Monday, 18 November 2013

Car Topping, Cherry popping, Perch fun!

After the first loch session on the boat, I had been itching to get back and so I made plans to fish the following weekend with Ritchie Bewsey. Ritchie had never tried for perch before and he was keen to try to get his first one. I had also managed to get a 30lb thrust electric motor for the boat so was looking forward to some powered perching.

Ritchie met me at my house in town bright and early and together we loaded the boat into his van. The forecast was cloudy but otherwise fine, although the wind would get up a bit in the afternoon.

An hour's drive later and we were at the loch after buying our permits and getting the key to the slipway. We unloaded the boat, got our gear stowed and launched into the loch. The old engine, which is held together mostly by gaffa tape, performed perfectly and we silently cruised to our first destination.

Tackle-wise we were both using our LRF gear and mine consists of a 7' 9" GraphiteLeader Corto EX rod, Shimano Technium 3000 reel, PE 1 Pontoon Exteer braid. On the business end it was my standard drop shot rig 3' 8lb Fluorocarbon leader and about half way up I tie a #8 offset worm hook via a palomar knot and I clipped on a 7g dropshot weight 30cm from the hook. I went with my go to lure, a Lake Fork Live baby Shad in watermelon red flake.

We anchored and began to cast 360 degrees around the boat. I worked the lure back very slowly with little twitches, hops and pauses. Our first couple of spots yielded nothing but it was easy to engage the engine and silently motor to our next spot.

After about 30 minutes of fishing we started to get interest from the fish and Ritchie managed to bag his first ever perch. The fish gave a good scrap and as he played it towards the boat . I duly did my landing net duties and a very happy Ritchie held his first ever perch, a nice fish of around three quarters of a pound.

Job done! Ritchie displays his first ever Perch.

I was quick to follow suit, all be it with a smaller fish which was quickly unhooked, photographed and put back. We managed a few more before the action dried up and we had to motor off to find them again.

Mine was considerably smaller!

We silently cruised around to a point where a burn entered the loch and began our casting around the boat. Yet again Ritchie was first into a fish and it was another nice perch again nudging the pound mark. I managed a couple of smaller ones before we decided to head out into deeper water.

Ritchie's new PB a beautifully marked one pounder

I was enjoying some great fishing too

The moved proved ridiculously successful. I had cruised out to maybe 100 meters from shore and anchored up to stop us drifting. First cast was nailed by a perch as the lure dropped to the bottom of the loch. It was not a big fish but was very wild and I had to play it back some distance to land it. Meanwhile Ritchie was also into a fish, again not big, being around the half pound mark but likewise was great fun on our light rods. We quickly unhooked the fish and recast to exactly the same result, double hook up and a fun fight.

The fishing went silly at this point and we caught perch after perch after perch. Ritchie and I were really having a laugh, it was just like coalie bashing with hoards of ravenous perch mercilessly attacking our lures.
We began to have fun by trying lures that we had never caught on before. These consisted mostly of creature-type baits and we whipped through a fair old selection, all of which were getting hammered by the perch.

Fish Arrow Flash J pintail, the perch loved these!

 Ecogear Bug Ants were also readily attacked by this golden mouthed specimen.

As the weather began to deteriorate we began to prepare ourselves to motor back to the slipway, having a goodly number of " last casts" before we upped anchor and headed back. The short run back was rather unpleasant with a squally head wind making it quite choppy and cold. The engine was running low on battery power and this and the headwind combined to make it a slow, arduous journey. Instead of taking 15 minutes to do the run back it took an hour, with swans overtaking us such was our slow pace.
Eventually we got back and got the boat loaded into Ritchie's van and, although cold and tired, we were both completely blown away by the number of perch caught. As always the perch were pristine and although we caught nothing larger than a pound the non stop action had us buzzing all the way home. One thing's for sure, I do need to get a petrol outboard for the boat as it will open up more of the loch to us and make the journey back to the slipway bearable!
Tight Lines

Thursday, 31 October 2013

James and the giant perch

A couple of weeks ago my friend Jamie came up to visit from Wakefield, he had brought his lure fishing gear and was very keen to get out and give it a blast.Jamie and I have fished some far flung places, Cyprus for largemouth Bass, Spain for carp and around Yorkshire for various coarse species. He was quite keen to go light rock fishing and I was more than happy to oblige!
His visit also  coincided with my newest purchase, an 8' car toppable dinghy and I was itching to get out and see how it performed. Our plan for the weekend was to head down to St Abbs on the Friday to play in the harbour then head to the perch loch on Saturday for the perch and the new boat test.
we headed to St Abbs and I lent Jamie my Cormoran ULF rod  as it was more sensitive than his heavier spinning rod.We rigged up simple dropshot rigs #8 hook tied via a palomar knot on 8lb fluro and clipped on a 7g weight 30cm from the hook.Gulp sandworm was the lure of choice and as soon as the lure hit the water it was swarmed on by wee coalies. Ritchie had also joined us and we  caught coalie after coalie with the odd codling thrown in for good measure. Jamie was really enjoying himself, he had never experienced the non stop action of a coalie swarm with every cast producing a fish. With Jamie in coalie land Ritchie and I tried our best to target flounders but getting a lure past the coalies was nigh on impossible! In fact Ritchie had fished the past 3 days in various areas around St Abbs and hadn't been able to escape the ravening hoards.
We moved around trying to find other species but it wasn't until near the end of the session we finally manged to bag a couple of flounders each. We were working our lure over the shallow sandy areas and we saw the flounders chasing the lures. It was really tricky to catch them as the coalies kept diving in and intercepting the lure, it was only through sheer persistence that we eventually caught a couple of flatties each. Flounders are one of my favourite species to catch so I was really chuffed we manged to grab a couple, Jamie had never caught a flatfish before so he was doubly pleased to have a new species and on a lure too!
A happy angler, Jamie shows off his first flattie
We really had to work at avoiding the coalfish to get the flounder
One of the two flounder I managed to tempt
Although the session had been fun, I was heavily distracted by the prospect of trying my new boat. At last Saturday morning came and Jamie and I loaded the car up with tackle, life jackets, food and popped the boat on the roof.

My new toy on the roof and ready to rock
 The journey up was an anxious one as I was constantly worrying about the boat being secure, however apart from it singing like a boiling kettle as we went over 40mph it remained securely strapped to the roof bars.We stopped off at the fishing tackle shop and got our permits and the key to the slipway . At the loch we quickly got the boat to the water and stowed our tackle and supplies before setting off on its first fishing trip. The loch was flat calm with the clear water as smooth as glass and with the warm sun out it really was the perfect day to fish. I had no engine or fishfinder so it was under oar power that we headed off to my normal shore spots for the perch.It took about 1/2 an hour to row into the rocky bay that usually throws up perch from the shore and we anchored about 60 meters offshore. We both still had the same dropshot rigs on from our flounder foray at St Abbs only instead of gulp sandworm we rigged up some lake fork live baby minnows.
Fishing without the aid of a fishfinder/sonar meant I had to locate the fish through a combination of knowledge of fishing it from the shore and instinctive water craft. The tactics once we had reached the rocky bay was to anchor up, then make long casts 360degrees around the boat.We then slowly worked the lures back giving the rod little twitches and pauses. Once we had completed our circle of casts with no bites we upped anchor and moved further up the bay. it was on our third anchor that Jamie started getting a couple of wee taps and a couple of casts later he managed to bag the first perch. He was really pleased to get the first fish and doubly satisfied as it was taken on a new technique he had learned the day before. I did the necessary glory shot and after we released the fish I got back to fishing. It only took a couple of casts and I was into the perch too and while not a big fish it still provided much fun on the LRF gear.
We managed another 2 or 3 fish from the area before bites dried up and we upped anchor and rowed another fifty meters along the bay.

Jamie unhooks his first perch of the session
Lake fork Live baby shad does it again

My first perch of the session
See ya!
Again we went with the same tactics, anchoring the casting right around the boat till we got interest in the lures. It didn't take long and soon we were both into perch again. I managed a couple of better ones close to the pound mark and Jamie had a couple as well. Again when the action dried up we moved up the bay another 50meters or so and repeated the process. Jamie was in first and as he was playing in his fish I had a couple of taps and struck into a better fish. As I played the fish up through the clear water I noticed another fish following it up which turned away as I reached out with the net to land the perch. I unhooked my fish and took a couple of pics as it had a really golden colour especially around its mouth.

Super stripey with a golden sheen, what a lovely combination
It had a really yellow mouth
 I quickly released the fish and flicked the lure out around 12 feet away from the boat , I let it hit the bottom then I began to shake the rod tip a bit whilst giving tiny twitches. Pretty much straight away I felt a tap then the line went slack as the fish grabbed the lure and swam towards me.A flick of the wrist set the hook and the rod went into its fighting curve as the fish powered off stripping some line off a lightly set drag. As I played the fish back towards me I was aware it was a good fish and as it rose up through the water I got my first look at it, a PB for sure! The fish made another couple of spirited dives and these were nerve wrecking  but eventually the fish was wallowing on the surface and we quickly slipped the net under it.

What a fish! A brilliantly coloured, pristine conditioned, fin perfect beast of a wild perch. Jamie and I couldn't believe the size of it, we grabbed some snaps of the outlandish fish and popped it into the net to recover whilst I hunted for my scales. The scales however were conspicuous only by there absence leaving me only able to estimate its weight. We measured the fish which came in at 40cm and I guessed its weight at  between 2.5 and 3lbs. In the end I put it at 2lbs 9oz which was an under estimate but it was an ounce over my previous personal best which had stood for 18 years or so!
My new personal best perch
What an awesome fish
The obligatory ruler shot, 40cm of wild loch perch
Out of all the fish I have caught over the years this one is very special to me,awesome.
I released the fish in a state of happy delirium, my new boat on its first fishing mission had broken my long lasting perch PB, I couldn't have been happier!
We fished on for another couple of hours which yielded plenty more perch of around the half to three quarter pound mark before it was time to begin the long row back to the slipway.
Eventually we got back and unloaded the boat before popping it on the roof bars and heading back to town with arms that now felt like boiled noodles!
What a day, both of us had done our PB's and the boat had performed brilliantly and to cap it with such a beast of a perch had made the whole session truly one to remember.
Perch fever is back and I hope to get an engine for the boat for the next session, one that I am really looking forward too!
Tight Lines

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Slimey surprise.

With Scott away to the mull of Galloway on a boat trip, I headed down to St Abbs again hoping to find the resident wrasse. I had had a couple of brief forays there after my PB wrasse session but the wrasse hadn't been around, although the coalies, codling, flounders and scorpions had been in abundance. Ritchie had had his cast removed so I picked up the newly footed Ritchie and we headed down to the harbour hoping to fish the ebb. The tide was a neap which wasn't ideal for targeting the wrasse but the joys of LRF meant there were plenty of other fish to target. I rigged my LRF gear with a simple dropshot rig, I rigged the #8 hook with a gulp sandworm and clipped a lead on a mere 2" from the hook. This presentation keeps the lure very close to the bottom and it would seem the wrasse like this set up.

The Coalfish were everywhere!

The coalies were everywhere as usual and I was soon into double figures while searching the fringes of the kelp. While I was working the lure I had noticed some dark shapes moving through the kelp, wrasse! I concentrated my efforts where the fish had been and it wasn't long before I was into a proper fish. As soon as it was hooked the fish tried to dive between a rope and the wall. I managed to turn it and  then let the rod soak up its dives for cover. It soon tired and I guided it into the waiting dropnet, bingo first wrasse of the session, target achieved!
Another fine Scottish ballan wrasse

I released the fish and began to target the flatties which was quite hard as the scorpions were really on the feed and we had loads of them! Ritchie was busy hunting for wrasse when I noticed a cod carcass moving about in the clear water. The carcass was jerking and twitching as three eels writhed around it. There were two dark ones and a pale big one, I presumed that the pale one was a small conger. I cast over the top of the carcass and gently twitched the lure over where they were feeding, I saw a dark eel snake up and grab the lure. I struck and quickly got it up off the bottom whereby the eel hit reverse and hung snaking in the water. A bit more pressure and it was quickly swung up into my eager hands. Brilliant, a common eel on a lure for the second year in a row and sight fished too! After wrestling with the eel to get a photo I released it back to the harbour.

For the second year in a row I managed to bag a common eel on a lure.
It wouldn't behave for its photograph though!

I tried back for the conger but it had spooked when the eel had been hooked. We kept seeing it though and soon I manged to get a lure in front of it. I was twitching the rod gently causing the sandworm to flutter invitingly above the fish. I saw the eel slowly come up off the bottom and approach the lure. My heart was in my mouth as it got closer suddenly a small scorpion tore on front of the eel, gobbled up the lure and dived back into the kelp. Argggh, to make matters worse the wee thing would not open its little mouth and was biting down on the hook shank. It must have taken at least a couple of minutes before it actually opened its gob for long enough to unhook it and by the time I dropped the fish back the eel had disappeared.

The tide had dropped quite considerably so I moved back to some deeper water. Fishing right alongside the kelp a felt a couple of electric taps instantly recognisable as wrasse bites. I let the tapping develop and when I noticed the line move I struck and manged to bully another lovely wrasse out from its kelpy lair.

I love catching wrasse on LRF gear, even a modest size fish puts up a great fight.
I love the colours too!

We then concentrated on some more flatties and had a few, one out of the kelp itself! Ritchie manged to get a wee pollock and another nice wee wrasse from the kelp before bagging a really fat flounder that must of weighed well over a pound .

St Abbs produces some great flounders!
Wrasse and flounder in the same session, brilliant!
Ritchie displays one of the many flounder he  had caught.
A jig head and large Isome lured this handsome flounder
I have never seen as many codling as this year, winter should be fun!
My last flounder of the session.

That signalled the end of the session as I had to get back for the kids tea time, so we packed up and headed back. Both of us were really chuffed the action had been constant and the bonus eel added extra excitement. Not only had we managed to catch wrasse and flatties but we had sight fished the majority of fish, which just made the whole experience even more intense. It won't be long now before the wrasse become dormant for the winter, however with the vast amount of tiny codling about I can only surmise that winter may well provide a lot of sport with them. Here's hoping!

Tight lines, Schogsky.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Goal achieved : PB's all round!

Following a couple of trips to find wrasse with Ritchie, both of which saw us catch plenty of flounders, coalies, codling, and the ever present sea scorpion, we finally got back on them last week. Ritchie, who's leg was still bound in plaster, had taken a taxi to the harbour and I would meet him there. I wouldn't be able to get to the harbour until about 4pm and I was concerned that the light levels would be too dim for the wrasse. As I drove down the A1 which was shrouded in a dense sea mist Richie sent me a text to say he had his first wrasse around the pound mark. Filled with the hope of wrasse I arrived at the harbour to find it weirdly atmospheric the fog was thick but with a hot sun and blue skies above it lit up the mist and made a strange light cover the harbour. It was so thick that the dive boats couldn't get out and the harbour was pretty quiet with boat traffic. I parked up and quickly made my way to to meet the busily fishing Ritchie. He said that he had had the first wrasse fairly quickly but the action had tailed off so he was concentrating on floundering till it stepped up a bit. The water was clear and when I looked down the edge it was like fish soup, with masses of coalies and codling shoaling right in front of me

Fish soup!

I rigged up a dropshot rig with a section of Gulp! Sandworm and with a slight change to how I normally rig I clipped the 7g weight only 3" from the lure. It looked more like a stretched "Jika" rig, the wrasse were patrolling very close to the sea bed last time and I hoped this would encourage them to be more confident in attacking the lure. Getting the lure through the mass of coalies was a bit problematic as they kept grabbing it. When I did get through them I began by hopping and shaking the lure along the border of the kelp and sand. It only took about five minutes before I felt those characteristic plucks at the lure. I allowed the taps to develop and struck into a nice fish. I bullied it up from the bottom and the fish did its best to crash dive into the thick kelp. This caused me to have to play the fish with the rod above my head to counteract the bend in the rod and soon the fish was on the surface gently waving its pectorals at me. Ritchie was quickly on hand with the dropnet and we quickly guided it in and hoisted it up to my eager hands. What a stroke of luck, I had only been there five minutes and had manged to bag a beautifully coloured wrasse. It was a good size too and with my favourite colour variation on its face, a gorgeous strawberry red and white with emerald highlights, simply stunning.

Drop shotted Gulp! Sandworm did for this pretty ballan wrasse.
Brilliant! Five minutes fishing and I bag this gorgeous wrasse.
Incredible colours and a hard fighter, I love wrasse!
See ya!

I released the fish and began to search the same area with the lure which seemed to have become infested with scorpion fish. While I was dealing with yet another brazen scorpion Ritchie gave a shout and I looked over to see his rod bent into a fish. The fish was pulling hard for the kelp but he soon had it beaten and I was on hand with the landing net. Ritchie was really pleased for there in the net lay a new PB ballan wrasse, one of the best cures for a broken foot!

Ritchie's PB lays in the net.
Fantastic, a proud Ritchie holds his new PB wrasse.
Beautiful colours, it didn't half munch the jig head!

The next couple of hours were spent happily catching flounders, coalies, codling and the ever present scorpions. Being the weekend there was a fairly constant stream of tourists and I took great delight in showing some of the curious ones various fish as they were caught.

I managed another small wrasse, this one had rather distinctive green and orange colouration.
The ever present scorpions were keen on the Gulp! too.
As were the micro codling!

I was in the process of showing a dad and his son how to catch coalies when I felt a sharp plucking at the lure. "It's a wrasse!" I proclaimed to the watchers. The tapping at the lure continued and when I saw the line move I struck. Wham! The fish took off for the kelp with a powerful dive and I had to raise the rod above my head to curtail its run. The rod bent alarmingly as the fish powered down and to the side as it again tried to get onto the kelp and it almost made it as I could feel the line bouncing off the kelp fronds. I kept the rod high and kept the pressure on, this turned the fish and it began to slowly come up. As the fish rose up I could see it was a good one and my heart was in my mouth as I played the fish out. I had to hand the rod to Ritchie at this point and climb down the ladder so I could net it and Ritchie carefully guided it towards the waiting net. Yes! The fish was a belter and measured 41cm and weighed in at 2lb 7oz a new P.B. ballan wrasse. I was extremely pleased, it may or may not have been the leviathan we saw on our previous visits but to do my PB on LRF gear was doubly satisfying. We took some glory shots and let the fish recover in the net before release and when it was let go it went back very strongly.

My new PB lays safely in the net.
41cm of rock pig.
2lb 7oz wrasse on LRF gear, no wonder I am grinning!

I carried on fishing in a happy daze and although there were no more wrasse there were plenty of nice flounders landed. Ritchie managed the best one and it wasn't exactly flat as it was an inch and a half thick!

Ritchie displays a chunk of a flounder.
My biggest flounder went just over 28cm.
This was my smallest flounder.
St Abbs shrouded in mist.

When it was time to leave we left with big grins, both of us having beaten our wrasse P.B's and having had countless other fish flinging themselves at us it was truly a session to remember. As I made the short drive home I felt a great sense of achievement. Not just because I had caught some beautiful wrasse on LRF gear, but because I had caught my PB from my local area, a doubly satisfying experience.

Tight lines, Jake.