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Finding the Fish

After a disappointing exit from the Euros yesterday, the only thing for the post Bleu blues was to get out and chuck a few lures. The wind had been brisk all day, and the northerly element added a bit of a sting in the tail. In the hope that the wind would drop as darkness fell, I headed to an open-water mark to try for some bass.

The dreaded floating sea lettuce greeted me on arrival (aka floating green shite), and was present in abundance. I got into the rhythm of the old chuck a lure, enjoy 5 meters of clear water and then haul in a fist sized lump of goo for the remainder of the retrieve for a time. Eventually I moved east and tried some other nearby water (with the same result). It was time to wade out to some rocks – in the hope that the water beyond would be clearer – thankfully it was. The wind seemed to pick up to what felt like a force 4/5, and I cowered behind a boulder out of the line of its bite, using it to help me gain some extra distance on casting to the south east.

After a time and a smoke, and when the sun was properly down, I finally felt a rattle of a fish which immediately threw the lure. Cursing my luck, the same thing happened shortly after – but it was nice to know there were a few fish around. The wind finally started to drop and the first fish came, taken in close and around the 52cm mark.

Bass #1 @ 52cm

Bass #1 @ 52cm

With dropping wind and tide, I accessed some other rocks giving a better casting area, and 3 casts later had a subtle hit, followed by some ferocious line stripping. A good bass had been sitting just inside a finger of rock which ran in front of me and on taking the lure took off like a rocket to the left. Thankfully the drag was loose enough and I let her take line before she started to turn. She took another couple of runs on the way in, and just as the fish was landed the leader snapped an inch above the lure clip knot. A wave washed in and it has heart in the mouth moment but phew the fish was still ashore. I lifted her and carried to a safer spot and measured a nice 68cm fish, going 1cm better than my previous best of 2016.

Some blurry photos and a quick video later, she recovered in a calm water area and swam away strong.

Bass #2 @ 68cm

Bass #2 @ 68cm

I fished on for another 30 minutes and had one more schoolie, which took the lure when it had been left totally stationary for about 10 seconds. It was the smallest fish of the night but a nice way to wrap up the session.

Bass #3 @ 46cm

Bass #3 @ 46cm

The 68cm fish:

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Solitary Fish

I was in two minds about going out the door last night with a breezy enough westerly blowing, but with the kids in bed at around 9pm I finally gave myself a good mental kick-up-the-arse to get out the door.  With low tide at 1am it was off to a mark to fish the ebb tide, and a ‘supermoon’ the previous night meant a strong set of spring tides was in effect.

I started fishing half-way through the dropping tide and there was a very strong run of current, flying along in the same direction as the westerly breeze. For 45 minutes or so I fired out a few plugs up wind, but found it hard fishing them as they were flying back in the current – any retrieval which was going to get them sub-surface felt like too fast a retrieve in the darkness.

It just felt it wasn’t a night for the plugs so I put on a Slug-go and began casting upstream and allowing it to come back to me in the fast current, again though it was difficult to get any ‘feel’ on the lure or maintain any contact as it flew past me from right to left. I had been wanting to give a floated soft plastic rig a try again, a technique I knew had worked well for others at the mark. So the Slug-go (Alewife) went onto a 3-4 foot length of fluoro below the float rig. It’s probably hard to fully see in this picture the setup but should give some idea:

Floated SP Rig

Floated SP Rig

I began casting the floated Slug-go rig upstream and retrieving line slowly as it floated past me in the current, until it swung around past me each time – and then retrieving it back against the current with pauses every few metres. About ten minutes in I felt some subtle resistance while retrieving the rig against the current. What I initially thought was weed then felt a bit heavier and pulled a bit of line off the reel … yahoooooo fish on! The fish put up very little resistance – I had the drag very loose and there was a few small runs but until I landed the fish I really thought it was a small fish. Then I saw it was a much better fish than it had felt and it went to 67cm on the ruler – a new best fish of the year for me. Bass never cease to amaze me, sometimes it is the bigger fish that give the smallest fight.

67cm Bass

67cm Bass

The fish went back in the water very well and recovered much quicker than I had expected – it is usually so much easier unhooking a fish caught on a weedless soft plastic than on a plug.  I fished on for just another half hour, the wind dropped, and the current slowed down a lot and it just felt like the window had passed so I decided to pack it in.  Just the one fish but as ever I was happy out to have found one, and a new best of the season for me.

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Fishing The Ebb..

I have not had much success fishing ebb tides in the past, and generally decide not to venture out when the kids-are-in-bed window of opportunity arises most evenings if the tide is dropping. This is very limiting however as you’re only going to have flooding tides half the time in the evenings, so last night I decided to give a mark I rarely fish another try (I was told it fishes well on last few hours of a dropping tide).

When I arrived there was a very fast moving ebb current, a light south westerly, and not much weed to talk about – conditions which seemed promising.. During the first hour I occasionally heard fish breaking the surface with that flapping / splashing sound as they likely fed on baitfish close to the top, but I couldn’t tempt them with a Slug-go or Feed Shallow lure. Sometimes they sounded very close, maybe only 10m away but in the rapidly fading light I couldn’t even make out the wake of where they had breached. There was a new moon on the night, the actual exact moment of new moon in fact was during the fishing session at circa 10pm, so the tide was moving fast, and as time passed it became darker and darker..

Then at around 10.30pm the first fish decided to take a lure, it fought well but I could tell it was a smallish fish, on landing the fish it looked to be around 2lb’ish. I managed to lose my Lure Forum ruler recently so couldn’t get a measurement, but it was probably around the 45cm mark. A quick photo was taken and the fish was released.

The fish took a Feed Shallow in white (or pearl rainbow?) which has easily been my most productive bass lure of the season so far (but this is always going to happen when it is the lure you fish with most..). The lure itself has been through the wars a bit, having lost an eye and the 3 original trebles are bent all over the shop – but as long as the points are sharpened before a session it is still doing the business.. (time to replace the hooks with singles I think..).

Things went quiet then for about 20 minutes, so I decided to venture to another spot about 200 yards away. Not long after whilst fishing the lure back slowly, with lots of pauses on the retrieve, another fish struck the lure. This felt like a much better fish, and took a number of surges and runs, stripping line off the reel. At times the runs were towards where I stood, so lots of slack line was reeled in the try to maintain contact. After some further small runs when close in, I switched on my headlamp to land the fish and saw a nice chunky fish of between 5 and 6 lb looking back at me. Again, I couldn’t take a measurement, but I’d guess it was between 55-60cm.

What followed was another 3 fish in the next 15 minutes, all around the 3-4lb mark. One of these fish threw the hook just before being landed.. Things went very quiet then and as it was getting late and I had a decent spin back to the house I packed it in.

Here are a couple of photos / video of some of the silver fellas:

Fish in a Barrel…

Mackerel were present in their tens of thousands in Kinsale town on Sunday night.. I happened to have a rod and some feathers in the car so I joined the party and cast out a very short distance. No sooner did the feathers hit the water that I had four joey (young) macks on the line..
I fished for just 20 minutes which was enough to land 25 of the beautiful fish, so that’s dinner sorted for the next few nights 🙂 I was totally unprepared and did not have any bag to store my catch in – so a pizzeria across the road reluctantly provided me with a paper bag.. which of course disintegrated later in my car boot leaving two dozen mackies flying every which way as I drove the windy road home.

I suspect a lot of people in Kinsale had mackerel for dinner last night, there were droves out on the Sunday at various spots filling their car boots, bags, hats etc. with the silver flashy fishies.

Mackerel remains my favourite fish to eat, and unlike most species which I most often release, the macks are not so lucky when they cross my path. I feel bass is totally over rated as an eating fish, and that the humble mackerel, on the other hand, is totally underrated and truly delicious.

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