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.