Friday, 31 August 2012

East Lothian : Two quick sessions.

With Scott away up at Applecross and a busy week for me work wise, I managed to squeeze a couple of very short sessions in last week. The first quick session I decided to pop down to Dunbar to try for wrasse around the back of the harbour. Conditions weren't great though, with a brisk wind blowing onshore making working light jig heads a real pain! The wrasse however were conspicuous by there absence and the mark only yielded a few small coalies and three small pollock, one of which leapt clear of the water to get the lure, before I had to leave. The pollock were fun on the light tackle though and put a good bend in the rod, which kept me grinning all the way up the A1 as I headed back.

This little coalfish has a most excellent "Arkansas Shiner" colour scheme.
The fight of small pollock on LRF gear is great fun and highly addictive!

On Thursday I had a few hours to spare in the afternoon, so I grabbed my bass gear and headed down the coast to my usual bass mark. Conditions were bright and calm and I arrived just as the tide had finished its flood. My tackle consisted of my 9'6" Wright and McGill medium drifter rod, Shimano Aernos reel loaded with 20lb Sunline Momentum braid, a 4' leader of 12lb Flurocarbon and on the business end a Lunker City Ribster in Arkansas Shiner mounted on a 10.5g #2/0 Lunker City football jighead. I began to work the lure by casting out and allowing the lure to sink before gently bouncing it back along the bottom, bouncing it over the rocks and kelp with little lifts and twitches of the rod. I always try to picture what my lure is doing in the water and I was trying to create the look of a small injured blenny or sandeel, panicking and fleeing from rock to rock. I was obviously doing something right when after about ten minutes of fishing I felt a thump, then the wonderful feeling of weight on the line as the fish grabbed the lure and shot off with the tide. The fish put up a good fight for its size but was soon landed.

The only Bass of the session fell for a Lunker City Ribster, one of my new favourite lures!

At this point I bumped into fellow The Lure Forum member Paul Mouat and his mate. Paul had manged two bass earlier but it had gone very quiet. The reason for this lack of action became obvious when we discovered a large gill net covering the bay. This had literally killed off the fishing and it was quite hard to bear the sight of the guys emptying all sorts of fish from the net, before they reset it. I fished on for a bit but decided just to call it a day for the bass and headed back to the car. Seeing the net being used was a not a pleasant sight. The mark is very heavily pressured from anglers anyway and now nets, there has to be a limit to how much fishing it can sustain. Even though I fish catch and release I think I'll have a break from the bass fishing there for a bit and concentrate a bit more on some other species.

Tight lines, Schogsky.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

LRF : Leopard spotted goby hunt.

On Friday 17th, as the rain fell persistently over a grey Edinburgh, I decided to head down the coast to search for a leopard spotted goby. I popped into Mike's Tackle Shop in Portobello to grab some tiny hooks and a disgorger. Mike has started stocking some really interesting soft lures, as well as a good range of lure tackle, and after a wee chat he also informed me he would be getting some LRF rods in! It's an exciting development and great to see our local tackle shop embracing Light Rock Fishing! After telling Mike of my quest for a leopard spotted goby he very kindly dug out some tiny Jaxon Mormyshkas Ice Jigs for me to try. These little jigs would come in very handy and have hook sizes from 10 to 14, perfect for mini species!

I drove with a grim determination through the heavy rain down to the mark and quickly got into my waders and wet weather gear. At which point it stopped raining! Scott had caught a leopard spotted goby earlier in the year from this area but it would be a question of searching the pools and gullies till I could find one. I decided to use one of the tiny ice jigs and rigged it with a small tail section of pink Power Isome. I began to jig the lure around various rock pools and it wasn't long before a greedy long spined sea scorpion had seized the lure! I released it after a quick photo and then there followed a succession of scorpions.

The Jaxon ice jig claims its first sea scorpion!

As I worked my way up the large rockpool I must have had about ten long spined sea scorpions when I saw a much larger sea scorpion come charging across the pool and nail the jig! It was a short spined sea scorpion and a new PB!

Big fish.
Big mouth.
Short Spines.

I returned it to the pool and carried on up the gully. A few more little long spined sea scorpions were landed and released and then another large one charged out of the kelp and grabbed the Isome. This one too was of the short spined variety and was almost as big as the first.

Just like the buses. Wait for ages and the two turn up at the same time!

I had only caught two short spined sea scorpions in the last two years so was pretty amazed by two turning up in the same gully! I fished on up the gully and caught a good sized long spined scorpion.

A very rough texture to this fishes skin. Quite unusual.

With still no sign of the gobies and the tide flooding fast I began to concentrate on where the tide was flowing into the pools. I was working the lure around a large boulder when I saw what appeared to be a blenny, which then started swimming up to meet the lure. It had a blueish tinge to it and then it dawned on me, it was a leopard spotted goby! It came up, snatched at the lure, but didn't get hooked and went back under the boulder. I really wanted to catch this fish as I have never seen one in the flesh before! I dropped the lure back down and again the goby came out, this time it didn't want the lure to escape and quickly grabbed it! A little flick of the wrist set the hook and I lifted him out to admire him.

My first ever leopard spotted goby!
It changed colour quite quickly and I could make out its pink hue and brown spots after a short moment.

He was a very big specimen measuring 13cm and rather foolishly I didn't weigh him. When I later text Scott and told him I'd caught a big one he looked up the British record and it turns out it is only 1oz 6dr and I am pretty sure the goby was knocking on that! Anyway, I was still over the moon, I had caught my target species and one I have never caught before! I carried on and managed to catch a second smaller leopard spotted goby and I saw a couple more but couldn't get them to take.

A slightly smaller specimen.

I then moved on to fish some of the deeper water in the hope of catching a few coalies. The water was gin clear and I could see the Isome working back towards me as I twitched it. I always like to watch the lure to see how I can work it with little twitches and shakes. I also enjoyed watching a small pollock appear from the boulders and attack it! A fun fight ensued before it was landed, photographed and released.

Good sport on ultra light tackle.

That was the last fish of the session as I had to get back so I made my way back to the car. I was rather chuffed with this session as it's great to catch a target species on the first proper go, especially one so unusual. The fact it may have been a potential record makes it even sweeter, although I must remember my scales next time!

Tight lines, Schogsky.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Twilight at St Abbs

Last Sunday we headed down to St Abbs to meet up with our friend and local angler Ritchie, who has been having a lot of success down there fishing into twilight. We arrived at the mark at 7.30pm after a scramble and a climb over the rocks. Ritchie and I had both brought ultra light gear and light spinning gear, Scott had just brought his light set up and was hoping to get some pollock practise in before his forthcoming Applecross trip. We would only have about an hour and a half of light till sunset, so I tackled up with the LRF gear and went to search for late evening wrasse. Scott was targeting the bigger pollock, but it was Ritchie who was first in with a chunky 1.5lb coalie on a Gulp! Sandworm rigged on a Berkley 5g #4 jighead. I watched his Savage Gear Troutizmo rod bend with envy as coalies are great sport! He released that and a couple of casts later caught a jumbo mackerel, the biggest I have seen this year at about 1.5lb, which again put up a great fight before he landed and released it. Ritchie then announced he was going to try for flatties and using the same set up started casting and slowly bouncing and twitching the lure along the sea bed. I decided to join Ritchie in targeting the flatties, so I rigged up a small Pink Power Isome on a 3.5g #8 Cultiva Mebaru Shot jighead and began to search the area. Ritchie was soon into a nice flounder but as it surfaced we realised it was just holding onto the lure below the hook! Unfortunately for us it also realised this and promptly let go of the lure! I then had a couple of little bites followed by a feeling of weight as a flounder grabbed the lure. This one was hooked nicely and after a fun fight it was landed, photographed and released.

As most of my Flounder come from harbours, this open coast rock mark flounder was most pleasing!

Ritchie then manged to land a good sized flounder as well before switching tackle to fish for large pollock. I kept searching the area and was soon rewarded with a feisty little pollock.

I love the copper coloured honeycomb markings on this pollock.

I had just released the fish when I heard a shout from Scott and watched his rod bend into a good fish. He had hooked it at distance and had got it half way in before it started making powerful dives to get under the rock ledge in front of him. Scott had a real tussle with the fish before he managed to land it with it making a couple of attempts to get into the kelp in front of him. A fine pollock of 4.5lb which Scott decided not to bother photographing the fish as he wanted to get it back in the water. I swapped over to my heavier gear and rigged up a Lunker City Ribster on a 10.5g #2/0 football jighead. I worked the lure in a sink and draw pattern, bouncing it over the top of the kelp. I had a bite and struck into a fish that tried to dive back into the kelp before coming up in the water to reveal itself. Bright orange, at first I thought it was a wrasse then as it broke the surface I saw it was a chunky red codling! Marvellous! I love cod and to get one on the Ribster was great fun as they do fight well on light gear. I quickly landed photographed and released it and carried on working the Ribster over the twilight kelp.

The Ribster claims another species in this lovely orange codling.

Richie then caught another couple of nice size coalies and capped it with a lovely 3lb cod of his own again a stunning orange colour. Scott had another pollock before I got my last fish of the session, which turned out to be another jumbo mackerel, again on the Ribster, this one came home with me and was very tasty indeed! 

That was about it for the session as it had got dark and we had to make our way carefully over the rocks to get back. The journey back took a while and was quite challenging, clambering and climbing over the rocks in the dark. Aided by Ritchie's guiding skills and our torches we eventually found ourselves back at the car. We all agreed it was an excellent session with five species being caught and some good sized fish thrown in. I can't wait to get back down there again!

Tight lines, Schogsky.

Monday, 20 August 2012

Local burn revisited.

Late last week Jake and I headed back to the small burn he fished last Monday armed with our LRF gear for a short session of upstream lure fishing for the resident trout. I also took along my brook rod as I thought I may get the opportunity to do a spot of fly fishing, or should I say practice my casting. We parked the car, climbed down the bank and entered the burn. We began working our way up the river and Jake having fished it the day before very kindly allowed me to fish most of the pools and runs, offering advice as we went. With little sign of any trout though, me constantly getting my jighead caught in the rocks and then spooking the fish as I moved upstream to free it, I was glad when we then approached a nice weir pool.

After sneaking up to it, seeing plenty of small fish rising and having a few casts towards them with the lures but with no reward, we decided it was time to try my fly rod. I've not been fly fishing for long at all and my casting isn't very good yet. Trying to keep low so as not to spook the fish I kept catching my fly on the vegetation behind me. Jake offered some advice and after a while I finally managed to get a fish to show some interest, slashing at the nymph under the surface. Casting practice continued with Jake removing the fly from the long grass behind me once or twice before I finally got it where the fish were. I then worked on stripping line at the right speed to keep the nymph moving through the current and must have cracked it when a small trout took my fly and was hooked. I was very pleased and was so grateful to Jake for his great tuition!

My second small fish on a weighted nymph in a week.

Jake then had a go with my brook rod and it didn't take him long at all to get himself a small trout. A little escapee rainbow trout from the fish farm further down stream. My turn again and after some more hit and miss casting I hooked a second small trout. Quickly retrieved and landed, it was another small rainbow trout. I was over the moon and found the whole thing quite hilarious as I've never seen rainbow trout so small before.

My 9th freshwater species on lures of 2012.

We carried on for a while longer before heading back down stream. Jake fished as he went but had no luck so we headed home. A fun couple of hours and I'm looking forward to future trips there and hopefully hooking a bigger trout on my brook rod soon.

Tight lines, Hutch.

East Lothian : Fresh and Salt.

I had the afternoon free last Monday so I decided to head down the coast in search of bass. As I was driving I decided to pop into a small burn I used to fish when I was a kid. When I arrived it was a lot smaller than I remembered! The water was crystal clear, the sun was high and it was nice and warm which made fishing very pleasant. I began by wading in and casting up stream, with the rod tip held high I retrieved the lure just a bit faster than the current with a twitchy retrieve. The lure of choice was a Berkley Gulp! 1" Fish Fry in red, mounted on a 1.4g #10 Shirasu fine jighead. Stealth tactics were a necessity keeping low against the bank, I worked the pool above me. After a few casts I had a little bite and then a little trout began leaping madly about! As I brought the fish towards me it looked a little different, quite silver with darker bars down its flanks and by the time I brought its cavorting under control I realised it was a little rainbow. My smallest ever and it looked really pretty in the warm summer sun. I held the fish in one hand and began to fumble around looking for my camera, randomly patting parts of my body. After about a minutes worth of frankly pathetic searching the fish, by now fully recovered, gave a little head shake and gleefully threw the hooks! I watched the fish speed away downstream, at least I had found my camera all be it too late in this case.

No more bites from the pool up stream I began to work the pool down stream. Casting down and across the current I allowed the lure to swing back around below me, allowing me to retrieve it alongside an overhanging tree. As I twitched the lure passed the tree another little trout dashed out from the shadows and seized the lure. Again after much head shaking the little trout was brought to hand. Another tiny rainbow and this time I was ready with my camera, or not as it turned out! I made my way to the bank, holding the leader and keeping the fish in the water, looking for a shallow spot to take a photo. I got to the margins and instantly forgot which pocket my camera was in. Thus began more fevered, one handed fumbling as I searched. The trout sensing an idiot was in control took its chance, threw the hooks and disappeared. With my photographic plans foiled, I made sure my camera was to hand and began to fish a small culvert where a even smaller stream joined the burn. I got within about 6' of the flow and crouched behind some reeds and began just flicking the lure upstream. The technique was very similar to fishing Czech nymphs for grayling. Just bouncing the lure downstream along the bottom with the current, hardly reeling and just letting the rod control the lure. Second pass through a little brownie grabbed it and was quickly landed and this time photographed!

Finally a fish got photographed!

I carried on working my way upstream hoping for another rainbow. A few pools later I felt the tiniest of fish on the lure and reeled in to find a minnow had foul hooked itself!

Kamikaze minnow.

I must have gone half a mile up the river before I had another fish. I had cast upstream, the lure landing just below some rapids at the head of the pool. A couple of turns on the handle and I saw a golden flash in the water and felt a trout take hold of the lure. I gave a little flick of the wrist to set the hook and the trout went instantly airborne and with a frantic head shake threw the hook. I recast to the same spot and the lure was seized the instant it hit the water. The rod hooped over as the fish stayed deep and shot into the main channel easily stripping line from my lightly set drag. I manged to play the fish towards me where I caught sight of it kiting through the water. A beautifully marked brownie and a good sized one too. I played the fish downstream to where I could beach it all the time marvelling at the sight of it in the clear water. Heart thumping and hands shaking I manged to beach it and there before me lay my biggest brownie this year!

Nicely marked wild brown trout.
Recovering in the shallows.
Released, it swam strongly back up into the main channel.

Now I was really buzzing and decided to head back down towards the car, hoping to pick up another rainbow. I came to a pool where I could see a fish rising. Here the river narrowed to about 12' and a bank side bush overhung it. I began to stalk the trout slowly edging my way down until I was crouched in the river under the bush. With my rod poking out from the branches I lobbed the lure 6' away from me to where the fish was rising. As soon as the lure had plopped into the water the fish was on it and after a brief tussle it was landed.

Another lovely fish.

Marvelling at its very green colouration and feeling immensely satisfied at my stalking approach the fish was released and I headed back to the car to head off bassing! A brief drive later and I was at the mark, which as it turned out was incredibly rough! An onshore wind and an ebbing tide had really got a big swell up and lots of smashed weed and kelp was suspended in the water. I rigged up a Lunker City Ribster in Arkansas Shiner on a 10.5g Lunker City football jighead. Fishing was downright dangerous at times with big waves breaking up onto the reef. This meant I couldn't really fish my usual points so I began to move around the reef. The weed was really proving to be a pain with every couple of casts picking up the floating weed. I had been fishing for about an hour when I finally had a bite. This took me a bit by surprise as it was only about 10 yards out and I had all but given up hope! The fish made a bee line for deeper water and tried to head out with the surf. It gave a good scrap but was soon landed.

A nice little bass.
Reward for my perseverance.

Mission accomplished I decided not to bother trying for anymore as it was just too rough, so with the promise to myself that I would be back when it calms, I headed home grinning like a Cheshire cat! 

Tight lines, Schogsky.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Lunch hour session : Forth & Clyde Canal.

Last Friday I had a job collecting some antiques from Dunblane, this would take me right past the Forth & Clyde canal. I would have an hour to spare before I had to deliver the furniture so the LRF gear was stowed in the van. I got to the canal about 1pm and made my way to some pontoons. I rigged up with a short wire trace and a Lake Fork Live Baby Shad in Alewife, mounted on a 3g #4 AGM Finesse jighead and began to fish the lure around the pontoons and along side the moored boats. After about ten minutes I watched a small perch follow the lure up from below the pontoon and grab it. A flick of the wrist and the little perch was hooked and quickly landed!

Small, stripey and greedy!

A quick photo and back it went. Excellent, I do love to see the fish taking the lure. I carried on working the lure with a slow twitched retrieve and picked up a further four small perch .

Eyes bigger than its stomach!

I then had a more aggressive bite this turned out to be a jack which did its best to try to get back under the pontoon before it played away from it, landed, photographed and released.

This jack swallowed the lure whole.

With lunch hour nearly up I managed to catch another smaller jack of about 8" just to round the session off. It was a fun packed hour of opportunistic fishing and although the fish weren't big it was a great way to spend my lunch hour!

Tight lines, Schogsky.

Monday, 13 August 2012

An extraordinary week of fishing.
Part 9 : Carlingwark Loch birthday present.

Last Monday was my 35th birthday and I wanted to celebrate it with a spot of wrassing however it had rained heavily during the night and was quite windy in the morning and I really didn't fancy fishing rock marks so after checking the weather forecast further inland Ross and I decided to settle for a for a spot of piking instead. We packed up our gear and headed up the A75 to Castle Douglas to fish Carlingwark Loch. I've had some great fun there with jacks in the past and there are fish in there to over 20lb so our fingers were crossed for some fun with the jacks and maybe a big girl or two. When we arrived Ross couldn't wait to try his luck around the large lily pads and weed beds the surround the loch. As we moved around the edge we realised there were a few guys deadbaiting in some of the best spots I normally fish so we opted to move and headed to the bay at the top of the eastern side of the loch and work or way down the eastern side.

Action was slow to start with but as we made our way down the loch exploring all the small bays and reed beds we soon had a few jacks nipping at our brightly coloured Relax Kopyto shads. They are super supple and have a fantastic action due to their thin body and oversized paddle tail, even at very slow retrieve speeds. Fellow The Lure Forum member and big Kopyto shad fan Rob Pope very kindly sent me a few to try and I'll certainly be getting a few more in various sizes for use targetting a variety of species in both fresh and salt water.

Whilst watching jacks attack is exciting and hooking them before they thrash about wildly and throw the hook is great entertainmaent both of us were getting a bit frustrated by not being able to actually land any of the fiesty pike. We split up slightly and fished two areas quite close to each other. Casting along the bank in front of some reeds I watched a fish follow my lure out. As it got closer I realised it was a perch. It was almost right at my feet, so close I couldn't believe it really. I just stood still and dangled the lure in front of it and after a short pause inspecting it the perch lurched forward and with three chomps worked its way up the lure. It appeared to now have the whole lure in its mouth so I struck thinking it must get hooked but incredibly I managed to pull the lure clean out of its mouth and startled it quickly shot off. I was dissapointed but this wasn't long lived as shortly afterwards I hooked another jack and despite his best efforts, leaving the water completely at one point, I finally got my first present of the day.

Barely hooked in the corner of the mouth. Amazed that I landed it.

Next cast I hooked a better fish but again it threw the hook with a violent headshake on the surface. I toyed with the idea of adding a stinger but felt it would ruin the action of the lure. I called Ross to tell him I'd landed one and he came along to join me. He too had landed a jack and had enjoyed a fair bit of action. Unfortunately he'd left his camera in the car so he didn't get a photo of it. We continued working our way down the loch and the jacks continued tormenting us. When we got to a large bay covered in lily pads we both agreed that there may be bigger fish lurking underneath and switched to lures fitted with trebles. Ross had a missed take just in front of the lily bed but after spending a while trying to get another with no joy we had to call it a day as Ross had to make the drive back down to Chester dropping me of at Carlisle train station on the way.

Our extraordinary week's fishing had just come to an end, but Ross was already talking about coming back to Scotland again as we drove to Carlisle! Who can blame him really? Great locations, great fishing and great company, what more could he want? More species hunting of course with a two spotted goby and a common skate from the shore at the top of his list!

Tight lines, Hutch.

An extraordinary week of fishing.
Part 8 : Species hunt aboard "Go West".

Last Sunday morning and we headed up to Port Logan again to meet up with local skipper Spike whose services and boat "Go West" we had chartered for a days species hunting. We were keen to see how we would do on lures and had taken a wide selection with us to try although Ross and I had also smuggled aboard some ragworm to use should the lures not be as effective as we were hoping. We would also be targeting tope in the afternoon so first up we fished for mackerel to use for bait for them. After a few drifts we soon found a shoal of two and soon had enough in the bait box so we headed to a pollock mark. Spike dropped the anchor and we were soon casting out various soft plastics. Jake of coarse stuck with his beloved Slug-Go whilst Ross and I tried a few different lures. We were all soon into pollock and enjoying catching them on our light gear. Jake was catching the most fish and got the best pollock at 6lb 4oz but unfortunately the skipper threw it back after weighing it before we could get a photo of Jake with it.

Best pollock of the day. Worst photo.

Before we left this mark we tried for wrasse. Bites on the Power Isome and Gulp! Sandworm tipped Sabiki rigs were few and far between although after a while Ross managed a female cuckoo wrasse. After a while I gave in and tipped half of my Sabiki hooks with small pieces of ragworm. Quite quickly I had a few bites and when I hooked a fish I was willing it to be on the soft lure tipped hooks but it was on one of the ragworm pieces.

A female cuckoo wrasse took Power Isome on a sabiki rig.
Soon I repeated the feat but on a small section of ragworm.

It went a bit quiet after that and Spike suggested a move, so we headed north and tried a few drifts over a sand bank to target flatfish and gurnards. We caught a few fish here starting with a grey gurnard on Gulp! Sandworm tipped Sabiki for Jake followed by one for me on Power Isome tipped Sabiki.

Another new lure caught species for Jake.
A smaller one for me too to add to my 2012 tally.

We also picked up a few fish on bait too, I had a nice coalfish and a ballan wrasse. No sign of any flatfish though which we probably would have had if we had fished a running ledger setup close to the bottom. We then headed out into the bay to target tope. Rubby dubby made up, dropped down with the anchor and our mackerel head sections ledgered down tide, the waiting game began. Whilst we waited for runs we fished the bottom for other species. Ross managed a few more grey gurnards and then caught a red gurnard.

A lovely brightly coloured red gurnard. The only one of the day.

Ross had a tope pick up his bait and go on a short run before dropping it again. I managed to hook a whiting on a set of unbaited Hokkai but as I was lifting it into the boat it shook itself free. With no further action on the tope rods despite regular fresh bait offerings we decided to end the day with a few cod species. We headed further out to sea and drifted over some ground that holds a few. It wasn't long before we were catching whiting, haddock, cod, grey gurnards and a few lesser spotted dogfish.

After dropping one on lures this one took a small strip of mackerel on a Hokkai rig.
A double hook up with the whiting. This dogfish also took a mackerel strip.
Some angler hate them. I like them. Lovable little rogues!
Ross gets a grey gurnard on a sabiki rig tipped with Power Isome.
Ross catches his first ever haddock on a mackerel strip.

Time was up and we headed back to port. Eleven species in total caught and whilst some of them had been taken on bait the lures had accounted for a few of them too with all three of us also ticking a few new species off our 2012 wanted list! Jake had to head home at this point so Ross and I bid him a safe journey home before he headed up the road and we headed back to the caravan. We did intend heading out again at night but all the fishing had caught up with us. Having a generously portioned meal in the Clashwhannon Pub was lovely but just made us even more tired and we were falling asleep watching TV in the caravan so we had an early night so we could be re-energized for the following day as it was my birthday and I fancied a spot of wrassing to celebrate before Ross and I would head home too.

Tight lines, Hutch.

An extraordinary week of fishing.
Part 7 : A bit of perspective.

After heading up to the caravan on Sat at about 6pm, meeting our mate Martin Allison and catching up with him whilst grabbing something to eat we headed out again for a few hours. We decided to go down to West Tarbet and began exploring the rocks to the south of the bay. We were hoping for more wrasse but as light faded so did our chances of catching any and with a distinct lack of bites close in we switched our attention and tactics to pollock instead. Jake was first catch one.

Lunker City Ribster proving very effective as Jake lands the target species.

Ross and I were not getting any takes though and I decided to fish a 6" red Gulp! Nightcrawler on the bottom and after a bit of patience and a few little twitches I had a rattle from something but I missed it. Repeated casts back to the same area failed to produce any further bites.With action grinding to a halt we decided to move and I went and had a look for a new spot that was accessible. I found one nearby and after a bit of clambering around on the rocks we were soon fishing again. With very little action from pollock again Ross did his mountain goat impersonation and started exploring and I decided to try fishing close to the bottom again with the Gulp! Nightcrawler. I was just saying to Jake that I'd not had much success with them when I felt a couple of taps as I twitched it over a rocky patch. On the third tap I struck and felt the weight of a decent fish. Jake thought I was joking and had maybe picked up a few blades of kelp until I got the fish about half way in and it decided it didn't want to be caught. My Power Pro started screaming off the spool and I raised the rod up to try and keep it away from the shelf below us. As soon as it stopped taking line I cranked it hard and bullied it up to the surface. Landing it would be tricky from our elevated position but there was a platform lower down to our right that the occasional wave was washing over so I steered the fish around to that and on the second attempt we had it on the rocks next to us. A nice fish and we both had a guess at its weight. To see who got closest we got the scales and a bag ready and whilst we did this the fish flapped a few times and managed to get into a very deep kelp filled rockpool behind us! I thought it was lost but luckily it was still a bit tired and Jake managed to quickly reach in and lift it out again. Much to my surprise I managed to guess its weight exactly right. Normally I'm not so good at estimating weights but I guess I'm improving. For a laugh we decided to do an "arms length = huge fish" shot which I personally think look pretty ridiculous. Mind you not as ridiculous as some of the claims people make about the weight of the fish in them!

Looks massive. Can you guess the correct weight! Correct answer is at the bottom.

By this point the light was fading and we wanted to get to the pub for a well earned pint. It turned out to be a few as when we arrived we met a few fellow The Lure Forum and World Sea Fishing members and had a good chat about what everyone had been up to and also about fishing ultra light and species hunting. Rather drunk we headed back to the caravan and had a few more drinks before Martin returned from bassing in the early hours of the morning. After another drink and finding out how he'd fared we went to bed as we had an early start in the morning with a boat trip booked to do even more species hunting.

Tight lines, Hutch.

Highlight below to reveal the weight of my pollock:
4lb 8oz

An extraordinary week of fishing.
Part 6: Portpatrick LRF and Port Logan rock hopping.

Last Saturday the three of us headed down to the Mull of Galloway to continue our week of fishing with a spot of harbour LRF, a spot of rock hopping and also a boat based species hunt. Three and a half hours later, after stopping at the Glasgow Angling Centre to get some tackle rigs for our boat trip, we arrived at our first mark, Portpatrick harbour. It was RNLI lifeboat day and the harbour was very busy with lots of people enjoying the warm weather and entertainments. Avoiding the hordes of wetsuited kids flinging themselves into the harbour we tackled up and started to fish. Scott went to the end of the harbour wall, Ross positioned himself at the foot of some steps and I fished a gap between a pontoon and the harbour wall. I rigged up a 1.8g #10 Decoy Rocket jighead with a small pink Power Isome. I cast out next to the pontoon and the lure was instantly seized by a little coalfish. I seem to be magnetically attracted to coalfish and it was quickly landed and released. A few more casts around the pontoon resulted in a couple more coalfish so I switched my attention to the harbour wall. Scott meanwhile had already started catching a string of different mini species.

Scott's first fish of the day, a long spined sea scorpion.
Followed quickly by a few rock gobies.

Scott and Ross were both fishing tiny sections of Power Isome on #14 hooks and split shot setups. Scott caught a few more long spined sea scorpions and rock gobies and then started catching poor cod higher up in the water column. Ross was busy concentrating on the bottom of the steps and was getting a lot of attention from blennies. I too was enjoying a bit of a blenny bashing and lost count of how many I had! Scott quickly caught one, his 250th he would later discover, then moved round the harbour to a sandy bay to hunt for flatfish so I moved to where he had been getting the poor cod. Ross and Scott were both definitely getting more bites on the smaller hooks. I joined them and attached #16 hook to nylon to the eye of my jighead. This was rigged with a little section of power Isome whilst the jighead had a red Gulp 1" fry. As soon as I had dropped it down I was getting little bites and quickly hooked the culprit all be it on the jighead!

A poor cod. My 20th species on lures this year!

I caught and released a few more and also picked up a couple of mini pollock. Ross meanwhile had seen a tiny fish and was absolutely intent on catching it. Some time later he managed it, a small sand goby on a #20 hook and split shot rig. I moved over to where Scott was and he had been catching sand gobies too. I joined in and quickly had one too!

One of Scott's many sand gobies.
I get in on the act with a specimen sand goby.

We carried on around the rock that form the northern side of the harbour mouth, but apart from a long spined sea scorpion for Ross the bites dried up and there was not much action. We then decided to head south to Port Logan to fish off the rocks at the back of the harbour. Deeper water and heavier ground meant that we switched to our standard pollock and wrasse gear. I rigged up a Lunker City Ribster on a 10.5g #2/0 Lunker City Football jighead and began to fish around the rock fingers and gullies. Ten minutes later I had a take and felt the unmistakable pull of a pollock. The fish ran towards me and tried to dive under a ledge, luckily I managed to bully it up over it and a nice 2lb pollock was landed!

Pollock love Ribsters!

I began to work my way over the rocks with Scott and Ross also starting to move around exploring the area. I found a deep gully and cast out into it and began working the Ribster down the gully. After a couple of casts I saw a small pollock chasing the lure only to turn away at the last minute. I dropped the lure straight down and began jigging it a bit in the hope of attracting the fish back. I felt a couple of pecks at the lure then a better bite, then everything went solid as the fish took my lure under the ledge! Annoyingly I lost the lure to the fish so on went another Ribster. Again I dropped it straight down and the fish was still interested, a couple of taps then an almighty bite. I struck but didn't hook up and lifted the lure to find the tail section missing! This could only be one thing, wrasse! I called Scott over and as he made his way I hooked and lost another fish. Scott arrived to show me how it was done and no sooner had he dropped his lure down he was getting interest. I carried on trying to winkle out a wrasse. Suddenly Scott's rod arched over and began bucking about. Scott found this very amusing and in a fit of laughter quickly landed a nice little ballan which had fought well above its weight!

This small ballan put up quite a fight after aggressively taking Scott's watermelon Ribster.

Scott then moved off to explore some other areas, whilst I carried on trying for the wrasse at my feet. I sacrificed a couple more Ribsters to the wrasse who bit them clean in half without getting hooked, before I got fed up of them abusing my precious Ribsters and changed over to a Keitech Sexy Impact mounted on a 7g AGM Football jighead. I dropped it down and tapped it on the sea bed, a couple of pecks then bang! Fish on! With the drag locked up the fish bent the rod right over as it made a powerful dive for the kelp. I held on and lifted into the fish, it made a couple more lunges and then came to the surface. I managed to land it with the help of a wave and there lay my prize! I was extremely pleased as wrasse on lures is still quite an exotic experience for me.

Keitech Sexy Impact does the damage.
At 36cm and 2lb this beat my previous PB ballan wrasse by 1cm and a few ounces.
Wrasse are beautiful fish and the variation in colouration and markings is mind boggling. Lovely eyes too!

I thanked the fish for being such a good sport and then carefully released it, pleased when it disappeared at top speed back down into the kelp below. With time up I made my way back over the rocks to see what Ross and Scott had been up to. Both had been getting bites with a wrasse destroying a couple of Scott's lures but avoiding capture and Ross had hooked and lost a small pollock. My wrasse however was to be the final fish from Port Logan and with that we made our way to the Clashwhannon caravan site where we would be spending the night.

Tight lines, Schogsky.