Wednesday, 18 July 2012

St Abbs : Cod hunt.

On Sunday we traveled down to St Abbs to meet up with our friend Ritchie who has been exploring new ground. He's been fishing a mark near the harbour where he's been catching codling and pollock on soft lures. So when he asked if we wanted to come and fish it with him we jumped at the chance! We were keen to catch codling but Ritchie also suspected that there would be wrasse there too. After a short walk down the hillside and a scramble over the rocks we arrived at the mark. The water at the mark was deep and gin clear with large sandy patches breaking up the thick kelp beds, gullies and boulders. This all combined to scream fish! We headed out on to a finger of rock and geared up with our standard spinning gear in order to target the codling. I went with a new lure, a Lunker City "Ribster" in Arkansas Shiner.

Lunker City Ribsters in Arkansas Shiner (Top) and Motor Oil.

The lure is a similar soft plastic to the Slug-Go but ribbed with a willow leaf tail which causes the lure to wiggle and flicker in the current or when twitched. It is also a buoyant lure and when the nose is weighted it sits tail up on the sea bed gently wiggling in the tide. I mounted it on a 10.5g Lunker city football head and smeared with Captain Mikes Sardine scent gel for added atrraction. Scott, fresh from his wrasse hunting exploits in Cornwall, went with a Keitech Shad Impact on a 7.5g AGM Ultra Ball jighead. Richie was using a Texas rigged Molix paddle tail with an orange belly, this had proved irresistible to the codling on his previous session, with fish hitting it when it was stationary on the bottom!

We began casting out and searching the area, working our lures along the sea bed. After a few casts we started getting sharp bites as the lure sat next to a kelp fringe under our feet. We were pretty certain the culprits were wrasse, however they only seemed to be pecking the lure tentatively rather than attacking it full on and indeed the bites dried up pretty quickly with no hook ups. We continued to search around the area changing retrieve and depths but after a couple of hours we still hadn't been able to hook anything. The water was possibly too clear for the codling to have come into the bay to hunt and they may have pushed offshore following the wind. With the chances of finding a feeding codling dwindling I changed tactics and went with my LRF gear in the hope of targeting the wrasse. Many people would shudder at the thought of using such light gear for such dirty fighting, kelp diving fish, but I have landed wrasse up to 2lb on the set up and know what it can do. I rigged up a small pink Power Isome on a 2.3g #8 Shirasu Fine jighead and went back to the place where we first started getting bites. I dropped the lure down and began jigging the lure gently above the kelp directly beneath my feet. Almost straight away I saw a bright red head poke out of a clump of podweed and soon a nice size dwrasse had appeared. "Wrasse" I shouted to Richie who hurried over to where I was fishing. As Ritchie made his way over the wrasse seized the Isome and ripped it off the hook! With shaking hands I rigged another Isome and repeated the process, sure enough the wrasse emerged again and came to investigate. It ws very exiting we both watched in fascination as the wrasse approached the lure. The fish slowly checked it before quickly sucking it in, I struck then all hell broke loose! The fish instantly powered off to my left heading for a kelpy over hang. The rod bent hard round and I instantly had to apply side strain to turn it from the barnacle encrusted ledge. The fish redoubled its efforts to make the ledge and was beginning to turn when suddenly the lure pinged out the water and shot over my shoulder! What the? The hook had bent straight and the fish had won its battle! Oh well lesson learned, Shirasu fine hooks are not the best for vertical jigging for wrasse! Learning from my mistake I rigged up a 3.5g #6 AGM Finesse jighead with an Isome. Although still a fine wire hook, they are a heavier gauge than the Shirasu Fine. I continued to work the lure along the rock ledges and had moved about 20ft along when I saw another wrasse poking its head out of a clump of Podweed. It was a smaller fish but again bright red and was wary of leaving its lair. The fish was weaving in and out the waving weed, so I dropped the lure as close to it as I could. A couple of jigs and then a tiny bite, a greedy little long spined sea scorpion had charged out and nailed the lure before the wrasse could get to it!

Little bugger!

I dropped the lure down right next to the podweed again and allowed the lure to rest on the rock. I jigged the lure gently and saw the wrasse poke its head out slowly coming closer and closer. Quick as a wink it sucked the lure into its mouth. "Yes"! I shouted setting the hook with a flick of the wrist. Quickly followed by "Nononononoooo.." as the wrasse dove into the weed and began weaving itself between the fronds, quickly unhooking itself in the process! Ah well even though I had lost both fish it was fantastic to watch them attacking the lures in such clear water and it was great to find some wrasse! We carried on fishing but apart from Scott hooking a nice size coalie on a Hogy sandeel and losing it at his feet that was it for this mark. One things for sure, we will be back!

We decided to pop into St Abbs Harbour for a quick bash at the flounders before heading home. Richie despite fishing the area for most of his life had never caught one. We arrived at the harbour and we all went with 1.8g #10 Decoy Rocket jigheads rigged with Isomes. Action was instant, with lots of little flounders chasing the lures as they trundled along the bottom. Again the water was so clear that we could see the little flatties struggling to fit the lure into their mouths. After a couple of minutes one managed to suck the lure far enough into its mouth to hook itself and my first st Abbs flounder this year was soon landed!

Isn't he cute?

Scott was next to hook his first flounder of 2012 and although it was only palm sized too it still put a big grin on his face!

Small but perfectly formed.

He quickly followed it up with a second, before turning his attention and a #18 hook to some gobies that were attacking his lure. I carried on trying for the flatties as did Ritchie but alas we couldn't tempt any more. We headed back to the car, pleased with the flattie action as well as the discovery of a great new wrasse mark. Ritchie was pleased to see how we were targeting the little flatties and will be back at the harbour with his LRF gear soon to catch his first!

Tight lines, Schogsky.

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