January 30, 2020 Last Updated 10:40 am

* That First Run!

Whether it is during the winter or after a winter layup that first run out is always a great day out… if it goes to plan!

That First Run

Winter steaming!

Whether it is during the winter or after a winter layup that first run out is always a great day out… if it goes to plan!

Some store their craft for the winter, waiting for nicer and warmer weather to arrive. Some keep their craft at the ready waiting for the window of opportunity to go fishing. The winter season can be incredibly un predictable, fishing opportunities might not present themselves that often so in fact when the time is right you boat may have been laid up for some time.


Better to be getting a problem here than on the slipway – Do those checks!

So far 2020 has not produced many fishing suitable days. It fosters a sense of cabin fever. The is only so many traces you can make. There are only so many bits of tackle you can buy. There is only so many times you can dream and scheme about fishing for the coming year while going over the “if onlys” from last year’s fishing.

With the weather so bad it was clear to me that my boat had been laid up for the bones of three months! When the weather began to show a potential window it was clear that I’d have some serious work to do before I could go fishing and have some peace of mind doing so. It would be just like when you head fishing after the winter hibernation.

The flushing point takes a Hoselock fitting

I do keep my engine fired up over the winter. Every few weeks I will start and run the motor on either muffs or I use the flushing fitting on the Mariner F100. I just give it a start and let it tick over for a few minutes. In a few weeks’ time it will be time to service the motor but in this case I just topped up the grease on the steering and check the oil level. I was happy that it would start on the morning. Many a craft has been stranded on the slipway for the want of a quick start before heading off! I tested all my electronics. Made sure the radio operated when the PTT was pressed. Fishfinder working; GPS functioning. All looking good. I checked the electric winch to be sure of its operation. Finally, I gave the wheel bearings a shot of grease even though the bearing savers were just about full.

The New Paddy’s Point launch site

I store my boat outdoors. In the winter the inside can get a fair bit of mildew when the boat is not in use. The simplest method I have found to clear the mildew is using a sodium hypochloride solution. I use a product from the local co-op that is used as a sanitiser and disinfectant by farmers. I think bleach would do fine. I mix up a solution and spray liberally around the boat carefully keeping clear of clothing. The mildew will clear in a few minutes but the solution will take around 90 minutes to stop being capable of destroying your clothes. After the internal condition is acceptable I give the outside a was down with Boat buddy and make the outside as presentable as I can without waxing. A quick inspection of the life jackets and a final check on the trailer lamps. The boat is ready for road. The point of the matter is – better to be spending time check things on dry land near your tools than trying to get a solution to a problem that arises on the slipway.

Our trip is going to be a lure fishing trip so we will be travelling light. Two light rods a man and the usual selection of lure boxes. After that its flasks hats and extra clothing, its January after all.

After a short tow to Paddy’s Point slipway on the West side of Cork Harbour we set about getting ourselves ready for water. It is a calm mild day. The perfect conditions for some winter fishing all we are short is some watery winter sunshine. The newest slipway in the harbour is a pleasure to use. It has a decent gradient and is actually built on stilts out into the harbour facing Rocky Island and Haulboline Island. There is ample parking and even a lockable compound here for public access and it is all control by a key that you pay a deposit for. There is no charge for launching or parking.

Looking great on a mild winter’s morning

We slip away from the slipway and head to sea. The harbour is like a glassy pond and the sense of anticipation is building as we slip by Roche’s point and head for open sea.

After weeks and weeks of no fishing it can be a challenge to plan out a day fishing. I find that I want to do it all! Winter wrecking on lures can be hit or miss. Bait can do the business on wrecks and can be incredible sport if the wrecks are fishing. I decide to head for some offshore reefs that have been producing a better stamp of fish during the autumn. There is a chance of varied fishing; we are hopeful of catching a few cod but crash diving pollock will surely be the most common catch of the day.

First decent pollack of the year!

The open water is alive with activity. Birds are flocking to bait balls that have been driven to the surface by marauding dolphins. Everywhere we look there are pods of dolphins searching out food. Hundreds and hundreds of them chase after Skua as we slow down for them once or twice. It is hard to resist. The boat is humming in the lovely conditions. I have the 175 trimmed up to the last, it is a comfortable spin the we pass by chatting about lures and lure fishing.

The Strikepro Shiver on a 60g Bricoleurre head

We stop short of the reef and we tackle up. Then I move forward to the peak of the reef and stop. Ths first drift is more to get a feel for what the drift is doing. We are a couple of hours before slack water low and the drift is more with the tide than the wind, there is little or no wind blowing.

First drop and my Strikepro Shiver is hammered by a pollock. My drag was wound up fairly tight but this fish still manages to pull off line. What a feeling! The months of frustration, dreaming and planning fishing trips slip away are forgotten. The feeling of having a decent pollock on the end of a 10-30 lure rod and my trusty Penn Slammer is just magic, plain magic. Within minutes on our first drift Andy and Paul are into fish as well. The good mood on board just got even better.

A decent bend in the Rocksweeper

The fishing dies off over slack water so we break out the sandwiches and the flasks. There is something lovely about a cup of soup and a sandwich on a January Friday drifting along as the dolphins check us out as they forage by. As soon as the tide builds again we are moving and trying other reefs. The fishing is steady but not spectacular. We are all changing lures and jig head weights in order to search out the fish. I try some new 60g metal jigs and am rewarded with a steady stream of pollock and coalies. They are generally smaller fish but that has more to do with the location rather than the lure. We are getting a good mix of species. Andy hits a decent ballan. Paul hits the first codling of the trip. Andy manages a small ling. It’s a January trip so all fish provide welcome sport.

We spend the afternoon moving and fishing. We fail to make contact with cod in any great numbers. You’d have to believe the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES) when they recommend no commercial fishing for cod in our area. It has been another bad year for cod fishing. Still, we are happy to be getting some class of a bend in the rods and our biggest pollack touches double figures. This level of fishing is nothing to be sneezed at in January.

Cod – A rare commodity these days!

All too soon these short days of winter begins to close in and we have no choice to head back to base. It is a beautiful if cold spin back to the slipway accompanied again by the hordes of dolphins. The retrieve goes faultlessly and we soon have the boat strapped down have a few fish filleted and are ready for the short tow home.

Company all day!

 There is a great sense of satisfaction as I sip a welcome pint in the local pub as the fire blazes away in the corner. It is great to review the day and look at photos in peace. The forecast is poor for the next while so there is going to be little opportunity for fishing in the next few weeks. As all small boat owners out there do: we sit back, we study the forecast charts and we wait for another window of opportunity to arise. Such is the life of the small boat skipper. No wonder many go charter boat fishing for the winter! 

Done and dusted – ready for the tow home
Squid from Pirate lures

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