A couple of weeks back my dad came down to Cork for a visit, and to cash in on a birthday ‘voucher’ of going on a bass fishing trip with yours truly. We did the same last year, but on that occasion it was with a ‘professional’ guide in a boat in Cork harbour. Things did not go to plan on the previous year’s outing, partly due to the guide – he had neglected to tie a fresh leader onto a rod given to my dad, and when he caught a bass on his first cast, the leader snapped at the knot just before the fish was landed… sickening – and in my opinion it was totally avoidable if a fresh leader had been tied prior to the session. As it happened, that was the only fish caught on that day – making it a whole lot worse (and no apology was given by the guide)..
OK, rant over, this time I was hoping that my dad would catch (and land) his first bass at a mark which has produced a few fish for me this year close to the top of the tide. We arrived about half an hour before high tide, and were greeted by lovely conditions – a nice bit of chop on the water stirring things up and a moderate on-shore breeze. We both had Feed Shallow lures ready and clambered down to the mark. First cast out, here we go… *bang* fish on for my dad, and then *bang* another fish on for myself. I could see by the hoop in my dad’s rod it looked like a decent fish.. I quickly landed my fish, a smallish schoolie of around 40-45cm, released it, and scooted over to where my dad was. In the meantime he had been drenched by a big wave which arrived just as he was landing the fish. It looked like a 5lb+ fish, and measured out at around 58cm – a brilliant bass for a first ever caught and landed.
The adrenaline was pumping then, as I headed back to my perch and cast out. Over to my left I watched my dad do the same. Just a few seconds later, and whack, another fish hit my dad’s lure… I went back and assisted in landing and unhooking the fish, this time a smaller one at around 52cm. Two bass on his first two casts!
Over the following hour, my dad hooked another few bass but lost them on the retrieve, and things were quiet for me as I couldn’t find any. When he decided to call it a day and sit back and relax, I figured I’d give the lucky spot a try and fished from the same rock. Some 15 minutes later, just as we were going to pack it in, another fish struck when close in. A couple of runs and a nice 6lb+ bass was landed, which went to 64cm on the ruler.
Since that outing I have been out on a couple of other sessions, one in my friend Cuan’s boat in Cork harbour. Cuan was skippering the beautiful 18 foot larch boat, which was built by none other than his dad. During its week long stay in the Cork harbour area the boat caught a few eyes I’m sure.
We were hoping to catch a bass on the day, or a decent pollock / cod at depth in the channel. The mackerel were in abundance however, and we just couldn’t find a way past them. We pretty much tried everything, but the mackerel were hitting everything at all depths. At one stage, Cuan put a hook through the back of a mackerel, and let the live bait swim back down to try entice any monsters lurking.. some minutes later a take was felt and Cuan retrieved.. what came back up was a bigger mackerel who had hooked himself on the same rig, with the other mackerel gone 🙂
The following day I brought a friend to a harbour mark to stock up on some mackerel for the fridge. Within a few casts we were into the fish, which at times were no more than 2 or 3 metres from the breaking water on the beach. It was close to full tide, and the mackerel were in a total feeding frenzy, driving the terrified sprat up onto the beaches. This has been the case all over Cork harbour for the past week or two. It has been quite some time since I have seen so many mackerel stuffed into the harbour. We fished for an hour, before realising we probably had more than enough mackerel to bring home – 20 minutes of fish cleaning later gave us a tally of 37 fish.. one great thing about mackerel is most people love them, so on the way home many of these were presented to other friends and neighbours who happily shared the spoils.
Since that mackerel mayhem, I have gone on two more sessions targeting the old bassy fellas. On the first of these trips, I fished two different marks with lures in darkness with Cuan, but we could not find a single fish between us 😦 On the second occasion (which was last night) I caught a single bass of 52cm which gave a great account of itself before being landed. One more fish was lost on the retrieve and that was it for the night.
I had hoped for a couple more as conditions were nice, but as the tide went into the last hour of the drop everything went quiet. The mullet moved in and kept me on my toes, often deciding to splash at the surface right beside me, or swimming into my legs once or twice, almost causing a brown trouser moment..