Friday, 8 June 2012

West coast wrasse hunt.

On Tuesday we teamed up with our friend and fellow The Lure Forum member Martin Allison planning to target some wrasse species. Martin had very kindly offered to take us to some marks that had produced goldsinny, rock cook, corkwing and ballan wrasse. We were all looking to increase our species tally for the year and it was a great opportunity to meet up again and fish together.

I picked Scott up at 05:30 and we headed through to Greenock which was to be our first port of call. After just over an hours drive we arrived at the marina and met Martin. He was already fishing using bait for the mini wrasse at this mark and we would soon joined in gishing small lures using our LRF gear. Scott and I both went with Power Isome mounted on jigheads, I used a 2.3g #8 Shirasu Fine and Scott was on a 1.8g #10 Decoy Rocket.

We started by dropping our lures down the side of the walls and jigging them next to the kelpy growth. After a few minutes Martin called us over to show us the first goldsinny wrasse of the day! He was fishing a paternoster with #10 hooks baited with tiny sections of ragworm and after a pic or two, the fish was released. Great stuff, we knew our target species were around, now all we had to do was persuade them to have a go on the lures.

Martin shows us how its done with this goldsinny wrasse.

Next it was Scott's turn to hook a fish and I looked round to see his Diaflash rod hooped over. By the bend in his rod we could tell it was no small wrasse and soon a feisty wee pollock was landed!

Scott's first fish of the session, a scrappy little pollock

This continued to be the pattern for the next half hour with Martin landing a string of goldsinnys and dabs and Scott landing another couple of little pollock. I was starting to get a bit frustrated by this stage so I scaled down further to a 1.8g #10 Decoy Rocket jighead and rigged a section of red Gulp! Sandworm on it. We started to fish over the kelp which was now being covered by the flooding tide. Scott was taking a much more vertical approach while I was casting and bouncing the lure across the top of the kelp. I started to get a few taps as the tiny wrasse shot out of the kelp and had a go at the lure but I just couldn't get them to hook up. Scott gave a shout and was into a small wrasse. It turned out to be a corkwing which had the good grace to stay hooked as it was swung up the wall.

Scott's first ever corkwing wrasse.

Brilliant! A new species for an extremely pleased Scott and it was quickly photographed and returned. Martin then landed a corkwing too as well as a steady stream of Goldsinnys. Scott then winkled out a long spined sea scorpion from the kelp, much to Martin's surprise as they are not that commonly caught at this mark.

This little blighter had bolted into the kelp and Scott was lucky to get him out of it!
A quick throat shot for comparison against the Short Spined specimen Scott caught up at Portree.

With mounting frustration I went smaller still and put on a 1g #12 jig head from AGM discount Tackle, this I rigged with a Berkley Gulp! 1" Fish Fry. I went over to near where Scott was fishing and noticed two large boulders beneath my feet. I dropped the lure down in between them and soon saw a tiny goldsinny poke its head out and grab the lure, only to quickly spit it out before I could react! Argh! This game of "tease the angler" continued for about 20 minutes until I finally hooked it! It was reeled and lifted up with the utmost care and there in my hand lay my first ever goldsinny wrasse! I was very pleased to get of the mark with one of our target species at last!

I have you now!

Scott really wanted a Goldsinny too and spent ages trying to tempt one only to experience the frustration I had just endured! I meanwhile was after a corkwing and had swapped back to the Decoy Rocket jighead with a chunk of Gulp! Sandworm.

Two wrasse wranglers in action.

We were running out of time as we had to leave to go to another mark for bigger ballan wrasse. Scott had now downsized to a size 18 hook, 0.8g split shot and tiny section of pink Power Isome and was still being teased mercilessly by the goldsinnies. I was working my lure across the kelp when a small fish darted out of the kelp and grabbed the lure, fish on and my first corkwing this year was soon landed! Martin did the honours with a photo then we released the fish.

My first corkwing of 2012.

Just as Martin and I were breaking down our tackle in readiness to move we heard a triumphant "Yes!". Scott had hooked and landed a goldsinny although it fell of the hook and very nearly wiggled back to the sea! Luckily Scott reacted quickly enough to grab it for a quick souvenir shot!

Second new species for Scott. Look at those teeth!

We then headed half an hour down the road to our next mark in the hope of targeting ballan wrasse. The weather had really improved by this point and it was pleasantly warm and bright. The mark was very nice looking indeed with clear water covering big boulders, fingers of rock and bands of kelp, classic wrasse habitat. Martin gave us a quick tour showing us likely areas and then tackled up with a float set up to try to establish if there were any wrasse around. I decided to have a play with a 4.5" Slug-Go on a 10.5g jighead. After a few casts I started getting some knocks as I was retrieving the lure over a large boulder. Next cast again I got a couple of knocks so I stopped the retrieve and just let the lure sit still on top of the boulder. Tap, tap ... Whack! A wrasse grabbed the Slug-Go and zoomed off to my left, I struck and my lure flew off to my right! Close but no cigar! I then went back to the LRF gear as Martin had been landing a few small pollock! I rigged the 2.3g #8 Shirasu Fine jighead with a red medium Power Isome and was soon into some more small pollock! The biggest going about 1.5lb which put a good bend in the Corto EX and a big smile on my face! Scott meanwhile was having a bash for mackerel to see if they had started arriving and managed to catch one before carefully unhooking it and releasing it with minimal hand contact. After my tenth pollock I decided to go and fish further along the mark where Martin had just caught a ballan wrasse, Scott opted to keep fishing where he was, switching to his LRF gear and a baby Slug-Go and was soon into a small pollock as I headed along, his first ever fish on a Slug-Go! By the time I had reached Martin he had caught another ballan of about 2lb and needing no further encouragement I started to target them again!

Still using my LRF gear I went with a red Gulp! Sandworm on the jighead and started casting and retrieving it amongst the weedy gullies. A few casts later I had a sudden take and the fish powered off arching the light rod over. This time the hook held and after a fun fight my first ballan of 2012 was landed! After a spiky photograph the fish was released leaving me feeling extremely pleased!

Lovely subtle turquoise markings on this dark brown ballan.

Scott meanwhile was making his way towards us poking around in some gullies and rockpools looking for any mini species that they might hold. I continued to fish on and 10 minutes later had another bite and hooked into a much bigger fish. The rod bent in a good arc and I really had to apply pressure to bully the fish up. It then made a powerful run towards some large rocks before I turned it. It was another ballan and as it came into view through the clear water it looked like a new PB! After one more line stripping run it was beaten and came in to my hands waving its pectoral fins in greeting! Fantastic! My new biggest ballan measuring 35cm and a really good fight on my light set up!

My new PB ballan wrasse.

Scott had joined us by this stage and while I was re-rigging I heard a tell tale whoop and Scott was into his first ballan of the day! His Diaflash rod was really bent over and he really had to work hard to keep the powerful wrasse from diving into the rocks! After a good battle Scott landed a lovely 36cm ballan wrasse and a new PB

Another PB! Scott was thrilled!

What a session it was turning out to be, even when the tip of my Corto EX broke as I was casting, it still couldn't put a dampener on it. I went back to my heavier gear and started playing with the Slug-Gos again. Martin had changed over to an AGM 3" Stick Worm in Junebug on a 3.5g jighead and was trying for wrasse. This instead saw him find a seam of big pollack and he started to land some good fish! The biggest was a lovely bronze 4lber which really ripped some line off his reel and put a good bend in his Century HPR before it was finally landed.

Martin's best pollock put a great fight.

I however could only muster a tiny pollack on an Ecogear Aqua Swim Shrimp, but I was quite pleased with this as I had never caught on this lure before. Scott then announced he wanted some mackerel for his dinner and using some form of voodoo and a Savage Gear Psycho Sprat almost instantaneously caught two big mackerel.

Scott's dinner quickly sorted!

Martin and I joined in and cast to the horizon in search of them but we didn't have Scott's luck locating them and failed to catch any mackerel. That was about the last action of the day and we headed back extremely pleased with ourselves!

A fantastic days fishing and many thanks to Martin who made it all possible with his craft and knowledge of the marks!

Tight lines, Schogsky.

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