Thursday, 23 October 2014

Good News Day!

Hi Folks, well I am pleased to say that I have teamed up with Sea Angler Magazine as one of thier LRF / Light Game contributors! I am very pleased about it all and today is the day my first article is published.
Entitled "Just grab and go!" its a piece about short session success.  I haven't made it out to the newsagents yet but I can't wait to see what the magazine have done with my first article!
Tight Lines

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

LRF + Wrasse = Awesome!

I had a couple of fantastic sessions with Ritchie and Rory on the east coast rocks, with all of us getting a great variety of species and specimens. Ritchie had learnt wrasse whispering and he was winkling wrasse out all over the place! Rory had just got hold of a new LRF rod , the rather sublime Graphiteleader Corto and he was keen to add to his LRF species tally. So we spent a couple of sessions playing with good size pollock, wrasse, scorpions, Flounders, Codling and some huge mackerel made an appearance too. The most successful technique was dropshotting 4" Gulp sandworm a nice slow twitchy retrieve seemed to attract all species bar the mackerel which really wanted 4 inch jig head mounted sluggos!

After these two fun filled sessions I was keen to go back for more, but with Rory and Ritchie both busy with work it was time for a solo session. The weather was playing ball and it was a pleasantly warm day with the sea state nice and calm, perfect for wrasse!

After a short drive I grabbed my bags and hurried down to the mark, a quick scramble and climb later and I was there for slack water at low tide. I quickly rigged up my LRF gear which comprised of my new HTO Rockfish 73 1-8g rod, 3000 size reel, PE0.6 braid and 8lb YGK Flurocarbon leader.
I went with my "go to" dropshot rig with a # 6 slim offset worm hook, tied via a palomar knot with a 30cm drop. The hook is very important for fishing on such a kelpy and rough mark and the offset worm hook gives me the ability to rig my lure in a weedless fashion. 4" Gulp sandworm in natural colour was duly rigged on the hook and I began to explore the kelp forest that surrounds the rocks I was on.

I was full of hope and excitement there there is nothing like the prospect of wrasse to get me all a flutter! I began by concentrating on the rocky kelpy fringe that surrounds the rock mark I was standing on. As I worked my way along the rocks I came across a ledge of rock with an overhang into quite deep water. This looked very wrassey so I perched myself right on the edge of it and dropped my rig straight down into about 20ft of water. When the lead hit the bottom  I started adding a few twitches , tapping the weight on the rocky sea bed and dropping the rod tip to allow the lure to flutter down in a seductively weightless fashion. It only took seconds before I felt a sharp tap on the lure, the unmistakable bite of a wrasse! Tap....Tap , the bites felt like electric shocks running down my arm and the super sensitive rod only intensified the bites. I allowed the bites to develop as wrasse have a weird habit of plucking at the lure .Next bite I felt a bit of weight so I struck and all hell broke loose. The wrasse dived towards the kelp wall I was standing on boring hard for cover, then suddenly all went slack! The air turned blue with some choice curses as I reeled in, but the wrasse had gone and it felt like a good one too.

 My rig was still intact so it was just a case of re-rigging  some more Gulp sandworm on the hook and dropping back down. One of the many fascinating things about the wrasse is that they seem to come back for a second go even if they have felt the hook. This time the lead dropped to the bottom, I tightened up and instantly felt weight on the line. I struck and my rod lunged over as a wrasse took off for the kelp!
I wasn't gonna lose this one and a short brutal fight commenced, with my drag cranked up I quickly lifted the rod above my head to get the fish clear of the kelp. Then I had to hold my nerve as the fish dived for cover, the rod hooped alarmingly but this wee rod is deceptively strong and as I cranked up the pressure the fish started to come up in the water. The rod quickly sapped the strength of the fish and soon it was sliding over the rim of my landing net. A really nice fish too which weighed in at 3lb 2oz, I took some pics and then returned the fish back to the kelp forest.

I rigged up another Gulp sandworm and repeated the process , dropping down next to the ledge I was standing on. The lead hit the bottom and again tap, tap then I felt weight so I struck into a big fish!
More brutality was heaped upon the rod as at hooped over. Again I cranked the fish away from the kelp as quickly as possible by lifting the rod above my head. It was a tough fight the wrasse doing its best to stay deep and thumping the rod down at an alarming angle. But I gave no quarter, allowing the rod to tire the fish and soon I had colour as a pig of a wrasse came to the surface. As it slipped into my landing net I began to laugh, I couldn't believe it! It was most certainly a new PB and it measured a whopping 49cm and weighed 4lb 1oz. What an amazing fish and to catch such a beautiful yet brutal fighting fish on LRF gear was a fantastic challenge.

I was fish drunk by this stage and after taking pics and releasing my wonderful prize I got back to looking for more! More fish followed ranging from 1/2 a pound to around the 3lb mark and the action was constant. The fights were intense rod bending affairs every fish had my heart in my mouth and adrenalin swishing around my bloodstream. From the one little spot a managed a further 11 wrasse before the action stopped.

I had spent the last part of the session in a happy daze,and by the end of the session I was satisfied, my hunger for wrasse was sated. As I floated merrily back to the car I still couldn't believe the perfectness of the session, lots of wrasse including a new pb all on LRF gear. As many of you know LRF gear does not mean little fish, in fact it is quite the opposite but one thing is for sure. LRF + Wrasse = Awesome!
Tight Lines

Monday, 15 September 2014

Mini Sticks earn their stripes

I had been having some fun filled sessions hitting the rocks with Rory and Ritchie and when the weather took a turn for the worse we decided to head back to the big loch for a crack at the perch.
This was to be our first recce of the loch with the idea of checking it out for future sessions with Rorys boat. Rory was more used to hitting up the canals down south for those big southern perch but he was keen to get a feel for our wild water Perching.

Over the hour or so's drive to the loch Rory and I talked about various tactics and lures and I was keen to try the HTO Mini Sticks as they just looked very fishy!
After a brief tussle with rogue waders (a combination of brute force and swearing soon subdued them) we emerged at the side of the loch just in time to see shoals of fry scattering as predators chased them from beneath.For once conditions were perfect for humans as well as fish with the afternoon sun on our backs and a gentle warm breeze.

I was using the new Rockfish Revoloution rod instead of the 73 and it was paired with my Shimano Technium 3000,0.6PE braid and my leader / dropshot rig was 8lb YGK Nitlon DFC Fluorocarbon.
The hook was my favourite #8 Owner slim offset worm and I rigged a Margarita coloured Mini Stick with the hook point exiting from its back rather than nose hooking it. This does seem to increase the bites to hook ups ratio, although it is easier for the lure to move when on the hook and spoil the presentation.

I ambled out through the weeds and and cast towards the back of a moored boat, the lure dropped through the water and never made the bottom as it was instantly seized by a perch! I quickly played the fish in ,enjoying the juddery fight on my new rod. The fish was quickly photographed, released and I got my lure back out into the killzone. This time the lure managed to make it to the bottom and got a couple of feet before another perch hammered it! I played the second fish in and released it, meanwhile Rory was bouncing a chartreuse curly tail along the bottom but it wasn't eliciting much of a response. The HTO Mini Stick however was constantly getting nailed and Rory quickly rigged up a dropshot rig and he too began to get hit by perch.
We managed about a dozen each in quick succession before the bites dried up, so we elected to move along to a deeper water5 mark in the hope of a bigger perch.

A short waddle later and we were fishing into deeper water and again we were greeted with a vast shoal of small bait fish. It was thoroughly exciting as we could see the shoal reacting, scattering on the surface as predators harried the shoal. I quickly cast out beyond the shoal and hopped the lure back whilst shaking the rod . Almost as soon as the lure began its stilted run across the loch bed I could feel perch plucking at the lure. When I felt the plucks I dropped the rod tip allowing some slack line, this allowed the fish to suck the lure in without feeling resistance. A flick of the wrist set the hook and I began to play another hard fighting perch, This one was a bit bigger at around the pound mark and the rod cushioned its juddery head shakes wonderfully. I netted the fish and took its picture before releasing back to its shoal mates. Rory too was straight into perch and we quickly racked up another dozen or so before the action slowed again. We decided to stick at this mark as we could still see the shoal of bait fish getting balled up against the edge of the dock we were fishing from.
Again after about 20 minutes the Perch were back and the same pattern was repeated with a flurry of perch fighting over themselves to snap at my lure. It was fantastic fun and the fish appeared to be getting larger with both of us managing to find fish up to 1.5lbs.

Again the perch seemed to come in waves and each wave would yield  a dozen or so fish before they moved off again. The action continued throughout the afternoon and we marveled at the size of the shoal of bait fish, which seemed unable to escape the area where the perch had corralled them.
We continued to fish on  and were really enjoying the seemingly constant attention that our lures were receiving, I happened to notice part of the shoal scattering on the surface as fish piled into them from beneath. I cast over the shoal and instead of slowly working the lure I jigged it up high in the water then let it fall quickly back down. It was then I was hit by a much larger fish, with the rod hooping over as the fish started to take line. The juddery head shakes started and I knew it was a perch and a good one at that. My knees went to jelly and I gently played the fish in all the time repeating the mantra " don'tcomeoffdon'tcomeoffdon'tcomeoff".
As we caught sight of the fish we could both see it was a belter and thankfully I watched as it slipped into Rorys landing net.
What a lovely fish and certainly my biggest perch this year which weighed in at 2.15oz of pure, wild,pristine perch.

I was made up and to his credit Rory was too as he was hoping to see a nice perch and this one was just perfect. Pictures were taken and the big stripey was slipped gently back and with a gleeful flick of it's tail it disappeared back into the deep water.
That was the absolute highlight of the day and I was overjoyed at catching such a quality fish on my new rod and my new lures. 

So there you have it, I have found a new "goto" lure for perch replacing my old favourites Lake Fork Live Baby shads was something I didn't think would happen.
But it is true HTO Mini sticks 100% are now my favourite perch lure and I can't wait to get out and use them again!
Tight Lines

Monday, 4 August 2014

Rod review : HTO Rockfish 73

Following the destruction of my Corto Tronixpro HQ were quick to send me a new rod,with the summer season getting into full swing it was imperative that I had an LRF rod.
The rod I got my hands on was the HTO Rockfish 73 1-8g  solid tipped LRF rod.
When George said he was sending one up I was nervous as I had been used to using my tube tip Corto and with the difference in price being over £100 between the rods I was frankly very worried about stepping down to a budget model rod. That aside when looking at the catalogue pics I also thought the rod looked pretty cool I do like the new graphics and paint job, reminds me of a USA muscle car! ( I think that may just be me though!)
on the Tronixpro catalogue they describe the rod as such :

The Rockfish rod is a new addition for 2014. Sitting in between the older UL and L models the 73 has a casting range of 1-8g. Ideal for general light rock fishing this rod is equally as happy fishing finesse jig heads, small metals and drop shot. A real all rounder at a price to suit all pockets.

As soon as the rod arrived I was out playing with it and the first mission was Trout. I paired it up with my Technium 3000 reel and it balanced the outfit almost as well as my Corto.
It felt comfortable to hold which surprised me as the threads for the reel seat run onto the blank but don't run under your hand when you are using the rod. As with its predecessor the rod rings are still quite large and chunky but at least they are saltwater proof and tough enough for the job.
The solid tip is again the same as its predecessor but the overall blank is stiffer giving a much crisper feel and making the rod that bit more reactive.

Going from a tube tip rod to a fine solid tip did take a few minutes to get accuracy under control but as far as distance goes it was flicking a 1gram jighead just as far as my previous rod if not further.
After about 5 minutes of using it I had forgotten I was using a "cheap" rod as it was performing all the tasks of my previous rod. I was using a 1gram HTO light game jighead and knight worm combo casting across and downstream, allowing the lure to swing around before twitching it back upstream.When I hooked into a trout the soft tip really helped to cushion the mad dashes of the trout and soon it was landed and released.

So it passed the trout test admirably and the slightly shorter length ( my last rod was 7'9") was ultimately that bit more handy for fishing in and around the overgrown small trout rivers that I like so much.

Its next test was dropshotting in the kelp forests which uses much heavier techniques and as the ultimate target was wrasse at close range it was a much sterner test!
The end tackle was my standard dropshot rig, 8lb fluro, size 8 offset hook rigged with gulp Sandworm and a 7gram dropshot weight.
There was no difference in casting distance with the rod effortlessly casting the rig as far as my previous stick. The rod  does have a soft tip so I had to slightly over emphasise the lifts and twitches to the lure to get the action I wanted but it was all pretty sweet feeling. The rods stiffer blank really suited the way I was working the dropshot rig and felt a lot better than the Rockfish UL.
One of the great things about the soft tip was that when I started to get those electric plucks from wrasse it really made for positive bites. The wrasse up here can sometimes be very timid biters and I am sure the lack of resistance when they suck the lure into their mouths caught me more fish.
The other good thing was that even the subtlest of bites can be seen and felt before the fish realises its mistake!

Sure enough the session was a great one with pollock up to 4lb, wrasse up to 2.5lb, codling coalies and flounders the rod caught and dealt with them all perfectly!
When it comes to fighting large fish on it It did just as well as my previous rod and despite the fine tip it has plenty of power low down the blank.
Dropshotting in the kelp produces some big wrasse but the fight is brutal. With the drag tightened up you really have to hit ,hold then really bend into the fish quickly pumping the fish up beyond the kelp. Then you have to keep it from getting back into it. I am pleased to say that the rod again copes perfectly with this extreme fight and it has landed me my new PB Ballan Wrasse of 4lb1oz and 49cm.


Since I have been using the rod it has caught me lots of 3lb+ wrasse from the harshest of ground, Coalies, Flounder, Pollack, Scorpion fish, Sea Trout, Brown Trout, Pike, Perch and has dealt brilliantly with it all.

The rod really is a good all round LRF tool and can cope well with big fish as well as being sensitive to feel mini species at range. It does everything my Corto did at a fraction of the price and even although it lacks in high grade fittings it still looks the part too.
Retailing at under £35 everyone should have one of these, whether your starting out with LRF or just need a back up for your other expensive rods, you can't go wrong!
Tight Lines

Mulling it over...

I  managed to get out with Callum and  Lenny from Scotia fishing who fancied a change from their freshwater fishing so we headed down to the Mull of Galloway. The task was to find wrasse and preferably all 5 species to get the grand slam, this was something that Callum had accomplished a couple of years ago and I was keen to emulate his achievement!
After a bit of a walk and a scramble we tackled up with our LRF gear. Small hooks were the order of the day and I rigged a #18 hook to nylon NZ dropper style on my #8 hook dropshot rig, gulp sandworm was the lure of choice. Almost straight away we were getting bites and I quickly landed a corkwing first then a succession of rock cook  wrasse, which were just stunning wee creatures with incredible electric neon colours. I also managed a small goldsinny wrasse amongst the rock cook and corkwing onslaught.

First Corkwing of 2014

Rock Cook, what a fantastic wee fish!

First Goldsinny Wrasse of 2014

Lenny was the only one of us that managed a ballan from this mark which nailed a Lunker city ribster and it was his first on a lure  so he was pretty pleased. Callum meanwhile had been searching the shoreline hoping for bigger wrasse but despite a couple of tentative bites and a couple of pollack and coalies none were to be found.

We decided to try and find a mark that was out of the now rather strong wind and I suggested a mark I had fished previously which should have had the wind at our backs.
We climbed back up to the motor and then headed of to the new mark a few miles away. Typically enough when we arrived at the new mark it was even more windy and it had also switched around and was blowing strongly on shore. The tide was also high which made getting access to fish these particular gullies very tricky indeed!
I tackled up my LRF gear with a dropshot rig and good old Gulp sandworm was rigged on the hook, then cast up the gully and slowly twitched back. The wind made things really difficult but after about 20 minutes I managed to hook into a decent wrasse which put up a great scrap before being landed. I popped the fish in a rock pool and readied my camera deciding to get a quick photo before it was unhooked. I decided to move the fish over the pool so I could get a decent shot of it in my hands and with the fish in one hand and my rod in the other disaster struck!
The fish gave a kick and fell back into the rock pool taking the tip of my rod with it with an almighty crack of expensive carbon fibre!

Rod wrecker!

The Graphiteleader Corto EX lived up to its name and is now an EX rod.
That kind of finished the fishing for me and we gave it another 45mins trying with heavier gear but with no further action we made the long route home.
Even with the death of my rod it was still a great session and thoroughly satisfying to get 4 wrasse species and my first British rockcooks.
Goodbye sweet corto and thanks for all the fish!
Tight Lines

Thursday, 24 July 2014

An LRF catch up.

 Hi Folks, In an effort to catch up with the catch reports this one will be minimal writing, maximum pictures!
First off a couple of harbour sessions with Ritchie where we caught the usual suspects, I pretty much  used the same dropshot rig and techniques as I always do.  Gulp sandworm  was the lure of choice and they were rigged on my standard drop shot rig.

My "Standard" dropshot rig

Nice big Long Spined Sea Scorpion

This was the biggest flattie of the session

Even the smaller ones can scrap well!

This little rock piglet was the first Ballan we had seen this year!

We had a good few flatties between us but Ritchie also winkled out the first Ballans of the year and yes I was jealous!

Next session  we hooked up with Rory  who is more used to fishing for big bass in the Menai straits but he was up for sampling some LRF. We hit the open sea with the light gear and it was pollack central! Most fish fell to LRF gear and there were some good sized fish  from 2 to 4lb and there was a silly amount of them too. Very few Coalfish though which is unusual for this part of the coast.

Pollack on LRF gear is superb sport!

They just kept coming too!

 Rory and myself were busy looking for codling amongst the ceaseless pollack onslaught, whilst Ritchie had gone to explore a gulley. Ritchie came back to say he had lost a nice wrasse so I went back with him and fished the same area. Dropshotted gulp sandworm was the lure of choice and I flicked it out into the kelp forest. I worked the lure back through the kelp jigging and hopping it across the bottom all the  time shaking the rod. I felt the peck, peck of a wrasse and I dropped the rod tip towards the fish striking as the line went from slack to taught. I quickly bullied the fish above kelp them held it. The fish tried its best to dive but the powerful curve in the rod sapped its strength and soon it was sliding into the net waving its red pectoral fins at me.
Superb, I truly find wrasse fascinating and I was over the moon to get off the mark for 2014.

Yeah! My first Ballan of 2014!

What a brilliant session, the action was non stop and the lighter gear produced the biggest fish which is just the way I like it!
Tight Lines