Opportunities to get out to sea have been rare recently, so this blog is about a past trip I had the pleasure to be involved in. I had invited my mates, Sid and Ross up to my neck of the woods for a crack at the Spurdog and Cuckoo Wrasse, two species that are not overly abundant around the waters of Cork.
Weather and tides were perfect, and we were soon over the Mackerel marks. A few bonus species showed whilst feathering for bait, including Codling and brightly coloured Red Gurnard. With enough Mackerel, we were able to shift our attention to the target species. The morning tide was running a little too fast for deep-water anchoring, so first stop was the off-shore reefs in search of the stunningly coloured Cuckoo Wrasse. These do not grow large, but the spectacular colours and patterns are a sight to behold.
Although these off-shore reefs are huge, there are only a few hot-spots that contain specimen Cuckoo Wrasse, but from previous adventures, these were marked on my G.P.S and easily located. Poor Sid hooked plenty, but every time it seemed he was into a potential specimen, the fish shook the hook before reaching the surface!
Ross had no such problems on this occasion, landing two specimens amongst the many, one in particular pushing the two-pound mark. This is huge by Cuckoo standards. As the tide became suitable for Spurs, I left the decision to my guests, stay on the Wrasse, or head for the deep-water? In fairness to Sid, although he still hadn’t managed to find a specimen wrasse, he agreed on a move, and the deep-water beckoned.
Safely at anchor, we didn’t have to wait long before the predators came sniffing around. Spurdog obliged, as did double-figure Bull-Huss and of course, the ever-present dogfish. Unfortunately for Sid, the curse of losing large fish followed him from the wrasse marks, and on several occasions, whilst playing an obviously large Spur, it slipped the hook. Enough to dement the most patient of anglers!
As if to rub salt into the wounds, Ross continued catching well, just missing out on his specimen Spur by two ounces with a fish of 11lbs 14oz, and I managed a double-figure specimen myself. This was definitely Ross’s trip though. As bites decreased, Ross asked why the fish had gone off the feed. I explained that this may be one of several reasons, but can be due to a larger beast entering the feeding arena. It seemed like no sooner had the words been said, than Ross lifted into a fish that refused to budge from the sea-bed!
Obviously a Common Skate had found his hook-bait, and this was the reason behind the drop in bite ratio. It was the end of the afternoon by this stage, and as Ross struggled to come to terms with the battle, Sid and I tidied up and made room to land the fish. Forty minutes later, a nice little Skate appeared on the surface, with measurements putting her on the 150lb mark.
This rounded off a great days angling, plenty of fish, a few bonus specimens and a spectacular trophy fish at the end. I felt sorry for Sid having the bad luck to lose potential specimens, but as you can read in my other blogs, he later made a return trip and definitely put that right!