Sunday, 30 September 2012

St Abbs : Wrasse at last!

After my PB flounder capture at St Abbs I have been desperate to get back and try for wrasse. I have seen other people catching them there but have never managed to get one myself. So when I found myself with a work free day and was given the green light by my family I jumped at the chance! I arrived at the harbour at about 10am and the tide was just starting to flood. The conditions were quite pleasant with calm seas, clear skies and sunshine but again with a gusty north westerly wind. On the drive down all I could think of was wrasse, however now I was standing at the harbour I just couldn't resist the lure of the flounders! Besides I think the wrasse would feed better with a bit more movement in the tide. I still had the drop shot rig on the rod so taking the easy option I decided to see if the flounder would respond to it. The rig was a straight forward drop shot rig comprising of a 7g lead, 18" up from that via a palomar knot was a #6 offset worm hook rigged with a section of red Gulp! Sandworm. I was somewhat dubious about how effective it would be as the lure would not be hard on the bottom, which is usually the way I fish for flounders. Technique wise it was just a question of casting out into the harbour, then very slowly retrieving whilst shaking the rod tip. Five minutes later I was into the first flounder of the session which after racing towards me at high speed was landed to a chorus of surprised gasps from the crowd of tourists who were watching me. It was a nice chunky flounder and fought quite hard for its size after a quick measure and photo I popped it back. I then followed it up with another two flounders both a good size, proving that flounders like drop shotted Gulp! Sandworm!

First flounder of the session, after only five minutes of fishing!
The next flounder was a very chunky one!
This one was hiding amongst the weed before it came up to hit the lure.

At this point I decided to have a play with a new rod we had got hold of. The rod is a TronixPro Rockfish UL and I was keen to see how much feel I could get from it as it has a solid carbon tip. I rigged up a 3.5g #8 Cultiva jighead with a Berkley Gulp! 1" Minnow and began casting across the sand. It felt good as I retrieved the little jig across sea bed, I could feel it trundling across the sand, bumping into little pebbles, I was surprised at how sensitive it was especially for a so called budget rod. The flounder fishing went slightly crazy at this point for as I watched the lure trundling across the bottom I could see some good sized flounders following it. One of them sped up its stalking of the lure and grabbed hold! I struck and after a spirited fight manged to land another fine St Abbs flounder. After a quick picture I released the fish and began to target the other flounders I could see mooching around on the sand.

One of the many flounder I caught with the new rod.

The next hour and a half was brilliant with a further eleven flounders landed the biggest probably about 1.5lbs and the smallest 0.5lbs with  five long spined sea scorpions thrown in for good measure. It really was a bit of a red letter day and a most excellent test of this rod, which I really enjoyed using.

Red Power Isome fooled this flounder...
While Gulp! Sandworm did for this sea scorpion!

I decided to tear myself away from the flattie bashing and continue my so far fruitless search for a St Abbs wrasse. I went back to using my Graphiteleader Corto EX as it has a bit more backbone and length than the TronixPro Rockfish UL. I rigged up the same drop shot rig I had earlier used to great success on the flounders, again the lure was a section of Gulp! Sandworm. I began to search the thick kelp at the back of the harbour. There was a huge shoal of coalies that kept running past the wall and I amused myself by catching a few of them as I worked along the wall. It was really quite an impressive size of shoal although it made it quite difficult to get through them to try for wrasse. I must have been on about ten coalfish when reeling in another coalie I looked down and suddenly saw I had hooked a small ballan wrasse! This promptly gave a flick of its paddle tail and freed itself from the hook, gleefully darting back into the kelp. It was disappointing but promising all the same in as much as at least the wrasse were there! I carried on working along the wall and about five minutes later felt the sharp bites of a wrasse. I allowed the tentative pecks to turn into a full blown bite as the fish grabbed the lure. I set the hook and saw the unmistakable shape of a wrasse as it turned and dived for the kelp. I raised the rod putting pressure on the fish and quickly brought it out of the danger zone. It tried its best to dive back a couple more times but my rod although very light is deceptively powerful and when it goes into a fighting curve really saps the strength of the fish. I had to walk back along the wall a bit to where I could just about reach down with a 3.5 meter landing net and after a couple of dodgy attempts finally landed my first wrasse from St Abbs!

Success! At last a St Abbs wrasse lays in the net!
I absolutely can't get enough of catching wrasse!
The huge tail on this wrasse really gave it some power!

It was a beautiful fish with a great big paddle tail and weighed just under one and a half pounds. A few pictures and I quickly released it with a big smile on my face! I worked my way back along the wall bouncing the lure through the weed. I caught a few more coalfish before I saw the shoal suddenly erupt as a large cod smashed through the shoal launching itself clear of the water before belly flopping back with a mighty splash. Crazy, I nearly jumped out of my skin, I certainly wasn't expecting airborne cod! I tried a bit around where the fish had leapt but it wasn't interested ,so I decided to try the harbour mouth quickly before I had to leave. The moved yielded one more fish in the shape of a decent sized coalfish which are always a good tussle on the ultra light gear.

The biggest of the many coalfish caught, locally known as "Podleys"

I went home really pleased as not only had I caught a St Abbs ballan at last but I had also had a rather spectacular flounder session too! I cant wait to get back and do it all again!

Tight lines, Schogsky.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

St Abbs : Specimen flounder.

On Sat 15th Scott and I met up with our friend Frazerio who was keen to experiment with some more LRF. The conditions were good with clear skies and sunshine, all be it with a gusty offshore wind. We decided to head down to St Abbs harbour, hoping that the head and cliffs would offer a bit of shelter from the wind.

Never mind the obligatory buddy shot, look at the ground we were about to fish!

When we arrived it was bright and sunny and the tide was just beginning to flood so we grabbed our gear and headed to the mouth of the harbour. LRF flounder was our first target and we geared up with 2.3g #8 Shirasu fine jigheads. I mounted half a 4" gulp sandworm while Scott and Keith both rigged up a section of Power Isome. We began by targeting the sandy patches in between the weeds, Scott started working his lure outside the harbour whilst Keith and I worked inside the harbour. The technique was simply a case of casting the lure over the sand and allowing it to sink on to the seabed, before retrieving ever so slowly, allowing the lure to crawl along the bottom. Rather unbelievably on my second cast I felt a tap followed by the feeling of weight on the line. I struck and was into the first flounder of the session, which tore around a bit before coming to the surface. I quickly managed to land it and get a couple of photos before I released the fish watching it dive quickly back to the bottom to become invisible again amongst the sand.

Flounder on light tackle are great sport, this 30cm one was no exception!

I was really pleased as it was a nice chunky flounder and I had only just started fishing as well! I carried on trying to fish the little sandy patches but it was quite hard to accurately target them due to the gusts of wind coming into the harbour mouth. A short while later I felt some small bites and reeled in a long spined sea scorpion .

This tubby sea corpion fell for a section of gulp sandworm and shirasu jighead combo.

I am always happy to catch scorpions as they are such a cool looking fish! I unhooked it and after a quick picture, released it back to the harbour.

Like kids in a sweet shop , we survey the scene.

Scott meanwhile was getting interest from flounders at the harbour mouth but the wind was making it really difficult to hit the sandy patches and the gusts kept lifting the line, propelling the lure back into the harbour. Keith was also getting little bites from dropping around the sides of the walls but again the wind was bowing the line making it hard to connect. We made the decision to try and escape the effects of the fresh air and a sudden influx of divers and wandered around the harbour trying to find a bit more shelter. We ambled about trying various places until we all met up near the lifeboat station. Keith had spotted a couple of fish that he couldn't identify and was trying to target them. Try as he might he couldn't get them to take. They were chasing it and nipping it but their mouths were too small to get hooked. He called me over to see if I would have any more success in persuading them to bite. I started bouncing my gulp sandworm on the bottom working it on the sandy patches between the weeds and sure enough a long thin fish came out to investigate. I couldn't tell what it was which is a good sign as it looked like it could be a new species! Scott came over to investigate and after watching it attacking the lure then just kind of lying in an S shape besides it we decided it may be a butterfish! Butterfish have tiny mouths so I quickly rigged up a #18 hook to nylon with a piece of  gulp and attached it to the eye of my jighead. The fish had disappeared by the time I had rigged up but I dropped it down and began allowing it to trundle around the bottom in the current. Within minutes I saw the dark shape of a small sea scorpion come rushing out the weeds and pounce on the lure. It was quickly landed and turned out to be a small short spined sea scorpion which seem to be rarer around here than their long spined relatives.

Short spined sea scorpions are much harder to come by than Long spined scorpions at St Abbs.

Scott had been targeting what he thought was a goby of some sort, we could see it chasing after his lure and eventually he managed to hook it. It was not the new species we had hoped and it turned out to be a darkly marked common blenny.

Not a new species, but it did make a fine comedy moustache!

Keith had also managed to winkle out another long spined sea scorpion. At this point I was re-rigging and when I returned to my position on the wall a movement caught my eye. A huge slab of a flounder cruised into view and settled right in front of me! My eyes bulged and my legs turned to jelly the fish was easily a new PB and lay just yards from me gleaming greenly against the sand. I began to babble incoherently, stuttering to get the words out to tell Scott and Keith. I madly fumbled at the jig head clumsily trying to free it from the hook to nylon and with shaking hands cast over the fish. I could see the lure crawling across the bottom towards the fish, I watched as it went right past the fish without it batting an eyelid, I cursed as the next cast tangled with Scott's line. I kept at it casting over and around the fish who would occasionally turn and watch the lure before moving forward a couple of feet and resettling. This went on for fifteen minutes or so before Scott and Keith elected to head off to try for wrasse. I couldn't let this fish get the better of me, it was huge! I kept following the fish but it stated to move into the harbour all the time ignoring my lure. Just then a couple of fishing boats came in to berth and the water got really stirred up. The big flounder had moved into the stirred up water and I lost sight of it. I guessed roughly where I last saw it and began fan casting around that area. After a couple of casts I felt a weight on the line but far from being the tentative taps from the flounder it turned out to be a little crab. I quickly reeled the crab in trying to save my precious gulp sandworm .When out of the murk rose a big green shadow and a pair of white lips snatched the crab off my lure, I watched the pair of them sink back down the crab feebly waving its claws at me as it disappeared into the flounders mouth. I kept working the lure around the area and five minutes later I had a single strong bite and the rod slammed over into the fish as it headed for the sand. I let the soft playing action of the rod do the work and just held the fish, it came off the bottom and wallowed around on front of me. It was a very gentle fight and the fish would slowly swim around shaking its head occasionally without panicking, all the time coming closer to me. I shouted over to Scott and Keith and Keith stopped fishing and made his way round to help me land it. As I waited for Keith my heart was in my mouth, it was definitely a new PB but was only attached by a very fine wire #8 hook as it continued to lumber gently around the harbour. Keith managed to put the net together and go down the ladder a bit in order to net the fish . I was truly stoked, I was totally focused on catching this fish and had manged to do it! The fish looked huge in the net and when measured came in at 45cm and weighed 2lb 8oz. A truly satisfying experience. I got a few shots of my new PB before releasing it back to the harbour.

My new PB flounder fills the net!
Gulp! Sandworm mounted on a 2.3g #8 Shirasu fine jighead, deadly!
At 45cm and weighing in at 2lb 8oz this is the biggest flounder I have ever caught.
Last shot before release, I will remember this fish for a very long time!

I took a break while Keith tried his hand at some of the other flounder that were lurking about but after twenty minutes we decided to try for wrasse off the back of the harbour. Fishing went quite slow for the rest of the afternoon. Keith manged to get into a few coalies before landing a good sized pollack on the LRF gear which turned out to be a new PB for him. Our friend Ritchie also made an appearance and managed to catch his first St Abbs wrasse. This turned out to be a really big corkwing but we didn't get to weigh it before Ritchie released it. I managed to pick up a few coalies and a nice pollack but the wrasse couldn't be tempted by my offerings.

Vast shoals of these coalfish kept coming into the harbour, the shoal is partly visible in this photo.
This pollock of about a pound was my final fish of the session.

Scott had worked the entire back of the harbour and apart from a few pollack half heatedly nibbling at his lure had had no further action. All in all it turned into a great session for me and it was a great experience to catch such a quality new personal best flounder on my favourite light gear. I look forward to trying to beat it again!

Tight lines, Schogsky.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

LRF : Dropshot eel!

On Sunday I headed back to East Lothian to corkwing corner with the aim of catching a possible record breaker. High tide was at 9.30 am but it was a very weak neap tide so I was unsure how the wrasse would react. It was however nice and calm with bright sunshine which is usually good conditions to catch wrasse. Drop shotting had been working well on my past visits, so I rigged up a 2 inch section of Gulp! Sandworm on a #8 offset hook and a 6g lead and began to fish the kelp below the gantry. The water was crystal clear and I could see my lure working among the kelp fronds below me. It was really interesting to see the lure reacting  to the current. Just holding it stationary amongst the kelp would have it swaying and randomly changing direction. Dropping the rod tip ever so slightly to give the lure some slack line would allow it to fall slowly into the weed, before giving a twitch back up to bounce it out the kelp and into a new resting place. I became almost hypnotised watching the lure and 45 minutes must have passed before I realised I wasn't getting any bites! I decided to walk down the gantry a bit and see if there was anything where Scott and I had caught mackerel on our previous visits. Earlier I had noticed large shoals of sandeels swimming past and as I walked down the gantry I saw swirls and rises as a shoal of fish worked the surface. I suspected mackerel so I made a cast beyond the shoal and began a quick retrieve to jig the lure back in the top 6 foot of water. As soon as the lure entered the shoal I felt the familiar rattly bites of coalfish and straight away one grabbed the lure.

Inevitably the first fish is a coalie!

I caught a couple more before the shoal moved on and then turned my attention back to the mackerel. I was working the lure deeper letting it hit the bottom before jigging it back when everything went solid and the rod arched over. At first I thought it was a pollock as it was diving and hooping the rod over, then as the fish began to kite away from me I felt the tail shaking of a mackerel. I landed it after a good fight and promptly dispatched it as I am very partial to fresh mackerel! Realising time was passing I decided to head back along to the corkwing spot to see if they had made an appearance. It was slow again but after about 20 minutes I felt a wrasse tapping at the lure before seizing it and trying to make off with it. I set the hook and was delighted to see a good size corkwing  rising out the kelp. I landed, weighed it and at 161g it was 14g off the record, so a good sized fish indeed!

This corkwing wrasse is just 14g below the Scottish record and beautifully marked.

I carried on for another hour but no further wrasse were showing. I decided to get another couple of mackerel for tea so made my way down on to the rocks below me. I swapped the LRF gear for my 9'6" Major Craft Crostage 15 to 42 g and 14g Hansen Pilgrim spoon and began whacking it as far as I could before jigging it slowly back. Pretty soon I had located the mackerel and had three in quick succession, these I dispatched before putting in a draining rock pool to keep cool. I fished on for another ten minutes and managed to pick up another mackerel which I released. I was enjoying casting and playing with the new rod and was pleasantly surprised at how it performed with the mackerel, even for a "heavier" rod it still went into a fighting curve and the mackerel could give a good account of themselves. I was casting and retrieving the lure when I happened to glance down. There one meter away from my foot lay the dark sinuous S shape of an eel!  I watched with disbelief as it swam slowly over the submerged part of the rock where the blood from the mackerel had drained out the pool. The eel was obviously attracted by the blood from the mackerel, so I quickly grabbed my LRF rod which was still set up with my drop shot rig. The eel had just disappeared back under the boulder when I returned so I dropped the sandworm down beside the rock. I got a couple of little bites straight away so I gave a flick of the wrist to set the hook. A greedy sea scorpion had nailed it before the eel could get anywhere near it. To make matters worse he had torn the lure off the hook. I quickly unhooked and released him before feverishly fumbling in my tackle bag for another lure. This time I chose a Gulp 1" Minnow and quickly rigged it up and dropped it along the edge of the huge boulder I was standing on. I dropped the rod tip to allow the lure to flutter down in front of the gap at the bottom of the rock. After a couple of minutes I felt some little bites, followed by a gentle tugging on the line. Yet another sea scorpion had got the lure before the eel! 

This is not the eel I was looking for...

I quickly unhooked it in a state of panic, as it had been 10 minutes since my sighting of the eel and I was worried it had moved on. In order to keep the eel interested I grabbed another mackerel and quickly gutted it, before washing the blood out at the edge of the boulder. I then threw a few small pieces of gut in besides the rock, re-rigged the lure and dropped it back down. Again I dropped the rod tip to allow the dropshot rigged minnow to sink in front of the gap. The lure lay there for a very short while before the tip slowly nodded down and the line went tight as something tried to drag the lure back under the rock! I struck and pulled the lure out of the fish's mouth losing my last drop shot lead in the process. Cursing my keenness I found an old 2.3g jighead that had a broken hook. I quickly tied this on, smeared the lure with blood from the gutted mackerel and dropped it down to lay with the pieces of gut. By this point I really thought I had blown my chances as I was sure the fish had felt the hook on its last attempt and I didn't think it would take again. I was wrong though, a couple of minutes later I saw the line tightening and moving away from the rock! It was slightly confusing as I had expected the fish to take the lure back under the rock. The rod tip nodded so I struck and out of the bladder wrack rose an extremely angry eel! I managed to hold the fish up above the weed as it went into reverse, its big mouth open as it shook its head. Before the fish knew what was going on I had it on the rock beside me, where upon chaos ensued! I had hold of the leader above the fish and it quickly balled up and started to spin, rapidly tangling the line. The fish was a good sized eel about 1.5/2lb but it was very feisty as it had not been played out. Eventually I managed to get it under control and get a couple of photos before turning my attention to unhooking it.

...this is though!
Not a conger but still capable of giving a good bite!

For the first time since I got them my hPa Minigrips had a job to do. I used the grips to grab the fish by the mouth keeping my fingers free of its powerful jaws. The fish bit down on the grips, muscles bulging on its head like a pit bull before relaxing and allowing me to search for the hook.

The hPa Mini grips came into their own for helping control the fish.

It was deeply hooked at the back of its throat and try as I might I could not get at the hook without damaging the fish. I now felt incredibly guilty for hesitating when the fish took as I had to cut the line above the hook and release it with the hook still in it. It was a very light wire  hook and will corrode very quickly but I hate the fact I couldn't unhook it cleanly before release. It was a strange mix of emotions triumph, excitement and sadness that I left the hook in the fish, but overall I was really pleased to catch it. Big eels were always the stuff of childhood legends for me and to get one on a lure, all be it with the help of blood and guts, was immensely satisfying. Last year I managed to catch a Moray on a lure whilst in Crete and wondered how I could top it, this comes pretty close!

Tight lines, Schogsky.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

LRF : Dropshot fresh and salt.

I have been experimenting some more with drop shotting over the past couple of weeks and have had three short sessions. Here's a brief summary of how they went.

I had to make a delivery in Melrose so as always I built in a couple of hours to stop and have a fish. Cauldshiels loch was the nearest venue so we decided to give it a go. Scott decided from the off that it was pike off the top he wanted so it was on with a few different surface lures and he began to search the shallow reedy end of the loch. I still had my drop shot rig on my LRF gear so decided to stick with this and see how the perch responded to some Gulp sandworm. I worked the lure by casting out and allowing it to sink, then with a slow retrieve gently hopped the lure back across the bottom. I could feel the lure going through some weed beds when I felt a little bite, a flick of the wrist set the hook and I quickly landed a little perch.

My first Cauldshiels Loch perch for 20 years, marginaly smaller than Scott's Sammy!

It may be small but this perch was bristling with spikey defiance.

Scott meanwhile was having no joy with the top waters and I managed to land a further 3 small perch before we had to leave. Three fell to Berkley Gulp! Sandworm sections and one to a Berkley 1" Minnow all rigged on  #8 Decoy MG1 mini offset hook. This made the rig virtually weedless with very few hang ups even when bouncing through weed beds. Ok, so the perch were all small but it proved the technique works for perch and I love the crossover aspect of the LRF gear, freshwater and saltwater any fish is a viable target!

The next session saw me back at my new found corkwing wrasse hotspot with the same set up. Graphiteleader Corto EX 7'9" rod, Shimano Technium 300SFC reel, 6lb Sunline super PE mainline , Drennan 6lb Fluorocarbon leader, #8 Decoy MG1 mini offset hook, rigged with a 2" section of Gulp! Sandworm and a 6g Delalande long drop shot lead. Unfortunately I had misjudged the wind and it was blowing on shore. This had really stirred the water up and it looked grey and cloudy, far from ideal wrassing conditions. I stuck it out for an hour or so, trying to fight the wind and current using the same technique I had on the previous session. As I was fishing above the water on a gantry it was just a question of dropping straight down and gently hopping the lure through the kelp with little jigs. After what seemed like an age I had a few little taps which developed into a full blown bite as the fish seized the lure and swam off with it. A flick of the wrist set the hook and after a brief fight another beautifully marked corkwing was landed!

Another fine corkwing falls for drop shotted Gulp! Sandworm.
They may only be a small species of wrasse but I love them!

I fished on for a bit but there were no further bites so I retired back to the car rather glad to be out the constant grating wind!

A couple of days later I had some time in the afternoon so I popped down to Dunbar hoping to target wrasse from behind the fort. I knew it would be quite windy but I was hoping that the harbour walls would offer some shelter. The 6g leads really do help when fishing in windy conditions and allow you to maintain control over the drop shot rig. When I arrived at the mark it was gusting quite heavily and far from offering shelter the walls seemed to be channelling the wind right at me! The wind was utterly annoying, it was too strong to cast into so I began to move around trying to find shelter. It kept changing direction and was swirling and gusting in a rather random fashion, meaning that wherever I went it would swirl around and at times be behind me then swirl around to be in my face! Getting more and more frustrated I fished on and after about half an hour as I was retrieving I saw a small red fish chasing the lure. I kept the retrieve constant and it darted forward and grabbed the lure! I set the hook and quickly landed my first ever Dunbar wrasse!

My first wrasse from Dunbar turns out to be another stunning corkwing!

This one had particularly fine markings and after a couple of shots was released to swim strongly back to the kelp. Amazing, I really hadn't expected to find corkwing wrasse at Dunbar but again it shows how effective dropshotting for them can be! I carried on fishing and was quickly into another fish, this turned out to be a small coalfish which was released after a quick photo.

This coalie turned out to be the last fish of the session

I fished on , but started to lose quite a lot of leads to the kelp, at this point I realised I had not brought any spare leader material with me so when I became snagged on a rope I had to make sure I got my rig back! I grabbed my Wright and McGill rod which had a 10g 2/0 jig head on it. I figured I would snag the rope and gently bring it to within reach of the shore, a distance of only about twelve feet. It was all going so well and the rope was just a couple of inches away from my outstretched hand. I raised the rod a bit more trying to reach the rope when there was a sudden horrible cracking noise and I watched the tip of my rod slide down the line! I paused  to curse my stupidity and manged to grab the rope and untangle everything.  With the wind really picking up I had had enough for the day and I headed back to the car. The corkwing was a real pleasing catch and it was great to add to the growing list of species we have caught at Dunbar. Shame I broke my rod though, although looking back I really should never have attempted the manoeuvre that broke it! Just as well I didn't break my Corto as that is my main weapon for dropshotting and I really want to carry on playing with the technique. On a plus note I have now replaced the broken rod with a 9'6" Major Craft Crostage 15 - 42 g and I look forward to trying it fishing the rough ground and kelp beds with some bigger lures!

Tight lines, Schogsky.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Corkwing corner revisited. Scottish record almost beaten!

With the day free on Sat Jake and I headed down to Torness Power Station to fish the inlet side. When we arrived the tide was fully out and being a big spring we had access to a lot of rockpools and gullies that are normally covered. I had a look around some rockpools whilst Jake went further down and explored a kelpy area. We made our way along to the power station but unusually there was no sign of any fish. None were found in the long gully where we've caught a lot of sea scorpions in the past and no sign of any leopard spotted gobies in the deep water between the boulders where they've been caught in the past. We climbed down to the western side of the outflow and started fishing down the side of the kelp covered drop off with drop shot rigs. Jake got snagged though and whilst he tied on a new rig I fished in front of a nice overhang. After a short time a coalfish appeared but didn't seem too interested in my Gulp! Sandworm. Then a sea scorpion popped out and gobbled my lure. I thought it was well hooked as none of the lure was visible but as I lifted it up it promptly spat the lure out and swam off back into the crack. Jake then cast out away from the drop off and as he worked his lure back it was taken by a mackerel which was quickly landed and dispatched so Jake could have it for his dinner.

Drop shotting proving to be very versatile.

I put a 7g silver Toby on and soon had a few bumps from mackerel at range but didn't get any hook ups. We then went to the opposite side and after searching the area with my Toby I soon located the mackerel shoal fairly close in and soon caught four mackerel. Two larger ones were quickly dispatched so I too could have mackerel for my dinner and the other two smaller ones were shaken off the hook with minimal contact to avoid damaging their sensitive skin. Jake caught a second mackerel so with our dinners sorted we stopped targeting them despite them being great fun on LRF gear.

If only they grew a bit bigger!

Our friend Nick Aitken has caught a couple of Yarrell's blennies from the inlet area so before the tide flooded over it Jake decided to see if he could get one. This meant getting a bit wet though but a species hunter has got to do what a species hunter has got to do!

Jake gets a quick shower whilst trying to get a new species down in the corner.

No reward for his soaking though so we headed up onto the gantry that crosses the inlet to try for corkwing wrasse as the tide flooded over the kelp covered shelf we had been standing on earlier. Jake was in first when he caught a small coalfish.

This greedy little coalfish swallowed the whole section of Gulp! Sandworm.

Shortly after returning the coalfish Jake caught his first specimen corkwing wrasse of the day. We thought it may have been a small ballan wrasse at first due to it's colouration but closer examination confirmed it as a corkwing wrasse.

The dark spots behind the eye and on the root of the tail confirms this is a female corkwing wrasse.
A big one too! Measuring 22cm and weighing 171g it's just 5g short of beating the current Scottish record!

I was finding fishing from the gantry quite uncomfortable so I climbed down onto the rocks below to fish from there. We were both quite excited about the prospect of further specimen corkwings but the action stopped completely for a while and whilst Jake persisted in his quest for a Scottish record corkwing wrasse I headed over to the sea defence boulders to try for a leopard spotted goby before the area was covered by the tide. As I clambered over there I looked up to see Jake's rod nodding away and he was soon lifting up a small pollock.

The 4th species of the session.

I began exploring in between the boulders and whilst there was no sign of any gobies I caught a blenny, my first for a while.

This blenny was almost black when I caught it. 30 seconds later it's completely changed colour.

Then as I dropped my Isome down into a gap I spotted a small fish with the unmistakable electric blue marking of a leopard spotted goby. I quickly changed from a drop shot rig to a #16 hook and some split shot and dropped a tiny section of pink Power Isome down into the hole. My plan was scuppered however when a big blenny appeared and scared it off, before turning his nose up at my offering and disappearing again. At this point Jake called down to tell me he had caught another corkwing wrasse so I headed back up to the gantry again. The wrasse seemed to be there again and after a few bites we both caught another corkwing each.

No question about the fact this is Jake's second corkwing wrasse due to its vivid markings.
I get in on the act with my first corkwing wrasse from the inlet area.
Who said punk was dead?
Jake's third corkwing of the session. A much darker fish.

Just when we thought we would see an increase in catches though yet again the action stopped for a while so I headed to try for a Yarrell's blenny from the gantry above where Jake had tried earlier. Holding my lure above the bottom I soon had a few bites and hooked a fish. Quite excited, I called along to Jake but as I hoisted the fish up I could see it wasn't my first ever Yarrell's blenny. A greedy little long spined sea scorpion was the culprit. I tried for a while longer but didn't get any more bites so I headed back along to where Jake was and he hadn't had any further action either so we called it a day, headed back to the car and drove back up the A1 to Edinburgh. When I got home I popped out and got a few ingredients and Lillian and I had the mackerel for our dinner.

Thai Spicy Mackerel Salad - Yum Pla Too. Yum indeed!

Nice varied session with six species caught and a seventh spotted. I still think the area has even more potential. Further time will be spent exploring it soon and I think it's only a matter of time before a record breaking corkwing is caught!

Tight lines, Hutch.

Monday, 3 September 2012

LRF : Dropshot success!

Last Monday I received a delivery of some Delalande 6g drop shot leads and some #8 Decoy MG1 mini hooks from Art of Fishing. I have been meaning to experiment a bit more with the technique of drop shotting as I feel it can be great for keeping the lure in "the zone", the heavier weights can help combat wind and current and with the mini offset worm hooks it would be surprisingly weedless. The plan was to go to a mark Scott had heard reports of Yarrrel's blenny being caught from and I was keen to investigate the surrounding area a bit more. When I arrived it was cloudy but warm and there was quite a large rolling swell. I was using my Graphiteleader 7'9 Corto EX tubular tipped rod, Shimano Technium 3000SFC reel spooled with Sunline 6lb Super PE as main line and a 4' 6lb drennan flurocarbon leader. I tied the hook via a palomar knot 2 foot up the leader leaving a 2 foot long tag end to which I clipped the lead. These leads are designed to grip the line without tying a knot and in the event of a snag will allow you to get your rig back leaving the lead behind. I rigged a 2" section of gulp rag on the offset hook so that it was weedless.Initially I was slightly wary of casting hard with the rig, however it casts like a dream and was pretty aerodynamic and the lead ,despite not being tied on, was secure.

I began fishing on the gantry that overhangs the mark so it was just a question of dropping it down. This I did and I felt the familiar sensation of the lead falling through the kelp before tapping on the rock below.To test its weedless capabilities I lifted the rig back up through the kelp, gave a couple of turns of the handle and allowed the lure to fall back into the kelp. I did this a couple more times and it didn't hang up before I felt something pecking at the lure. I waited letting the bite develop, a couple more pecks then the tip of my rod lunged down as the fish seized the lure proper. I struck, the fish tried to get into the kelp but was quickly lifted clear and as it came to the surface I saw the beautiful colouration of a small wrasse. I swung it up to my hand and realised it was a corkwing and a real clonker too.

I love the myriad of colours on corkwing wrasse, a real exotic looking little fish.

I was really pleased and amazed too as it was caught on my first cast and I was really only testing the rig! I was also amazed at the corkwing as I had no idea that the mark held them and for beauty's sake are one of my favourite fish to catch. I took a few pictures and released my prize all the time marvelling at its colouration. I made a cast out again  and carried on bouncing the lure in the kelp. I was practicing keeping the lead in one place and just jiggling the rod tip with a bit of slack line. This gives the lure a weightless action and you can get the lure to twitch and shiver in a very natural fashion. I say I was practicing this but in reality I gave the rod a couple of shakes and was hammered by another fish! The rod went straight into its fighting curve and the fish stripped line off the reel with a surging run and must have gone about 15 metres before I gained control. I turned the fish and caught sight of the big bronze flash of a good pollock before it went on another run. I really lent into the fish allowing the rod to soak up its power and was surprised at just how well the rod brought the fish under control. Soon it was on the surface, albeit 15 feet below me! With no drop net I had to give the fish a bit of line, walk back along the gantry, climb the shoulder high metal fence one handed and climb down the boulders that make up the sea defences. All the time keeping the rod high to avoid the rocks. Amazingly the fish played ball and I managed to grab the biggest pollock I have landed on the Corto which weighed 3.5lb.

At 3.5lb this pollock is the biggest I have had on my Corto EX rod.
The little size 8 hook was only just strong enough to cope with this fish.

Unbelievable, two casts and two fish caught, the second being a great battle to land. I held the fish in the water till it had revived and then it swam strongly away. I still had the section of gulp on so I decided to fish from where I landed the pollock. After about ten minutes I again felt the small taps of a wrasse before I struck and landed another fine corkwing.

Another beautifully marked corkwing and another Specimen

I carried on fishing but after twenty minutes I hadn't had any more bites so I went back up to the gantry. Virtually straight away I was into some great corkwings each one a real joy to catch and admire their wonderful colours.

Another perfect specimen Corkwing falls for the Gulp! Sandworm
A bit more detail of the rig here,devastatingly effective!
This one wasn't over 4oz but made up for it with stunning markings!

I get the same buzz from catching corkwing wrasse as I do crucian carp. They can be quite challenging to catch and fight very well for their size. The majority of the fish were very large too with most being between 4 and 5 oz, with one just over 5oz only 1oz under the Scottish record!

This is my new PB corkwing wrasse and weighed 5.4 oz. Only an ounce under the Scottish record!
A real clonker!

Brilliant specimen sized fish which in Scotland is anything over 4oz. The sport lasted a couple of hours with a couple of long spined sea scorpions also landed as well as another pollock, all be it smaller at about a pound.

A long spined sea scorpion also couldn't resist the drop shotted Gulp! Sandworm.
My second pollock of the session, although not as big as the first, still gave a great fight!

The sport was so good that as I made my way back to the car I was grinning like an idiot! No Yarrell's blennies this time but the discovery of a corkwing hotspot that throws up such good sized fish more than made up for it. Add the fact that my experimentation with a new method proved to be so effective and it ended up being a brilliant session. I can't wait to do more drop shotting and really see just how big these corkwings can get!

Tight lines, Schogsky.