Although cod fish seems to have generally been rather poor this season I was quite successful and had some decent size fish that broke my personal best several times.
The season got off to a slow start, over the last few years cod have appeared in September or early October but it was well into November before the main cod run started.
Having had a very poor summer bass fishing and a mediocre autumn I decided to focus on cod fishing for the remainder of the year. Below is Part 1 (October-November) of a summary of my fishing over the last few months. Part 2 (December) and Part 3 (January-February) will follow over the next few days.
28th October: I fished Ferry Point in Youghal 2.5 hours either side of low tide. It was quite apart from a couple of dogfish over low tide. I had just one codling, a fish of about 1.5 lbs early on the rising tide, but it was a start. There were smaller fish there, they were constantly nibbling on the bait but couldn't get their mouths around big crab baits on size 4/0 hooks.
Result: 1 cod (1.5 lbs), 2 Dogfish
4th November: I returned to Ferry Point, again fishing over low tide and early on the rising tide. There was quite a cold northwesterly wind blowing so not ideal. I had one strong bite, at first I assumed it was a cod but the fight felt different, the fish was head shaking not pulling downwards like a cod. After a few minutes I hauled a 44 cm bass onto the shore. That was the only bite for the session. As the tidal flow increased it became too difficult to hold bottom so it was time to pack up.
Result: 1 bass (44 cm)
7th November: I decided to try a deep water mark in the Blackwater Estuary which has been very productive on previous years. It was a neap tide, slack tides are best for this location, it is almost impossible to fish on a spring tide. I arrived early on the rising tide and set up two rods both baited with crab on 4/0 pennel pulleys. It was quite for some time but in the two and a half hours before high tide I had fairly constant nibbles and bites, and reeled in a succession of small fish, flounder, a good size dab, pouting, a whiting and an eel. I am not sure how most of them managed to get their mouths around a 4/0 hook.
Result: 3 Flounder (37 cm, 24 cm, 28 cm), 1 Dab (35 cm) 1 Whiting, 1 Pouting, 1 Eel.
16th November: I fished a beach on the ebb and the early rising tide. There was a moderate surf so I was hopeful of landing a bass was well as a few cod. I set up two rods with pennel pulleys, one baited with crab, the other with razor. However, the fishing was poor. I just had a couple of coalfish on the dropping tide. The fishing picked up slightly as the tide began to push back in with a dogfish, another coalfish and a whiting but no sign of any bass or cod.
Result: 3 Coalfish, 1 Dogfish, 1 Whiting.
21st November: As it was again a neap tide I returned to the Blackwater estuarine mark that I had fished two weeks previously. Over the weekend and at the beginning of the week there had been quite a strong southwesterly storm so I was hopeful that the windy weather might have brought the cod into the channel. I got there about 8.30 pm as the tide was well into the rise (HW at 11.45 pm). I had a couple of bites but the fish were not hooked, or only lightly hooked and came off half-way in. Then at about 10 pm I had the first fish a codling of about 3 lbs.
This was followed about 15 m later by a bigger fish of 53 cm and weighing about 4.75 lbs
I stayed on until high tide but the fish had passed up the channel and there were no more bites
Result: 2 cod (3 lbs, 4.75 lbs)
24th November: I retuned to the same mark. The tides were still slack so it was an optimal time to fish here. Low tide was at 8.50 pm and I got there about an hour afterwards just before the tide began to rise. There was a fairly strong northerly breeze blowing down the channel, quite cold but good for cod fishing. I was again using two rods with 4/0 pennel pulleys baited with a mixture of crab and razor. It was very quite for a long time and I was beginning to think the fish were not going to show up. Then just after midnight I had the first codling, it was a smallish fish, about 1.25 lbs, which I released. The cod then came on the feed and I had a series of bites in rapid succession. I missed some, lost a few as they dug their nosed into the size of the channel but I did manage to land three of them, these were bigger fish, the first was about 2.5 lbs, the next was a good fish of 5.5 lbs and a length of 57 cm. A new personal best.
This was followed by a quite period. Then at about 2 am I had a very strong tug on the line. It felt to be a big and very strong fish. I had let the current drag the bait upstream so it was a struggle to haul the fish back against the current and keep it from embedding its nose into the side of the channel. But I eventually got it close and on to the river bank. This was a fine cod of 6 lbs/62 cm. I had beaten my personal best for a second time in the same night!!
So a good night after a rather slow start to the cod season, three keepers (I release any cod below 40 cm unless deeply hooked).
Result: 5 cod, (1.25 lbs, 2.5 lbs, 2 lbs, 5.5 lbs, 6 lbs)
25th November: I had some crabs left so decided to try a mark further up the Blackwater estuary that can fish well in daylight in the 2.5-3 hours before high tide. I would normally prefer to fish here on bigger tides but thought I would give it a go. It was not a nice day, the wind direction had changed to southerly and brought persistent misty rain with it. Fishing was slack, but I did get a couple of small codling in the 2.25-2.5 lb range, 46-47 cm in length.
Just before packing up I hooked a 31 cm flounder.
Result: 2 Cod, (2.25 lbs, 2.5 lbs), 1 Flounder (31 cm)