The strorm that hammered the south coast last Thursday and Friday certainly had a detrimental effect on the fishing, producing highly coloured water, weed choked bays and estuaries full of dark brown flood water. As last Saturday was the first day after the month long bass closed season I had to give it a go so went bait fishing to a beach that can fish well in daylight on a rising tide. But the surf was still very big and I guess the bait scent was just lost amongst the sediment charged breakers. I packed up just before high tide without a hint of a fish.
The next day the weather was calm and sunny. After doing some gardening I headed down to the shore to try some lure fishing for a few hours over high tide. But again the water was highly coloured. I perservered, trying a range of hard and soft plastic lures, but it was to no avail.
Monday 18th was another nice fairly calm day. I still had some lug left over from Saturday and picked up some crab on the way home from work. I planned to try a small beach that I have not fished for about two years. I took both the bait and lure fishing gear as there is good lure fishing ground either side of the beach. However, when I got there a couple of hours before low tide I found the bay was full of seaweed, with masses of kelp floating for about 30 m out from the shore. The water was still highly coloured. So it was pointless fishing there. I back-tracked to another beach which I thought might be cleaner.
By the time I got set up it was 11.30 pm, much later than I had intended to start. The water was weed free but the surf was quite weak. It was a lovely clear night and although there was no moon it never got totally dark. Due to the clear skys there was a glow of daylight to the north as it was only a few days before the longest day of the year. Even at 2.00 am there was still a glow in the north, after that it started to get brighter again.
I set up two rods, one baited with lug, the other with crab, both on 4/0 pennel pulleys. Shortly after setting up I noticed some subtle nibbles on the rod with the lug, picked it up, then felt a strong tug, lifted into the fish but after having it on for a few seconds it was gone!!!
There then follows a succession of missed bites, about six on the lug and two on the crab, some were fairly subtle knocks, others were stronger tugs. I felt a sense of frustration, it was like watching Ireland play football in the Euro 2012. A change of tactics were required. Over the last few months I have not been striking when a fish bites due to a post on Sea Angling Ireland where a far better angler than myself said he never struck and let the fish hook itself. Obviously that was not working for me despite using brand new rigs with new hooks!!!
So next bite I struck hard - this time there was no mistake, the fish was well hooked. It fought strongly and at first I thought I had a bass, but when I hauled it out of the surf I could see it was a large dogfish. Two more dogfish followed, one on lug the other on crab.
At about 12.30 am I had a much stronger bite on the rod with the lug and again struck to set the hook. This fish was putting up a better fight so I has hoping that it was not another dogfish. Fortunately this time it was a bass, a well fed stocky fish of 55 cm and approximately 4 lbs.
A little later I spotted a slight knock on the rod with the crab but then it went quite. At first I thought the fish was gone but then there was another small tap. I retrieved and found a small codling on the end. That was a bit of a surprise for mid-June!!!
At about 1.30 am I noticed some subtle taps on the rod with the lug so picked it up, waited until I felt a stronger tug and then struck strongly. I was into a bigger fish, it was fighting very strongly, stripped some line as it tried to escape, pulling the line to the right. It felt a powerful fish, especially as I got it in close and I could see a good size bass splashing about in the shallow surf. It was a chunky 61 cm fish with a weight of 5.75 lbs.
I fished on until about 3.00 am, no more bass but I did have two coalfish and another dogfish. Interestingly from the moment I changed tactics and reverted to striking on a bite I did not miss a single fish.