Sunday, 30 July 2017

Windy old day with Scary Mary

I had an invite from Scott to join him aboard Scary Mary for another sortie to Luce Bay. On this occasion  we were to fish the Drummore Tope festival, typically the weather played its part, day 1 one was cancelled and day 2 looked like it might be a struggle.
Leaving the harbour conditions didn’t look or feel too bad and after catching enough Mackerel for bait we got down to business setting up a chum bag and dropping the anchor into the building sea. Right from the off we had an increasing wind against an ebbing tide which made for a very uncomfortable start to the day, in fact, the whistling in the rigging of Scary Mary seemed to increase by the minute. I don’t recall every being seasick, Scott sucked on some sweets, we both hoped for the best in this respect as today would be a test.
Not a bad start, with a decent enough Tope opening the score for Scott for the day. Some time passed, the wind increased and the rolling sideways action and stumbling about got the better of us. We lifted anchor and headed inshore, the tide would change direction and when it did it would hopefully, let us sit in one direction, frankly it was a rank rotten day to be afloat!
We set anchor in some shallow rougher ground, with not much happening I had a rummage around Scott’s boat and cobbled together a make shift lure outfit. Apart from the occasional doggie coming to the bait rods I picked up the odd Pollack and Cod on a soft plastic and lead head combo. This kept my mind off the conditions; Scott had tanned half a bag of sweets by this point. I would imagine a trip to the dentist will be on the cards pretty soon….
We agreed it was time for a move offshore again but not before this smashing red cod took my Tope bait which was a nice surprise.
Arriving back in some deeper water we wondered if we would have enough time to salvage something from the competition?
Scott got on a Huss with some length to it.
I added another species with an ok Thornback and also a slightly better one not too long after.
When the bell rang we were glad to hear it and made a run for the beach.
As it happens I think we did ok given the conditions. I didn't hang around for the prize giving, Scott did, which was a wise decision , he picked up  3rd place in the Tope section and 1st in the Huss taking home a tidy selection of tackle- well done big chap! It sounds like I narrowly missed out on Thornback prize by 2 cm. It was good to catch up with Scott again but we need to organise better weather next time, that today was brutal!
Speaking of better weather, I managed to eventually meet up with Craig on a cracking evening recently. The objective was to hopefully get him his first Bass, we did try and I was fairly optimistic but unfortunately it didn't happen. I managed one small fish so the blank was off. Next time we're out I'll be in the fly rod as well. I'm determined to get him a fish or two before the season is over.



Sunday, 23 July 2017

The house always wins

We don’t know what cards we hold or how many hands we’ll get. The best we can do, up or down is enjoy the game while we’re at the table.
It was great to be out this afternoon. 4 Bass and the rain stayed off despite the forecast. After a week of bad news it was one of life's small victories.

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Back on my Perch

After my last few sorties in the salt I fancied a trip back to the loch. I love my Perch fishing, just something about them.
Fin perfect
They didn’t seem to be as spread out as they sometimes can be, maybe the bright conditions? This hasn’t stopped them in the past but today they still seemed to be tight on structure.

Fishing huge waters it pays to have a quality sounder. It doesn't mean that when you find them you'll catch them but it certainly helps.
Top right, same feature shot from the side. It looks like a rock ridge or maybe a wall, certainly has some straight edges.
The fishing wasn't bumper , I went 2.5 hours without a fish at one point. I would find a few again and start catching them in little bursts. I threw some bait around as well as lures which helped.
My only Bream, don't mind these but they don't half smear you up. I left my sponge at home so I had it baked on my drysuit...nice!
Good fun
I think I used most of luck up on the first year fishing from the kayak but it was pretty much all I did that season. So no monsters but nice Perch just the same. I guess like any other season/species results vary from year to year.
Another scarred up Pike, this time, I think from one of its own kind. These always get me when you hook them drop shot, hope it's a monster Perch, till they hit the accelerator. 



Monday, 10 July 2017

Quantity not Quality

I had a late start on Sunday and wasn’t on the water till 1pm, just in time to catch the ebb. I decided to leave the bait rods behind for this trip, I didn’t want any distractions while searching for Bass today.  I often thought about fishing this stretch of coast from a kayak, way before owning one. On the barren days I would often wonder what it would be like, just a little further out, beyond the range of my best casting lure, on a good day with the wind behind me. Most of us have probably had a few such thoughts. There’s a lot of tide here, more than I’ve fished in so far from my Outback so I was looking forwarding to exploring the area.

I had been fishing for a couple hours with a mixture of trolling, casting and jigging and had one hit before I decided to get in the thick of it tide wise. I had the light wind at my back and the tide running about 2.5mph in the other direction, there was some nice 2/3ft waves tumbling and breaking behind me off a point which needed some consideration. I was able to hold position and fish, but it wasn’t easy on the peddles. I was sure there would be a few fish around. I changed lures and while doing so drifted further back. This did the trick on the next cast I had a Pollack, at least it was a start. This continued and I had about five or so, good fun but probably not worth the effort to keep me where I was, I’m sure on another day these might have been Bass. The tide slackened a little and it flattened out so I decided to have a troll about 400 yards offshore.

A humble Bass but I was glad to pick it up so hit the waypoint button to mark the spot.
I had a scout around the area and picked up another one about ten minutes later.
Nothing to shout about size wise but these were fish that I wouldn’t caught from the shore unlike the other Bass I’ve had so far from the yak. Anyone who hasn't caught even one of these little fellas before would be surprised how much they pull for their size. I was wishing I had the fly rod with me, next time maybe.
I explored a few reefs a mile or so away, chased a few seals out their hunting spots which is a novelty, it’s normally the other way round. I picked up a couple of School Bass but on my return to the waypoint area  again, all I could find were the same size fish, in numbers, ending the session with 14/15 small Bass and as many Pollack over the course of the day.
The two hour drive home and getting in just before midnight wasn’t any fun right enough. A small step in the kayak Bass game but an interesting day just the same, more questions than answers however, isn’t there always?


Thursday, 6 July 2017

Failing in style

With a favourable forecast and the opportunity to take a day off mid-week it made sense to try and put a Tope aboard. Having missed the seasonal pack Tope rush of late May and June it might now prove a little tricky to achieve. The word was Luce Bay wasn’t fishing that well for them and with the small tides this week I wasn’t overly optimistic.

Just minutes after launching I was catching Pollack to around 1.5 pounds which were feeding well, they had the drag working and my light rod in a nice bend every couple of casts. Before I knew it about an hour passed and I had to fight the action distraction and get on with the job in hand. Unlike my last trip mackerel appeared abundant which I thought might be a positive sign on the whereabouts of the target , after harvesting what was required I set the anchor and dropped a bait down. It wasn’t long before this was picked up and I wound down to connect the circle hook with the target, Tope on! This joy was short lived, Tope off, after the first run….

Still, can’t complain. The weather was great, lots of action to keep me busy but unfortunately no Tope. I must have dropped my first bait on the nose of what appears to have been the only one in the vicinity.

The only Bass on my session which provided a great scrap on my XLNT2 rod. The fish took a FBM on the drop, first time I've caught on this lure, it's got its fans, I'm not really one of them yet.
I had three big Thornbacks and only one dogfish, result!
Despite the look on my face I was pleased with the quality of this fish.
When the tide allowed and I could get past the Mackerel, jigging the lure on the bottom produced Grey and Tub Gurnards on a regular basis. I had an absolute monster Tub drop off next to the yak. It must have followed the lure right off the bottom and took it only a few feet down.




Sunday, 25 June 2017

SW road trip day 2

I met another angler in the morning just about to set off, he was targeting Pike. We had a chat and I explained I was here for the Perch. Fishing the bank the day before he had no luck. We exchanged ideas on where to try and I offered him the chance of some precision fishing and presenting bait at distance.

About an hour after starting I had a look for him on the bank to see how things were going. He had nothing and it wasn’t that much better from me at that point. There was a sunken tree about 50 yards from the point he was on. Now this can be ok for some decent Perch, it can also hold a Pike or two. As I peddled out with his half mackerel he asked if I would Ghillie for him for the rest of the day, I suggested he couldn’t afford the tip as I dropped the bait about 10ft from the tree. I couldn’t have been more than 50 ft. away when he said he had a take. I thought he was joking. As I turned the yak around he struck the fish, a few seconds later it was airborne lunging around the loch. Not a big fish maybe about 6 pounds, he was delighted, so was I. I dropped his next bait off and made my way off to pastures new.

My heart really wasn’t in it after my 12 hour session the day before but I picked away at a few Perch here and there just enjoying being afloat.
I was tapping my drop shot rig around a proper nasty snag when the lure was bumped, for about three seconds I felt nice weight and I was thinking about a big Perch. The fish then realised it was hooked, it can only be one thing Esox Lucius.
And a battle scarred gnarled faced mother at that. How many times has this one been caught in its life? I'm not 100% sure but I think I might even know someone who has caught it having saw a picture of a fish with a top jaw like this.
So all in, a cracking two days fishing really, just what I needed. I'll be keeping a close eye on the forecast for another shot at Tope and from there looking at the end of July/August for my kayak Blue Shark trip, still no takers, might be solo again...


Saturday, 24 June 2017

SW Road Trip day 1

Life’s been a bit hectic recently so I took two days off mid-week. The plan was simple, just fish my nuts off. I watched my days off approaching, the forecast held in advance of my road trip, a surprise in itself. With perfect conditions for a day at sea I launched at HT 9am on Tuesday to a nice smooth sea. First stop was a shot for Bass on a spot I’ve had some nice fish from the shore. Not much happening so I didn’t waste too much time, this would be a 12 hour shift afloat and the same time slot in the evening might provide better odds.

I had some frozen bait with me but I trolled some feathers while checking out some reefs but the Lowrance was picking up nothing so after about 40 mins I decided to put the anchor down. Making do with frozen mackerel I dropped a trace over the side with a FBM on the bottom instead of a weight.
There must have been a stack of fish coming past me in the tide as the rod was buckled for about 6 consecutive drops with multiple hook ups of Cod, Pollack and two solitary mackerel. On the bait rod it was rather monotonous with a dogfish a drop, time for a move.
After checking my bearings I was now about 1.5 miles out from my launch spot when I set the pick for the second time. It was action from the outset and my half mackerel bait produced a nice Huss first drop, typically, as they do, it let the bait go at the side of the yak. I put a smaller fillet on and dropped this back down and the first Huss was aboard a few minutes later.
After another one and two letting go at the side I wondered about a move to some different ground looking for Tope.
The tide was fairly pushing past by now and the ratchet screamed off with a fish on.
I had the fish alongside and checked it out, nice little Tope I thought, another first off the yak.
As it happens it was a Smoothhound, unusual thing is that it took half a Pollack. It was also about twice the size of my previous best. It really caught me out taking the fish bait, had no spots like the others I’ve caught and was that kind of bronze colour Tope can sometimes be over a certain type of ground. At somewhere between 13-15 pounds that’s a pretty big Scottish smut. From there it was a dog and Hussfest and I ended with six of them, with the doggies chewing through my bait on an ongoing basis I decided on another move.
Even the Cod were on the Pollack baits

Just when you think things are going well something usually brings you back down to earth. In this case, it was my anchor line snapping at the carabiner? This was only the third time the new 2kg Bruce had been to the sea bed and along with ten foot of chain and 150ft of cord it proved to be a right pain in the arse….

Inshore with the light changing it was pure Pollack mayhem. I tried a reef that came up from 20ft to about 10ft over a fair size area with a nice bit of tide running over the top. If there were any Bass around they didn’t get a look in. I switched to a popper and still caught Pollack, great fun.

As I was drifting I saw a big solid red return on the sounder in about 12ft of water. I dropped the lure in and looked over the side; saw the flash of bronze flanks as the fish took and the others scattered, the white lure disappeared and I felt the line zip off the reel. Just a great way to end a good day.
With no anchor it was plan B on day two. I arrived at the loch at midnight, knackered but sated.


Friday, 23 June 2017

Another for the hit list

Another one for the kayak project. Not the Tope I hoped for but a PB Smoothound so it merits making the hit list. It's not a  great picture lifted from GoPro video, was never going to be easy with the fish writhing in my lap.

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Good idea at the time

Opportunities to go fishing this month have unfortunately been few and far between. At the last minute I decided to drive down to D&G on Friday night and left home about 9pm. The forecast for Saturday looked ok, the tides weren’t great but I thought I might take a punt on catching a few Bass at dawn and have a look on the reefs for them later in the morning. My alarm was set for 3am and on the back of 2 hours restless sleep in the car I poured myself a coffee and slipped the yak into the water before sun up.

These days I don’t see too many sunsets or sunrises on the coast. There is always something special about this time of the day on the water, today was no different. I soon forgot about the miserable nights kip in the car and I started to pick up a few small Pollack trolling to the area I intended to target two miles along the shore.


A true predator’s eye, its body will grow into it at some point….
Being high tide I spent the first hour and half or so casting to the shore and working my way along it with soft plastics and surfaces lures. It was really quite, no signs of fish at all and I felt I should be somewhere else. The gannets were having their breakfast two hundred yards offshore so I hit the pedals and took my lead from them as to where to try next. There was some rough ground in about 20ft of water that was solidly marked with baitfish and some other returns on the finder that looked interesting. Given that the sun was well up and being calm with not much tide I decided that if there were Bass around they might be where the bait was. I ended up targeting these areas of rough ground maybe a bit earlier that I intended to. The action was pretty relentless, small Pollack but good fun. As I worked my way through about 15 fish I was hoping that the next bump would be a Bass. Given the prey that was around by comparison to shoreline area, in these conditions, that’s where I expected them to be. They had different ideas and as the sun got higher and the tide dropped the bait and the fish disappeared altogether. It was time for a troll to cover more ground and find some new reefs.

A surprise Grey Gurnard decided it fancied the J13 trolled about 12ft down.
This was pretty much the story for the rest of my session. If I found some baitfish I would sure enough find some Pollack but the Bass proved elusive. My preferred method was using an xlayer on a 10g head jumping and tapping this along the bottom.
About 1pm I headed back to launch site , the 400 yard portage back to car looked no fun at all. The lack of sleep, heat, sun, miles peddled  and probably dehydration kicked in and I was grateful for some assistance from two lads from Yorkshire as they pitched in to get my rig back to the car. They said I was keen, I said it seemed like a good idea at the time, not so much now….

Monday, 29 May 2017

Bass aboard!

When I first got my Outback one of the target species high on the list was Bass. For one reason or another I’ve just not got around to putting the time in giving myself a chance of a few fish. Thankfully this changed today, mainly driven by todays weather, I dropped onto a spot that I’ve caught fish at LT and the first part of the flood from the shore. It was a dirty day, grey and wet, the rain started when I put one foot out of the car and pretty much didn’t let up.

Despite having had Bass here before I was caught by surprise not long after starting, the rod hooped over and I felt a Bass shaking its head, great start!
My first kayak caught Bass, wouldn’t have used the picture otherwise. Having taken two shots the lens was smudged in the conditions, part of one of today’s camera fiasco. Part two followed soon after when I hooked another fish. I hit record on the GoPro remote, giving it a bit of chat then holding the fish up before slipping it back. When I looked at the remote it told me there was no SD card in it, happy days.
Let’s try again shall we? Fish three…
A bonus Tub Gurnard liked the SG Sandeel as well.
  I then went on to cover a lot of ground but couldn’t track the fish down again, can’t complain, mission accomplished and another target species for the kayak campaign.
These Bass were lean and fairly modest, hope to catch up with a few larger specimens over the course of the summer. My Sea Trout season fizzled out on a run of blanks but my Bass season has started well, 14 fish in two sessions and before the end of May. Tope next, if the weather plays ball.



Saturday, 27 May 2017

Rodney’s Beach

It must be around 18 years, probably more since Rodney took me here to catch my first Bass. Sadly he’s no longer with us but as far as I’m concerned it’s still his beach. I’ll always fish it a couple of times a year and I won’t ever step on this beach and not think about him. We had some good times here, a lot of laughs and some nice fish. Of course there were some failures. I liked to wind him up about these, he would blame me for most of it but we always laughed about it. Rodney also liked his bed so it was hard to get him out of it for the early morning sessions that always seemed to produce our best fish back then. That grey time of the morning, half-light. It was rare to get a smile from him at daft o’clock but a nice Bass usually cracked his face with a big grin. He was never far away from some kind of nonsense, fishing related or otherwise. Within a short distance of where I was stood he had a tent torn to pieces by a Great Dane, fixed some kind of belt problem on a MK2 Golf using a bait fork as one of his tools and had a panic attack climbing a cliff. These dramas didn’t necessarily amuse Rod but it did always give us something to consider bettering on any given fishing jaunt.

Anyway, I digress, the fishing was pretty good considering. I knew I wouldn’t be getting any decent fish tonight, it was very flat, but I didn’t expect to hit double figures. I’ve been over the Tay Bridge twice today on the other side of Scotland and drove past my home to Luce Bay to catch the tide for two hours fishing. Just as well it wasn’t a blank, too much on this weekend to stay any longer. I won’t be complaining about that for my first Bass trip of the year.
I just used my Sea Trout in-lines, pretty effective for this size of Bass at least.
I forgot how spikey these little fellas are while handling them.
Another highlight were these fellas. I did consider pegging it off the beach with them, Norfolk Terriers, can't say I've come across them before. I hooked a sand eel and fed it to them thus starting a short tug of war, typical terriers.
I might have a shot for Tope/Bass from the kayak on Monday weather and domestic life permitting.


Thursday, 11 May 2017

May already

With the year passing so quickly May has arrived in no time at all and the seasonal gear change is kicking in everywhere. I’ll be taking a backseat this month, too many commitments on the domestic front, projects running behind and other things that need attended to. Given I’ve had three blank sessions trying for Sea Trout since my last capture it’s probably a good time to have a break. These were only short 2 hour trips but blanks all the same. If I can squeeze in a few hours I might but won’t be sweating it if I don’t. Most years I get to August and feel a bit burnt out, a bad time to feel like that.

I can’t complain with my year so far, the kayak challenge I’ve set myself will pick up again in June when I can get my rig out of the garage again. The Tope, Bass and Smoothound will be here in better numbers by then. I’ll get around to improving the Perch I have here as well.
I’ve only started thinking about a trip to Ireland and the possibility of a Blue Shark from my Outback, the ideas is still there but I need to start networking soon to establish if anyone else has similar thoughts. Having also entered my first kayak competition this was a step forward to putting a Zander in the kayak. I’ll be fishing the World Predator Classic 2017 qualifier to be held at Grafham in August. The final will be in Holland. For me it’s really about getting two days on that venue and the possibility of a decent Zed. If that fails it will be a long journey back down to England in the Autumn for a schoolie Zander from Rutland, motivation enough to get it right first time hopefully.