Friday, 18 October 2013

A 4-year wait ends in style : Day 1 back in Wales

Back in North Wales for a long weekend, my choice of mark was heavily reliant on the weather. I would ideally liked to have fished for tope for the whole duration, but a predicted 4ft swell at the mark I wanted to fish meant that it wasn't even worth going to check it was fishable for the first few days.

So day 1, I stayed on Anglesey for the day fishing at a wrasse mark of mine on the north coast during the day and then moving to the west coast for a bash at the rays/huss. The hours of light saw plenty of ballans caught with the largest being around the 3lb mark. Other species landed including pout, Pollack, rockling, poor cod, corkwing and goldsinney wrasse.

1st ray of the session
As the light faded it was time to switch venue. For this session I was joined by mates Rich (flyfish) and Ash. Getting down early to the mark in an attempt to get a few whiting for bait, I was soon rewarded with a couple before the lads arrived as well as a lonely dab.
As the tide dropped, it was soon time to start preparing the ray gear and conditions were far better than I could have hoped for, the tide, wind and swell being as close to perfect as I've ever seen, things were looking very good. Whilst me and Ash concentrated on them, Rich set his sights on the congers.

My first ray of the evening came swiftly after casting out a double sandeel bait, a small thorny of around 3lb. This was shortly followed by a second and then a third, all in this size bracket. Whilst I was bagging up on rays though, Ash was struggling to wade through the local doggie population, pulling them out one after the other throughout the period of slack water. Rich then started to get a little action, firstly a few small taps which never developed and then after a recast, a proper pull down and a fish on for a short period of time, which managed to throw the hook before we could get a look.

13lb 6oz of Thornback - New PB
As the low water approached my confidence grew and true to form, right on the prime time my rod slowly pulled round. Picking the rod up, the fish continued to pull away from me, so I struck instantly, this was a good fish. Playing it as hard as I dared to the edge, I soon found myself stuck on a ledge around 15 yards out, with the fish doing a good job of staying deep. After giving a little slack though, the fish popped up over the ledge and Rich risked getting wet feet in order to grab it from the oncoming swell and lift it onto the rocks. BOOM, this was the double i'd been after for 4 years whilst at University, but just how big was it. Well on Rich's scales it went 14lb, but fortunately there was another bloke close by to lend us his more accurate scales for a second opinion, pulling his scales down to 13lb 6oz, what a fish!
At this point, I was very tempted to quit whilst I was ahead, but lets be honest, I would have been stupid to do that. As it happens, I was wise to continue with the following few hours resulting in another small thorny, my first ever blonde ray from this mark and a sixth thorny which was another nice fish of around the 7lb mark.

Eventually though, enough was enough and with 7 rays including a massive new PB I couldn't have asked for a better return.

Thanks for reading,
Tight Lines,

I'm talkin bout Sharking!

After a nice weekend at home, it was time to depart the North again for Devon, where I would be visiting my granddad and of course wetting a line. Having booked myself and younger brother on charter boat Bite Adventures for the Wednesday, we had a few days to kill before we'd head down there for the day to target some large toothy critters, yes i'm talking bout Sharks.

Targeting bass on the lures on both Monday and Tuesday, we struggled with the conditions, with just one bass being caught on my surface lure. Sam did have a rather interesting take in the estuary though, a subtle suck of his patchinko underwater and a sudden strong pull, but on striking....nothing. Usually this sort of take would be associated with a larger fish, so Sam was a bit gutted but we'll never know, it will remain a mystery, could this have been another big one that got away from him??

The Wednesday soon came round though and after a 4am wake up, we arrived down in the Cornish town of Penzance, eagerly anticipating a day of sharking, after all the previous 2 trips that had sailed had seen nearly 30 sharks landed.

After a quick heads up from the skipper Chippy and deck hand Will, we were on route to the mark where on arrival we set about getting some mackerel for bait whilst the guys sorted the chum bags. Next up, we had to draw lots, a series of pegs numbered 1-7 relating to the order in which we would be taking the runs. I drew number 1, lucky or what.....especially looking back on the day.

Species 80 - Cuckoo Ray
All four shark rods out, surely now it was just a matter of being patient, but what better way to pass the time than to drop a bait to the bottom to see if I could bag a Megrim sole, another species I was desperate to catch. It wasn't long either before myself and younger brother were bagging up big time, mostly with more macky and some huge garfish that were hitting the baits on the drop, but when we did find the bottom 200ft down, we were getting some good variety with ling, haddock, whiting, cuckoo wrasse, pouting, poor cod and doggies. After a while though, I was into something that felt like a flattie, just a heavy dead weight in other words. Desperately hoping it was a megrim, I soon spotted the rounded shape appearing in the super clear water, before realising it was actually a small ray. The closer it got the more excited I got as I noticed the pattern on the wings, it was a Cuckoo Ray! Far rarer than the megrim I was hoping for so a real bonus for my hunt for 100, he megrim can wait :)

Pictures taken, we were back on the mackerel for half an hour or so before I got the shout I was waiting for. 'Who's number 1? We have a shark on!'
Quickly passing my rod to Sam I got the butt pad on and Chippy passed me the shark rod... Fish on and it felt very powerful!
After a good initial run, it went very heavy and stopped pulling. Chippy said that it had likely got wrapped up, a common occurrence when sharking. I was still struggling though and the slog still lasted seven minutes due to the dead weight. When the fish was boatside, I was told by the skipper he was going to unwrap it and let it run again. I was thinking please don't, im gonna struggle if it goes again. Luckily for me, the fish whilst thrashing on the top had thrown the hook, but was still wrapped in the line, keeping it on the surface. A quick tail grab by Chippy and the fish was on the deck for some photos. At an estimated 85lb, I was well chuffed, my second largest fish ever and my second new species of the day.

BOOM : Species 81 - Blue Shark

Only one more run was had on the day, so I was very fortunate in picking peg number 1. My brother unfortunately didn't get a chance at a shark but enjoyed the day nevertheless. Maybe next time.

Thanks for reading,
Tight Lines,

Freshwater Predator weekend

With my summer in Jersey over, it was time to go back up North for a bit of a relax at home. Obviously this does not mean the fishing stops, it simply means a change from saltwater to fresh and in particularly pike fishing, a firm favourite of mine.

One of the best things about heading home is I get to do a bit of fishing with my younger brother Sam, who is just as keen as me, especially for his lure fishing. For some reason though, when we both hit the canal for the pike, I always seem to be the lucky one, or so he claims, I'd prefer to think that there was a bit more skill involved.

Anyway over 5 sessions with Sam, I managed to pull out six pike of which the largest was around 7lb whilst Sam, although getting takes could not land a fish to save his life........theres a definite pattern here lol. Check out some of the footage I shot over the weekend on the links below.

And a few pics:

Thanks for reading and tight lines,

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Species 79 - Pilchard

No, it's not from a tin.

This pilchard is a definite sign that british waters are starting to warm up. In fact I reckon its the invasion of these pilchards into british waters that is attracting the tuna that have been sighted on numerous occasions this year.

It was caught off the south west coast of Jersey whilst I was crewing for Tony on the Anna 2 and was one of three pilchards taken between six anglers on board. This one ended up being used as tope bait rather than grilled and eaten but nevertheless, it was species 79 for me and one step closer to the overall target.

Species 78 - 15 Spined Stickleback

Well it's certainly not one of the largest fish I've caught on my species hunt but it is definitely one of the coolest.

To catch this little monster, I had to borrow some tackle from a friend of mine, Scott Hutchison, scaling down to a size 26 hook that had been pre-tied to 1lb nylon. On the hook was the smallest fleck of mackerel you could imagine, but when you've seen the size of their mouths its plain to see why going that small was necessary.

To me these fish look quite similar to pike, which is probably why I like them so much, but they only grow to a maximum size of around 150mm. This particular fish was caught in St Helier harbour, I think this must be a breeding ground for them as between myself and Scott we noticed quite a few of these hanging around the weed along the edges of the pontoons.

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Species 77 - White Bream

Now this is probably my rarest capture to date in British waters. It came as a bit of a surprise whilst myself and friend Dan Ferguson were fishing for mullet.

We'd been shirvying a spot for around an hour and had been getting good sport on the float from thick lip mullet to around the 4lb mark. Then out of nowhere, a shoal of tiny bream appeared in and around the boulders below where we stood. Dan jokingly said to me, 'oh they could be white bream.' On closer inspection though he was right, even at the minute size they were, the black spot on the tail was very distinctive. Obviously being the opportunist, I soon switched tactics to freelining. By casting a bit further than usual and just letting it swing back in towards the boulders as it sank, I managed to get the bait to settle out of view in amongst the boulders. Leaving a little slack, I watched my line in anticipation, waiting for that bow of line to start tightening up.

A few seconds after settling, a knock followed by a good pull gave me a good enough reason to strike and set the hook....... fish on. I was convinced it was another mullet as the fish ran up and down the boulders in front of me. As it tired though and started moving up in the water I realised it was no mullet, it was a bream, a bloody white bream and a good one at that. As Dan finally slid the net under it, the celebrations began. At 1lb 9oz it was a good specimen sized fish with the British record being a little over the 2lb mark. Well and truly stoked, I finished fishing for the day and sat watching Dan getting frustrated at the mullet that kept stealing his bait.

Species 76 : Thin Lipped Mullet

This thin-lipped mullet came less than 24 hours after the capture of my red bream. Spurred on by what was my first new species for a month, I spent the evening making up mullet spinners using a design shown to me by a few friends.

I had already tried for these thin lips once with not even so much as a follow so I wasn't expecting them to be jumping on the hook but on this particular day there were a lot of other mullet milling around, both golden greys and thick lips so I was confident that i'd get the one I was after.

My approach was to go light so out came the LRF set up with my 1000 size reel loaded with 6lb braid and a 4lb fluoro leader. The spinner was tied straight to this leader and then a white power isome worm mounted on my size 2 sakuma stinger hook.

My first pluck came on just the 2nd cast and a few follows from my target species came on the next few casts. On cast 8 though, after sliding the power isome worm further up the hook, I got the take I was after. A great 5-10min scrap ensued during which I had to walk the fish back to dry land. It was my thin-lip and a good one at 4lb 2oz.

I carried on fishing the spot adding a small golden grey to my daily tally but no other thin lips were to be seen.