As the temperature plummets, our coastal waters cool dramatically, sending most viable species well off-shore and into deeper water. There are still plenty of options open to dinghy anglers willing to brave the elements and head out, if wind speed, direction and tidal flows allow!
A recent adventure saw us out and over a new deep-water mark, anchoring through the flooding tide to see exactly what was about. Constantly trying out new marks such as this doesn’t always work out, but more often than not, we usually find a bonus surprise or two waiting for us below that makes the trip worthwhile. On most occasions, these areas have never seen a rod and line, so there is no telling what species may appear.
Having anchored, I was soon rudely awakened by a screaming run, and with the hooks set, an interesting battle commenced. Normally, on the right venue, I would have known straight away that a tope had taken a fancy to my whole calamari squid bait. Bearing in mind that this is the dead of winter, and anchored in 500 feet of water, I was thrown off the scent somewhat! It just goes to show how un-predictable deep-water angling can be.
Unfortunately this was a one-off, but rods were soon buckling again to decent sized fish, and we were delighted to find that this was now a conger trip. These were a great average stamp and put our short day in very well. It’s amazing how 30lbs+ congers will continue to battle every inch of the way up through the depths to the surface. We decided to boat a couple of the larger fish for photo opportunities before a quick release, and the others were T-barred quite safely as they broke the surface. A lot less hassle I can tell you!
In-between the eels, a handful of wonderfully-marked Bull-huss barged their way through the feeding frenzy, with Glenn topping the bill with a fine fish of 14lbs. This is one of his favourite species, and a personal best for him that really made his day. If this wasn’t enough, spurdogs now entered the arena with several breaking into double figures.
As the winter sun set over the horizon, the temperature dropped further. There’s an apt saying, “it’s not too cold, you’re just not wearing enough clothes”. Fortunately we were well equipped with thermals and waterproofs, as the fish fed well into slack water, late afternoon. Anchoring in these depths, and with nightfall upon us, it made sense to call it a day. Our last drop produced a nice double shot of congers to round off our successful mid-winter off-shore bash. I can hardly wait until the weather allows us another opportunity to take the boat out again and target the virgin deep-water marks off the Northern Irish coast. Remember, plan your trip well, watch the forecast, stay safe.