Saturday, 31 March 2012

Ullapool : Between a rock mark and a freshwater place.

Jake had a job delivering two large terracotta urns to a lovely lady in Inverness and has some friends who live near Ullapool so when he was given clearance to stay overnight this presented a great opportunity to do a spot of fishing and we rarely miss those! We planned to head up to Rhue lighthouse to the west of Ullapool to target pollock and also do a spot of LRF in the harbour in Ullapool itself to hopefully pick up a few new species for this years count. We set off at 8am on Thurs morning and after a 5hr drive up through some lovely scenery we arrived at the rock mark. The lovely weather we had been having in Edinburgh for the last few days was left behind though and it was quite windy with grey clouds and the odd light shower.

Rhue Lighthouse on a cold and misty March afternoon.

We made the short walk down to the rocks in front of the lighthouse and setup our gear.

Another shot of the lighthouse.

The tide was ebbing and we began fishing. I started off with a Savage Gear Sandeel Slug in Sandeel fished on a weedless hook 3ft behind a 1/1oz bullet lead and Jake opted for a Baby Slug-Go in Arkansas Shiner on a 10g jighead. Fishing was slow for the first hour or so and I changed over to a Berkley Firetail Jellyworm in classic black body, red tail whilst Jake soldiered on with the Slug-Go. His persistence would soon pay off. As he worked the lure around the edges of a large submerged rock he missed a bite and then recasting to the same spot soon had a fish on that took his lure on the drop and put a nice bend in his rod. After a brief fight he landed his first fish of the day, a 3lb pollock, that had swallowed the entire lure. 

This pollock swallowed the entire Slug-Go.
Destined for the table.
The eye of a hunter.

Two casts later he hooked another, much smaller, pollock that again had engulfed the entire lure. Needless to say I quickly changed to a Slug-Go! We both thought this would be the start of a busy period but unfortunately it wasn't. After a short while with no further takes we both began to explore a bit. I headed in one direction and Jake in the other.

I took the high road.
Jake took the low road.

I found a nice looking bay area with lots of nice big boulders and kelp beds close in covered by 3-4ft of water and a nice deep drop off on the other side. After deciding where I wanted to fish and working out how to clamber down I also decided to switch from a Carolina to a Texas rig.  I began casting to my left and worked my way clockwise and after covering the area with the Slug-Go I changed back to the black/red Berkley Firetail Jellyworm. After a few casts I felt everything go solid. Fish on! I had hooked it just as I started to retrieve and as I was reeling it in I was conscious of the boulders and kelp. My drag was set fairly tight so I managed to keep him from going to ground a couple of times but just as I got it close in it made one final surge and managed to get round the back of one of the boulders! Ping! My braid had gone on the rock. I was pretty annoyed with myself. I quickly tied on a new leader, bullet lead and tried a couple of lures then abandoned the Texas rig and switched to a 23g Savagear Sandeel in pearl white but didn't get any further interest. At this point I went back along to where Jake was and he was doing a spot of LRF in the rockpools and fissures in the rocks. A spider crab and a few sea anemones had tried to eat his Power Isome but there was no sign of any fish so we decided to head along to Ullapool harbour.

A short drive later we were at the harbour. Jake dropped his Gulp! Fish Fry down the harbour wall and straight away we could see some small fish attacking it. After a bit of jigging he managed to hook one. A closer inspection and a bit of discussion and we concluded it was a darkly coloured sand goby and he had been quite lucky to catch it!

Their tiny mouths make them very hard to hook.
Jake had foul hooked this sand goby in the chin.
They all count though!

Pectoral fins on sand gobies are fused together forming a suction cup.

After spending a short time trying to catch another and them stealing the tiny chunks of Power Isome in the process without us managing to hook any more we decided to try investigating the rest of the harbour. We moved around the edges jigging away down the sides. Whilst the tide was almost fully out at this point there was still a reasonable depth of water but we were fishing from quite a height which, combined with the wind, made staying in contact with our lures difficult. After a while I decided to go back and try for a goby whilst Jake continued to explore the harbour. Whilst there were a couple of gobies there and they were biting at the lure I just couldn't hook one on my #10 Decoy Rocket jighead and didn't have any smaller hooks with me. Very frustrating as I really hate blanking and it's even worse when you know that fish are there!

We then decided to head to Jake's friends Alison and Aaron's house just outside Ullapool. They had very kindly agreed to put us up for the night and shortly after arriving they made us a lovely meal which provided us with some much needed sustenance! After dinner Aaron showed us some underwater footage he had filmed using a mini remote operated vehicle. Fascinating stuff with lots of great footage of pollock and small wrasse swimming around the remains of kelp beds that had been partially destroyed following a storm. Quite a few crabs too scurrying around on the bottom or with claws up in defensive mode as the R.O.V. approached them. Most impressive was some slow motion footage of sandeels appearing from sandbanks and also being chased and eaten by mackerel. Awesome stuff. We were then shown a photograph of a large salmon that had been caught from the nearby river by their son Eli. He offered to take us down to the river to see if there were any brown trout around. After a short walk we were on the bank next to a nice looking pool and before long a few trout were seen rising. We spent a few hours fishing various small paddletail grubs with our LRF gear. Jake hooked a fish first cast but wasn't expecting it so it got off! I missed a couple of bites too. Eli hooked two fish but they both threw the hook when they jumped out of the water. Pretty soon it was dark and we made our way back to the house. With the offer of a warm welcome, a place to stay and with some better fishing to be had in the sea in the summer when a few more fish are around not to mention access to some superb trout and salmon fishing later in the year, it's safe to say we may well be visiting the area again!

Tight lines, Hutch.

Saturday, 24 March 2012

The Graphiteleader Experience double A-side : Electric Blennyland / Silver Haze.

After several days waiting, my new LRF rod finally arrived on Tuesday and I had to get out and give it a waggle.

Worth the wait!

I picked up Scott and we headed down to Dunbar. First stop was Bellhaven beach but there was a strong wind in our faces so we decided to seek somewhere more sheltered. We headed towards the harbour and down on to the rocks in a bay where the old outdoor swimming pool used to be. 

The view from the rocks towards the harbour mouth.
The cliffs to the west and the rocks we would visit later appearing as the tide ebbs.

I have paired the rod up with a Shimano Exage 2500FC reel and tackled up with my favourite 2.3g Shirasu Fine Jighead and Marukyu Power Isome combo. As I started to cast and work the rod I noticed not only that it compresses very nicely with the light jighead but it also seemed alot less effort! I guess this is my first real taste of a Japanese Aji rod and I like it! The other observation I made was that it was very easy to add action to the lure and gives great control of the lure. 

Casting and working the lure across this bay was an effortless pleasure!
After 20 mins of exploring the rocks and noting areas we though may look promising at low tide we decided to head over to the old harbour to see if there was any fish present. We arrived and Scott pointed out few small maddies (harbour ragworm), swimming about the harbour. Now I have seen ragworm swimming but I didn't realise they could swim so fast! The things were really motoring about changing direction randomly, this gave me a chance to see if I could recreate the look with a pink Power Isome. The outcome was very convincing, to me at least, and if the fish are feeding on harbour ragworm then pink Isome is the way forward! However the harbour was lacking in any fish and the ragworm and Power Isome remained uneaten.

We then headed to a shallow rock pool area outside the harbour which usually throws up some sea scorpions. Not really the test of the rod I had in mind but I did want to christen the rod with a fish! Scott rigged up with a small section of Isome on a 1.8g #10 Decoy Rocket jighead and was fairly quickly into a nice little Long Spined Sea Scorpion.

Hiding under a reasonably small rock in the bottom of a shallow rockpool!
It pays to explore every nook and cranny!
A nice close up of the handsome little fellow!

I rigged up a #10 jighead with a Gulp! 1" Fish Fry. I had to wait another 15 mins for mine to come along and while jigging around a boulder, out he popped and nailed the lure. He is probably my new PW (personal worst) Long Spined Sea Scorpion but quite special as he had christened the rod.

A face only a mentalist with a new Japanese rod can love!
Although Scott finds them absolutely adorable!

We were running out of time by this point so we spent the last 30min doing a spot of reconnaissance in area west of the harbour that we had spotted earlier. It looked great with lots of gullies, very deep rockpools, drop offs and kelp beds. We decided it would be best to try here when it warms up a bit as it looks like it could hold a few wrasse!

Wrasseville exposed.

On the way home we arranged to head down the coast to Torness Power Station outflow in search of bass the following day. We would be meeting up with two mates, Richie and Jase and I was looking forward to trying the rod with my favourite 5g Yo-Zori Pins Minnow. We arrived late Wednesday morning to find Richie recovering from losing a big fish, conditions looked perfect, a good swell running and the sun shining in the clear blue sky. Scott was using his LRF setup with a 8g sinking caro and Kiddy Sidewinder Brill Bait, I rigged up with the Yo-Zuri Pins Minnow. Again I was still getting a feel for the rod but casting was a dream! I know for sure it has added distance to my casts and has an excellent feel when working the plug. Retrieving slowly with lots of twitches you can really feel the plug "pulsing" as it darts and flashes. The rod was great at adding action to the plug with very little effort. I was very keen to see how it would perform in playing a decent fish. After a couple of hours of no fish I decided to grab Richie and go blenny hunting. This he took to like a duck to water. Scott also took no persuading to join in and Jase came over to join in shortly afterwards. We fished in and around the big boulders that form the sea defences. I rigged up with a  1.8g #10 Decoy Rocket jighead with a red Gulp! 1" Fish Fry. Richie and Jase had a go and caught their first blennies.

Richie catches a blenny and the LRF bug!
The first many for Richie as he will be treating himself to an LRF setup.
Jase gets in on the action too.

After a few more blennies each they went back to try for bass. Scott and I were happy to carry on blenny bashing. I was happy just playing with the new rod, getting used to the feel of it, especially when it came to feeling bites. It's weird but it feels softer somehow when the fish were biting but at no point did I lose feel. Hard to describe really. I had worried that it wasn't as sensitive as a solid tip rod but when Scott compared it to his solid tip Diaflash he said that it was still very sensitive and bite detection was almost on a par. Anyway we fished in a gap in the boulders and it must have been blennyopolis! We had 67 in total from an area of about 5 square feet! Here's a video we made, as you can see its swarming with the little blighters!

Richie and Jase decided to call it a day as they had been there 8 hours with only brief glimpses of silver . We said our goodbyes and Scott and I carried on tormenting the blennys.

Nom, Nom, Nom!

After a while I decided to break from fishing in the blenny hole and flicked the little jig head 20 yrds out. As the lure dropped through the water I felt a very positive take, struck and saw a flash of silver! Fish On! A bass had taken the lure on the drop and I felt everything! The fight was interesting as well as the rod has a much more progressive fighting curve than my other rods. This resulted in the rod cushioning the small basses runs to the extent that it didn't take much line even off a lightly set drag. Kind of like fighting a fish on pole elastic if that makes any sense. The rod quickly tired the small bass and it was duly landed, quickly photographed and released. It was a nice little test for the rod and I feel it will handle larger fish well for sure.

Not a big fish but fun on light gear.
A welcome "bycatch" bass!

We called it a day shortly afterwards. Next session we will be heading to Eyemouth to fish a mark known locally as "The Cannons" targeting pollock and coalfish so hopefully if I can catch a reasonably sized fish that will be the new rods final test. So far I am loving the rod , I'm Still getting used to the feel of it but I am starting to find out what its capable of! After a few more trips I should be able to give a more definitive take on how I find it!

Tight lines, Schogsky.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Awa-Shima Q-Lite Spin 220 Ultra Light Rod

Rods for ultra-light lure fishing/LRF come with either a solid carbon tip or hollow tubular tip. I was already using the tubular tipped Cormoran ULF Ultra Light 2.45m 3-15g rod for my LRF when I decided that I would like a second LRF rod as a “guest” rod so started to have a look at the cheaper end of the rod price scale. I hadn't tried a solid tipped ultra-light rod before and was interested to see how it compared to my Cormoran ULF.

I originally rang Ben Field at Art of Fishing about the Quantum twister rod as I had seen it on a German tackle site and thought it may be the type of rod I was after. However when talking to Ben about its merits he recommended the cheaper Awa Shima Q-Lite Spin 220. I went with his recommendation as he really knows his stuff! The Rod is 2.20m long, weighs only 109g and has a casting range of 1-5g.

The Awa-Shims Q-Lite Spin 220. A fantastic entry level LRF rod.

When it arrived I was totally stunned! It's a great looking piece of kit. I couldn't believe it was priced under £50. After using this rod solidly for 5 months I have caught countless fish on it from fresh and salt water. The biggest being a 5.5lb pike and the weirdest being a 3lb Tiger Moray Eel whilst I was on holiday in Crete. It does deal quite well with larger fish as it has a surprising amount of power low down and cushions violent head shakes very well indeed. Here's a summary of what I like about this rod...
  • It has a really comfortable abbreviated handle and is just right for resting your forefinger on the blank when retrieving.
  • The butt is EVA Foam and the length of the butt section is just right for a two-handed cast.
  • The reel seat is nice and secure and comfortable to hold.
  • It has a natural olive low glare finish which eliminates "flash" and if I am fishing for spooky fish at close range it can give me an edge.
  • The rings are nice, smooth and surprisingly tough. I am quite rough with the poor rod and lay it down on the rocks a lot.
  • The blank has a lot of power in the lower section as well so can cope with snags and bigger fish easily!
  • Full carbon blank/ solid carbon tip, prefer the feel of this compared to the graphite ULF.
  • Solid carbon tip is great as a visual bite indicator but it also transmits little bites through the blank and is more sensitive than my Cormoran ULF. It’s great for feeling bites on the drop.
  • It can flick a 2.3 gram jig head along way with minimum effort.
  • It’s very light in the hand. It balances very well with my Shimano Nexave 3000.
  • I have used it with a variety of soft and hard lures one of my favourites being a the 5g Yo-Zuri Pins Minnow and the smaller 2g version. It can cast the 5g version really far with very little effort and I was able to apply the jerks and twitches to the lure with ease.
  • It has a good stiff action and really makes little jerk baits come alive.
...and apart from a few minor cosmetic details...
  • The varnish on the whippings isn’t the neatest.
  • The join where the solid tip meets the blank is visible and there is no spigot just a "put over” join.
...and the fact the you have to limit your abuse of the rod because...
  • Being a solid tipped rod the tip is relatively fragile.*
...I have really enjoyed fishing with this rod it's a fantastic bit of kit and it will help people get into LRF on a budget. Also it's a great intro to the solid tip variety of LRF rods and is a great spare rod if you already have more expensive models. I believe that for under £50 you can’t get better!

Tight lines, Schogsky.

*I have fished this rod to its limit and broken two top sections in the process, I must stress that this is more down to my constant use (or maybe that should be abuse) as admittedly I haven’t been as careful with it as I should have!

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Welcome to our new blog. Allow me to bring you up to speed!

Schogsky & I met via The Lure Forum messageboard last summer and after meeting up for a spot of lure fishing we have been fishing together regularly ever since and we've had a great time getting to know each other, tried a few new things, explored new marks and caught loads of fish in the process! We've been regularly posting reports on our trips together (and our solo sessions) in the Catch Reports section of TLF and I thought a great way to start our blog would be a first post summarising what we've been up to since we first met at the start of July last year to give you a flavour of what we are all about. So make yourself comfortable, here goes...

Whilst reading Jake's first ever catch report, a successful bass session that had produced a few fish...

A Torness Power Station bass took this Rapala X-Rap.

...I noticed that he was also living in Edinburgh. Funnily enough I had been fishing too whilst he had been catching bass and had caught a nice big pollock...

Crispy Stella Artois batter bound. I replied to his thread. After a few private messages were sent back and forth we arranged to meet up which we duly did for a couple of hours at a local mark. It was a good session and we both caught fish, a mackerel each and Jake also caught a small coalfish. The tackle Jake was using was pretty light and I guess this was really my introduction to two things; light rock fishing as a style and also the lure Jake was using.

Marukyu Power Isome. Deadly for many species as we would discover over the coming months!

On the way home Jake said that he'd like to catch a ballan wrasse on this gear and I told him about a local spot where they were being caught. The following day he popped down there and after a few hours exploring he hooked a wrasse but instead of a ballan it was a beautiful darkly coloured corkwing.

Granton Breakwater Corkwing plucked from what is now known as "Jake's Wrassehole"!

I took the plunge and got myself an LRF outfit and during the next few weeks we visited various marks in East Lothian together and caught a few more fish on Power Isome.

Nicely marked pollock.
Long spined sea scorpion. These are not venomous contrary to popular belief!
Another victim falls to the mighty Power Isome.
This time a nice flounder.

It was my turn to head out on a solo mission and after several fruitless hours I witnessed my first "mackerel jacuzzi" with shoals of them chasing sandeels into a few feet of water at low tide as light faded one night. My first LRF mackerel was great fun, as was my second. The third came "off the top" on a 4g floating plug!

 Mackerel taken "off the top"!

Back together again and over the next few months Jake and I were having lots of fun and catching plenty fish in the process!

A nice little Coalfish.
A common blenny.

Another long spined sea scorpion.

A small plaice can't resist the Japanese super lure either!
Long spined sea scorpions and common blennies would become common catches!

A few slightly bigger fish would put a nice bend in the LRF rods.

St Abbs Harbour coalfish for Jake.
St Abbs Harbour flounder for me.

At the end of August I went up to Applecross on the NW coast of Scotland with a couple of my mates for a fishing trip. It's a beautiful part of the country, made famous by Monty Halls in his first "Great Escape" documentary series. I had a great time, added a few species to my tally and caught most of my fish on my LRF gear whilst my mates fished baits and struggled. I myself only managed to land one lesser spotted dogfish on my bait rod.

LRF pollock in the Scottish heather. Taken on a 2" Ecogear Straw Tail.
Hated by many anglers as they steal bait intended for other species.
It's still a shark so is cool in my book!
This ballan was caught at my feet almost on an Ecogear Straw Tail again.
Poor cod. One of many caught.
A rock goby. Identifiable by the bright marking on the dorsal fin.

Shortly after returning Jake and I headed back to St Abbs and had another good session. A few fish were caught mainly by Jake but I had a new HRF setup with me and broke it in nicely with a couple of nice fish.

A nice blenny for Jake. One of many. Nice red tip to it's anal fin.
A nice flounder to christen the Shimano Speedmaster Dropshot. Took a Berkley Gulp! Lugworm fished on a weedless jighead on the drop.
Dinner caught again! This pollock took a Berkley Gulp! 6" Sandworm fished on a weedless jighead.

Next session we were off to Torness Power Station outflow again in search of bass with me yet to catch one. I failed to do so but Jake showed me how it was done and then pulled a nice big flounder out of St Abbs when we popped down there later in the day for an hour or two.

At 48cm and weighing 2lb 8oz this was the biggest bass so far in 2011 for Jake.
Another St Abbs flounder. Nice and plump too!

At the start of Sept Jake and I  decided to head a bit further afield. We took the LRF gear and the bait rods and headed west to Oban and Loch Etive. We had a great trip and landed over 100 fish. Mainly small pollock from Loch Etive but we also picked up a few new species too.

A nicely marked pollock that Jake caught.
Jake landing this lesser spotted dogfish on his bait rod.

Sand Goby. Power Isome also works in tiny chunks fished on size 18 hooks!
Sea Trout. We both caught one on an Ecogear Aji Straight lure.
A nice little codling Jake caught on you know what!

I had a quick solo session at Dunbar harbour a few week later. Jake had been down the day before and had lost a huge blenny so I was trying to land the monster. Soon after I arrived I  caught the smallest flounder I've ever seen and after a few other fish were caught I hooked the beer bellied blenny!

New "Personal Worst" flounder.
Not actually hooked just biting the very end of the lure.
The forceps are 6" long. Look at the size of his belly too! Lunker!

Now trying to rack up the species I was told about a mark where I could catch sprats. Sceptical as they are are strict zooplanktivores (thanks wikipedia!) I went down anyway and did catch a few small fish using sabiki that did resemble sprats but after some research I identified them as juvenile herring. Still a new species. I also caught a small whiting which was also a new species for me! Not bad for less than an hours effort!

Juvenile herring. Easily confused with sprats!
Bonus whiting!

A couple of weeks later and it was now mid Oct. Another trip to Torness to try and catch a bass. I went down early morning and after a few hours of no action I was starting to think it wasn't going to happen again. I tried loads of different small hard lures and then decided to try a sandeel fly fished using a sinking bombarda float.  Just as I saw Jake arriving I felt a thud and was in. After a decent scrap on my LRF rod I landed my first bass of the year!

Spiky Scottish silver. Well worth the wait!

Next up was a trip to the Mull of Galloway with my girlfrind, sister and her partner for a day out in "On Yer Marks" with skipper Ian Burrett targeting pollock first of all, then tope and finishing the day off by targeting a few wrasse. It was a fantastic trip and although I hooked a tope it bent out the hook and I lost it again. Oh well, just have to do it again this year! Here are a few pics.

Best pollock of the day was caught by my sister.
Grey Gurnard. Another new species for me.

Nice coalfish.
Tope fishing begins and the bloody pests soon show up! Love them really.
Tope on. Tope off. Gutted!
Lovely male cuckoo wrasse. Perhaps my favourite fish. Top 5 anyway!
Best ballan wrasse. Sister strikes again!

Jake and I would end October with a manic coalfish bashing night session at St Abbs and a trip to Eyemouth harbour. Over 300 coalfish caught during the night session. Every lure in the bag that we had yet to catch on was broken in and when we run out of lures we used the bit that you tear the Power Isome off of! The "Nipplepig" was born and first cast it claimed a victim!

Coalfish. When they're feeding, they're feeding!
Nipplepig. Patent Pending.

Our daytime session at Eyemouth saw me catch a load of coalfish again. Jake had a much more varied selection of fish including a short spined sea scorpion and a little codling.

Short spined sea scorpion.
Much rarer than the long spined variety at most of our marks.

Little codling. Strange colouration. Very unusual.

My next solo session, a trip to Dunbar Harbour, would turn out to be a very strange one with a sea gull nicking my lure in mid-air followed very shortly afterwards by me catching a cuckoo ray! Totally surreal. I think the ray may have been thrown into the harbour by the crew of one of the fishing boats.

A cuckoo ray. May never catch another.

Now November, the saltwater trips were becoming less productive so we turned our attention to freshwater predators with a spot of deadbaiting, some LRF and also some more conventional lure tactics being employed with a few pike being caught but perch proving rather elusive. These sessions would continue right through to Feb this year.

Union Canal LRF pike. How cute.
An Alemoor Loch jack for Jake. Taken on a smelt deadbait.

 A small Alemoor Loch jack for me too on a firetiger Rapala X-Rap.
Another Union Canal LRF pike caught by Jake. Big fat one too!
Bigger fish from Carlingwark Loch. Caught on a yellow Savage Gear Soft 4Play.
Another Union Canal pike. This time caught on a slow sinking 4" Spro BBZ-1 in roach.

Jake's first Loch Lomond "Twenty" (Ouncer!).

We have also squeezed in a few 2012 saltwater LRF sessions but they have been quite slow as fish are few and far between although we have managed a few fish between us, most of the usual LRF suspects, blennies, long spined sea scorpions (including the rather beautifully coloured specimen below), short spined sea scorpions and I also caught my first black goby and lost a nice sea trout during a trip to Greenock. Drop net has now been purchased as a result!

Lovely marking with deep shades of red and turquoise mouth membranes!

My first black goby. Caught in Greenock Marina.

We've also been fishing at Torness Power Station outflow again. Because the water temperature there is artificially high you can catch bass all year round and that's exactly what we've been doing! Along with a spot of blenny bashing when the bass aren't about smashing the Scottish record in the process!

Jake's first bass of 2012.
My first bass of 2012.

Yo-Zuri Pins Minnow. Jake loves them. So do bass!
Sidewinder brill/bombarda float took the fancy of this bass.

This one too!
Blennie bashing. Lots of fun and can get quite competitive!
They are aggressive little buggers and will happily eat fingers!

This blenny is almost twice the Scottish record weight!
Jake with his record blenny. A few more records may be broken this year!

That pretty much covers most of our exploits to date. Hope you've enjoyed reading and we'll be posting on a regular basis from now on! 

Tight lines, Hutch.