Hard to believe we are already one month in from the start of the river season. June seems to have flown by with barely any traditional summer weather at all. As I write this the jet stream is narrower and dropping south, which means the low pressures systems will be coming in faster from the Western Atlantic, and possibly come right through my letterbox !…. I had a day sorted for getting “Hi Sea Drifter” out, but that got changed when the forecasters got it wrong (yet again). I think they are pushed to give even a 2-day notice of what we can expect weather-wise. I grabbed a Stena Ferry over from Fishguard to Rosslare for the annual fishing and filming expedition to Courtmacsherry and Mark Gannon’s operation. It would be far easier to fly but the Stena ticket allows me to take the car, fill it with all the gear I want whereas the plane route is pretty much a no-no as the restrictions and weights make life unbearable as an angler. I have camera bags on top of all the fishing stuff. A gut feeling told me my trip would coincide with the arrival in Ireland of an intense low pressure that was spawned in the North- East of the United States. My first day out was aboard Mark’s charter boat and with a fresh breeze we ploughed into the sea for 16 miles, taking spray over the cabin. It was certainly not the weather to be considering filming but apparently it might be the only chance of getting offshore. The ocean was very clear out there and we hooked a few blue sharks, but some came unbuttoned right at the boat, and another simply ate one of the angler’s floats, a plastic toilet cistern, thus severing the line. They were just not too interested in feeding. We tried a few drifts over a nearby wreck and that only resulted in two ling. First drift fish. Subsequent drifts over exactly the same numbers resulted in…nothing.
An anchoring session inshore was required but that just resulted in a couple of conger and I had a small Ling. No problem…We would go to the guaranteed Pollack reef and load up on rod benders in a couple of drifts. Result…Not a single take on the entire boat. A final anchoring on the Skate grounds 4 miles off the Seven Heads would surely salvage a very long day. No. The big flatties had lockjaw. So it seemed that a sudden fall in pressure, and this one was extremely low at 974, means the fish really do go off the bite.
Even the inshore dinghy fishing on the rocks was tough for me. 14 Pollack and a single Bass, and by golly I certainly had to work for them. Never mind, I would hit the pier on my second night as it was a perfect tide. Fresh mackerel were dropped over the side. I had three hook-ups, lost all three, one was a big conger, then got one up around 20/22lbs. Caught, finished, just lying on the surface. But the camera and tripod were in the car. Now if I really hauled hard I could walk it to the steps, drag it up, and job is a good u’n. Until the Conger’s jaws chafed through the leader and I was suddenly 4 for ZERO. I hit the pier another 3 nights, but the low pressure had shut them down. One chance and I had blown it.
Finally I decided on a drive-round trip as the wind and rain cancelled all boat trips. I had to fish six spots before I got something to take bait, and in a couple of hours had ten Dogfish, a Rockling and a Bull Huss. But after 4 days of battling the elements I decided to cut my losses and come home early. Luckily the Stena ferry lady let me on, and I was back in Wales in 3 hours. A solid drive through the night and I was home. Possibly the worst trip I have had to Courtmac in 40 years, yet by persevering I did manage to come out with some fish, and what a good job I took the shore rods.
Back home I got the joblist under control and had a really enjoyable day fly-fishing for Rainbow trout at Rockbourne Fishery near Fordingbridge in Hampshire. Clear water enabled me to winkle a few Rainbows out, good hard scrappers, but I never did get the Blue trout, with was the original target. Even this trip was marred when I dropped one of my £125 camera batteries somewhere. Oh well, can’t win them all. Feat of the week was a great afternoon I had Chub fishing, visually spotting them in a small river for making a film. I only intended on 2/3 fish, and then was going to drive to another lake for Carp. But the Chub were having it so well I stayed all day and had 12 nice Chub, the best going 5lbs, my biggest for that stretch of river. Was most enjoyable, and on an old school bait from 40 years ago. Method was freelining, watching the bow in the line for the take, but even this great session was marred when I broke the tip off my ancient Avon (again) in a one-sided argument with a Willow tree. Then snapped the landing net where it joins the pole. This meant that on the very last Chub of the day, I pushed through stinging nettles and brambles, hooked a 3-plus pounder but had to really stretch to try and get it, on an overhanging bank…SPLASH!!… I went right in, up to my shoulders, with phone, transponder car key, the lot. Good job I have a sense of humour, and with the camera running on the tripod it was all captured on film. Soon to be released by Mike, so get ready for a good laugh.
Then this afternoon I whizzed over to Watmore Farm for a 3-hour session and managed four carp to about 8/9lbs, but even they did not seem to be going nuts. This weather needs to turn into a summer pretty quickly or we will just be looking at Autumn. I have loaded my freezer up with chum so will be able to get out on the boat. Targets will be Isle of Wight Thresher shark, but there’s not a whole lot of time for them as they seem to thin out over the next few weeks, and Falmouth for the elusive European Barracuda and Longfin Tuna, but with the Jetstream coming so low down it doesn’t look too promising for a long settled spell. The decorating job I have on hold might have to be brought forward if the weather is grim. But then there’s the hedge cutting, the lawns, etc. So as I always say, if you are fortunate enough to take the good weather days, then do so.But at present it looks like one of the least “traditional” English summers I have known…