The buggeration of mackerel

Last night I dreamt of mackerel. They were being chased into the bay and were jumping out of the water to get awau from whatever was behind them.


We caught about twenty mackerel on Thursday last week.  I had spent some time sorting out the lines and tying up new sets of feathers. The kids kept asking if I was going to piss on them but I left them clean.

We took two lines out late in the afternoon in Montbretia to the point between Owen Island and Luke’s Cottage. There was another boat out there and I motored past them before stopping the engine.  Having spent that time sorting the feathers another five minutes had to be spent in the boat untangling the two lines. Once they were free they went over the side and immediately we felt a tug on one of them and we hauled in four mackerel.

They were all a good size and almost as soon as they were in the boat they had freed themselves from the hooks and were in the bottom of the boat as I got the line over again. In the mean time Ben had found another line in a bucket in the boat and that went over as well.

So we had three lines over the side of the boat and over the two hours we were out there almost all of the fish were caught off the one line and its set of feathers.

I filleted the fish down by the rockpools. It seems that every year the gulls are getting braver in how close they will get to pick off the bits. There will be a competition as to which comes first, being able to get a gull to take something from the hand or have one come behind me to whip a fresh fillet off the plate.


That night I smoked the fillets and we ate them with spaghetti and cream.

The next day, Friday, I went out alone. Everyone else had gone to Doneen. I fancied a quite couple of hours on the water watching the weather. I took with me the same line that had caught all the fish the previous day. There was no great pressure but as soon as the line went in I was hauling out fish and in the space of fifteen minutes or so I had about 25 of them in the bottom of the boat. The last few I threw back in. After that I came back in because if I carried on fishing I would have too many fish. We ate those fish on the barbeque.

Two days later we went out again. This time there was a boat full including boys anxious to catch their first mackerel of the holiday. I parked the boat on the same spot I had caught all the fish two days before and past out the line that had caught all the fish to the boy most keen to catch some. I left for myself a thin reedy line on which the feathers were mostly torn off and the hooks were rusty.

The lines went over the boat and we settled down to wait. I soon felt the haul and tug of fish on the line and pulled in three. The orange line was so thin it look as if it would snap with the weight of them. The line went back in and I quickly hauled in another that fell back into the water before I could grab it. In the meantime the other lines were still in the water. The line that had caught all the fish the previous few days was doing nothing.

We moved the boat to another spot and still all was quiet. There were gannets in the bay dropping into the water just in front of us. We moved close to where the gannets had been and still there was nothing.

There was a burst of activity when we saw a fish dart out of the water as if something had tossed it into the air. A seal’s head then bobbed out. Clearly there were fish in the water but we weren’t catching them. By now we were off Owen Island and I suggested that we should let the boat drift until we could see the Cottage and we would then have to come in disappointed.

My line then trembled again and I passed it over so Tom could pull the fish in. We got it in and in the bucket and the line went over again.

And then the two other lines went at once and were pulled in at the same time and all at once there were another six fish in the bottom the boat and we were all grabbing at them to give them a tap and the lines went back in again. Almost immediately they twitched again and there were another six fish in the boat.

Over the next ten minutes or so we caught another four fish and so came in with twenty in all for our two hours work.

We had some of them for lunch on the barbeque and ate them with our fingers sat on the grass at the end of the garden watching the weather come in. We sat in bright sunshine as rain came down blown in from a cloud on the back of Rosskerrig.


I smoked the rest and we ate them as part of a kedgeree.

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