Slipping out of Greystones harbour under cover of a pea soup fog bank Jean Anne with a bearing from Gary’s iPhone compass app’ headed towards the mackerel grounds off the cable rock under Bray Head. Hot and humid with light winds to blow 4 later from a southerly direction, Gary Robinson, David Murphy, and I set off to ultimately fish the last two hours of the flood for tope, fresh mackerel being a prerequisite.
Motoring for ten minutes across a glassy sea the sun a barely visible yellow orb I cut the motor to listen. Fog enshrouded, we couldn’t see fifty meters, sound enveloped us, waves on the beach, hooting dart whistles, distant cars, another out board motor, but where? Using the suns position I gunned the engine and headed gingerly towards the shore, which after five minutes appeared out of the murk. Not bad, within two hundred meters of the cable, we took a compass bearing then eased out into the north running tide.
Cutting the engine every few minutes we jigged feathers to little effect, an odd mackerel here a couple there. Eventually around mid day the fog began to burn off, now land marks could come into play in our hunt for Scomber scombrus, unfortunately they still remained elusive. Considering that when this writer first started fishing in the early 1970′s mackerel were so numerous searching for them did not enter the equation, the present state of play is totally unacceptable. Motor two humps off Bray Head and drop your feathers, in those days 6 on a hand line, immediate contact or at worst a short troll behind the boat until the shoal was found being the usual form.
Today on August 9th 2012 three competent anglers jigging hard in 2.5 hours amassed 12 mackerel and three whiting before calling it a day and heading for the tope grounds. What has humanity done, the north east Atlantic mackerel stock has been mined (for that is the word) supposedly sustainably if that is possible, the truth is our experience off Greystones, Co. Wicklow yesterday, the EU, successive Irish Governments, politicians, and public servants have failed us. Our, and I repeat our summer mackerel, because everybody owns the resource not just the commercial fishing sector, are not swimming elsewhere they are gone converted into fish meal, canned, or sold block frozen to Asian, Russian, and African markets so that a few people can become very rich. The environmental repercussions of removing this stock will be severe unless current exploitation policies are reversed.
Surpressing our anger, we were it has to be said out for a days pleasure fishing, Gary, Dave, and I pointed Jean Anne south and motored towards a favoured tope mark. On this occasion the toothy ones did not show however a succession of greedy juvenile bull huss kept our rods nodding, how they manage to engulf whole mackerel on an 8/0 hook beats me. At 16.00 bells we weighed anchor a date with destiny awaiting us in the Beach House, Greystones. Breaking records on the slip to get Jean Anne on the trailer and our gear stowed we legged it to the pub in time for the fourth and decisive round. Well done Katie Taylor on winning gold in London, you did yourself, your family, and the nation proud.