Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Sandy, if at first you don't succeed...

A few months back Sandy mentioned he fancied catching a common skate. The biggest fish he's caught before was a fine 28 pound salmon. Over few conversations a plan was hatched to have an attempt at smashing this, pulling a few back muscles and working up a sweat! I had warned him it wasn't for everyone, possibly me included these day, but we pushed on regardless with the idea and booked a trip with the guys at Seadog Charters out of Ardfern.

I met Sandy at 6am sharp and we set off on the long drive arriving with enough time for a bacon roll and a coffee before pushing off at 9am. This was last Tuesday, and as you know, if you live in Scotland, it's been a tad windy lately with next to no sign of giving it a rest for the foreseeable. In all honesty I knew it would be a real challenge dealing with it, getting to the deeper water, and that was before we started thinking about the fish. We anchored up in a spot at about 50 metres that the guys have had a few fish before, not the best spot, but workable with a chance of a fish. I think the size of the baits surprised Sandy as the lads baited up with a couple of mackerel and large octupus. We dropped the baits and got to waiting, laving a few laughs and enjoying the weather....
With four big baits out and about three hours gone and nothing doing, we opted to drop a single rod with a smaller bait down to see what was around. It had hardly touched the bottom when it was taken. This produced a Thornback for me. Sandy was up next, think he had a dogfish and then a Thornback, then it was just dogfish from there on in. I was kind of hoping that a few Spurdogs might have made an appearance to break things up a bit. The guys mentioned they were in the deeper water in numbers. I can imagine with 1-4 pounds of lead on and with the constant re-baiting, it might be a chore with the big rods at times. It got to the last knockings when Sandy lifted into something on the small rod. Now anyone who's done this type of fishing will know how Skate have an uncanny knack of landing on the smallest baits and lightest rods. To be fair, I thought this was exactly what had happened and I was thinking, here we go for two hours! Sadly it turned out to be the mother of all tangles. With 4 huge baits and 8 pounds of lead we could have been forgiven for thinking we were in. Given how rough it was I secretly think Sandy was actually relieved. So unfortunately, no Skate on this trip but we've agreed to have another crack at it in the spring. The pain will stay deferred for another day!

Sunday, 7 October 2018

Still dodging the autumn storms

A small weather window opened up, and at a weekend for a change. I got my gear ready on Thursday night as I knew to make the most of it I would have to be on the road early Saturday morning. My intention was to put eleven hours in to make the most of the opportunity. Unfortunately I had to cut this session short as I felt the start of an ocular migraine coming on. Not had one for a while now and the timing was bad. Nobody would want to be on a kayak with one of those. I sat in the car for an hour or so till I felt I was able to drive home. Having looked at the weather for the next week it's disappointing to only have had half the time I wanted on the water.

Anyway, I'll keep pushing on if I can , weather permitting. The numbers of fish is encouraging but 50+cm Bass are few and far between, for me at least. 82 Bass now on lures since the start of July and just more than a hand full over that size. I'm maybe doing something wrong? I'll be doing a few exploratory night sessions next season for sure. I just need to be out there more in all probability, think that was session twelve yesterday, not a lot in the scheme of things by comparison to the hardcore guys.

Sunday, 30 September 2018

Ducking for cover

As Mick Jagger once sang, you can't always get what you want, so were afloat again anyway. Hiding from a raging sea and high winds about the only place we could fish ,targeting bass again was the MOG. Jamie and I were both keen to get a few more fish before the season comes to an end, mainly due to the weather than the lack of Bass from here on in till November.
It was a nice day under the cliffs
We picked up some small Pollack before I caught a Bass in the middle of a tide rip, hooked in the root of the tail on a FBM, a first for me, being weedless that took some doing I would imagine.
I had two a little bigger, the others were like this, typical school bass that are around at the minute.

I had just got off the radio to tell Jamie to hold fire heading to where I was at, he was paddling to my area and the tide was drifting me along at 2mph, against the wind ! I had a confused sea and it looked like it was getting worse by the second. It didn't come to much and he eventually made his way to me. He was probably motivated by the fact I had got on the radio while playing a cracking fish I hooked while trolling back to start my drift. I turned the kayak to face it and saw it throwing water about on the surface about 50 yards back, lots of heads shakes. When I got close to it it went deep and had solid weight and made a few nice runs. It was at the point I reached for the net and said to myself that this is a great way to hit the number 70 that the hook came out. I used most of the four letter words I know and set off on the up tide journey to meet Jamie who was positioning himself to start. I got myself fish 70 about 10 mins later, the fifth of the day, but the one one that unbuttoned itself was still a sore point.

So a short session, had worse days, we both caught Bass, we would rather have been somewhere else though. Still, great to be out again, but the camera gremlins are back, some real issues on the timer I just cant work out.

Wednesday, 12 September 2018

Skinning Up

The last of the Mag Poppers/Duel Aile Mags? I'm sure there are a few tucked away in tackle boxes and garages, here is my stash. Discontinued about 4 years ago they changed hands for daft money(still do) Great lure that just inspires confidence for me when it comes to surface work. These will do me till for a long time, being surface lures they are rarely lost. They were made in three sizes 90mm, 105mm and 125mm. The favoured one on the UK Bass scene being the 105mm/18g, probably in HAJ, above, the fourth one down.

I picked up a couple more at a sensible price last week, mainly due to them being the least favoured colours. Personally I like white having painted a couple, to be fair I was happy with that, but thought I could try Jigskinz on the others. You can see a video of how this is done HERE

It's easy enough, cut to size for length, hole for the hook hanger, job done. I did cock one up, a new one at that. The face of this lure is where the magic happens, when I was trimming the face end I cracked/gouged the edge of one. If you need to do this make sure your craft blade is sharp! I'll try and repair it a little but I'm not too hopeful it will last. They do crack eventually and when water gets in the weight transfer system stops working, they then cast like crap. It casts best with a longish drop and a snap cast. Anyway, will see how the Jigskinz wear and report back. I bought these from the Lure Lounge, Mackerel, Cigar Minnow and Mullet. I really like the over size eye, one thing I've done in the past is take a sharpie on the ones I've painted and make the eye at least twice as big. Does it make a difference? Not sure, but on the pause they have a wee while to look at the lure if they're not convinced. I would like to have seen a bone pearl skin or a few other patterns, the full range might become available over here in the UK at some point.

I left two as they were, they might get a coat of white paint in the future.

Wednesday, 5 September 2018

The good, the bad and the ugly

It was an absolute privilege to be launching before dawn on a morning like this. I was genuinely excited to be here and it was good to have company exploring the area, turning over stones and trying to work things out. There were a number of things that went wrong today but when the fishing was this enjoyable, at the end of the day, it just has to be laughed off.

The fishing was good, certainly a numbers game. I broke my yak session record by a good margin and managed a lovely fish on a smashing morning.
The bad, Jamie lost his iPhone 7 in the drink! Hard luck squire, easy done.
A fish before sunrise with the full day ahead, worth taking the day off  work for.

The ugly, me getting blazae when handling fish. Yes, it happened again, also with a bass on the lure. Not as easy to sort out as it was a few weeks back and I'm glad Jamie was there to assist. That said, he did paddle off after taking the treble off the lure. He went kind of white watching me trying to get it out. I couldn't cut it or push it through. Even with a flattened barb it took some pulling. Jamie said he didn't hear me. I hardly use hard lures so I'm doing well at the minute.
When the tide turned the wind came with a vengeance, it was a lot harder to fish effectively. My Outback is a weapon to fish lures from but this afternoon pushed it a little.

Tuesday, 4 September 2018

Dodging a blank

I changed my mind at the last minute opting for a Pollack session instead of Bass. The lack of calm days recently forced my hand to tempt me to get the fly rod out. I had an absolute stinker on a similar tide earlier this year, this wasn't much better. If I had been on the water an hour or so later I would have blanked. The fish that were few and far between at the start just disappeared. Having checked every nook and cranny with my sounder they were nowhere to be seen. I didn't fancy hanging around too long as I doubt things would have changed. It wasn't the easiest presentation, super fast sinker, 2 gram lead cone and a pink/white/silver minnow pattern but I did what I set out to do. Hopefully a few Bass on Wednesday. I've been waiting to get to this spot for a while. I would have preferred better tides but with the wind strength and direction lately it's not been an option ,then again, small tides might be an advantage here? Fingers crossed.

Thursday, 30 August 2018

MOG Sea Angling Festival

I attended the Mull of Galloway Sea Angling Festival last weekend. This inaugural event had a species hunt format. With 35 boats participating and the weather as usual playing up, we only got afloat on one of the two days, the Saturday.
There was a staggered launch with two start times to prevent congestion on the beach. We were on the first wave. After a nice sunrise and an average coffee with a great view, we set about getting prepared for the day ahead.

I was aboard Argonaut, 13 species finishing 7th The winners had a tremendous 21 species, great effort for one day. The social on the Saturday night was good, great to see some mates that I hadn't caught up with for a while as well as meeting a few new faces. I wouldn't change much about the event, possibly a limit on the hooks /rods per boat as opposed to per angler. This might level things a little for a boat with only two anglers. It took me 6 casts to get a Bass from a spot I fish from my kayak, kind of makes a mockery of 5 hours with a zero return last time out, that's fishing I suppose. Anyway, on a personal level ,I'll  attend again, it was well run and had a decent prize table, good effort from those involved. I would  have done things differently on the day given the choice. I might have that choice next year. It was also a decent result for my club, think we had 5 boats in the top 8.

The details of this years event can be found here