec and tail. 137cm (25lb) on the mat, it was soon released to fight another day. About an hour later I had just put on a fresh flapper and cast it out, the bait hardly had time to hit the bottom when the reel started singing and I tightened into another fish. After a short scrap, I lifted my second tope of the day into the boat. With the hook easily removed, I stretched her out on the mat, 110 cm (12lb). That was it for the day, no more offers, not even a doggie on the scratching rods but with no complaints we weighed anchor and headed in, the other mark would have to wait for another day.
It’s very satisfying when after research, planning and effort, everything comes together with a result. I was surprised by the delicacy of the initial bites and thankfully all three fish were nicely hooked in the corner of the mouth making unhooking relatively quick and easy. The advice I had garnered included “fishes best on the last two hours of the ebb and then the flood,” can’t argue with that!
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