Thursday, 20 September 2012

From the brilliant to the bizarre

After the great morning session yesterday, I have really got the buzz back and there was only one place I was ever heading in the evening. Back down there for an hour before last light, this time accompanied by Ben and Rory as well as a few others we met down there, we started working the lures and covering all depths. The three of us perched ourselves off an island, myself taking the left side, Ben the straight out route and Rory covering the right. After a good half hour I decided I'd ditch the surface lure and go sub-surface. It's relatively deep so on went an SG Eel and back out I went, targeting the left hand side of an underwater reef. A few casts with nothing before hitting my first bass of the evening on the drop, only a schoolie of
around the 1lb mark but a fish nonetheless. I started to glance round to see how the others were doing and after seeing Ben's rod nicely arched over and the reel screaming, I went across to help him land his fish, which so far is his best of the year and his first qualifying fish for the TLF Bass Challenge at 52cm and roughly 3lbs in weight (This will make Dan Ferguson happy) Another hour passed and it was now dark, Ben had called it a day leaving myself, Rory and another lad Boansy to fish on. I decided to try the spot I'd had my fish earlier in the day, this time wading out to waist height where I was met with a deep drop off. First lure tried
was unsurprisingly the successful lure from before, the Seaspin ProQ 120, but nothing.....then came the turn of the Komomo II AFP, nothing.....The Komomo II JFP, nothing. We couldn't buy a fish between us and we were approaching the time where we'd have to start thinking about making a move. It was time to whack on old-faithful, the daiwa shore line shiner, which I have have more fish on this summer than any other, but for some reason has never done the business for me in the straits. That soon changed though on my first cast, in which the fish plucked at it a few times before smashing it properly and bolting off towards the current. My drag, although set tight was screaming alerting Rory to the fact I had a decent fish. A brilliant fight lasting around 4 minutes ensued before the fish finally nestled safely in the kelp where I could grab it. Not quite as big as my one from the morning but very stocky. It measured 59cm on the ruler but more importantly, Rory had his boga so I was interested to see what it weighed, just over five and a quarter so say 5lb 5oz, gutted I didn't have my scales for the morning session now lol. Anyway, no more action was had, so after guiding Boansy back across to safe ground due to him forgetting his headtorch, I headed off home setting the alarm for 6am again for one last raid.

The morning came and after reaching the mark, I first decided to go back home due to the rain, however after a phone call from mate Eddy to say he was down there, I opted to go back. Met down there this time by Jon, Stu and Scotty we all tried our best to rise a fish but they weren't having any of it. Then things turned bizarre. I'd switched over to a SG Eel to see if the fish were staying deep when close in I felt a small tap. I initially thought I'd hooked weed but then it started pulling back. In the water in front of me appeared none other than a dogfish! What is the world coming to lol. I was in two minds as to whether or not I'd fouled it but after Jon had tailed it for me, we realised it was hooked right in the scissors, surely that must have been a deliberate take? Certainly not what I was expecting but I'm claiming it for the lure caught species hunt :) Rest of the session was a big fail, with all of us failing to get anything else. A few days rest now I think.....or not, a weekend of lure fishing and toping begins.

Thanks for reading,
Tight Lines,

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

A nice bass from the Straits

Just a very quick report. Went down to a mark in the straits early this morning, only accessible on the big spring tides. After spending an hour or so working the area with shallow divers and SP's with just one small schoolie for my efforts, the choice was made to stick on a surface lure, one of my current favourites, the Seaspin ProQ 120. With around half a dozen other anglers now starting to appear and not a single sign of any more fish, things were looking bleak to say the least but this was prime time and the conditions just seemed too good to stop. The option of giving up was not viable so I instead opted for a move to a spot a bit more out of the way. There was still one angler opposite me in the bay, but now at least, there was plenty of space to work a lure in so the fishing commenced once more. First cast..... nothing, 2nd cast...... nothing, 3rd cast.......SMASH! A bass absolutely nailed me off the top and was soon thrashing around in an attempt to throw my lure. Throughout the duration of the fight I was just hoping the hooks were set properly and when it approached the margins a few minutes later, I was more than relieved to catch a glimpse of what looked a solid hook hold, there was no way it was getting free without snapping me, which fortunately it didn't. Safely landed on the kelp, I looked down and realised that it was a proper fish, very thick set and a solid 5.5lb+, a new surface caught PB, happy chappy! After failing miserably to get some decent photos (due to being on my tod) I settled for this one above and released the fish, which shot off like a rocket as soon as it touched the water, always nice to see. I continued in this spot for a further 30mins with no rises, before making my escape to safe ground and avoiding an un-necessary call to the RNLI. When walking back, I met up with Boansy, Stu and Scotty  and decided that another hour or so couldn't harm so after introductions, we once again starting thrashing the water with lures. Unfortunately, no further action was had by any of us, so now well and truly knackered, I left the guys to fish on whilst I headed for my bed :)

Monday, 17 September 2012

Pike off the surface on my local canal (with footage of a take :D)

Myself and younger brother Sam have always been extremely keen anglers and pike fishing was all I did for nearly three years before I came to uni. One of the highlights of my trips home is always a visit to the local canal just a stones throw from my house where we target the predators that lurk in its murky waters. Just this year though we've discovered just how effective fishing with surface lures can be for the pike. It makes a lot of sense really, the area we fish is no deeper than 6ft and the visibility is for the most part, very poor. A lure making a loud racket on the surface such as a depps buzzjet is going to interest them, that is a fact. Over the past few months though when by chance we've both been at home, we have been trying to get some footage of the pike taking the lures off the surface. We have managed to get plenty of rises without hook ups and similarly plenty of fish that have thrown the hook once hooked, but this weekend we finally managed to get a  video from start to finish of the cast, retrieve, take and of course landing the fish. The fish in question is only a jack but we will keep trying for a bigger fish on film. We know there are some very big fish in the canal as we have had a good number of fish in the 15-20lb range and one over 20lb, so hopefully its just a matter of time. Here is a link to the video though, I think you'll be surprised at just how close in the take is, I know my brother was as you will notice by the sudden movement of the camera :)

The following day we returned to the canal, this time with both of us concentrating on catching rather than filming. It was a fairly decent session with 3 fish landed and one lost. Only small fish but great fun to catch nevertheless. Here are a couple of pics of the fish. The end of this month should produce some better fish, fingers crossed I can get my second 20lber.

Thanks for reading,
Tight Lines,

Saturday, 15 September 2012

The 'BIG' 60!

Today my hunt for 60 species from the UK shoreline came to an incredible end and with over three months of the year still to go, the question is...... 'what now?' Well you've probably guessed it, 70 species! I must be mad.

Anyway, I don't want to bore you with that, here is the report, enjoy.

The last two and a half weeks has been one of the most frustrating yet rewarding periods of time in my life. The very unusual weather has meant I've only been able to get out after my target species, tope on a handful of occasions and after having 3 dropped runs and a fish I couldn't stop, I was beginning to have doubts as to whether I'd ever actually land one.

During the first 4 sessions, (not including today) we managed to land a few decent fish between myself and the lads I have fished with. Most notably Ad with a huss of around 12.5lb and the first Ling I have ever seen landed on rod and line from the shore, for which I will never here the end of lol (5lb 1oz). Also, a good session with Kev (Wobbler72), in which we brought 4 huss to the side and other fish such as pollock, mackerel and of course, the nuisance dogfish. Kev's report from that session can be found on the link below and is well worth a read.

Today though, all the frustration and hard work finally paid off and everything went to plan for a change, almost anyway. After a few beers had turned into a heavy night of drinking games, I had to say I nearly had to call todays session off, but I couldn't disappoint Rory who I'd arranged to go with and so after necking a pint of cold water and relaxing for a few hours, I was packing the car and ready to go. We arrived at the mark feeling quietly confident and I began fluff chucking for some lovely fresh bait. After 15 or so minutes, I had a nice full bucket of mackerel and it was all stations go, tripod up, rods set up and baits prepared. The rigs we used were standard pulley rigs, a 2ft length of 150lb mono for the hook length and an 80lb rubbing leader to avoid too much abrasion. At the business end a size 8/0 circle hook baited with a mackerel head/tail, yum! The first cast produced no interest after 45 minutes so on went some fresh baits and we waited some more. I started getting a few little taps on one of my rods, maybe a lobster or something but after a few minutes it stopped so I turned my attention to tying a few rigs. What do you know, as soon as I'd started making it, the sweet sound of my drag alerted me to a run. I grabbed the rod and let it run for a while but it had seemingly dropped the bait........again! I waited patiently and sure enough it came back for seconds. This time I just struck straight into it and for the first time in a fortnight, I was playing a tope. The joy was short lived though as for the 4th time, the fish threw the hook. To add insult to injury, I was know in a snag and had to pull for a break, I really thought it was going to be another one of those days. Whilst this was going on, Rory had reeled in the other rods to avoid any tangles and so no baits were in the water. I quickly chucked on a macky head and cast out again into the same area i'd had the run. My legs were a bit wobbly from the excitement of it all but I had to focus on tying a new leader quickly so I could get the other rod out. But wait, whats that noise, I turn round and my rods off again, it had only been in the water 90 seconds. This time I ignored the stuff I'd read and just struck into the fish straight from the off, this time successfully managing to set the hook. The fish felt very powerful and after a very nice initial run I turned it
and started gaining line back. 5 minutes later and after a few more small runs,  the fish broke the surface a few yards out. Rory had clambered down the rocks to do the job of landing it but wasn't expecting to see a good sized fish appear. He grabbed its tail and began heaving but things didn't go swimmingly in the process. The fish was extremely powerful and with the swell crashing on the rocks one of his feet slipped and left him lying with his back to the rocks, not good. From where I was standing it also looked as though the tope had got his ankle so when he shrieked from the water going down his back, I was expecting to be making a 999 call and reporting a shark attack lol. The waves kept coming though and Rory was now getting a good soaking, but there was no way he was gonna let go and somehow managed to right himself and haul the tope onto dry land. YES! I had finally got one and it was a gooden. Rory who is no stranger to big fish put an estimate of around the 40lb mark, absolutely thrilled. All the effort was now well worth it and what a way to finish my hunt for 60 species. Have to massively thank Rory for his company and for nearly taking a plunge to get my fish, would have been near impossible to land without him.

And so that was it, no more tope action after that, a single doggie for Rory being the only other landed fish. What a day though and one that I'll be remembering for some time.

Next stop, 70 species :)

Thanks for reading,
Tight Lines,

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Wild brownies from a hidden gem

With good mate Ad soon to depart North Wales to start his PhD studies in Aberdeen we have been cramming in the fishing sessions more than ever before. Although most of our sessions have been focused around catching a tope from the shore, when the weather has meant this is not a possibility we have turned our attentions to the freshwater lakes inland to try our hand at wild brownie fishing :) The venue we have been fishing is a stream fed hidden gem tucked away amongst thick woodland in the middle of nowhere. If it wasn't for Ad and his girlfriend Katie, who stumbled across it whilst on a forest walk, I would have never realised it was there. The pair of them had seen fish rising on there chance visit, so Ad was keen to go back with some small spinners and flies and have a go to see if we could tempt a fish or two. Myself, Ad and Katie turned up at the lake full of optimism and again we could see the odd fish rising. I opted to use a tiny mepps spinner with size 12 treble and a small orange fly for a teaser on a 1.5lb Fluoro leader (I like fishing ultra light). Ad went for a similar option but with a small copper spoon at the business end instead. We waded out into the lake and began to work the lures slowly and with regular jerks. After a few moves, we found a really nice looking area in which we were stood amidst a large bed of lilly-pads. The scene was set and before long Ad's rod was bent slightly under
the weight of a lovely small wild brownie, we were off the mark. Having landed his first one, he gave Katie the chance to get a fish and left her with the rod. The evening was going very nicely, the wind not affecting us at all and giving us a good chance of getting a few more. I was next in and landed the best one of the night at maybe 1/2lb, but regardless of size, these fish are stunning looking with vivid black and red spots and large cavernous mouths. We then had another quick move over to the opposite corner of the lake where we could see a number of fish hitting the surface after small flies. The air was now getting colder and the light was beginning to fade but Katie was determined to level the scores before dark and took just one cast in our new spot to get a hook up and land her first ever trout. We were all having a great evening and with about 30mins left to fish we chanced one last move back to the lily pads. Five minutes of nothing and we were considering calling it a day when a brownie hit my mepps no more than 5ft from where I was stood. The fish although small had to be played accordingly on the 1.5lb line and when it dived into the lillies I thought it was going to either throw the hook or snap me. A quick pull though and it was up through the pads and laying on the top perfectly posed for a nice photo. Ad had seen me get my second fish and was soon demanding the rod back from Katie and
managed to get his second fish of the day on the second to last cast. On his last cast though his cast flirted with the edge of the lillies and snagged up on the retrieve, the outcome being a lost lure. We were now ready to go home and quite happy with our evenings session we left with a smile on our faces and with a new mark under our belts to fish when the weather is rough on the coast.

Thanks for reading,
Tight Lines,

Jersey: The final chapter

Well it's been a while since I returned from Jersey and it's only just come to my attention that I forgot to finish my write up.... my bad! Anyway, for those interested here is the final part, enjoy :)

Trigger Fish : Species 57
With only a few days left and Ed's birthday fast approaching, we took a vote to book a boat trip out with Tony Heart on the Anna II for our final day. Before that happened though, we had a free day to do as we pleased. After a phonecall to Dan and a visit to MrFish, we decided to try in St Helier harbour to see what we could winkle out. The main target was a silver eel although we knew that there were plenty of mini's in the margins we could boost our species tally with. After hammering through 20 or so pouting and sand smelt on either unbaited sabikis or home made 1up 1down rigs with small bits of mackerel and size 6 hooks, I decided to have a move and placed myself in a darkened corner behind one of the trawler boats. My hopes were that the discard from the boat was thrown in this area and would attract a better stamp of fish, maybe even that eel I was after. Again, I had a few pouting first but then I had a much stranger and more positive bite, a slow but powerful pull. I let off a few inches of slack and waited for it to tighten. As it did I lifted into the fish and felt a good weight, my initial instinct thinking wrasse. As I played it up from the depths, I suddenly noticed that it was not a wrasse but a rather large trigger fish so as you do, I quickly lightened the drag...... this was not a fish I wanted to lose. It took this opportunity to take a number of rather fast and powerful lunges back down out of view. When it finally hit the surface I started to panic a little and thinking to myself, will I be able to pull this onto the pontoon with my 6lb snood :s In the end I had no option but to reach down the rig as far as I could and pulled it up as quickly as possible. Much to my delight, the fish remained hooked and was safely landed on the pontoon
A quick shout to the others and they were soon over to have a look and take a photo for me. At a guess I would say it was around the 2lb mark and maybe a tad bigger but it certainly put a wide smile on my face and  more importantly raised my species tally to 57 for the year. Jon was soon pinching my spot though and before darkness fell he managed to get his first ever black bream from the shore. Here he is on the right showing off his catch. Sam and Ed were also catching plenty of small fish as well landing a number of black and rock gobies, loads of sand smelt pouting and a single herring.

Silver Eel : Species 58
As the evening drew in and light turned to dark, we decided to have a quick hour at a different spot. I tied up a new rig armed with a pair of size 8 wide gape hooks and chunks of mackerel and chucked it out into the darkness. After 20 minutes of nothing, the baits were changed and back out went the rigs. My rod had as good solid knock so I picked it up and felt for another tap. Almost instantly the fish arched my rod round and I was now playing it. Straight from the off I knew exactly what it was going to be, the line grating against the fish was a huge giveaway and into the headtorch light came my prize, a silver/common eel. Mission accomplished. We stuck it out for another cast but apart from a hanful of crabs there was no further action.

So came our final day and as we waved fairwell to the campsite, it was with great anticipation we headed back to St Helier harbout to find the charter boat we had booked onto. After meeting our skipper Tony and the others that were coming with us we set off steaming out out to the mark. 50 minutes after leaving the harbour we were at our first mark where we'd be drifting for bream. Action was instant and almost everyone on the boat landed a couple within the first hour.... except Ed (Captain Calamity) who somehow failed to get off the mark. Jon took this opportunity to brag a little but this would come back to haunt him later in the day. After catching a couple of bream, myself, Jon and another bloke on the boat decided we would try for something bigger. The deckhand sorted us out with some heavier duty gear and out we went with a bream fillet in the search for a tope or conger eel. This proved useless for each of us though and after 90 minutes or so with no bites, the skipper moved us over to a mark where we'd be targeting flatties and rays. Whilst Jon was know struggling to get a take, Ed managed to get himself his first decent fish of the day and his first ever ray, a small eyed of around 5lb (up right). Sam, my younger brother soon followed
Species 59 : Small Eyed Ray
suite and bagged his first ever ray which for the time being gave him bragging rights over me. The other people on the boat had also managed to land a few rays and also a nice brill, the first one I have ever seen, what a cool fish. I was not about to let Sam beat me though and after a re-bait, I was soon back down on the bottom and had my first decent bite. Leaving plenty of slack, I waited until the fish tightened up to me and struck, fish on. This fish was giving an extremely good account for itself but after a while it started to come up a little easier. Up through the water came another new species for my 2012 species hunt, a small eyed ray. At 6lb 11oz it was no monster but it was species 59 leaving me with just one more to reach my yearly target. Ed was the last to catch with his second ray of the day which suddenly silenced the once cocky Jon and turned the bragging rights right around. The time had come though to steam back to port. A fully enjoyable day out and thanks to Tony and crew for some good fishing to end our 2012 Jersey raid. With another 5 day trip planned in November though, I'll soon be back with a new crowd to have another Bash at the fishing on offer in Jersey...... I can't wait!

Thanks for reading,
Tight Lines,