Wicklow 1st/2nd August 2020
This was the weekend trip, fishing out of Wicklow for the first time with Skipper Kit Dunne, and a trip which we never expected to make back when Covid arrived back in March.
6 Club Members made the trip
We were lucky with the weather for our weekend away, leaving behind thunderstorms and downpours in Belfast, for sunshine and light winds in Wicklow and the possibility of a day’s wreck fishing if the weather was suitable.
1st Day – Saturday 1st August.
The plan for the first day was to fish inshore for smoothhound and tope, and we headed out in Lisin 1 skippered by Gareth.
Mackerel had been scarce round Wicklow but we got some on Friday evening from lads fishing of the pier and managed to get a few more off Wicklow Head.
We then moved south to drift offshore from Arklow.
Setting up with mackerel for tope and crabs for smoothhound, we had a slow start with only dogfish at first and no success with the crabs before Paul Williams landed a 14lb bull huss. This was shortly overtaken by a 14.5lb bull huss by Mark McCready. As we all continued to catch huss, Glen caught the first tope of the afternoon with a 26.5lb fish, followed by Paul catching a superb 36lb tope. As the fresh mackerel got used up and we dipped into the reserve of frozen mackerel, Mark caught a very angry 29lb tope which dived away several times at the sight of the net, smashing his uptider into 3 extra pieces.
No smoothhound, but a good day’s sport with the 3 lads all catching their first tope.
2nd Day – Sunday 2nd August.
We had hoped to make the long haul out into the Irish Sea today for wreck fishing, but Kit wasn’t comfortable with offshore weather forecast for the afternoon, so he decided we would fish the same area as Saturday.
This time round we hit mackerel in abundance off Wicklow Head, with Bill swinging fish into the boat like a whirling dervish. We then headed south to the same area as Saturday, fishing at anchor this time, starting off at slack water.
A few of us tried velvet crabs for the smoothhound and Paul was the first to land one, albeit on the mackerel bait on his second hook! Glen followed up with another smoothhound shortly after.
As the tide picked up, the bull huss came on the feed with Gerry, Mark and Paddy all catching double figure fish. Paul caught the first tope of the day, a fish of around 25lbs.
Shortly afterwards, Gerry hooked a fish which gave a long stubborn fight before he got it to the side of the boat and we could see that it was a tope of 40lbs plus. Then disaster! As he manoeuvred it over the net, his running trace snapped and the fish slid back into the depths.
That put a damper on the mood for a while, but less than an hour later we got evidence of the quality of tope on the mark. Paddy locked into a fish closer to the boat which stripped line in a series of determined dives before he got it to the surface. The skipper got it safely in the net and when it was in the boat we could see it was another tope of similar size. It measured 157cm on the mat, which was over the Irish Specimen qualifying length, and weighed in at 42lbs on the skipper’s certified scales.
As the tide began to ease off, the tope remained on the feed and we had a hectic last hour including a consolation fish in the 20s for Gerry. As well as a range of fish from 25lb upwards, we also caught 3 small tope of less than 5lb. The tope stocks certainly seem healthy on this mark.
We didn’t get the wrecking trip that we had had hoped would fill the cool boxes, but we had a spectacular weekends sport fishing at a new venue.
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