Sunday, 26 May 2013

Afternoon delight.

The other day I had finished my mornings work and the afternoon lay before me begging to be filled with fishing, so I donned my waders to continue my exploration of the Water of Leith. I decided it was time to search upstream from my normal haunts and started at the stretch above the Dean Village. I was using my LRF gear, ( 7'10" Graphiteleader Corto EX rod, Shimano Technium 3000SFC reel and 8lb Sunline Super PE braid), on the business end I went with the faithful combo of 1" Gulp! Minnow mounted on a #10 1.4g Shirasu Fine jighead.

I must have been wading for about an hour before I saw a fish. I was casting across current and allowing the lure to swing round before retrieving it back upstream. As the lure passed alongside an underwater wall there was a gold flash as a trout slashed at the lure. It missed and chased the lure right to my feet before grabbing it and ripping it off the jighead.

I took my time re-rigging as I was worried it had seen me and this time I went with a tail section of Gulp! Sandworm. I cast across current, gave a couple of turns of the handle and the trout was on it! The trout played merry hell with me in the current but soon it was in the net, another lovely Water of Leith brownie around the 30cm mark. I slipped it back upstream hoping there would be a few more in the pool but I ended up wading really far downstream and there was no more action.

Safely in the net!
Brown trout have some nice markings, this one was no exception.
On release the fish just hovered in the current in front of me, perfect!

I did discover a few more nice runs and pools and as the river warms up I think they may hold some nice fish. As always I can't wait to do it again!

Tight lines, Schogsky.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Spring smolt.

The other day I had forty five minutes free before tea time so I bolted off down to the Water of Leith in order to get a quick fishing fix. It was sunny and warm and the river was running very clear. As I made my way down to fish my two favourite pools it was hard to believe I was in the middle of the city. All the hustle and bustle of city life melted away to the sound of running water and my eyes were soothed with the fresh green of spring.

I rigged up my LRF gear with a Ecogear 1.4g Shirasu Fine jig head and rigged a Gulp! 1" Minnow. I have taken to nipping the head off the gulp minnows as I find it looks a lot better on the jig head, plus it also has the bonus of making the lure a little shorter which can help prevent the fish just nipping the tail without getting hooked. I began to work the pools casting across current and letting the lure swing round whilst slowly twching the lure back. It only took a few casts before a small trout grabbed the lure. The trout instantly thrashed on the surface and threw the hook while I was fumbling with the drag reminding me to make sure it was set before I started to fish!

After all the freezing weather, at last some sunshine!

I worked my way down the pool but that was the only action from this small stretch of the river. Onto the next pool and using the same retrieve technique I began to work my lure down. I had probably only gone a couple of yards down when another little trout chased the lure into the margins before turning back to the main current. Double checking that my drag was set I cast again and this time the trout intercepted the lure and grabbed hold. It was small and cavorted madly on the surface before I quickly hoisted it up to my out stretched hand.

This tiny trout couldn't resist my Gulp! 1" Minnow.

The trout in fact turned out to be a little sea trout smolt, the smallest I have ever caught, but a fish is a fish and I was really pleased to catch it! I slipped the little thing back wondering if it was going to head back to sea or stay and become a proper Water of Leith brownie. Time was up at that point and I had to get back for tea but I left feeling pretty chuffed with myself as I do love these little short sessions, especially when they throw up unusual fish!

Tight lines, Schogsky.

Friday, 17 May 2013

They only come out at night.

Jake and I headed down to St Abbs on Tuesday night and met up with our fishing pal Richie to have a go for flounders, coalfish and anything else that was silly enough to swim and take our lures. Fishing was slow to say the least and some divers I spoke to as they came out of the water confirmed what we already knew, there was hardly any fish around. Undeterred we worked our way around the harbour using a variety of methods and lures and finally spotted a fish which Jake promptly caught.

Ever obliging. Greedy little buggers.
Richie and I carry on searching both in the harbour and in the kelp beds below the outer wall.

After reaching the end of the outer harbour we decided to try our luck from the rocks over the kelp beds. After a bit of rockhopping I spotted a few small fish as they came up from the kelp to have a go at my 10cm Savage Gear Sandeel Slug but they weren't much bigger than it and when I switched to a 2" Reins Rockvibe they lost interest. Jake and Richie came over and joined me and tried to tempt them but had no luck either. We all went over onto the rocks at the very mouth of the harbour and carried on the search. As light faded Richie hooked and landed a small coalfish and I switched to a small metal opting for a pink/luminous 5g Quantum Sea Mahi jig. After a few casts I felt a couple of bumps before striking the third, hooked a fish and quickly landed it before heading over to where Jake was so he could take a few photos.

Sunset over St Abbs.
My first coalfish of 2013.
Thanks Quantum Sea Mahi Jig!

Fish popped back we all started fishing at the mouth of the harbour and as the light continued to fade we started spotting coalfish swimming around below us and started targeting them. Before long I had a second and Jake and Richie also caught a few. Nothing big but good fun on the light gear we were all using.

One of Jake's fish caught on a drop shot rig.

Pretty soon it was getting quite late so we called it a night. Despite the slow start it was a pleasant evening spent in good company and no doubt we'll be back again soon for another night time session.

Tight lines, Hutch.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Glutton for punishment!

Following on from my previous trip to the Forth & Clyde Canal I had to get back with some bigger lures to try for the pike. On arrival the canal was a lot quieter however there was an increase in boat traffic and this had really stirred the canal up leaving it quite coloured. I went with my heavy spinning gear Major Craft Crostage 9'6" 15-42g rod, Shimano Aernos C3000 reel, 20lb Sunline Momentum 4x4 braid, a 20lb wire trace and on the business end a Savage Gear Soft 4Play rigged on a 7g #2/0 jighead.

I began working the same areas as the day before twitching and jerking the lure along pontoons and drop offs. After two and a half hours of walking and searching I still hadn't had a touch! I had also been swapping colours on the Soft 4Play but to no avail. It was hard to believe I was fishing in the same place as the day before when the fish had been throwing themselves at me like girls at a Bieber concert. I had my LRF gear with me as well but I was really trying to resist the urge to use it as I wanted pike on proper pike equipment! After another half an hour of nothing I noticed a small swirl on the surface between the pontoon I was standing on and the bank, my will went and I reached for the LRF gear.

The "swim" a three foot gap between the pontoon and bank.

I still had the same dropshot rig on from yesterday and I rigged the #8 hook with a 1.5" section of Gulp! Sandworm tail. Using classic LRF harbour tactics I dropped the lure in the gap between the pontoon and the wall and gave it a shake. Wallop! The rod tip lurched over instantly as the fish tried to get under the pontoon, a bit of pressure brought it back out again and it went aerial, tangling itself in the overhanging brambles. I quickly slipped the net under it and extracted it from the undergrowth. Typically enough it was a nice little jack again with a hunger for tiny sections of Gulp! Sandworm! I took a couple of pics then released the fish to continue its worm hunting without me!

Gulp! Sandworm claims yet another pike!
A tricky customer from a tricky spot.

I made my way back to the car still working the Soft 4Play but to no avail. I avoided the blank but I was really surprised that the bigger lure didn't yield any fish and due to the topsy turvy nature of the canal I had almost been expecting lots of perch on the pike gear!

At least the fish are active in the canal again though so I hope it won't be long before I can persuade a pike to take something other than lures intended for perch!

Tight lines, Schogsky.

Monday, 13 May 2013

Bycatch beauties!

A few days ago I had the afternoon free so I decided to see how the Forth & Clyde Canal was fairing. My plan was to go hunting for perch as the few I recently had down south really whetted my appetite for stripey fish!

After driving through ridiculous May Day traffic jams I eventually reached my chosen area by the Falkirk Wheel. The only thing that had kept me sane throughout the journey was the prospect of meeting Tony, Scott's double captured, scar flanked, lunker perch! So with him in mind it was out with the LRF tackle, 7'10" Graphiteleader Corto EX rod, Shimano Technium 3000SFC reel and 8lb Sunline Super PE braid. I tied up a dropshot rig comprising of a four foot length of 8lb fluorocarbon leader, two foot down I attached a #8 Decoy Offset Worm hook via a palomar knot and clipped on a 5g dropshot weight. Gulp! Sandworm in natural colour was my lure of choice and I attached a 1.5" tail section.

With the rig all set it was time to hunt some perch and I weaved through the crowds of tourists to get to the canal. I began to search about with the lure along the pontoons and margins, casting then retrieving very slowly with little hops and shakes which makes the gulp writhe like an earthworm. I fished my way towards Tony's lair, taking the constant questions from the tourists "Are there fish in there Mister?", "Had anything yet?" and the classic statement "You're wasting your time fishing there pal!". Mumbling pleasantries I started to work the area where Tony the Perch was last caught all the time anticipating a bite. I had worked my way down Tony's pontoon and was nearing the end of it when  the rod tip nodded with a soft but firm bite. I set the hook with a flick of the wrist and the rod bucked wildly as a big fish shook its head, before being wrenched over into its fighting curve as the fish took off. Holy canoli, Tony's gone wrong!

It quickly dawned on me that it was not Tony but a large pike attached by a flimsy 8lb Fluorocarbon leader and #8 hook, I had to play this carefully. The trick to playing big fish on LRF tackle is to let the rod and reel do the work, with the drag set lightly I kept a good bend in the rod and allowed it to gently sap the fishes strength. I find that the fish doesn't panic as much as when you are trying to winch it in, makes sense really, the more you pull, the more the fish will pull back!

The fish lumbered about in front of me staying deep and it made some small runs traveling about 20ft before turning and gently coming back towards me. By now I had a bit of a crowd behind me as the tourists flocked to see what was going on! As the fish broke the surface I readied the net and put a bit more pressure on to bring it in to the margins. This added pressure caused the fish to leap twice like a launching Polaris missile  the almighty splashes as the pike belly flopped back into the canal drew yet more people to watch. Two young lads who had been fishing with there dad/tackle caddie were really excited and clustered around me absolutely mesmerised by the fight.

As I continued to play the fish I gave a running commentary on what I was doing and why, eventually I led the pike gently to the net and quickly slipped it under the fish. The pike went a bit mad at this point causing the lads to shout and jump back but the fish was in the net and the job was done! The fight didn't take too long and the fish had been brought in gently without a panic, that's why it went a bit daft once in the net. I realise I was lucky to land the fish without a wire trace and lucky that it was hooked in the scissors, although what a big pike was doing hunting tiny earthworms is beyond me! I showed the boys how to handle and unhook the fish and got one of them to take a few snaps and a good job he did too! At just under 9lbs it is my biggest fish so far this year and the biggest fish landed on my Graphiteleader Corto EX to date.

At just under 9lbs this pike put up a great fight on LRF gear.

There must have been about ten folk clustered round me and as I was releasing the fish a smartly dressed woman pushed her way to the front. "Excuse me, is that a cod?" she enquired. "No, this is a pike." said I grinning like a maniac. This brought a strange reaction from the woman and her cheeks bulged as she forced air through her pursed lips with a sort of wet farting sound. "Pffftttttttttttttttttttt!" she exclaimed shaking her head in disapproval before stalking off seemingly disgusted with my answer.

Not sure who has got the biggest grin here!

With the fish released the crowd dispersed and I could get on with the hunt for Tony, although after that wonderful pike I wasn't bothered if I didn't get another fish! I continued to work my way down the canal and soon I was getting little nibbles as I retrieved. These soon resulted in a couple of little perch, my first from the canal this year.

This was what I was expecting to catch, Perch and a pretty one too.
The second perch had some nice golden hues to it, I got rid of the leech on release.

I also had another jack which again put up a nice scrap before being landed, this was witnessed by a surprised boat owner who kindly took a picture for me. I slipped it back again wondering why they were so into tiny worms today?!

This Jack was quick to seize a 1.5" section of Gulp! sandworm.

A short while later I managed to land a 6" micro pike, I find them ridiculously cute, perfect miniature predators. At least I could understand the mini pike wanting the worm!

I love the tiny pike too, very cute!

Then time was up and it was time to go home, I really couldn't have asked for a better session I was only there for two and a half hours and I enjoyed every minute! As I drove home high on fish and heavy metal, I had a chuckle about the womans reaction. "Pffftttttttttttttttttttt!" indeed madam "Pffftttttttttttttttttttt!" indeed.

Tight lines, Schogsky.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

No fluke, it's flattie time!

Last weekend I hooked up with Callum Conner at an east coast bass mark. The plan was to fish the rising tide in hope of bass. After a few hours of nothing though we decided to turn our attention to the blennys in order to avoid the blank! Oh well can't win them all!

Blennys provided a plan B when there were no bass around.

A couple of days later I had a job delivering some antiques to Berwick so with Scott along helping me do the job we decided to drop in at St Abbs on the way back to Edinburgh. Scott as always was organised as he had quickly rigged up a 7g IMA Gun and scampered off to fish, leaving me flailing in the back of the van with bags of tackle! I grabbed about 20 kilos of gear and lumbered off after him and after unloading said bags I went with the same 7g IMA Gun. The plan was to use our LRF gear in the hope of finding the big coalies which have started coming into the shore areas again. I jigged the small metal lure about for five minutes or so before I decided to set up a dropshot rig. The rig is my standard, #8 offset worm hook tied via a palomar knot halfway down a four foot fluorocarbon leader and roughly 18 inches below that a 7g dropshot weight is clipped on. I rigged a tail section of natural gulp sandworm and began to cast about retrieving the lure by hopping it along the bottom with lots of little twitches. As I searched around with my dropshot rig Scott was cycling through various lures with still no sign of coalies.

After about twenty minutes a big grey seal rose up where we were fishing, this may well have explained the absence of coalies! Time was running out again and we were preparing ourselves for blanking when I saw a dark shape following my lure before bolting off when it saw us. The fish was either a pollock or a coalfish and gave us that bit of hope that we may  avoid the blank yet! Scott had found a miniature coalie which was attacking his isome/jighead rig but it was probably too small to take the lure properly. It was at this point our mate Ritchie Bewsey gave us a call and wondered if we wanted to try a new mark that had been throwing up some jumbo coalies. I couldn't make it but Scott could so it was hastily arranged that Ritchie would come down to St Abbs and pick him up.

After this was done I only had time for a couple more casts before I had to leave to get back to Edinburgh. I made a long cast then began the slow shaky retrieve. The lure had traveled about twenty feet when I felt a soft plucking at the lure, I lowered the rod tip a bit, pluck, pluck and strike and fish on! It stayed deep and started racing towards me putting a good bend in the rod as I tried to raise it from the sea bed. I knew it was a flattie and this was soon confirmed when it rose up through the water and we caught sight of our first flounder this year. A nice size fish indeed which needed Scott to climb down the ladder, grab the fish, then climb back one handed while holding the flounder!

1lb 4oz and first flounder this year, hence the cheesy grin!
Cracking fish from a cracking spot, I love St Abbs!

It was a fine St Abbs flounder in great condition and after a couple of photos I released it, watching as it sped away back to its sandy lair. Time was up and I had to go, so I said cheerio to Scott and left him to recce the new mark with Ritchie. I really enjoy catching flounders on lures and I have been awaiting their return. It was amazing that there return has been heralded by such a fine fish, hopefully I can catch a few more soon!

Tight lines, Schogsky.

Monday, 6 May 2013

Wakefield wanderer.

About a week ago I headed down to Wakefield in West Yorkshire to visit my in-laws. Normally when I go down to visit I tend to fill the car with carp gear and go carping. This year though I decided to leave the vast amount of carp gear and just take my lure fishing kit in the hope of fishing some of the canals and still waters. As it was a family based holiday the lure fishing gear gives me the chance to pop out to the canal whenever I get an hour or two free from fatherly duties! After we had arrived and got the kids settled my first port of call was to join Wakefield Angling Club. For £32 a year this gives access to miles of the river Calder, the Calder and Hebble Navigation Canal and to loads of other still water fisheries, a bargain if you ask me!

The first day saw me pop down to the nearest stretch of canal and have a wander about. I was really hoping to find some chub as they are supposedly quite prevalent on the canal. With this in mind I went with a simple dropshot approach 5g weight, #8 Owner offset worm hook rigged with a 2" tail section of natural coloured Gulp! Sandworm. A couple of hours wandering and searching saw me hook up with one of the fattest little perch I have ever caught! It measured 25cm on the lure forum ruler and wasn't far off that in girth. Still it was my first perch this year and a blank saver!

My first Perch of 2013.
Fat as a pig!

Next couple of days saw me visiting the stretch of canal a bit more still searching for chub. I tried various approaches with the lures and had a couple of bites on a Cultiva Ring Kick Tail but didn't manage to hook up. A short while later I was bouncing the gulp sandworm section about near some overhanging trees  when I had a large bite and a heavy fish started shaking its head. As it rose up in the water I could see it was a nice sized pike. It tried to make a run or two but was quickly on the surface ready to come in. It was not a well fish and its sides were all scraped and marked and its tail fins and anal fins had fungal growths on them. It probably weighed about seven pounds but I really didn't want to cause the fish any more stress and after a quick photo on the ruler I slipped it back. Typical of the pike to take the worm when previously I had been over the stretch with pike lures It was a good job it had been hooked in the scissors as I don't think my 8lb fluro leader would have lasted long. My mate Jamie joined me soon after and again we fished up and down the canal with pike lures and perch/chub lures but no fish at all. The only thing that happened was that I managed to leave my lure forum ruler on the bank and when I went back of course someone had taken it, gutted!

An accidental capture, this pike was in terrible condition. I hope it recovers.
Jamie casts towards the overhanging trees searching for pike.

Day four and I had permission to take the day and go and fish one of the lagoons in Horbury. My Wakefield Angling Club members book states there are some big pike in the lagoon and that there were no restrictions on lure fishing, so needing no further encouragement I headed down. I met up with Jamie again who had also got a season book and we checked out the biggest of the lagoons. It looked good, clear water, reed lined bays with a steep drop off into deep water about eight foot out, perfect pike habitat! Jamie and I set about working lures around overhanging trees and along the drop offs. I decided to go big so went with a 7" Slug-Go rigged weedless with a 1g Decoy shot on the hook shank to allow the lure to get deeper faster. After an hour or so wandering and working the lure with no action I decided to break out the LRF gear to see if there were any perch about. I rigged up a dropshot rig with a #8 offset worm hook and 7g weight to which I rigged a tail section of Gulp! Sandworm. It took about half an hour to get some action in the form of a small perch, all be it on a section of earthworm!

Battle scarred, it looks like this perch has suffered a big injury in the past

Now I had established there were perch about I decided to try and cover both the perch and the pike by rigging up a Fungus Roach  9.5cm Savage Gear Soft 4play on a 7g #2/0 jighead. I left Jamie valiantly fishing float tactics and lures and I boldly stated "the fish will be in that corner of the lake where the wind has been blowing" and off I went to test the theory! As I worked my way around the lake I met some other anglers carping. They hadn't managed any carp but had picked up a nice 6lb jack on a spinner. After a brief chat I carried on working my way round to the bay facing the wind.

Eventually I made it to the bay and although I had fished all around the lake to get there I still hadn't had a touch. Standing atop a pile of large boulders I cast out into the wind and allowed the lure to sink deep. Once the lure touched the lake bed I would jig it up with a couple of sharp jerks of the rod and allow it to fall back down. In essence it was a very slow sink and draw retrieve only with extra twitches and jerks thrown in to make the lure flicker like a dying roach. When the lure was about thirty feet in front of me a felt a good bite so I dropped the rod tip and took up the slack line before striking into the fish. When fishing soft lures with single hooks its better not to strike straight away, I find that when you drop the rod tip and give them a bit of slack it encourages them to take the lure properly into their mouths. The pause between the bite and striking is only about one or two seconds but it makes all the difference! Anyway, fish on and the fight began with the fish boring deep with a powerful run. As I was quite high up above the water this made the fight a fairly vertical one and the majority of the time it was just a question of holding the fish in the fighting curve as it repeatedly tried to dive. As the fight progressed I could see it was a nice sized pike and eventually she was in the net! I clambered back over the rocks and found some nice soft wet reeds at the waters edge where I could lay the pike safely for unhooking. It was a nice conditioned fish and weighed 8.5lbs, my biggest pike this year and a great result for my first time on the lagoon. The carp angler I had spoken to earlier made his way over to see what I had caught and very kindly took a couple of photos of me with the pike before I slipped her back.

I like the textures in this photo,if only I could of got it focused better!
The 9.5cm Soft 4Play lure proved irresistible to this pike.
My second pike this year weighing in at 8.5lb.

That about wrapped up the fishing for the day and although we carried on for a couple of hours there was no more action. All in all it was an interesting trip and really great to get to know some new waters and with Jamie also learning the lakes I know that when I go back he will have found a few more places for us to fish. As always I can't wait to do it again!

Tight lines, Schogsky.