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.
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.
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 .
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.
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.