Saturday, 29 June 2013

LRF : Bass.

After my last foray for sea bass turned into more of a wrasse hunt, I needed to get back and see if I could find some bass. My time off coincided with a lovely warm day and a rising tide, so rods and tackle were quickly stowed in the car and off I went! On arrival I went with my go to bass lures, Lunker City Slug-Go and Ribster mounted on a 10g #2/0 football jighead, I chopped and changed between them for a couple of hours but there was no interest. I had been seeing lots of very small sandeels about so I decided to reach for my beloved LRF gear and quickly rigged up a little 5g Maria Mucho Lucir metal jig. I began to cast and jig it back in and on the very first cast I saw two schoolies chasing after it before turning away at my feet! Filled with hope I recast and jigged it back towards me where upon it was seized by a small bass which after a thrash about was quickly landed.

This was a better sized fish than my last bass and went just over 38cm on the lure forum ruler.
Small metal trumps soft plastic.

A couple of pics and back the fish went, leaving me to recast and see if I could tempt any of its bigger shoal mates. The change to a smaller lure had certainly paid off and a further couple of small bass were caught and released before the shoal moved off. Things had been quiet for about an hour when I saw two bass literally right below my feet working along the ledge I was standing on. With no cast required I just dropped the lure down a rod length out and gave a couple of jigs. I watched the jig flutter down and saw a silver flash as a bass grabbed the lure hooking itself in the process! The rod hooped over as the fiesty little bass tried to make a run for it but it was quickly and rather unceremoniously hoisted up to my waiting hands. It was again a small bass only about 35cm but fun none the less on the light gear! With the fish quickly released I carried on casting the jig about but the only action I received was foul hooking a load of sandeels! There must have been a big thick shoal about 30m out and when ever the lure came into that area it came back with a sandeel attached!

After an hour or so of no bass I decided to rig up a dropshot rig to see if the corkwing wrasse were about. A #8 hook, 8lb leader and a 5g weight were all that was required and I eagerly cast out and began to hop and shake it back towards me. After a couple of casts I started getting little nibbles, I paused and allowed the lure to drop down gently and when the fish pulled the rod tip over I struck. The fish turned out to be a rather angry little blenny who gave me a couple of nips after it was unhooked! I carried on for another half an hour winkling out a couple more blennys but seeing as there were no wrasse about I decided to call it a day and head back.

Blennies, you got to love them or Hutch won't be happy!

Although it was fun to catch some bass and some cheeky blennies, I was a bit disappointed there were not any wrasse about as believe it or not I prefer the fight of a wrasse to a bass! Still it's early in the season so I can only hope for more wrasse to arrive soon.

Tight lines, Schogsky.

Friday, 28 June 2013

Summer species start to show.

A couple of days after our Scott and I went perch fishing I managed to get back to the coast, this time I was hoping to find the perch's spiky cousin, the bass. Conditions seemed perfect as it was calm, warm and the tide was just starting to flood. I rigged up my 7-25g rod with a 4.5" Slug-Go in Arkansas Shiner and mounted it on a #2/0 10.5g football jighead and began to search the slowly flooding tide. I tried bouncing the lure along the bottom as well as swimming it through the water column but it proved a  fruitless exercise. I then swapped to a Ribster as they are a little bit smaller and if the bass are feeling picky then a smaller lure can sometimes illicit a response. I must have worked the lure about for an hour before I swapped to a Swimmin' Ribster as again it is a bit smaller than the Ribster and also throws out more vibration. I worked the lure with a sink and draw retrieve allowing the lure to fall with its tail wiggling enticingly through the current. After about twenty minutes of searching I felt a small tug on the lure as it was dropping through the water, I struck then had to reel like mad as the fish ran towards me. The fish came in very quickly and I was delighted to see a silvery, spiky shape break the surface, my first bass of the year. It was very small but at least it was another species added to my 2013 tally and after a quick photo I slipped it back.

First bass of 2013, small but fun!

I carried on for another half hour or so before I got bored with the lack of action and reached for my LRF gear. I rigged up a dropshot rig with a #8 offset worm hook, 8lb leader and attached a 7g weight. This was rigged with some gulp sandworm and I began to cast out and bounce and jiggle the sandworm back to me. It didn't take long before I was getting some interest and a few small rattles quickly turned into a hookup and I landed a small nicely marked pollock, another addition for my 2013 species hunt!

Rather unbelivably this is my first pollock of 2013! Nice vivid honeycomb marking.

I released the fish and began to fish the same area and again it didn't take long before a felt a sharp pecking at the lure. This bite excited me as I could instantly tell it was wrasse, I let it peck away at the lure and waited for it to pull the rod tip over before I set the hook. Sure enough the rod tip arched down and I was hooked into a feisty little ballan wrasse which did its best to get into the weedy ledge below me before it was landed.

The ballan wrasse patiently waited in a small rockpool whilst I got my camera ready!
I love wrasse and this small ballan had me grinning from ear to ear!

I quickly unhooked and photographed the fish before releasing it and quickly went back to the same spot. A couple of casts later I felt the same pecking at the lure and hooked into another little wrasse and as it came up I could see it was a corkwing.

A stunning little fish indeed.

I love these colourful little wrasse and this one was no exception with colours that would put a parrot to shame. I quickly unhooked and weighed the fish which came in at just over 4oz, a specimen fish for Scotland. Still it needed to be a bit bigger to break the record, which is one of my goals this year, so I'll just have to keep targeting them. I slipped the fish back and quickly followed it up with a plump much darker  corkwing that may have been a female that also had some wonderful green colouration.

This plump corkwing also came in at just over 4oz.
Drop shotting Gulp! Sandworm did the business again.

That was to be the last fish of the session but I was really pleased to catch my first bass of the year and even more so the wrasse and with them arriving back inshore its a sure sign summer is here!

Tight lines, Schogsky.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

A winding river and a crooked loch.

Scott and I managed to get out for an evening's fishing last week and we turned our attention to perch. The plan was to head west into the Trossachs to our favourite perch loch with a brief stop at Scott's new favourite float fishing river stretch as he had some maggots to use up! As it was to be only a flying visit to the river I decided to leave my float rod at home and just rig up my LRF set up with a float and #16 barbless hook to nylon. Scott did the same and we spent a pleasant hour or so trotting the river catching a few of dace, a few salmon parr, a couple of small brown trout I also caught a tiny perch just over an inch long which managed to flip out of my hand before I could take a photograph. The fishing wasn't up to its usual standards and that may have been because the river was running a bit higher than on Scott's previous sessions there due to the rain the previous day.

My first dace in a decade, double red maggots did the trick.
Salmon parr. Voracious little buggers.
This small brown trout managed to contest its way through the greedy salmon parr.

It was an enjoyable interlude but my thoughts were firmly set on getting a big perch on lures and soon we were back on the road to the loch. The weather had been forecast to be rainy, however when we arrived at it was quite warm with scattered clouds and a gentle breeze, very pleasant fishing weather indeed.

Inviting isn't it?

When planning this trip I had sworn I was going to use large lures to target the bigger fish and indeed I had brought a ton of them to use on my heavier rated dropshot set up. Laden with gear I lumbered down to the lochside trailing behind Scott who as always was travelling very light. Despite carrying all the heavier gear when I reached the shore I instinctively reached for my LRF set up. I thought I would start with the old faithful pink Jackson Cymo and just establish where the fish were before breaking out the bigger lures. We started fishing and Scott was first to get a bite when a trout or char quickly threw the hooks after attacking the size "0" copper Mepps he was using, still this boded well for the rest of the evening. I was next with a nice plump perch and this one had a dark gunmetal colouration to it, a nice looking fish indeed. I was working the little vibe lure with a slow retrieve with little rips a method that the fish in the loch seemed to like and I followed the first fish up with another perch. This one was a more traditional colour and after a couple of pics it was slipped back none the worse for meeting me!

My first perch of the session.
Quite different from standard perch colours. I love the bronze, gunmetal colours on this one.
Stripes like a tiger and an attitude to match, great fun.

Scott and I decided to split up and head to our own little favourite areas, mine a densely weeded shallow bay and Scott's a bay with lots of big rocks and less dense patchy weed. The next couple of hours were simply marvellous, stunning scenery, warm weather and a host of aggressive perch! Even though the fish were not that big they were great fun especially when I could see them chasing and harrying the lure.

I work my way round the weedy bay.
Every weed bed seemed to hold perch.
Spot the Cymo.
Even though he had swallowed the lure he went back fine.

As the light began to go the wind dropped too and I stood admiring the tranquil scene absent mindedly scratching my head, then my neck, then my hands before realising that the midges had arrived to dine on me! With frantic thrashings I rooted through my tackle bag while the beasts fed on my blood before I managed to find my midge net. I quickly donned the net pausing briefly to slap myself about the head trying to kill the ones that were now trapped inside the net with me. The net did the trick though and soon I was back fishing again, laughing in the face of the blood hungry beasties. I was working my lure close to the shore when I hooked what turned out to be my biggest perch this year, and after a good tussle and successfully guiding it through the weeds it came in at just under 32cm and about 1lb in weight. While I unhooked and photographed the fish the wind dropped and I became aware of a strange noise. I looked up to see Scott coming over the field in a most peculiar manner, beating his head and upper torso whilst cursing and growling like an angry bear. Safe under my net and fully aware of the reasons why Scott was doing this I had a chuckle at his netless predicament and laughed even more at the torrent of abuse he gave me when he saw me with my net on protected from the marauding swarms! He did however have the good grace to take a photo of me and the fish before we started to make our way back to our starting point, avoiding some of the other local creatures on the way.

Yes! My biggest perch this year eyes his downfall.
Fighting fit. Another wonderful perch.
My grin had more to do with Scott being eaten alive by midges than the fish!
Midges weren't the only beasts we had to dodge. No net would save me from the large black bull if he decided he wanted blood!

Scott informed me he had done equally well at his chosen spot, catching ten perch all about the same size as mine and all in lovely condition. He had caught them all fishing his favourite golden shiner Lake Fork Live Baby Shad on a 3.5g #6 jighead and had used what he called his "Super Mario" retrieve. He explained that this was a slow retrieve with a few small jigs based on this music from the eighties Nintendo game "Super Mario Bros". Indeed to prove how effective it was as he showed me this retrieve style "jiggy, jiggy, jiggy - pause - jiggy, jiggy, jiggy - pause - etc" and promptly caught another two nice perch in a spot I had just fished.

One of Scott's perch from earlier in perfect condition.
The nearby highland cows watch with interest as Scott explains the "Super Mario" retrieve whilst singing the tune.
Scott with a perch that fell for his "Super Mario" jigging retrieve technique.

By then we had been fairly eaten by the midges and probably could have used a blood transfusion so as the sun dipped over the horizon and happy with the all the fun we'd had catching perch we called it a night and hurriedly stumbled our way back to the car through the descending black mist of hungry blood sucking parasites.

As well as inventing new retrieve styles he also takes some nice photos like this one of the sun bursting through the clouds just before setting.
Scott "the human buffet" Hutchison shows off his new friends enjoying a feeding frenzy.
Closer. We zoomed in on this one gorging itself on Scott's blood.
Even closer. The true horror of the Scottish Midge is revealed. Aaaaaaaaaaarrgh Vienna!

We managed to load the car with our gear in rapid fashion but despite this about a thousand midges also seemed to find their way inside! These were soon removed however by opening all of the cars windows and driving away fairly quickly and despite the plague of tiny annoying insects we both still really enjoyed the fishing. The warm weather, awesome scenery and perfect perch filled a session that will stay long in the memory and has me positively itching to go back. Perhaps some of this itching is due to my midge bites though!

Tight lines, Schogsky

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Terry is chocolate orange!

I had a free afternoon last week and I managed to get down to St Abbs for a four hour session. I was hoping to target some flounders on LRF gear but as I would be arriving at high water it wouldn't be the best tide state to catch them, they seem to feed better in the early flood. Still I can't pick and choose when I go at the moment so I have to just take advantage of any free time I can get! 

I arrived to find the harbour bathed in sunshine although there was still a gusty easterly wind which made it pretty chilly in the shade. The wind  and depth of water meant I would have to use drop shot tactics in order to keep the lure down close to the sea bed. So it was out with my LRF gear and I quickly rigged up a drop shot rig with a #8 offset worm hook and a 7g weight. My lure of choice was Gulp! Sandworm in natural colour and I rigged a two inch section onto the hook. I cast out and allowed the lure to sink to the sea bed, a slow retrieve with little hops and jerks caused the lure to wriggle seductively a foot above the sea bed. This yielded pretty much instant results in the form of a nice coalie and with a good depth of water it put up a good scrap, making a couple of powerful dives before being landed.

26cm, The coalfish are getting bigger!

The next hour was fun as small shoals of coalies came and went and I managed to catch a further eight or so. Allthough I was happy to sacrifice my precious Gulp! to the coalies I was still really hoping for a flounder and as the time passed the bites dried up. I began to move about a bit and started making some long casts over to the sandy patches hoping for flounder. I managed to pick up a couple more coalies doing this but I was starting to give up on catching a flattie when I felt the characteristic plucking at the lure. On feeling this I dropped the rod tip, reeling ever so slightly to maintain contact with the lure, this gives the fish a little slack helping it suck the worm in. A flick of the wrist sets the hook and the flounder bore down trying to get back into the sand. The LRF rod arched over nicely as it stopped the fish which then headed at top speed out of the harbour! It still suprises me the speed and power of flounders on ultra light gear as they can really motor off quickly. As I brought the fish up from the depths I could see it was too big to swing in so it was out with my 3.2m landing net and I managed to guide the fish in to it.

A nice flounder safely in the net. Brilliant!
35cm of prime flounder, we shall call him Terry due to his colouration.
A nice fishy handful!

I have to say that flounder are one of my favourite species to catch and this one was a beauty, measuring just over 35cm on The Lure Forum ruler. It also had lots of nice orange coloured highlights which resembled the orange sandstone found in the area and it certainly is the most strangely coloured one I have caught! I took a few pictures before I released the fish and while I was removing the hook it spat out a large king ragworm, confirming our suspicions as to why the flounder get so chunky in the harbour.

I carried on fishing for another hour or so but couldn't manage to winkle anything else out before I had to set off back home. I was really pleased to get the flounder though, they really are a prize catch for me and I know there are bigger ones to be had as well which I hope to find soon!

Tight lines, Schogsky.

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Esox elusive.

As my few trips to target pike this year have sadly resulted in not much action and only one pike hooked, that I managed to lose due to not having a net handy, I fancied getting the growing green stripey monkey off of my back. A quick text to see if Jake was free and an hour or so later we hit the road. Arriving at the Forth & Clyde Canal a short drive later we were soon fishing and both decided to test out some Gulp! Alive Swimming Eels that Jake had procured recently.

Like most Gulp! lures these stink but have a fantastic swimming action. Surely the pike wouldn't be able to resist?

We thrashed the basin in front of us and cast around the pontoons and moored boats but no bites were forthcoming. After about an hour or so we both scaled down to smaller lures. The water was slightly murky so I went with a Savage Gear Soft 4Play in Firetiger. As we wandered along the canal a bit further we spotted hundreds of tadpoles in the margins and I then switched to an even smaller lure, a Lake Fork Live Baby Shad in Golden Shiner. This again yielded no results unfortunately. By this point Jake had switched to drops shotting Gulp! Sandworm sections for perch, which normally results in pike being caught but this didn't seem to be having the same effect for a change! Heading all the way back to where we started we were both pretty fed up with the lack of action when Jake finally hooked a fish and after I carried out netting duties a nicely coloured perch was on the bank.

A nice golden hue to this spiky little worm gobbling predator and it had nice bright red fins too.

Encouraged by this we carried on fishing heading in the opposite direction along the canal. I scaled up a bit and went with a 3" Kopyto Shad in Roach like colour. Casting to the pontoons and boats on the far side I slowly worked it back across towards me using a slow steady retrieve keeping it close to the bottom but imparting the odd twitch just to try and hopefully illicit a response form any fish it passed by. Plodding along about a metre at a time I finally felt a couple of sharp little tugs and hooked a fish. It soon broke the surface and I could see it was a small jack. I could also see that it didn't look very well hooked. I didn't apply any real pressure to the fish and called along the canal to Jake who had the net. Unfortunately whilst he came along with it the fish took the opportunity to thrash in front of me and spit the lure out before slowly swimming off. After several of hours of fishing with no action at all I was pretty annoyed to lose a second consecutive pike due to not having a net handy! With only a short time left before we had to leave I went back to my methodical approach, standing on a pontoon and casting to a long section of reeds opposite me and with pretty much my last cast I was rewarded with a second bite at the swimming croc cherry. Being a complete idiot though I suddenly realised that the net was further along the pontoon, a fair bit away from me. I had to quickly decide whether to play the fish along there or chance lifting it up the short distance to my hands. I opted for the later and luckily the fish was well hooked this time and stayed on.

My first pike of 2013. Hard earned to say the least!

We headed home, both quite disappointed with the fishing overall, but at the same time glad to have avoided a blank. I was pleased though to get my first pike of the year and whilst canal jacks are good fun I think perhaps we need to start trying some new stretches to try and locate some bigger specimens to work the Gulp! Alive Swimming Eels past. Maybe a less uniform stretch would be nice with a few more natural holding features. Some lily pads would be great as well because after seeing all the tadpoles I'm keen to try some frog lures soon as well for some surface fun.

Tight lines, Hutch.

Too little time, two little fish.

During the last week or so I have managed to get out for a couple of very short sessions on the Water of Leith. Using my LRF gear I have been hitting some of last years productive pools. There are fish present but they seem to be very small compared to last year however it bodes well for the future as there does seem to be a lot of these small trout about!

On the first session I managed to land one and lose another on a pink Glittery Ecogear Grassminnow, mounted on a 1.4g #10 Ecogear Shirasu Fine jighead.

Tiny but fun, especially when you can only fish for  about thirty minutes!

The next quick raid on the river resulted in two lost and one landed, again on the same lure, and thoroughly good fun for another session only lasting half an hour or so!

A little bit bigger than the first one, it couldn't resist my Grass Minnow either!

Although the fish are not big they are quite active at least and I suppose it will just be a question of searching till I eventually find some bigger ones!

Tight Lines, Schogsky.

Saved by the podleys.

While Scott was away the other weekend indulging in his monster Skate hunting I had the time to hit the coast. I also wanted to try a new rod, a 2.7m 7- 28g Shimano Yasei Red Dropshot. So with that in mind I headed to our local bass mark to see how it would work my beloved lure, the Slug-Go!

The conditions were really poor when I arrived, with a strong gusting wind which kept changing direction and the sea really dirty with visibility being only a foot or so. Never the less I fished for about an hour and a half trying to get a feel for the rod. My initial impressions are good and I could feel the contours of the sea bed when bouncing the lure across it. I could also tell the difference between weed and rock which is essential for the way I work my lures. With no fish about though I decided to move on down the coast to try St Abbs in the hope of a pollock to test the rod!

Again when I arrived the conditions were poor with the sea really murky, something which is unusual for St Abbs as it is normally crystal clear. It wasn't looking good at all but I pressed on and went with my LRF tackle to fish the flattie and coalfish hotspots. I must have ambled about for a couple of hours with no action before I decided to start working the bigger rod and Slug gos. I was fishing the channels and rocks behind the harbour and over a couple of hours went through a multitude of lures which resulted in a total blank!

I was worn down by the grating cold wind and feeling thoroughly disconsolate so I started making my way back to the car, resigned to a blank. On the way I thought I would have a couple of "last casts" at the harbour mouth. I rigged my LRF rod with a simple dropshot rig, a #8 offset worm hook tied via a palomar knot to an 8lb flourocarbon leader with a 5g weight clipped on a foot from the hook. I rigged a 1.5" section of Gulp! sandworm and cast across the mouth. As soon as the lure dropped through the water column a fish was on it and I felt the unmistakable fight of a coalfish (or podley as they are sometimes known locally). The fish was landed to a beaming smile from me and even though it was only 24cm it still put up a good fight!

Almost every coalfish was 24cm, this one just made 25cm!
Great fun on light tackle!
Sunshine and coalfish, perfect!

The fishing then went crazy and it became a fish a chuck and I thoroughly enjoyed a mad half hour! My enjoyment was briefly dulled by having to explain to some foreign fisherman that they were not supposed to take the little coalies, explaining to them that the legal limit is 35cm. They complied with my shouted request and sure enough some decent sized coalfish turned up which were over the limit so fair enough to take. I would hate to think how many of the tiny ones they would have taken if I hadn't been there. After I had caught my 30th fish I realised the time and had to dash back to the car but I was grinning from ear to ear and I didn't mind leaving. All in all it had turned into a fish filled session but I really thought I was going to blank, luckily for me those "podleys" turned up and it quickly transformed into a bit of a red letter day!

Tight Lines, Schogsky.

Losing the rag.

Recently I went down to St Abbs with our friend Ad the Friday before he and Scott headed west to go Skate fishing. Ad was really keen to target flounder on LRF gear and although he had been catching them on bait in Aberdeen the conditions had been against LRF tactics. When we arrived at St Abbs it was the complete opposite of what we are used to though with the water being very cloudy and a bitter north easterly wind had made it very rough and cold! This being the case we had to go straight for 7g dropshot rigs to have a hope of keeping in touch with the sea bed. Ad rigged his with a section of pink Isome and I went with some natural Gulp! Sandworm. We worked our lures right around the harbour and we couldn't buy a bite, this really was not what I was expecting!

After another half hour or so I finally felt a gentle tapping at my lure followed by a feeling of weight as a fish grabbed hold. I struck and set the hook and the fish stayed deep trying to get back to the bottom. With the fish staying deep at first I thought it was a flounder, then as it came up in the water I thought it was a coalfish only to see a large short spined sea scorpion break the surface. This was my first short spined of the year and he fought surprisingly well in the deep water as he bore down for the sea bed. After a few pics he was released and we carried on our search.

My first short spined sea scorpion of 2013
Say "Bluuuuurrggghh"!
Sunset over a rough St Abbs.
With the light going we headed over to the harbour lights.

By this time it had begun to get dark so we moved to under the harbour lights as this can be a good place to get the evening influx of coalfish. We had been fishing a short while when Ad noticed a weird eel like fish swimming on the surface. Whatever it was the creature was swimming about cruising in the surface layers and kept swimming into the weed at the edge of the harbour wall as well as wiggling about in the frayed mooring ropes. What was it though? Launce or perhaps an eel? Nope too blunt at each end. Lamprey? Hmmm, they certainly looked weird enough! I was jigging a small metal for coalfish and we kept seeing more of these odd creatures, some were very big too with the biggest about 18 inches long. No matter how we tried they just didn't seem to notice the lures, we tried jerking it past them, letting it hang stationary in front of them but they just didn't react to anything we did. Eventually as I was working the lure past one I appeared to catch it! It was quickly hoisted up to a chorus of what is it, what is it! We were absolutely amazed to find it was a rather large king ragworm!

Another crazy St Abbs capture, ragworm, I could have sworn they were fish!

Crazy, they really had us fooled as I could have sworn they were fish! We surmised that they were perhaps breeding and trying to lay there eggs in the weed and rope fronds maybe that was why they were in the harbour being so active. It also pointed to the fact that there were no fish about as I doubt they would have lasted two seconds with a pack of coalies hunting about. It was also great to see them as it perhaps explains why the flatties at St Abbs can get so big especially if they have access to such big king rag!

It was late by this point so we called it a day, but it was a truly surreal experience seeing and catching those ragworm. It was also interesting to see how they swim so freely and certainly shows why an Isome mounted on a jighead is taken with such confidence by the resident fish! Hopefully next time Ad comes down we can put him on to some LRF flounder until then he can console himself knowing that they are probably getting fatter feeding on those juicy ragworms!

Tight Lines, Schogsky.