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.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Ritchie's Fishio Therapy

After my bout of perch fever I decided it was time to hit the coast again and in doing so also call in on my mate Ritchie Bewsey. Ritchie recently broke his foot and had been stuck in his house for a month without any fishing. As our summer is so short it has been maddening for him to be unable to fish during peak season so it was only right for me to pick him up and head out to some easy access harbour fishing. LRF was called for and I picked him up then dropped him close to the harbour mouth and while he set off on his crutches I went and parked the car and got my gear together. By the time I got back to Ritchie he had already caught a few small coalies and I quickly joined in the fun! I had a few on a dropshot rig then decided to try some new vertical jigging spoons I had got a hold of. The spoons are designed for vertical jigging under ice and they were deadly, with coalfish flinging themselves at them. The spoons are weighted towards the hook and get down quickly with a nice flutter as they're jigged back up.

I was surprised at how savagely the coalies attacked the jigging spoon.

I found it easy to keep it close to the bottom and after a stream of coalies I saw a flounder chasing along the bottom to intercept it. I kept the lure fluttering close to the sea bed and the flounder drew ever nearer. However, a small fish darted out of the kelp and nailed the spoon before the flattie could get near enough. This was quickly hoisted out to my hands and it turned out to be possibly the smallest codling I have ever caught! The codling although tiny was a new species for 2013 and was very cute and brightly coloured so that put a big grin on my face.

My first codling of 2013, tiny but very welcome.

Ritchie meanwhile had been working a jighead/Isome combo, bouncing it across the sandy patches and he managed to hook and land a nice sized flounder. Inspired by Ritchie's success I wasted no time in rigging up a dropshot rig again with some Gulp! Sandworm and I too began to cast out and work it back over the sandy patches. My technique is simple, cast then allow the weight to hit the seabed, then I retrieve very slowly while constantly giving the rod little jerks. Results were instant and I felt a couple of plucks at the lure before a nice chunky flounder grabbed hold. Flounders always put a nice bend in my LRF rod especially as you have to get them up off the bottom, they also invariably take a couple of dives when they hit the surface as well and provide a lot of fun on my light gear.

Ritchie was first in to the flounders.
I bagged one soon after.

I landed the fish and took a couple of pics before releasing it, quickly recasting to my flounder gully. I was staring down into the water as I retrieved when I noticed the unmistakable chubby shape of a wrasse lurking in the kelp. I quickly retrieved the rig shouting over to Ritchie to tell him the wrasse were here and dropped the rig right under the rod tip in front of the fish. Keeping the lead hard on the bottom a few tiny twitches of the rod caused the lure to wriggle about and this drew the wrasse out of his kelpy lair. I watched the fish come out to investigate, it circled the lure and gave a couple of sharp plucks at the red Isome before grabbing it and turning back to the weed. I struck then had to raise the rod above my head to stop the fish from getting into the kelp. It didn't take long to get it into the dropnet after its initial dive and soon it was on the mat getting its photo taken. I was really chuffed as I love catching wrasse on lures and to see it all happen was a real treat. I quickly released the fish and dropped my Isome back down in the same area.

The first wrasse of the session and my first from St Abbs this year.

Ritchie had joined me and as we worked our lures along the edges of the kelp we could see a couple of nice wrasse weaving in and out of the weed. While we were watching the wrasse we saw a huge wrasse come out of the kelp to investigate our lures, before turning away. The fish must have been around the 4lb mark and the sighting caused us to double our efforts. Ritchie was next in when a wrasse grabbed his lure on the drop. The fish was quickly landed and Ritchie was soon proudly displaying his first ballan wrasse of 2013, the perfect tonic for his broken foot!

Ritchie followed suit and landed his first wrasse of 2013.

We released the fish and I swapped lures to a natural coloured Gulp! Sandworm. This soon did the job as I felt the electric pecks on the lure of a wrasse before I struck into a much better fish. This did its best to get back into the kelp but I quickly bullied it up and soon was holding another fine wrasse.

The next wrasse was much beefier.
He got purdy lips.

It went quiet for a while and we turned our attention back to the flatties with both of us bagging a few more as well as a stream of scorpions, coalies and codling. I was concentrating on the wrasse again when Ritchie gave a shout and I looked over to see his rod absolutely buckled into a fish. The fish stayed deep and it started stripping line. Ritchie Couldn't get it up off the bottom at all and when the fish decided to head out to sea, ripping line off the drag in powerful bursts there was nothing Ritchie could do to stop the hook pulling. We weren't sure if it was the big wrasse we had seen earlier as it didn't behave how we would have expected, choosing to fight close to the bottom in open water instead of bolting for the kelp.

Scorpions abound at St Abbs.
A new "personal worst " this has to be the smallest codling I have ever caught.
No wonder I'm grinning this coalie nearly took the rod out of my hand such was the ferocity of its take.
One of the many fat flounders that were caught
Another wrasse falls for the Gulp sandworm!
Little red rock piglet!

We were disappointed but it both spurred us on again to see if we could get some more wrasse. Ritchie did indeed manage another small wrasse as did I and my last fish turned out to be the fattest of the day and gave me a nice scrap on my light gear.

Brilliant, this chunky wrasse was the last wrasse of the session.
Ritchie also bagged this pretty pollock.
Ritchie displays another sea scorpion.

We had to go after four hours fishing as Ritchie's leg was starting to play up a bit and the tide was getting pretty low. On the way back we talked of the one that got away and we could not decide if it was the beast of a wrasse or some other denizen of the deep. There was only one way to find out, we would have to come back and try to hook it again!

Tight lines, Schogsky.