Donegal Bay, 8th/9th August 2022

Thu Aug 11, 2022 10:59 am

Monday 8th; After a gap of too long, the weather and life allowed a couple of days afloat and I timed my arrival at the slip perfectly to get launched and away. As always, first task was to locate some bait but with nothing showing on the sounder it was down to “Lucky Dip”. First up was a tiny grey gurnard, returned to grow on. Several marks later and with no bait in the box I headed to a spot close to shore where I used to get them years ago by firing a silver Koster out from the rocks. Down went the feathers and up came 7 mackerel in 3 drops including 2 “proper” ones. I headed for the shallow sands where the Bro and I had about 2 dozen rays last time here. The water had masses of white gelatinous-looking objects floating about, some sort of eggs perhaps? Not a ray today though I think I hooked and lost one. Instead, I had a Decadog; 10 dogfish. At one point I hit a bite to feel resistance momentarily then nothing, I had been bitten off. My pondering about what had done this, chief suspect being the occasional spurdog which can show up, was soon answered by the arrival of a small tope, 85cm at a stretch. Almost an hour later as I was reeling in no.8 or 9 doggie I noticed a similar sized grey fish accompanying it to the boat, another even smaller tope which was no doubt drawn by the commotion of a struggling fish. Next cast and the tope took the bait allowing him to be recorded at a massive 59cm. This “crisp white shirt” as Hugo put it recently seems to be a great tope attractor, I had 2 in Sligo Bay the last time I wore it. How many of you guys have a dedicated tope shirt? As I was measuring him I heard the whine of a drone overhead watching me. This is the second time I’ve been “buzzed” at this mark and while a seemingly friendly wave normally sends them on their way, I do regret having sold my shotgun! It was disappointing not to see any rays, I thought perhaps they were back in numbers this year and two small tope were little more than a novelty. Still there’s always tomorrow.
Tuesday 9th; Yesterday’s tomorrow was now today and I launched at a different spot giving access to deeper water. Twenty minutes after reaching the slip my bearings were hopefully sufficiently cooled down and I reversed back, slid the boat off and got parked. I still had a few fresh mackerel from yesterday so started bait-fishing straight away. Not much happened and I dropped a set of feathers into a shoal I spotted on the sounder, scad, but still an excellent, and fresher, bait. After the scad disappeared off the radar, I could feel something nipping and plucking at the feathers and finally I reeled up a launce. I had recently ordered but not yet received some mini sabiki lures to target launce but with the slightly oversize feathers I managed a few more including a p.b. at 27.5cm! This was to be a very temporary p.b. as an even bigger one burst through the 28cm barrier, nearly needed the net for that one. Despite the irregular swell bouncing me around, the boat was barely moving over the ground so with a total absence of bites, not even a doggy, I headed west to try a new mark. First drop down produced a few taps which resulted in a dead weight on retrieve; an octopus. This was followed by 2 more on successive casts, there must have been a queue of them down there. I moved a bit but merely ended up at the head of a queue of doggies with 3-4 coming in quick succession. Isn’t it great to have hotspots for doggies and octopussies? The only two mackerel of the day came to the bait rather than feathers, the bigger having a recent wound near his tail. By now I’d had 6 hours with nothing of note to show but a pb sandeel so on seeing a commotion some distance away I was happy enough to motor over for a look. What I thought might have been tuna were dolphins feeding hard on a shoal of baitfish trapped at the surface. Within seconds, hordes of gannets materialised from nowhere to join in the frenzy. The only thing missing was David Attenborough but I guess his blue shirt and white trousers were at the cleaners! As I got closer some of the gannets were so stuffed that they had to regurgitate fish so they were light enough to take off. The dolphins joined me for a spin, bow-riding and leaping all around me. By now the lack of fish combined with an unexpectedly lumpy sea had taken their toll and I headed in. Back at the slip I spoke with another angler who had come in behind me, he too had had a poor day describing the fishing for rays and flatties as brutal, even worse than last year. Sadly I couldn’t argue. Still there’s always……..
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Re: Donegal Bay, 8th/9th August 2022

Thu Aug 11, 2022 11:08 am

A few extra pics including the Mini Sabikis waiting for me when I got home!
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Re: Donegal Bay, 8th/9th August 2022

Thu Aug 11, 2022 12:02 pm

great report as ever and really good shots of the dolphins
quiet day after the decent first day - must get retired soon - work ruining my fishing

Re: Donegal Bay, 8th/9th August 2022

Thu Aug 11, 2022 3:08 pm

Awesome report John! I like the look of them micro-sabikis, must pick some up, would be nice to be able to catch a heap of sandeels for bait :D

Re: Donegal Bay, 8th/9th August 2022

Fri Aug 12, 2022 12:44 am

A great read,, had a good chuckle to myself imagining a que of octopus lining up,, they say the book is always better than the movie,, I haven't seen a video of the trip but can definitely see it better in my head the way you have described it, shame on the rays and flats,, always next time I suppose,
I like to split those little sabiki into X2 rigs of 3,, very light line on them,, a few full-size mackerel will put it to its limit

Re: Donegal Bay, 8th/9th August 2022

Fri Aug 19, 2022 5:06 pm

Gonzo wrote:Awesome report John! I like the look of them micro-sabikis, must pick some up, would be nice to be able to catch a heap of sandeels for bait :D

With mackerel becoming so unreliable, I'm thinking the same thing.

Re: Donegal Bay, 8th/9th August 2022

Sat Aug 20, 2022 10:49 am

Great report John and great photos, you certainly tried hard to catch and they were nice little Tope. Its always great to get out for an adventure and theres always next time, hopefully the weather is kind and you will launch a few times before the winter.