An­other tale from Sam Har­ris.

Sea Angler (UK) - - CON­TENTS -

Many years ago, I used to fish a big in­ter­na­tional boat an­gling com­pe­ti­tion held out of West­port, in County Mayo, Ire­land.

One time, due to a de­lay on the ferry cross­ing from Stran­raer to Larne, four of us were late ar­riv­ing at West­port and the com­pe­ti­tion had al­ready started. When we went into the head­quar­ters to reg­is­ter, I asked where our boat was and some­body pointed at a mag­nif­i­cent mo­tor cruiser, a gin palace of about 70 feet long, moored at the quay­side. Think­ing we had hit the jack­pot with this boat, we couldn’t wait to get on board.

After get­ting our tackle out of the car, we stepped on the boat only to find all the doors into the cabin were locked. After wan­der­ing around for what seemed like ten min­utes, I heard a voice shout “Down here” and, when I looked over the side, there, tied up along­side, was a tiny open boat that was only about 18 feet long and cer­tainly needed some ten­der lov­ing care. Un­for­tu­nately, we had not struck lucky with the flashy mo­tor cruiser.

The dif­fer­ence be­tween the two ves­sels was ridicu­lous. Four peo­ple fish­ing on the small boat would be a bit of a squeeze. I’m sure, like me, my fish­ing com­pan­ions had felt their moods swing from elated to some­what dis­ap­pointed.

Sure enough, the skip­per con­firmed: “This is your boat, come aboard”. After climb­ing into the boat, we headed out into Clew Bay, which is re­puted to have 365 is­lands. Soon we ar­rived at a gap be­tween a cou­ple of th­ese is­lands and the an­chor was put over the side and we were told to start fish­ing.

On the way out to the mark, we had tack­led up and baited our rigs ready, so we were all too ea­ger to get our lines in the wa­ter. It re­sulted in four huge bird­snests be­cause we had ex­pected fairly deep wa­ter, but this spot was only about 6ft deep.

After re­mov­ing the tan­gles from my reel, I de­cided to put on a wired grip lead. The skip­per no­ticed this and, bear in mind this was many years ago, asked what it was. “That’s a won­der­ful in­ven­tion,” he said, after hear­ing my ex­pla­na­tion. I passed him one to keep. He was re­ally grate­ful and put it in his tackle bag, but ev­ery ten min­utes or so he was tak­ing it out and look­ing at it. “Won­der­ful,” he kept say­ing. Even­tu­ally, I re­alised he was un­der the im­pres­sion that I had in­vented it, and he wouldn’t be­lieve my de­nials.

Any­way, back to the fish­ing. We stayed in the same spot all day and be­tween us we had bull huss, thorn­back rays, dog­fish, con­ger eels, a tope and some spur­dogs. All in all, it was, and still is, a great boat fish­ing area. ■

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