Monday, 30 April 2012

Another Forth & Clyde Canal perch hunt ruined by jacks!

Jake and I returned to the Forth & Clyde canal this afternoon to continue our search for perch. After seeing a few chasing my lures during our visit there on Friday afternoon and receiving a bit of local knowledge we decided to try a nice wide stretch just to the west of the small village of Banknock.

Our starting point.

It was quite windy when we arrived but at least it was dry. We both had an LRF setup with us for the perch and a slightly heavier setup (heavier by our standards anyway!) as well to fish larger lures to try and tempt any bigger pike that may be lurking.

We worked our way along the canal and it wasn't long before I had caught a couple of jacks in quick succession and whilst I lost a third Jake joined in the fun landing his first one.

First jack of the session. Feisty little bugger.
Jake joins in the fun with a slightly bigger fish.

Jake had a couple more jacks and then whilst I was slowly working a hard 4" Spro BBZ1 Roach lure I had a larger pike, maybe 4lb, follow my lure in but he turned away at the last moment just when I thought he was going to strike. 

Jake caught two more jacks on a Savage Gear Soft 4Play, bouncing it back along the bottom. The second had a deformed upper jaw. Probably the scars of an attack from a larger pike.

Being a guitarist Jake does the odd power slide with his catch.
Savage Gear Soft 4Play in Dirty Roach on a 7g 2/0 jighead. Pike love them.
Slightly deformed lip and scarring. Goes with being a nasty cannibal!

Shortly afterwards I had another on an Abu Garcia Jointed Tormentor in silver/black. Jake was just admiring the action on the lure when it was smashed quite close in to the reeds by a brutal attack that got the adrenaline pumping a bit. Great fun.

You can't beat seeing the take. Awesome aggression for a small fish.

We headed back along the canal, having a cast or two as we went, adding one more pike to both our tallies.

Jake's final fish and the Gulp! 1" Minnow does the business again.
My last fish took a Lake Fork Live Baby Shad in Golden Shiner.

Jake ending up on 6 and me on 4. No sign of any perch though so back to the drawing board on that front.

Great little session and good to see another section of the canal that's full of pike.

Tight lines, Hutch.

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Forth & Clyde Canal LRF.

Friday, and with a swell as big as 9ft battering some of our local sea marks we turned our attention to inland waterways. The target was perch and we decided to fish the Forth and Clyde canal for the first time in the hope of finding our stripey adversaries. We decided to explore the stretch of canal starting at the Falkirk Wheel. Whilst I drove, Scott sorted us out with Scottish Federation for Coarse Angling membership which includes permits for both the Union and Forth & Clyde canals. This can be done online for the princely sum of £6 for the year, an absolute bargain! Further details here. After a short drive along the M9 and following the signs, we arrived to find the canal bathed in sunshine, making a mockery of the weather reports.

The Falkirk Wheel connects the Union Canal with the Forth & Clyde Canal via a rotating boat lift.

As the target was perch we went with our LRF gear. Scott used his Nories Rock Bottom Ultra Light rod and Daiwa Steez 2500 reel loaded with 6lb Sunline Rockfish and I went with my Graphite Leader Corto EX and Shimano Exage 3000 loaded with 8.5lb Daiwa Tournament. As pike are common in the canal we were using homemade lightweight wire traces.

The water clarity was surprisingly good in comparison with the Union Canal and it looked perfect. On the business end I rigged up a Berkley Gulp! 1" Minnow in Waermelon/Pearl on a 1.5g Crazyg HD jighead. With the water so clear we could see the lure working as it was retrieved. On the fifth cast I saw a shadow following , it suddenly accelerated and in a flash of dark green seized the lure! Pike on! It still surprises me how much my rod hoops over when you hook a fish but even though it bends at no point do you feel out of control. The fish tried to run against the curve of the rod but it soaked up all its attempts with its fantastic playing action and was safely chinned out by Scott.

Nice start to the session and the tourists were intrigued by it all too.
The Graphiteleader Corto EX, a real pleasure to catch small jacks with.

Not a big fish but great fun and after a couple of snaps was returned none the worse for meeting me. A couple of casts later and Scott exclaimed "Perch!". Two small perch had shadowed his lure on the retrieve and although neither of them looked too interested in his lure we were heartened to see our first perch in months!

We continued to work the lures, amongst passing tourists whilst being given some odd looks and being asked a few questions. About 10 minutes later Scott was into his first pike of the session. It was taken on a Duo Tetra Works Toto 42 in THN05 and was a perfectly formed tiny pike.  The smallest Scott has ever caught in fact. He really wanted the lure and had swallowed most of it so it took a bit of careful unhooking through the gill covers before he was released to terrorise the roach fry again without any photos being taken.

We continued to work up the canal I stuck with the Gulp Minnow and Scott tried a variety of lures in the hope we could tempt a Perch. We continued to catch little pike and we ended up with 4 each and about the same number of pike that threw the hook. Here are a few pics of our micro crocs.

Even small pike have a nasty set of razor sharp gnashers.
Gulp! Minnow claims another victim.
This Jack fell for Marukyu Power Isome, no species can resist!
They may be small but they're still beautiful.
I put Scott's success down to wearing my lucky hat. He says it's LRF skill alone!
This jack is small but the first pike Scott caught was even smaller!

Scott had his 4 pike on 4 different lures. His other three taking a large pink Marukyu Power Isome, a 2" Panic Minnow in Ghost Shad and a 2.25" Lake Fork Live Baby Shad in Golden Shiner.

Variety was the spice of pike for Scott.

We did see another perch, maybe about a pound, following Scott's Panic Minnow but he couldn't be tempted to bite. Soon it was time to leave which was hard to do as the mini pike had been great fun on the light gear! At least we know where there are some perch now and we hope to explore this stretch of water a bit more thoroughly in the future. There are some large pike in the canal too and a local angler we spoke to briefly very kindly gave us a few ideas on their location so we will have to target them as well on some heavier tackle!

Tight Lines, Schogsky.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Silver Surfer.

On Monday, as we had an afternoon to spare, Scott and I headed down the coast to our favourite bass mark. We arrived a couple of hours after low tide and although the sea was not as rough as Saturday, there was still a bit of a swell running. We started by exploring the southern side of the reef, fishing the flooding margins with our LRF tackle. The aim was to see what other species besides blennies were in residence on this side of the reef. It wasn't long before we were both into blennies and long spined sea scorpions!

A long spined sea scorpion. One of a few mini species we caught.

Scott also spotted a long slender fish that swam quickly under a large flat rock. At first he thought it was a butterfish but upon lifting the rock to see what it was it swam out and took refuge under his boot. I wrestled the small beast from underneath and we discovered it was a small conger eel!

Where are your parents hiding?

We kept fishing, waiting for the tide to flood over the reef as this would offer our best hope of bass. As we worked our way across the reef we bumped into another angler. We quickly struck up a conversation and to our surprise he knew what we were doing! As we talked about light rock fishing he began to show us pictures of various species of fish he had caught locally and it was not long before we had exchanged numbers with the promise of fishing together in the future.

By this time the tide was about right to have a crack at the bass. I rigged up my bass rod with a 8.5g Berkley Powerbait Sandeel in white and carefully made my way onto the reef. The sea was quite rough and meant I wouldn't have long before it became unfishable.

I had to keep my wits about me!

After about 5 minutes of wave dodging and working the eel a fish nailed the lure in the surf. It proceeded to give a spirited fight and tried to use the receding waves to it's advantage to escape. So much so I was surprised at how small he was when I landed him. Only around a pound but very welcome all the same.

Small but certainly gave a good account of itself in the surf.

After I released the fish I headed back into the surf and a couple of minutes later got hit by another small bass! The fish was quickly landed and a couple of snaps were taken before she was released back to the surf.

My second bass. Hooked in the scissors. About the same size as the first.
Scott spotted these lures and they've now taken 4 fish in two sessions. Nice weight for casting on light gear too.
Bass caught on white eel lure shocker!

Meanwhile Scott had worked the beach side of the reef to no avail and had made his way onto the rocks across from me. Not having brought his chest waders made it very hard to fish the mark in its rough state and although he tried we quickly ran out of time and had to leave.

All in all a very productive couple of hours and it has increased our knowledge of the reef and its residents. A night session may be required to try and tempt some slightly larger conger eels out from their hiding places!

Tight Lines, Schogsky.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Scorpion Hunt.

Saturday, and whilst Scott had headed up north this weekend I was joined by a friend from down south. Jamie and I have had many adventures in pursuit of big carp but he has never tried the joys of LRF. After I had shown him the gear and a few pics of what we had been up to whilst out doing LRF, he was dead set on catching a Long Spined Sea Scorpion and of course being a gracious host I was only too happy to oblige and guide him for the day.

We headed down the coast to our Blenny hot spot with the idea of a bit of Bass fishing as well. When we got to the mark the sea was very rough indeed and was in no state to fish our usual reef for the Bass. Oh well, undistracted by silver we turned our attention to the blennys!

I rigged up with a 2.2g Crazyg HD jig head and an ever reliable Gulp! 1" Fish Fry. We began to fish some pools that were just beginning to flood with the tide. The technique is very simple; just a simple vertical jigging motion allowing the jig head to tap on the rock floor of the pool a few times, then pause for a couple of seconds and repeat till a Blenny attacks.

We found some likely looking boulders and jigged right up against them, bouncing the lure in front of the gap beneath the boulder. A couple of seconds later a blenny shot out, grabbed the lure and was promptly landed. Next it was Jamie's turn and a few seconds later he winkled out his first Blenny!

Jamie's first Blenny.

We continued catching more Blennys and then decided to go after some Scorpions, so we headed across the rocks to the shallows where the tide was flooding. We started fishing, again targeting large boulders, bouncing the lure in front of cracks and hiding holes. Jamie was first in when a small dark scorpion popped out of his lair and nailed the lure.


He was over the moon. "They look like gremlins!" he pronounced in his reet Yorkshire drawl. He's not wrong!

My turn next and targeting the same boulder I had a jig to see if there was anyone else at home. Indeed there was! Within seconds a plump Long Spined Sea Scorpion pounced on the lure. This one was rather pretty, with coral pink markings along his flanks. These proved to be exceptionally good camouflage as the pictures show.

In the water.
Ridiculously well camouflaged out of water too!

We had time to catch a couple more before the weather worsened and we called it a day. It was great to find where the Scorpions were on the reef as it has an amazing population of Blennies. It may hold some other species too and I hope to find out soon exactly which ones.

Tight Lines, Schogsky.

Friday, 20 April 2012

Three amigos ride again.

Jake, Naz and I headed down the A1 yesterday for a little tour of a few of our East Lothian marks. Once on the road, Jake put on the music of a band he was once a part of and Naz recognised it. After some discussion, Jake and Naz realised that they had met before via the Edinburgh music scene many years ago and had a few friends in common as a result. After a bit of "those were the days" reminiscing we arrived at our first mark, the mouth of the Biel Burn at the eastern end of Belhaven Beach. No fish were to be found though apart from a white eel lure found by Naz. 

A nice find. Killer bass lure.

We jumped back in the car and headed along to Dunbar harbour but after a bit of vertical jigging down the edges with no bites we decided to move again. Despite a bit of a swell running and an inshore wind we decided to head to Torness Power Station outflow and try for bass. As is customary we spent 10 minutes quickly catching a few blennies on the way over the rocks.

Ever obliging greedy little buggers!

Then a quick change of end gear and we were soon working our white eels over the reef in amongst the breaking waves and foaming brine. Naz was first into a fish. His first bass in fact, weighing about 2lb, he was over the moon.

Naz's first ever bass!
Caught on guess what?

Shortly afterwards Jake hooked and landed one and I followed suit almost immediately. Both our fish about 1lb. 

Jake's Bass.
Bass Bros.
We continued to fish but I headed along on to the beach, Naz headed to try the outflow and Jake continued to fish over the reef.

Jake works his lure over the reef in search of more bass.

No action for a while so after a few more blennies we opted to move again and drove further down the coast to Eyemouth. No sign of any fish inside the harbour there. Jake and I did get some interest from three sea trout in the channel where the river flows into it but no sooner than they had appeared they vanished again. We then did a spot of rock hopping at the back of the harbour but again no sign of any fish apart from one small sea scorpion that I hooked briefly before he gave me the slip and shot off back down the edge of the gully to the crevice he came from.

This will be full of pollock soon hopefully!

The lack of fish at most marks is disappointing but we can't complain really. We all landed a bass and the blennies were a laugh as always. However we can't wait for the summer and the variety of species that come with it to arrive.

Tight lines, Hutch.

Ye olde street fishing.

Scott and I had a few hours to spare on Tuesday afternoon so we grabbed the opportunity and our rods and headed off to fish the Water of Leith. We had received some interesting new jig heads from the far east called "Crazyg Wave HD" made by Ocean Ruler and we were keen to see how they performed. We were joined by Scott's mate Naz who is also a keen angler and has spent a lot of time fishing in and around Edinburgh. We started off in Leith but the flood prevention works had turned the water into mud so we elected to head up stream and began fishing again at Stockbridge and worked our way further up a really beautiful stretch of the river with many nice pools and fast flowing runs ending up on the section of the river that runs through the idyllic Dean Village.

Dean Village. A little hamlet tucked away in the middle of town.

I rigged up with a red Gulp 1" fish Fry on a 1.4g Crazyg Wave HD jig head and we began exploring the pools. As they are designed to, we noticed that the jig heads gave the lures a little more "wiggle " than conventional jig heads, especially in a current. We fished up the river hopping from pool to pool and it wasn't long before I was into a fish. I was working the lure across current with little twitches and just as it began to swing around a trout seized the lure. He gave a surprisingly good account for himself in the strong flow but was soon brought to hand. This brown trout had a slightly deformed mouth but never the less apart from the usual wear and tear on it's fins an otherwise very healthy looking fish.

Our first stockie from the Water of Leith.
Bit of a David Coulthard look about him.

I slipped him back and he swam off upstream in a huff! Naz led us upstream to a large weir which looked very nice indeed. 

Simply stunning and right in the heart of Edinburgh.
An absolute pleasure fishing here.

Naz has had some good fish from this weir pool in the past and we were keen to try it! We couldn't access much of it due to the high water level so after 15 Minutes of trying we headed up stream. Seeing the water hammering down the weir got us talking about whether sea trout could scale it. We were still discussing this as we were crossing a bridge overlooking the pool above the weir. The pool looked so inviting we had to have a shot. We were high up above the water but we are used to fishing from heights due to our harbour fishing experiences. I stuck with my lure choice and Scott rigged up with a red 2" Ecogear Strawtail on an AGM 2g #6 finesse jig head combo. I fished up stream and Scott took the down stream stretch. My lure had barely touched the water when I heard Naz say "Brownie!". Scott was in! Then off! A big brown trout had grabbed the lure but thrown the hook in a flash of gold. Scott cast again and began working the lure very slowly up stream whilst constantly twitching the lure.The great thing about being so high above the river was that we could see the lure working. We could also see a flash of silver followed by Scott's rod hooping over. Fish on and question answered as another Water of Leith sea trout fell to Scott's rod!

Amazing, Scott's second sea trout in as many weeks!

Scott and myself had both caught and it was Naz who was in next. Although not really the intended species as he wrestled a pair of chest waders up the bridge!

Heaviest catch of the day.

They were a bit damaged, possibly from ascending the weir on their way to spawn, but otherwise in quite good condition. That was the last action for the day but a successful little recce further up river and it's somewhere we must visit again soon.

Tight Lines, Schogsky.

Monday, 16 April 2012

Sunshine on Leith

Time is at a premium for me at the moment, so in a brief lull between work and more work I found myself with half an hour to spare. Luckily I had my LRF kit in the van so I headed to the Water of Leith. Yesterday while Scott broke his brown trout duck I didn't even manage a bite. I was a bit disappointed as even though I only fished for an hour conditions looked perfect. Today I was determined to winkle out another fish.

I only had time to fish one pool so headed to the spot that was fishing well for Scott the day before. I decided to rig up with a 2.3g #8 Shirasu Fine jighead and a Gulp! 1" Fish Fry in red. This particular pool can't really be approached from downstream so keeping low I crept into position at the head of the pool. I began by casting across stream and slowly reeling whilst twitching the lure across the current. After a couple of casts I moved down stream a yard and repeated the same pattern. On the fifth cast I saw a flash of gold in the sunlight and the tip of the rod hooped over. Fish on! I quickly landed another fine Brown trout and feeling immensely satisfied I released her back into the pool.

Dappled in sunlight with gunmetal hues. Marvelous!
Another beautiful Water of Leith brown trout falls to a lure.

I sat back and took in the sun dappled water and watched a kingfisher fly past before returning back to the van. A perfect 20 minutes. As I headed back I started to whistle this tune...

Who would of thought we could find such peaceful, natural fishing in the centre of Edinburgh? 

Thanks Water of Leith, I'm sorry I doubted you!

Tight Lines, Schogsky.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

East Lothian Easter Monday meet up.

Jake and I headed down to Torness Power Station outflow yesterday. Jake's friend Paul joined us and we were meeting up with Paul's mate Richie down there and also three fellow The Lure Forum members, Martin who had travelled across country from Ayrshire and Richie and Jase who had come up all the way from Sunderland.

Richie and Jase were first to arrive on the rocks and when we arrived they reported that fishing had been very slow. So much so that they had done a spot of rockpooling and not for fish!

Whilst waiting for the bass to turn up the David Attenborough came out in Jase and Richie took this nice photo of a sea urchin, uncovered by the spring tide.

I had a quick crack at the bass and setup with an 8g bombarda and a Kiddy Sidewinder Brill Bait. Meanwhile Jake did a spot of LRF in a kelp filled gully connected to the sea. It wasn't long before he was into a fish.

Jake manages to catch something other than a blenny or bass at Torness Power Station outflow. Lovely brown, orange and yellow colouration on this long spined sea scorpion.
Isn't he cute?

The bass were clearly not around and whilst the rest of the group carried on in the hope they would arrive I disappeared with "The Beast Tamer" in search of a blenny that would steal Jake's Scottish Record crown.

There is a rod in my hand honest!

I spotted a couple of large specimens in one fairly small rockpool and after a bit of vertical jigging one grabbed the Gulp! 1" Fish Fry and was quickly plucked from his salty residence!

"The Beast Tamer" strikes again.

Jake just happened to be on the move at this point, so I called him over so I could weigh my specimen blenny on his electronic mini species scales. Luckily for Jake whilst mine was slightly longer than his record breaker, mines wasn't quite as plump so his title was still safe, for the time being!

At 18.5cm this is a lunker as far as blennies go!
Are you lookin' at me?

I carried on in search of the prize winning fish but couldn't locate one anywhere near the proportions required. I caught 20 in the process. This also gave me the opportunity to test my new Nories rod and whilst I could feel the tiny bites I prefer the extra sensitivity my Diaflash offers for this style of close range vertical jigging. Some of the smaller blennies were particularly aggressive.

This one had a bit of an attitude. Vicious little bugger!

At this point I headed back down to see if any bass were in and at long range some activity could be seen with some surface disturbance and a couple of seals patrolling in the distance we hoped that the shoal would be moving within casting range soon.

Martin retrieves his lure. Note the beautiful Scottish weather.

Martin was first into a fish. Taken at long range this would signal the start of some further action for the others.

Martin lands the first bass of the day.
Richie's rod bends into a bass.
Richie took this bass on a Yokozuna Flamingo deep diving plug.
Richie's latest hard lure does the business.
The classic white eel and controller float setup took a few bass.

I got into the action too. After trying a few small hard lures I switched to a soft one. A few casts into the outflow and using a steady retrieve with a few little jerks it wasn't too long before I hooked a schoolie.

Savage Gear Sandeel Slug on a 6g 2/0 jighead was nailed by this bass.
Only a puppy but lovely all the same.

Again the Nories coped easily. I'm starting to realise that the real quality in this rod is in the way it handles fish once hooked. It really is a joy the way it absorbs the headshakes and feels so smooth during the fight, although like Jake's Graphiteleader Corto EX, we'd still like to test them on something a bit bigger that will fight dirty! With this in mind myself, Jake, Paul and Richie decided it was time to head down to the cliffs at Eyemouth to target Pollock and Coalfish. Richie fishes the area quite frequently and has had pollock to 8.5lb so we were hoping to give our light gear a real workout.

Quick group shot before some of us headed down to Eyemouth.

The first mark we fished is known locally as "The Cannons" this is because it is directly below two large cannons that are on top of the cliff.

Two large cannons facing seawards give the mark below it's name.

After a following the narrow winding path round the side of the cliff, passing under an overhang and hopping over some rocks we arrived on a large flat platform.

"The Cannons". Nice deep water with lots of kelp. Perfect for pollock and wrasse.
The view to the north west towards St Abbs Head.

We tried a variety of lures and worked our way around the area, Jake even tried a spot of LRF down the edges and in some shallower water with some light jigheads and Power Isome but sadly none of us caught anything. We decided to try at another mark and made the climb back up to the cliff top.

The path required to access the mark is narrow and dangerous and not for the faint hearted. Richie and Paul lead the way.
I hold up this huge boulder so Jake can make his escape!
Don't look down!

Once on the cliff top again we made our way round towards the next peninsula, a much more rocky affair, the tip of which is cut off as the tide floods and is known locally as "Hairy Ness".

"The Cannons" from a distance.

We began our descent to the mark. Just as dangerous as the last but for completely different reasons. Instead of being faced with the risk of falling a great distance should we lose our footing we had to do a fair bit of scrambling over rocks to reach the mark with the prospect of hard, jaggy landing should we slip. Again not for the faint hearted. Taking time and care was the order of the day. Not a mark to try and access in bad weather or when a swell is running.

The climb down the the second mark. "Hairy Ness" is the furthest point.
"Hairy Ness" cut off by the tide.

We only fished here for about 30 minutes but unfortunately we drew a blank again. A real shame as it looked just as promising as the first mark. Richie was understandably disappointed too as he regularly catches pollock and coalfish from both marks. We'll certainly be returning to these marks in the months to come.

All in all a great day was had by everyone and it was good to meet up with friends and make a few new ones.

Tight lines, Hutch.