Another tale from Sam Harris.
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. ■