I didnt wait for the sentence to be finished before I was loading the car with rods, seatbox and bucket of Thursdays mackerel …. oh and the odd bucket and spade. Barely enough room for the children after the picnic was crammed in.

I try to avoid weekend fishing in the more popular spots but if I am honest with myself I wanted my boy to catch a few dogfish and with the sun splitting the rocks I was very doubtful that we would manage even them. I know the place we chose did have a bit of a tope run occasionally.

So with the patients that only a father knows I helped Rocco set up an old twelve foot beachcaster and fixed spool reel with a simple running lead and 4/0 hook. I tend not to take him bait fishing as the periods of inactivity spark inquiries of why he could not stay at home and play on the computer? Pollack fishing is much more his thing. More fish and more movement to keep the young mind engaged.

Standard tope gear for me, Conoflex Nemisis Slr, Diawa Sealine X30SHA loaded with 30lb suffix tritanium and on the business end eighteen inches of Tronix pro wire and an 8/0 Varivas bigmouth extra tied to form a running paternoster. The reasons for the running paternoster, the tail forms a weak link and if the lead snags it will snap off leaving the fish to swim away rather than be tethered to the snag and with the aid of a breakaway fast link I can change the wire on every cast having a spare bait constantly in the bucket.

After around an hour Roccos interest was virtually non-existent and he had wandered off to play with his brother and sister leaving me watching the two rods.

Out of the blue just on the turn of the tide my ratchet started screaming and line was shooting off down tide, I wound down the drag and struck into a good fish (alainpaddy you would have been proud of the ferrage grande !!) the fish was in no mood to come in and I had no intention of bullying it too hard too early so I let the drag off a touch to compensate for the near banshee wailing of the line as it slipped of the reel. Still sixty yards out the head broke the water slamming from left to rig in a vain effort to shed the hook. I could feel the muscles in my back groan with each lunge.  Slowly but surely it was tiring and I was getting the upper hand. More line was now on the spool than off it.

After fifteen minutes of the fish pummelling me it was on the shore. Not wanting to repeat the problems of last years weighing problems I had armed myself with a pike sling that had been idling in my attic since I move to Ireland and with consummate ease a weight was obtained.

As quickly as I could I got the now hyper-interested Rocco to take a few pictures. I didn’t want to have her out of the water for very long in the blistering sun after such a valiant fight. I supported the fish for around five minutes before she regained her strength and disappeared to join the flow.

Tope being freed by Neil
Tope being freed by Neil

They say that fish always look bigger in the water but compare these two shots, I think the one above does not do her justice.

Check this out !
Check this out !

Several minute later with hands hit by adrenaline another tail end of half a mackerel hit the channel and settled slowly. Ratchet and drag set I continued answering questions from a Parisian tourist and his young son, who now had decided he no longer wanted to swim.

The rod tip dipped a couple of times and when I ignored it the young chap pointed out the error of my ways. I was busy telling him that it was dogfish when once again the reel started to scream. I hit it mid run and the fish immediately came to the surface thrashing around before deciding it wasn’t having any of it and headed out to sea, burning my thumb as I tried to slow down the spool. this fish was angry and didn’t hesitate to let me know. I lost contact with it for a brief period as I wound furiously as it was running straight towards me. It was only twenty to twenty-five yards out when I saw it roll, it was massive at least ten pound bigger than the first fish but on its inshore run it had managed to pick up the eighty pound rubbing leader in its mouth…..

I hadnt taken any notice of the French commentary to my right but as the fish bit through the leader and headed off I picked out one of the few French words that required no translation   …. *****!!!!

Baitdigger’s Blog
Co. Clare.

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