Monday, 18 November 2013

Fishing around Youghal - 15th-17th November 2013

With a Full Moon on Sunday the tides were going to be big, so not the ideal time to be fishing in the Youghal harbour area. I was going to have to modify my fishing to take into account the strong tidal movement.

Friday 15th November

I headed to a good cod mark to fish for a few hours over low tide and the first couple of hours of the rising tide. It was a calm mild night, well illuminated by the moonlight breaking through the broken cloud. I got to my favourite spot, set up two rods both baited with fresh crab on 4/0 pennel pulleys. I even had to remove my coat as I was too warm. Unusual for a mid-November night!!!

The tide was static so didn't expect much to happen until the tide started to push in. However, the bait was not long in the water when there was a knock on one of the rods but the fish was not hooked. I retrieved to check the bait. Something had a go at it alright. I recast after securing the crab on the hook and as I was walking back I saw the other rod tip bounding. But by the time I got to the rod the fish was gone. I reel in to find most the crab was missing. But that was encouraging; at least there were fish out there. I rebaited and was about to cast out when I realized that my rod stand was about to tip over. A fish was pulling strongly on the other rod. I grabbed it, and could feel a strong fish on the end. At first I presumed it was a cod but as I began to haul it in the fight felt different. Then about 20 m out the fish broke the surface and continued to thrash about on the surface the rest of the way in. It was a 5 lb bass.

A little later I had another strong tug on one of the rods. This felt more like a cod with the double downward tugs. I kept the rod high to prevent it digging into the channel and after a few minutes had it on the shore. It was a chubby 3.25 lb cod. It had felt a bigger fish but had been foul hooked on the underside just below the head accounting for why it had felt heavier on the retrieve.

The fishing slowed down for a while after that. Then as the tide began to strengthen I had another two cod in rapid succession, 2.25 and 2 lbs. A little later I had a small codling of  probably less than a pound. After that I began to snag a lot of seaweed and the fishing was becoming difficult due to the current so it was time to pack up.

Saturday 16th November

I decided to try a bass mark in the outer harbour area on the ebbing tide. I got to the mark about 2.5 hours into the dropping tide. It was another mild night, still with no breeze. I could even hear anglers walking on the shingle several hundred meters across the bay. I set up the first rod with a 4/0 pennel pulley and cast out. It was no sooner in the water than there were small nibbles. They looked like coalfish bites. I retrieved and sure enough it was an average size coalfish. I recast and was working on setting up the second rod when the same thing happened and I reeled in another coalfish.

I eventually got the second rod set up an cast out. No long afterwards I had a bite on it, retrieved and found a tiny codling. After that I was getting lots of coalfish nibbles although none were hooked. Then I had a more substantial bite. This fish put up a better fight and was a 2.25 cod.

Unfortunately after that the coalfish really came on the feed. I had about another seven. It didn't look like any bass were going to show up so I decided to save my remaining crabs for the next day and packed up before low tide.

Sunday 17th November

I planned fishing a mark that is best on the bigger tides when the current carries the fish up the estuary. On the way I passed over Youghal bridge and have seldom seen so many anglers fishing on the bridge. That would not be my choice, apart from the dangers from the traffic if you did get a decent size fish it would be a struggle to haul it up and you would have to have it well hooked to avoid it coming off.

My chosen mark was busy too. There were already five anglers there. This mark generally fishes best about three hours after low tide and I thought I was getting there early at about two hours after low tide. No fish had been caught at this stage but it was early. There was a lot of seaweed as well as branches and logs being carried up stream by the current. So I just set up one rod initially. It was another mild and calm day and I had my coat off for most of session until dusk when it began too cool off.

Not long after I arrived one of the anglers had enough, packed up and left. I was there for about an hour before I had the first bite. I picked up the rod and began to retrieve. It felt like a cod and pulled strongly all the way in. It was a 3.25 lb fish. So that was a promising start.

At the current began to weaken I set up the second rod and cast out. Not long after there was a strong knock on the rod. At first I thought I had just snagged a large clump of weed as it felt like a dead weight but then I felt the distinctive cod double tugs. I few minutes later as the shock leader came out of the water I could see a nice cod. This was a 4 lb fish.

I had two more good cod after that, 3 lbs and 3.75 lbs  plus a small codling of less than a pound and an eel.

As the tide slackened the bites died off. I fished until 6 pm an hour after high tide but there was no more activity. I was getting small tugs but that was probably crabs pulling on the bait.

I had been uncertain how this mark would fish as it had been very poor last year but was very happy with the result of four keepers.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

The cod run begins - 9th-10th November 2013

After the very strong winds the previous weekend I reckoned the cod would start to move inshore in greater numbers. So I placed an order for 2 dozen crabs for the weekend.

Saturday 9th:
I arrived at a reliable mark just after low tide. It was a very mild evening with just a light breeze. The tide had not started to move as I was setting up two rods with 4/0 pennel pulleys baited with fresh crab. I had fished there the previous neap tides and the shore had been strewn with debris (branches, logs, seaweed, bottles etc) but the last big tide cycle had cleared it off.

Shortly after casting out I had a strong knock on one of the rods. It felt to be a strong fish and I could tell from the fight that it was a cod. After a few minutes I hauled a 4.25 lb cod out of the channel. That was a good start and it was not even dark yet (this mark normally fishes far better after dark).

It was quite for a while after that. Then after dark I had three cod is quick succession; the first was 2.25 lbs, followed by a 2.5 lb fish and then a smaller one under 1.5 lbs. A little later I had a better fish of 3.5 lbs, followed by a 3 lb cod 20 minutes later. This was shortly followed by a 2 lb fish.

There was a bit of a lull for 20-25 minutes then I had another three in the space of a few minutes, a 3 pounder, then a 2.5 lbs fish followed by another 3 lb cod.

It got quite again so after about half an hour I decided to pack up. At that stage I had caught 11 cod, 10 of those were 2 lb or above which I kept, and released the only fish under 2 lbs.

I dismantled one rod and brought some of the gear and fish to the car. However, when I got back the tip of the remaining rod was bouncing. I retrieved to find a 3.75 lb cod on the last cast.

Sunday 10th
Sunday was a wet day but I decided to return to the same mark as I had about a dozen crabs left. Just before leaving home the rain got heavier but I hoped it would ease off but it lashed down for most of the remainder of the evening. There was quite a strong SSW/SW wind too. So it was not a pleasant night to be out.

I set up at the same spot just as the tide was beginning to rise. The fishing was a lot slower for the first couple of hours this time. I did have a couple of small codling of 1-1.75 lbs which went back. It was only when the tide began to push in strongly in that the fishing picked up. The first was a 3.5 lb cod, followed by three fish in the 2-2.75 lb range. Then there was a very strong tug on one of the rods. I picked it up, the line had gone slack. I reeled in the slack, the fish was heading upstream, I connected with it and struck. This felt to be a more substantial fish and it fought very strongly all the way it putting a severe bend in the rod as I tried to stop it digging into the channel margin. Eventually I got it close and thankfully no weed was caught in the leader knot and it was with relief that I saw the shockleader wind into the reel. It was a stocky 5.5 cod.

I fished on for a little longer but there were no more bites so decided to pack up. The rain had been persistently heavy all the time I was fishing but then stopped as I was walking back to the car!!

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Some fat bass - Late October/Early November 2013

With the recent wet and windy weather it was time to put away the lure fishing rod until next year and concentrate on bait fishing.

Last week I picked up a dozen crabs and went for my first cod fishing session of the winter. When I got to my favourite cod mark I realized there was a lot of fresh water coming down the estuary after the recent heavy rain and a huge amount of debris on the shore. But since I was there I thought I would give it a go. I was fishing for about an hour, catching nothing other than eels. I hate eels - too slimy to get a grip on to get off the hook and they make a tangled mess of your rigs. Then there was a sharp strong tug on one of the rods but the fish was not hooked. That was encouraging, at least there was something other than eels out there.

Midway into the rising tide I had another strong bite. This time the fish was well hooked and was fighting strongly. At the time I assumed it was a cod but as I got it in close it broke the surface and I realized it was a fat chunky bass of 51 cm. It weighed 4.25 lbs, well above the avarage weight for its size, it must have been feeding well over the last few months.

About 20-30 minutes later there was another strong tug on the same rod and the line went slack. I quickly reeled in the slack and connected with a very strong fish which put up a good fight all the way in. This time it was a 7 lb bass, another well fed fat fish. Its was 63 cm in length so again well above average weight for its size.

I wasn't expecting to get bass from here as I was fishing into a deep channel which normally produces cod at this time of the year. I fished on for a while but just had a few more eels.

Last Sunday I decided to fish for bass and with another dozen crabs made my way to a mark which I had only lure fished before but one that had a chance of producing bass on a dropping tide. Following the strong winds on Saturday the shore was blanketed with a mass of kelp but the water looked reasonably clean. There was quite a strong cold NW wind blowing and intermittent rain, I was thinking I should have stayed at home in front of the fire.

I set up and cast out the first rod. While I was setting up the second rod there was a small tap on the first. I reeled in and found one of the smallest pollock I have ever caught trying to get the crab off a 4/0 pennel pulley.

It was quite for about 30 minutes after that then there was a strong knock on one of the rods and the line went slack. I wound in the slack, at first I thought the fish was gone as I had to reel in a lot of slack before I caught up with it. It felt to be a very good fish and fought extremely strongly. As I got it in close the fish was thrashing about in the shallows until I eased it onto the beach. It was a fine, very fat stocky bass of 8.25 lbs. It measured just under 70 cm and must have been feeding very well over the summer. When I released it the fish gave one powerful flick of its tail and surged out into the bay at speed.

I had a couple of 1 lb coalfish after that. Then I had a more substantial tug. This felt to be a much heavier fish than the coalfish and fought strongly all the way in. It was a 3.25 lb cod.

I had one more coalfish after that before packing up.

As I had some crabs left I returned to the same mark last night but the coalfish were there in plague proportions. If there were any bass about the coalfish were onto the bait before they had a chance. I caught 10 or 12 and dropped half as many before all the bait was used up.