Saturday, 25 January 2014

A late cod run

After the storms and heavy rain between Christmas and the New Year I wasn't too hopeful of the cod sticking around. Even before Christmas they were getting scarce and smaller. A torrent of fresh water coming down the Blackwater pushed the fish well out into the bay by the beginning of January. Early in the month there were reports of the occasional good cod been taken in the Youghal area but in general the fishing seemed to be poor. However, last weekend after a week of relatively dry weather I thought I would take a chance and see if the cod had returned.

18th January
I had intended to fish a small gravelly cove in the outer harbour area but when I got there another angler had already set up in the middle of the small bay. There wasn't much space to fish comfortably without getting crossed lines especially if there was a bit of a tidal current so I decided to move to a different mark.

I arrived at the second location to find it free so I could set up on my favourite spot. I set up two rods both with 4/0 pennel pulleys baited with fresh crab. It was quite until after dark, then at about 6.25pm I had a bite, it was a small codling of less than a pound. But at least that indicated that there were still some cod around. Ten minutes later I had another small fish. Shortly afterwards I had a stronger tug on one of the rods and hauled in a better fish of about 3.25 lbs.

That was better, some bigger fish were starting to show up with the rising tide. Then quarter of an hour later close to high tide there was a sharp tug on the rod to my left. I grabbed it, struck and could feel a very strong fish on the end. It was fighting strongly as it attempted to dig into the side of the channel. As I got it in close I could see it thrashing about in the shallows and it looked a good plump fish. I eased it onto the shore and could see that it was a fine fat cod weighing 6.5 lbs - my best of the 2013/14 season.

This was quickly followed by a fish of about 3 lb. There was then a lull for about 30 minutes.  The tide was beginning to drop and I was thinking packing up when there was another good knock on one of the rods. It was a 4.25 lb cod which still had the remnants of a net around it which was cutting into it just below the head.

I had a couple more small fish after that before I packed up. So with a total of 10 cod, including 4 keepers above 3 lbs I was very pleased with that session.

19th January
Following the success of the previous night I headed to the same mark. However, there was a lot more fresh water coming down the Blackwater this time. Although it had been dry near the coast for the previous few days there must have been some heavy rain farther north in the river catchment which had now made its way downstream. This was reflected in the fishing. I had a few small codling of a pound or less over a couple of hours up to high tide at around 7.30 pm. It was not looking good, then close to 8 pm I finally had a good bite. It felt a strong fish and put up a good struggle all the way in. It was a 4.25 lb fish.

The tide was dropping at that stage so it was time to pack up. So while a disappointing session compared to the previous evening with 5 small codling it ended well with one nice fish .

22nd January
The conditions looked good for a cod session, no rain of any significance over the last few days, slack tides and a cold clear night. I had ordered 2 dozen crabs the day before so I was well prepared. I got to the mark at about 7 pm. No sooner had I cast out the first bait when I had a bite but the fish came off after a few turns of the reel. I recast and set up the second rod. Not long afterwards I had another bite, this time it stayed on but it was only a small codling of a pound and a half. As I was releasing it there was knock on the second rod, this was a better fish of 3.25 lbs.

Ten minutes later I had another 3 lb fish. I was getting plenty of gentle tugs as well, presumably small fish pulling on the bait. Then at about 8.15 pm there was a hefty tug on one of the rods. This was a very strong fish which did its best to try to dig in to the channel sides all the way in. It was a plump 5.5 lb cod - the best fish of the session.

This was rapidly followed by a succession of fish some of the order of a pound or so but several keepers as well including cod of 3.25, 4.5, 5 and 4 lbs.

It was my best session of the 2013/14 season with a total of 13 cod, including 7 keepers above 3 lbs.

23rd January
I had plenty of crab left so returned to the same mark the following evening. It was a mild dark  overcast night with a light southerly breeze. I was hoping for a repeat of the previous session. There were plenty of fish there, I was getting a series of bites in rapid succession but they were all small fish, between 0.5-1.5 lbs. I had ten of them over the space of two hours. They were too small to keep although three were deeply hooked and floated when I tried to release them so I retrieved those.

I had to wait until close high tide before I had the first decent bite. It felt a good fish and I almost had it in, the shockleader was winding on to the reel when it dug its head into the side of the channel and as I tried to pull it out the fish got off. However, it was a sign that some bigger fish were finally moving in. Shortly afterwards I had a 2 lb cod followed 20 minutes later by a 4 lb fish.

Then I had another sharp tug on one of the rods. It was another strong fish which put up a good struggle all the way in. It was a 5.25 lb cod.

With that I decided to pack up. What had started as a slow session with just small fish and improved dramatically in the last half hour.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

First bass of 2014

We finally had a bit of calm weather last Tuesday after been hit by one storm after another since Christmas. It was my first opportunity to get out fishing since the beginning of the year. I decided to try a new mark that I had investigated the previous Saturday afternoon. It was a flat beach which steepened up over the last 30 m or so. I reckoned that the break in slope would be a place where bass would swim along while searching for food from about mid-way into the rising tide. It would also be sheltered from the southwesterly winds so would be a comfortable place to fish.

I got to a likely looking spot along the shore about 2.5 hours after low tide and set up two rods, one with a 4/0 pennel pulley baited with crab and the second with a two hook flapper with size 1 and 1/0 circle hooks; the lower hook baited with crab and the other with razor fish. It was a clear night, with a bright half moon and just a light breeze. There was a fairly small surf since the area was sheltered from the open sea. The more open local beaches such as Whiting Bay and Ballybrannigan were still too rough to fish after after the stormy weather. The scent of the bait would be lost within the churning surf.

Not long after setting up I had a good tug on the rod with the pennel pulley. At first I thought it was a small bass but as I got the fish in close I realized it was a dogfish. No sooner had I released it when there was a bite on the second rod; another dogfish. Fifteen minutes later I had another dogfish, this time it was what must have been the smallest one I have ever caught, followed shortly but a fourth dogfish.

It then got quite. I had a couple of missed bites but caught nothing more for nearly the next two hours. Then over high tide I returned to the rod stand after taking a stroll along the shore to find the line had gone slack on the rod with the pennel pulley. I retrieved the slack and then connected with a fish which put up a better fight compared to the dogfish and as I eased it into the shallow water I could see a glint of silver in the moonlight - it was a bass!!! Not a big fish, with a weight of about 2 lbs and a length of 43 cm, but nevertheless it was my first bass of 2014.

I had been thinking of packing up at high tide, but getting the bass gave me some encouragement to stay on longer. About half an hour later I had another dogfish. This was followed by the sixth dogfish of the night about 40 minutes afterwards.

At that stage I decided to pack up and save my remaining crabs for the next session. So while it was not a great session I was happy with getting my fist bass of the year. That was a better start to the year than 2013 when it was well into April before I got the first bass of the year. So let's hope 2014 proves to be a better year than last year for bass fishing.