I arrived down to Portmagee at around 9 pm on Friday night. It was just getting dark and I had made the long drive down from Dublin. I was meeting up with Mike Dennehy and Pedro Walsh, skippers of the Silver Dawn, along with the rest of the crew for this trip. Already there were Rob Vaughan, Ailbhe O Sullivan and Sidney Kennedy and Ross Macklin arrived soon afterwards.
We had a couple of pints in the Bridge bar, with Rob and Ailbhe telling me what to expect over the next 24 hrs. Both of whom are hugely experienced anglers and Ailbhe holds the ling record for Ireland. We were due to leave the harbour at 3 am so at around midnight we decided to get some sleep thought I don’t think anyone really managed to get much.
At 2.45 a bang on my car door from Sid and Ross had me tumbling out of the car…… it was time!
Mike and Pedro had everything ready to go and we were soon leaving the harbour behind and sailing into the inky darkness. In the wheelhouse there was just the red night light to see each other together with the lights from the instruments. It was going to be a long steam out to the tuna grounds so we all settled in to try and get some more sleep with Rob looking after things at the helm.
Soon the sun was coming up behind us and it was time for the lads to start getting the lures in the water. Mike ran us through the drill so we would all know what to be doing to avoid any tangles and some rods were attached to outriggers.
At around 10 am came the first hit of tuna with Pedro getting the first fish to christen the trip. Not as big as he is normally used to but I was over the moon to be looking at the first albacore I had ever seen.
We didn’t have to wait long until the next fish with Rob Vaughan using his experience of the species to expertly play the fish.
Every now and again Mike would alert us to fish marking on the sounder and we would be on edge waiting to see if it was going to materialize into bites. Sometimes it did and sometimes it didn’t.
All through the day we were seeing many whales and dolphins no to mention the constant gannets and skuas.
With us having had no more bites for a while, we turned our attention to food and Sid made up some gorgeous sweet and sour chicken and bread and butter.
Not long after putting down the bowls all hell broke loose as one rod after another took off on a screaming run. Everyone was grabbing at the rods and in what seemed like a bit of a blur there was now five fish on!
We had already been warned that the fish would pin wheel as they got to the boat and two fish were lost as lines met. Myself, Sid and Mike managed to get one each with the biggest falling to Mike.
I was in awe as I stood there looking at my fish realising it was mission accomplished. I had missed trips previously so I think that even added to the delight. Even trying to hold the tuna was not as easy as it looked with the fish beating like kango hammers.
We took a few pics of mine and Sid’s fish and I don’t think Mike even posed for a pic as he got the lines back out. He has caught some huge albacore so to him these were just the norm!
We steamed on for another few hours before turning back and retracing our steps back to port, paying particular attention to the spots we had caught at earlier but no more fish came our way, and as we passed the Skelligs on the way back in we reflected on the great days fishing, and with the sun setting on our backs we were back at Portmagee.